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“Do something” on guns? It comes down to one political equation in Washington

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Over 100 people are killed in America by gunfire every day.  Half are suicides.  Half are violent acts with guns as the weapon of choice.  There are more guns in the country than America’s 330 million citizens and residents

Bruce Wolpe on ticker NEWS

The United States has not followed Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Canada, the UK and other countries who have moved aggressively to curb gun ownership in the wake of gun massacres in their countries.

More weekends will be filled as this one has been with the President and Vice President visiting scenes of tragedy in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York.  

There is no end to the horror, the agony, the anger, the losses and the mourning.

Consider the words of two presidents.  Biden from the White House last week:

“As a nation, we have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?  When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done? …Why are we willing to live with this carnage?  Why do we keep letting this happen?  Where in God’s name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with it and stand up to the lobbies? 

It’s time to turn this pain into action. For every parent, for every citizen in this country, we have to make it clear to every elected official in this country: It’s time to act. It’s time — for those who obstruct or delay or block the commonsense gun laws, we need to let you know that we will not forget.”

And Trump who spoke at the National Rifle Association convention in Houston:

“Sadly, before the sun had even set on the horrible day of tragedy, we witnessed a now familiar parade of cynical politicians seeking to exploit the tears of sobbing families to increase their own power and take away our constitutional rights …In 2022, we are going to vote for tough on crime, pro-Second Amendment candidates in record numbers.

Get out and vote — make sure the voting is honest, by the way.  Together we’re going to take back the House, we’re going to take back the Senate. And in 2024, we are going to take back that great and beautiful White House that we love and cherish so much.” 

The late Charlton Heston, the former actor and head of the National Rifle Association, addresses gun owners during a “get-out-the-vote” rally in New Hampshire in October 2002.

These are impossible chasms to bridge. 

But some Senators are trying to get something accomplished.  The bills seen as most compelling at this moment, when openness to “do something” is more serious with these tragedies still so raw, are to improve the system of background checks on purchasers of guns, and to have “red flag” systems that can remove guns from the hands of those who are under mental stress. 

More attention is also being given to the argument to raise the age of purchasing a gun from 18 to 21.  Florida passed such a law after the Parkland school massacre in 2018.

All these measures are popular with the American people by margins of 70-90% support.

But the gun lobby is not going to give a pass on any legislation.

And it will take 60 votes in the Senate to pass a bill – and that means 10 of the 50 Republicans in the Senate will have to vote” yes” for gun legislation.  

For decades, the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has prevented that from happening.

But Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, the leading lawmaker on gun control in Congress, believes there is a chance for progress this time.  He said over the weekend:

“I am at the table in a more significant way right now with Republicans and Democrats than ever before—certainly many more Republicans are willing to talk right now than were willing to talk after Sandy Hook.” 

Everywhere President Biden and members of Congress go, the shouts from the crowds are: “Do something!” 

In Washington, this moral cause is governed by a raw political equation that has but one calculation: 

Will Senators Chris Murphy and Mitch McConnell agree on a gun control bill and urge Senators support it? Without that, all the words, all the tears, all the memorial services will have failed to get Congress to “do something”—and finally act.

Bruce Wolpe is a Ticker News US political contributor. He’s a Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre and has worked with Democrats in Congress during President Barack Obama's first term, and on the staff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has also served as the former PM's chief of staff.

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How close to a full scale nuclear war are we really?

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Since President Vladimir Putin’s latest warning that he is ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, the question of whether or not the former KGB spy is bluffing has become much more urgent.

There are several reasons why Putin’s nuclear warnings have the West worried. First, Russia has been increasingly aggressive in its actions in recent years, from annexing Crimea to intervening in Syria. This has led to a feeling that Putin is becoming more and more reckless and unpredictable.

Second, Russia has been beefing up its nuclear arsenal, with reports indicating that it now has more nuclear warheads than any other country in the world. This increase in firepower makes Putin’s threats all the more credible.

Last but not least, there is the fact that Putin is a former KGB agent. This means that he is no stranger to playing games of brinkmanship and bluffing. In the past, he has used nuclear threats as a way to get what he wants. For example, in 2008, he threatened to aim nuclear missiles at European cities unless the United States agreed to drop plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe.

