Signs of things to come

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Newly elected US President Donald Trump has a dream: to “make America great again.” It’s a far cry from anything Martin Luther King Jr. would have endorsed when he had a dream for America. Trump’s first days in the Oval Office have given new meaning to the Chinese curse that we should live in interesting times.

One of his first acts was to attack women’s rights. His Mexico City Policy (also known as the “Global Gag Rule”) resurrected the George W. Bush administration’s ban on providing federal money to international groups that perform abortions, or provide abortion information, to all organizations receiving US global health assistance.

Any international organization that accesses US funds for health programs will be required to certify that it does not provide abortion services, counselling, referrals, information or advocate for the liberalization of abortion laws, even with non-US funds. If they don’t, their funding will be cut off. Programs funded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support child nutrition and help combat infectious diseases like tuberculosis and malaria may also affected.

Next up is the wall Trump wants to build on the Mexican border. He’s given the green light even though Mexico is unlikely to agree to fund construction of the wall, as Trump has demanded.

While federal taxpayers are paying for a wall, they will stop funding sanctuary cities and states that opt out of reporting undocumented immigrants. Instead, Trump ordered the Department of Homeland Security to fund new detention facilities. He also ended the “catch and release” policy under which some immigrants are released from detention while they await a hearing with an immigration judge.

Building detention camps to house a specific race or people has a bad history as any of the Jewish, Japanese or Amerindian people can tell you. I wonder if the detention camps will be built along the border to take advantage of the free labour.

While Trump did not include an outright ban on Muslims there are disturbing indications. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer hinted there could be action on “keeping America safe” when asked about the so-called Muslim registry that Trump promised during the campaign.

Freedom of information for the American public is following an Orwellian model. Trump’s administration is mandating that any studies or data from scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency undergo review by political appointees before they can be released to the public. So far, most appointees are from the oil industry.

The review also extends to content on the EPA’s website, including data and scientific evidence that show the Earth’s climate is warming and man-made carbon emissions are to blame. Even scientific data collected by agency scientists, such as routine monitoring of air and water pollution, is subject to review. What this means is that science is now in the hands of politicians.

What is clear is that change is coming to America. Whether it will make the US “great again” is another question. Whatever the result, the next four years will certainly be interesting… for all of us.

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