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IS THIS THE END OF THE IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL?

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President Trump stated Wednesday that he had made a decision concerning the Iran Nuclear Deal. In an unusual twist, however, the President refused to announce what it was.

White House National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, has refused to comment on whether President Trump planned to withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal. McMaster told NBC’s Today show:

“I’m not saying anything yet about it, but when the announcement is made, it will fit into a  fundamentally sound and broad strategy aimed at addressing Iran’s destabilizing behaviour and  prioritizing protecting American vital interests.”

Seven Democrat senators have written to President Trump demanding evidence that Iran had violated the agreement by October 6th, the certification deadline. They wrote:

“If you are aware of any information that would suggest that Iran is no longer complying  or that would lead the president to conclude that the continued suspension of sanctions  is no longer in the vital national security interests of the United States, we request  that you provide a written report containing such information.”

Similarly, the Republican Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, has expressed the opinion that the US should remain in the deal, despite opposing it two years ago. The senator stated in an interview Wednesday that he believed the Iranians had been complying with the terms of the deal and that the Trump Administration should be focused on curtailing Iran’s ballistic missile program. Paul told Politico:

“Most of the complaints about Iran don’t have anything to do with the agreement.  They complain about ballistic missiles and other things, but that’s not part of the agreement. I think while the agreement’s not perfect, my main concern has always been compliance. But if they’re complying with it, I think we should stay  in it.”

A decision to leave the Iran Nuclear Deal does have its supporters, however. The French President, Emmanuel Macron, commented that the Iraq Nuclear Deal had been ineffectual in safeguarding against Iran’s growing power. Macron stated:

“We need the 2015 accord. Is this accord enough? It is not, given the growing pressure that Iran is applying in the region.”

Similarly, Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has stated that Iran’s support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, its ballistic missile test, and its other non-military action undermined efforts to create stability in the Middle East.  Tillerson stated on Wednesday night:

“Regrettably, since the agreement was confirmed we have seen anything but a more peaceful,  stable region. That’s why we talk about Iran defaulting on these expectations because those  expectations clearly have not been met.”

FBI RAIDS PAUL MANAFORT’S HOME

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On July 26th, the FBI raided Paul Manafort’s home in Alexandra, Virginia. The FBI seized documents and other materials from Manafort’s home in relation to the Russia investigation.

Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign chairman, has appeared cooperative to investigators in public. Even going as far as to voluntarily testify before a Senate Intelligence Committee on July 25th.

However, there are clearly questions that the FBI felt still needed to be answered. According to Politico, Federal Investigators approached Manfort’s son-in-law, Jeffrey Yohai, in an attempt to get inside his head.

Peter Zeidenburg, a former prosecutor for the Justice Department, commented:

“It is a big deal. Prosecutors do not take aggressive steps like this with subjects who the government feels are being open and cooperative. And they also do not do this to ‘send a message.’ They do it because they think there is evidence to be found and that if they do not act aggressively, it could be destroyed.”

The simple fact is that obtaining a search warrant usually requires investigators to have a rational reason to believe that there is evidence of a crime. Nor does the FBI execute warrants on cooperating witnesses, they don’t need to.  What the investigation will prove cannot be known. Nevertheless, the President Trump’s Administration has cause for concern.

PLAN TO REFORM US IMMIGRATION SYSTEM

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President Donald Trump has joined Republican Senator for Arkansas, Tom Cotton, and Republican Senator for Georgia, David Perdue, in reworking the “Reform American Immigration for a Strong Economy” act (RAISE). This act will help Trump to fulfil his campaign promise to reform the immigration problem.

Trump told reporters that the Raise Act will “reduce poverty, increase wages and save taxpayers billions of dollars.” Trump went on to say:

“This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an  immigration system that puts their needs first, and that puts America first.”

A press release from the White House states that the current US immigration rate does not prioritise highly skilled immigrants over immigrants with low skills or no skills. At the moment, only six-percent of the one-million immigrants the US accepts annually emigrate because of their skills. Instead, the US has experienced decades of emigres with little to no skills. (To make matters worse, fifty-percent of immigrant households receive welfare compared to thirty-percent of native households). According to the release, the mass influx of cheap, unskilled labour has depressed wages and harmed vulnerable Americans.

The RAISE act seeks to replace the current permanent employment-visa framework, especially the diversity visa lottery system, with a new system which rewards applicants based on their merits. This system, which echoes similar immigration system in Australia and Canada, selects immigrants based on their level of education, their ability to speak English, their past achievements, and their entrepreneurial initiative.