The West is worried

Given all of this, it’s no wonder that Putin’s latest nuclear threats have the West worried. Only Putin knows if he is actually bluffing, but given his track record, it’s certainly a possibility.

If a nuclear weapon were used in Ukraine, it would cause a massive humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands of people would be killed or wounded, and millions more would be displaced. The economic and social damage would be enormous, and Europe would be plunged into chaos.

In addition, the use of nuclear weapons would also have devastating consequences for the rest of the world. The nuclear non-proliferation regime would be dealt a serious blow, and there would be a renewed risk of nuclear war.

The world would become a much more dangerous place.

Nuclear impact

A nuclear explosion in Ukraine would have a regional impact, but it could also have global consequences. The use of nuclear weapons would violate the nuclear non-proliferation regime, and this could lead to other countries acquiring nuclear weapons. In addition, the risk of nuclear war would increase, and this would have a negative impact on the entire world.

The UN has condemned Russia’s threats of nuclear war, and it has called on all parties to refrain from any actions that could lead to the use of nuclear weapons. The UN Secretary-General has said that there can be no military solution to the crisis in Ukraine, and he has urged all sides to return to the negotiating table.

Russia has several allies in its war against Ukraine. These include Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Russia also has the support of China and Iran.

The war in Ukraine has had a significant impact on energy prices.

Due to the conflict, there has been a disruption in the supply of natural gas and oil from Ukraine. This has led to an increase in prices for these commodities.

The West can only threaten Putin further, as they’ve done all year, since President Biden warned that Russia was about to invade Ukraine.

Every step of the way, Putin has done exactly what the West has feared.

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Does Donald Trump stand a chance against Joe Biden?

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As Americans prepare to head to the polls, Democrats and Republicans may be tied for control of Congress

The U.S. is preparing for the all-important midterm elections in a matter of months.

For President Joe Biden, it could be a stark warning that his leadership is on thin ice, or it could be the validation he needs ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

There will be 435 seats in the House of Representatives, and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate up for contention this November.

But as President Biden prepares to ride the campaign wave, it’s the so-called “MAGA Republicans”, which are drawing attention.

“We have to be stronger and more determined and more committed to saving American democracy, than the MAGA Republicans and that guy destroying democracy.”

U.S. PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN

The majority of Americans believe political violence will increase across the country. According to the same polling from CBS, U.S. voters think the nation will become less democratic for future generations.

Kim Hoggard is a former U.S. government official, who served in the Bush and Reagan Administrations, she said the current political climate is proving a challenge for leaders to connect with voters.

“I wonder how it is that in this period in American political history where divisiveness is so wide and so dangerous, how it could be that a president can achieve high approval ratings anymore.”

In fact, around six in 10 Americans (57%) disapprove of Biden’s performance, according to recent Ipsos polling from Reuters.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the “soul of the nation” in a recent address.

The president’s dwindling ratings have been characterised by some factors out of his control—the pandemic, rising inflation, cost of living, and the war in Ukraine.

But there is one foreign policy outcome, which could be the reason for his falling support, according to Stephan Loosley from the U.S. Studies Centre.

“There’s no question that an enormous hole was punched in the Biden White House with the fiasco, the calamity of the Afghanistan withdrawal, which was badly mishandled.”

However, when it comes to the war in Ukraine, Loosley said Russian President Vladimir Putin misread the strength of U.S. intelligence, and Biden’s hold on his NATO allies.

“The President’s mobilisation of NATO in the face of the illegal Russia incursion of Ukraine has been extraordinary,” he said.

In light of this, President Biden has still managed a strong legislative agenda. This includes climate change action, healthcare reform, military aid for Ukraine, and infrastructure commitments.

Is this enough to sink Biden’s ship?

The U.S. midterm elections are scheduled for November, and with a general election on the cards for 2024, there is much discussion about the rise of former President Donald Trump.

On the other hand, Biden can’t seem to let the former president out of his mind. In fact, he recently spoke about the rise of Make America Great Again (MAGA) Republicans during a nationwide address.

“There’s no democracy where you can be pro-insurrection and pro-democracy,” he said.

The president’s approval ratings are also yet to reach the record low levels of President Trump, which sunk to 33 per cent at the end of 2017.

