BITTER US POLITICS IN A POLARIZED AGE

The separation of children of illegal immigrants from their families at the US border has dominated news in the US this week. It appeared on Wednesday that an intense public backlash had forced President Trump to change direction. But the executive order he signed this week leaves US border policy in a state of confusion and does nothing to reunite the 2,300+ children already in US custody with their families.


As Alex Kliment and Kevin Allison noted on Wednesday, polling reveals a sharp divide between Republicans and all other Americans on the emotive subject of illegal immigrants and their children.

A survey published this week by Quinnipiac University found that “American voters oppose 66–27 percent the policy of separating children and parents when families illegally cross the border into America.” That includes 91 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of independents. But Republican voters support the separation policy by a margin of 55–35 percent.

Context: A generation ago, as elections approached, US politicians competed with opponents from the other political party for the support of “centrist” voters, those less motivated by ideology of the left or right. That practice was dying before President Trump ran for office. It now appears all but dead.

Research suggests that Americans are increasingly unwilling to marry, make friends with, or even live near those who don’t share their political views. In a bitterly divided country, one where voters get much of their news and views from cable TV channels and websites that align with their biases, and where more than 40 percent of eligible voters didn’t show up to cast a ballot in 2016, politicians worry much more about motivating their supporters to actually vote than about winning support from the political center.

Bottom line: On race relations, climate change, tariffs imposed on allies, a trade war with China, and immigration policy, this political logic can persuade President Trump to actively support a policy that’s broadly unpopular. He’s betting that his voters care more about a particular issue than other voters do.

Whether he’s right or wrong, expect more of the same as November’s elections approach.

The Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace launched in 2018 with the commitment of signatories to stand up to cyber threats like election interference, attacks on critical infrastructure, and supply chain vulnerabilities. Last week, on the first anniversary of the call, the number of signatories has nearly tripled to more than 1,000 and now includes 74 nations; more than 350 international, civil society and public sector organizations; and more than 600 private sector entities. These commitments to the Paris Call from around the world demonstrate a widespread, global, multi-stakeholder consensus about acceptable behavior in cyberspace.

Read More at Microsoft On The Issues.

In recent years, Republicans have come to dominate most of the state legislatures in the US. Ironically, it was during the Obama-era that the GOP made major headway in states that had long been considered safely blue. State legislatures are now redder than they've been in nearly a century, and in most parts of the country, one party holds all the levers of power. For the first time since 1914, there's only one split legislature in the entire country: Minnesota. To be sure, some state races are bucking the trend: Kentucky and Louisiana, both deep-red states, recently elected Democratic governors. Here's a look at how Democratic and Republican control of state legislatures has evolved over the past four decades.

Forty years ago, Islamic extremists angry at the Saudi government's experiments with social liberalization laid siege to the Grand Mosque of Mecca, the holiest site in Islam.

The attack came on the heels of the Iranian revolution across the Gulf, putting the House of Saud and its American backers in a precarious spot. Tehran had challenged Saudi Arabia's Islamic legitimacy from without, while jihadists were now doing the same from within. For a few days it seemed as though the world's most important oil producer – and the custodian of Islam's holiest places – might be in danger of collapse.

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Forty years ago today, dozens of bearded gunmen stormed the holiest site in Islam, the Grand Mosque at Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.

They held the complex for two weeks before a French-trained Saudi force rooted them out, but the fallout from the attack went on to shape the modern Middle East in ways that are still with us today: in the scourge of transnational jihadism and the deepening rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

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What changes now that the U.S. softened its position on Israeli settlements?

Well, I mean, not a lot. I mean, keep in mind that this is also the administration that moved the embassy to Jerusalem, from Tel Aviv. Everyone said that was going to be a massive problem. Ultimately, not many people cared. Same thing with recognition of Golan Heights for Israel. This is just one more give from the Americans to the Israelis in the context of a region that doesn't care as much as they used to about Israel - Palestine.

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