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Balance of Power: Trump’s Travel Ban Headache

A presidency long on tweets and short on wins scored one of its biggest victories yet, when the Supreme Court said yesterday that much of Donald Trump’s ban on travel by people from six predominantly Muslim nations can take effect.

But the president’s victory lap comes with hurdles. In just 72 hours, his administration must figure out what the justices meant when they said that travelers with “bona fide” connections to U.S. residents and institutions must be allowed to enter. The term isn’t defined in law.

The court provided some helpful examples: people with family in the U.S. should be admitted, as should students who’ve been accepted to U.S. colleges and workers with offers from U.S. companies. But if the government tries to keep too many people out, there is the risk of more lawsuits — as well as further chaos and protests at airports.

Still, a win’s a win. And while Trump has seen just about every week of his presidency end in a public relations tailspin, this one is off to a fine start. He should enjoy the moment: It now looks like the Senate’s Obamacare repeal plan might get stopped dead, right around the time the travel ban kicks in.

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U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.  
Photographer: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Global Headlines

Brazil’s president charged with corruption | President Michel Temer yesterday became Brazil’s first sitting president to be hit with corruption charges by the top prosecutor. While he’s likely to survive a vote on the charges (it must be approved by two-thirds of the chamber of deputies) the development clouds the outlook for his agenda and a struggling  economy.

U.S. targets new Nafta energy pact | U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said he wants to develop a North American energy strategy with Canada and Mexico during upcoming talks to “massage” their 1994 trade deal. That’s a more conciliatory tone than his boss has taken. Trump has previously blasted Nafta as the “worst trade deal maybe ever signed.” 

Obamacare repeal short of votes | Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell needs to win back at least one Republican defector to move forward with his Obamacare replacement plan. Following the release of a cost estimate that found the bill would leave an additional 22 million Americans without health insurance in a decade, Maine’s Susan Collins became the third GOP senator to break from the pack. McConnell can only afford two defections.

Trump’s warning to Syria | The Trump administration thinks Syria is again preparing to use chemical weapons on rebel forces, and said President Bashar al-Assad will pay “a heavy price” if the attack goes ahead. As in April, the U.S. is likely to respond with a cruise-missile strike; anything more risks exacerbating tensions with Assad’s ally Russia. 

U.S.A.’s reputation takes a hit | The world isn’t enjoying the Trump presidency. A survey by Pew Research Center showed the U.S.’s global standing has plummeted since Barack Obama left office. Just 22 percent of respondents expressed confidence in Trump, compared with 64 percent for Obama. That pushed Trump’s ratings below those of Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping.

Abe rivals wake up | Emboldened by Shinzo Abe’s sliding polling numbers, critics of Japan’s prime minister are emerging from his own party. Shigeru Ishiba, who challenged Abe for the LDP leadership in 2012, told Bloomberg’s Isabel Reynolds he opposes the premier’s rush to revise the 70-year-old pacifist constitution because it might turn off voters.

And finally ... If Warren Buffett’s advice to investors to be fearful when others are greedy still holds, it may be time for a gut check. And with the U.S. stock market’s fear gauge, the VIX, at its lowest in two decades, at least some investors are getting worried. As James Audiss, a Sydney-based senior wealth manager at Shaw and Partners, put it: “I’m uncomfortable that people are so comfortable with this.”

Scrooge McDuck. Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy

 

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