As it stands, the Democrats have 221 seats in the House of Representatives, and 48 members in the senate.

“The probability of the Democrats losing control of the house is very real. That’s been the history of American midterms since Harry Truman,” Loosley said.

“It’s just possible the Democrats may hold onto control of the Senate. A lot of that has to do with the ‘MAGA Republican’ candidates… those who are endorsed by the former president.”

STEPHEN LOOSLEY, U.S. STUDIES CENTRE

Of course, Trump hasn’t been without his own worries—the fallout from the Capitol riots, raids at his Mar-a-Lago estate, a lawsuit against his company, and a criminal investigation in Georgia.

Kim Hoggard, who is a former White House Assistant Press Secretary, said these events show Trump is unfit for office.

“The mishandling of sensitive information and top secret intelligence information show what a dangerous person he would be if he were to regain the presidency,” she said.

He may be considered dangerous but nearly one in five (19%) of Americans identify as ‘MAGA Republicans’. This is hardly going to be a blip on Joe Biden’s radar.

“There’s no question that Mitch McConnell is determined that Trump will bear any responsibility for Republican losses in the midterms,” Stephen Loosley from the U.S. Studies Centre said.

Mitch McConnell is the Minority Leader in the Senate and he believes the House of Representatives will flip this November.

“You have all these investigations, inquiries, and probes running simultaneously, it’s got to divert and distract the Republican Party and it’s got to damage some Republican candidates’ races,” Loosley said.

In terms of Trump’s 2024 possibilities, Kim Hoggard said the criminal investigations and lawsuits “are going to significantly affect his [Trump’s] ability to be a viable candidate”.

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The monarchy fights for survival without the Queen

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Queen Elizabeth II was notably one of the most respected figures in the world, and now the monarchy fights for survival

Queen Elizabeth II was the most private, public figure. Her Majesty was a constant thread in millions of lives. A symbol of continuity for seven decades.

Undoubtedly, the Queen’s global impact will be hard to match.

As her reign fuelled widespread revolution that altered the very landscape of the nation.

Politically, culturally and technologically, the Queen’s leadership was unwavering, and her wish was for this lead to stand the test of time.

History shows, the royal family is not immune from life’s challenges and controversies.

But through turbulent times, the Queens poise, strength and class always prevailed.

Above everything else, she was a constant. The ever-reliable presence holding the royal family together.

Contributor Cei Dewar, was lucky enough to meet the Queen and says millions around the world are mourning her loss, and everything she represents.

“She was a unifying force in the UK, the Commonwealth and across the world…even in her death…Her legacy and her legend with live on for eternity… in the hearts and minds of every life she touched in such a significant way.”

Cei dewar – CONTRIBUTOR
Cei Dewar- contributor

Monarchy fights for survival

As the world waves goodbye to Her Majesty, the monarchy fights for survival, finding its way forward without Queen Elizabeth II.

King Charles III is at the reigns, inheriting the lead on what the royal family becomes.

The King is taking the reign on a very different world.

Cei Dewar- Contributor

He will be exposed to public scrutiny like never before, the internet phenomenon, and a world where Republicans are on the rise. 

However, His Majesty has expressed his determination to focus on diversity, climate change action and maintain the institutions relevance on the global diplomatic stage. 

King Charles’ tumultuous personal life was often the downfall of his popularity, but now, he has pledged his life to serve as King.

Charles’ reputation slipped after the death of Diana, and ever since he has worked to build his popularity. 

But solidarity within his own family will be the key driver of success.

Notably, Prince William and Harry have already showed their reconciled solidarity. Standing side by side, reunited in grief.

Their relationship will be paramount to conserving the monarchy. 

While the future of the monarchy hangs in the balance, it will be difficult for King Charles the III to fill the shoes of his late mother. As well as connect with the national psyche and be a reassuring presence. 

Most people don’t know a world without Queen Elizabeth II, and although saying goodbye is heartbreaking, a new reign now begins. 

Perhaps, the rise of Charles to the throne will be the injection of change the royal family needs to last beyond the 21st century. 

A big job lies ahead. For now, the world has his pledge and actions will speak for themselves. 

Charles the King, a role he has been waiting for his entire life. 

Photo credit: Harper’s Bazaar

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