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Washington D.C. in June will be tension city – here’s why

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Inflation at home, with no ceiling reached.  Gas prices at record levels. Infant formula in short supply. Interest rates and mortgages up.  Mass shootings and mass funerals across the country. War in Ukraine abroad, with no end in sight.  Russia grinds eastern Ukraine into the dust. No peace talks.

Just when you think it cannot get more tense in Washington, think again.  June will see the biggest earthquakes in Washington since Trump’s forces attacked the Capitol in January 2021.

The capital will indeed become Tension City.

Gun control

“Do something!” is shouted at the President on the road and at Members of Congress when they go home to see their constituents.  The horrific massacres in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas have finally prompted the first serious talks in years among key Senators on gun legislation. The rampage continues:  six people were killed in Tennessee and Pennsylvania over the weekend. 

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.
  •  The key proposals under negotiation are very modest, reflecting how hard it is to pass gun control legislation given the immense pressures wielded by the National Rifle Association.  If there is an agreement, it will likely only cover changes to the background check system, additional funding for mental health and school security, and encouragement for states to establish “red flag” laws.
  • What is not on the table would be a national law to raise the age to 21 for purchase of assault weapons. Expert analysis has shown that raising the age limit, more background checks, requirements for safe storage of guns and banning high-capacity magazines could have limited what happened in 25 shootings that killed over 400 people in the past several years.

What is at stake, beyond the specifics of any legislation, is whether Congress can act – can do something, anything, sensible – in the face of these horrific tragedies that have shaken the country from coast to coast. 

Abortion rights

Just a month ago was the stunning leak of the draft Supreme Court opinion to reverse the landmark case of Roe v Wade, removing any constitutional protection for a woman’s right to obtain abortion services.  

A pro-abortion demonstrator holds up a clothes hanger during a protest outside the U.S. Supreme Court, after the leak of a draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito preparing for a majority of the court to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision later this year, in Washington, U.S. May 3, 2022. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz
  • In its wake, demonstrations flooded the steps of the Supreme Court building and state capitals across the country.  
  • Several state legislatures moved to enact more restrictions on abortion, including Oklahoma, which has now passed a total ban on abortion from the moment of conception, except to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest.  Other states said they would open their borders to women needing abortion services.  Canada said it would welcome women from the United States seeking abortions.
  • The Senate refused to pass legislation that would override any Supreme Court decision and protect for all women in the United States access to abortion services.

The final Supreme Court ruling will be issued this month.  Everyone will see if it mirrors the leaked opinion or if there is some retreat from the severe decree.  Whatever the Court says will trigger further attempts in Congress and state legislatures to legislate on abortion.  

The January 6 Committee goes public

This Thursday night in Washington (Friday morning here), the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol will hold an unprecedented prime time public hearing on what the Committee has found about the plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election.  

JAN 6 RIOTS (PIC: ABC News)
  • There will be wall-to-wall cable and network TV coverage. Advance previews lead to words like “explosive” and “blockbuster.” Rep. Lynn Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, when asked if she believed the attack on the Capitol was a conspiracy said: “I do. It is extremely broad. It’s extremely well-organized. It’s really chilling.” And she added:

“You know, we are not in a situation where former President Trump has expressed any sense of remorse about what happened. We are in fact in a situation where he continues to use even more extreme language, frankly, than the language that caused the attack. And so, people must pay attention. People must watch, and they must understand how easily our democratic system can unravel if we don’t defend it.”

  • America’s democracy and what former President Trump tried to do to undercut it will be under the television lights.

All these tensions will ripple through the political system and the campaigns for the midterm elections in Congress that will decide which party will control Congress next year.  

Who will win or lose from the bitter divisions over guns, abortion and the future of America’s democracy?  

President Biden and the White House, and both parties in Congress know that the future of their policies, programs and agendas hinges on how these issues play out from June to November – in Tension City and across the country.

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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“Woman. Life. Freedom,” Iran protests now on the world’s stadium

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Protests are engulfing Iran as a revolution against oppression spills onto the global stage, with the world unable to turn a blind eye

In Iran, protests are engulfing the country as thousands take to the streets in a revolution against oppression. 

Women are cutting their hair and burning their hijabs, demanding some form of change to the strict rules that impact their ultimate freedom.

“Woman. Life. Freedom”

DONNA MILES, WRITEr, & COLUMNIST

From the Iranian Revolution in 1979 to the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the nation’s residents have witnessed their fair share of turmoil.

Many insist that religion, like Islam, is being used as a reason to violate basic human rights in Iran.

Women in the country and around the world, are now lifting the veil on Iran’s corruption.

“What is happening in Iran fills me with both fear and hope… Hope that there might be some meaningful change.”

Donna miles, writer, & Columnist

Pure desperation

For nearly forty years, women in Iran have faced a life of control and oppression. Subject to the strict Islamic Republic rules, bound by religion.

There have been protests in Iran before, but nothing like what we see today.

Women and men are filling the streets of the entire country, in a show of solidarity against the regime, putting their lives on the line.

Footage of Iranian women burning the hijabs and cutting their hair has encapsulated social media.

“People are risking their lives… The regime is very brutal. It significant that this time round that there is international focus and attention on Iran.

One thing is clear…The revolution is taking place, at least in people’s hearts and minds.”

Donna miles, writer, & Columnist

Spilling onto the global stage

The uprising against the regime in Iran and its treatment of women is openly and loudly spilling onto the global stage.

Its voice is so powerful it is even flooding into the sporting arena. In Qatar, Iranian soccer players refused to sing their national anthem before their World Cup game.

Credit: Al Jazeera

While the move from the sporting stars was seen by a global audience, a cloud of fear now looms over the safety and wellbeing of the players returning to their homeland.

“The players have been extremely brave. This is a significant issue for them. Enough to take a political stand to refuse to sing the national anthem.”

DONNA MILES, WRITEr, & COLUMNIST

As history shows us, sport has often been used as an avenue to express a political stance.

At the 1968 Mexico Olympics, U.S. athlete Tommie Smith raised his black-gloved fist, in defiance of racial segregation.

This is perhaps one of the most iconic moments, illustrating the blurred line between politics and sport.

Credit: The New York Times

UN finally calls out Iran

During the Iran protests, footage of authorities using brutal force against protestors sparked global attention and outrage.

Now, the United Nation has called out Iran’s actions.

At its 35th special session, the UN Human Rights Council launched a new investigation. It will independently investigate alleged human rights violations during the protests.

“It will be independently investigated.”

DONNA MILES, WRITEr, & COLUMNIST

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Is Musk flushing Twitter down the drain?

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Elon Musk

Elon Musk has made plenty of changes to Twitter, but will it make or break the social media platform?

When Elon Musk walked into Twitter with a sink you knew things were about to get interesting. 

It’s been a chaotic few weeks of change for the social media platform. Musk quickly showed thousands of employees the door.

Noticeably, he also upended the iconic ‘blue tick’ hierarchy. 

The new boss is adamant in making the platform a place of free speech, often using public Twitter polls to dictate his next move.

It’s not very often you have a billionaire and CEO of a tech giant communicate with people everyday via a tweet thread.

“As far as communicating with people, that is something we haven’t seen. You don’t see Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates out there communicating like this or any other billionaire.”

greg nibler, tech expert

While people have been quick to judge Musk’s changes, he remains one of the most successful businessmen in history.

He lead the charge on flying to space with his SpaceX empire and was ahead of the game in the electric vehicle market.

Perhaps, the changes to the platform are a smart move for the company to succeed, despite the abruptness of them.

Proof is in the pudding because the numbers show Twitter has added 1.6 million daily users this week alone, which is an all-time high.

“It is a reality show on Twitter and people want to see it…
Is that going to turn into profitability, I don’t know.”

Greg nibler, tech expert

Plus World Cup traffic hit almost 20,000 tweets per second today, breaking another record. 

It’s likely Twitter may be more successful in private hands. Financially though, the company has declined, causing widespread concern about its economic stability.

Musk wants to vastly increase the revenue the company makes through subscriptions, but a question mark looms over its ability to triumph.

“The way in which Twitter has lost so much money in value so quickly must also be a concern to people who have lent money to Musk… Wondering has it been a good investment for them.”

KEITH SUTER, international affairs commentator

Suspended accounts debate

Previously, Twitter had banned the accounts of many users, particularly those prone to far-right rhetorics.

Former President Donald Trump’s account had been suspended for nearly a year, alongside conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and controversial Andrew Tate.

Musk asked his followers in a poll if Twitter should “offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts? As Musk says, they haven’t broken the law?”

It all follows a turbulent economic time for the social media giant as it finds its place in the ever changing cyber sphere. 

Whether or not Twitter goes down the drain, remains to be seen. 

But love him or hate him, Musk has created an entertaining platform, with millions flocking to get a taste of what is the Twitter saga.

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Does Donald Trump need Twitter to win in 2024?

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Donald Trump is making a political comeback in 2024, but can he gain relevance without Twitter?

Donald Trump is making his political comeback, and Twitter boss Elon Musk has welcomed the former President back to the platform with open arms.

It was only a matter of weeks after taking over that Musk decided to lift Trump’s nearly year-long suspension.

Many expected Trump to jump at the offer and begin flooding our Twitter feeds again.

However, the former President may not want to return to Twitter, but why?

U.S. Commentator Susan Tehrani believes Trump’s decision to withhold his return to Twitter comes back to money.

“It might have to do with millions of dollars… [If he returns to Twitter] He may stand to lose a lot of money…

If Trump’s company goes public and only for him to go back on Twitter, start Tweeting and devalue Truth Social… He’s going to give his followers a reason to abandon Truth Social.”

Susan Tehrani, u.s. commentator

Twitter was Trump’s favourite app when he was President. He used the platform to drum up support and create buzz. Love him or hate him, Trump undeniably had people right around the world speaking about his latest thought.

In today’s society, people consume news via social media, in particular via Twitter.

With Trump absent from Twitter, it raises question about how he will maintain relevance in social media sphere in the lead up to his 2024 return.

Trump heads his own social media platform ‘Truth Social’, but it has just four million users, opposed to Twitter’s more than 200 million.

“With El on Musk at the helm it encourages a health debate…Then it going to be a place where Donald Trump can once again bypass even the mainstream media…And communicate directly with a wide audience.

Donald Trump would stand winning if he came back on Twitter.”

Susan Tehrani, u.s. commentator

Does Twitter need Trump, more than Trump needs Twitter?

With Musk at the reigns of Twitter, the social media giant is shifting its direction. Musk has made it clear he doesn’t believe in the previous ‘blue tick’ hierarchy, quickly scrapping the process.

He has been vocal about his desire for free speech on the platform. However, many are concerned that the changes may have a negative impact.

Although, change isn’t always a bad thing and perhaps Twitter needed a makeover, to keep up with today’s evolving society and array of opinions.

While Twitter is still popular, Musk’s move to reinstate Donald Trump’s account might have been strategic.

Trump is a bold politician, and regardless of his Twitter status, many are wondering what his next move will be.

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