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Analysis, background reports and updates from the PBS NewsHour putting today's news in context.

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    Smartphone

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    MILES O’BRIEN: One billion of us own a smartphone, and we know how addicting it can be.

    One former Google employee says this is no accident. Indeed, it is by design. And he became troubled by the relentless efforts of app developers to keep us glued to the gadgets.

    So, Tristan Harris founded an organization called Time Well Spent. He is asking the tech industry to bring what he calls ethical design to its products.

    NewsHour special correspondent Cat Wise has more, part of our ongoing collaboration with The Atlantic.

    TRISTAN HARRIS, Founder, Time Well Spent: I noticed when I was at Stanford, there was a class called the persuasive technology design class, and it was a whole lab at Stanford that teaches students how to apply persuasive psychology principles into technology to persuade people to use products in a certain way.

    So, it’s not about giving you all this freedom. It’s about sucking you in to take your time.

    CAT WISE: So, the goal is to keep us on our devices longer. Why?

    TRISTAN HARRIS: For any company whose business model is advertising, or engagement-based advertising, meaning they care about the amount of time someone spends on the product, they make more money the more time people spend.

    So, the game becomes, how can I throw different persuasive techniques to get people to stay, to spend as long as possible, and to come back tomorrow?

    CAT WISE: And it’s clearly working.

    Today, wherever we go, we’re inevitably surrounded by fellow citizens staring into their phones, as we usually are too.

    What do you think about when you’re out in public and see people on their cell phones?

    TRISTAN HARRIS: You know, have you ever been in a moment where you’re sitting there, and you just start using your phone to do something productive? Maybe you’re in the back of a car, a taxi, or you’re on public transportation. Your phone is always giving you a way to spend time that can be more productive, more entertaining, or more stimulating than reality.

    I often say that this puts a new choice on life’s menu that’s sweeter than reality. And so we’re turning to it more and more often. We check our phones about 150 times a day.

    CAT WISE: And what are the costs of that sort of constant interaction with technology, both on an individual level and as a society?

    TRISTAN HARRIS: Well, I think each of us have to tune in for our own experience.

    What does it feel like when we check our phones 150 times a day? Or what does it feel like if we have been scrolling, and had our face down, and not breathing very much when we’re scrolling for, say, 20 minutes? And how do we feel on the inside?

    CAT WISE: How do you feel on the inside?

    TRISTAN HARRIS: I feel like I don’t feel very good after that. I feel like my anxiety goes up. I feel more concerned about what I’m missing, what I’m missing out on, who I haven’t gotten back to. Oh, people think I’m bad at getting back to them.

    All of this sort of psychology emerges all because of this one thing in my pocket. And we have never had a media device that literally a billion people are kind of being programmed in the same way, where so much influence is in the hands of a few technology designers.

    CAT WISE: At Google, Harris was a so-called product philosopher and helped design the Gmail inbox app.

    TRISTAN HARRIS: First of all, there was no one in the Gmail team who said, how can we addict people to e-mail? There was no one who said that. That was never a goal.

    But you did hear conversations like, should we make it buzz your phone every single time you get an e-mail? It was a design question. But the outcome of that one choice would be a billion people getting buzzed at dinners with their dates, and with their friends, and with their family.

    All of these billions of phones, by the product of this one choice, would be affected and interrupted all the time.

    CAT WISE: And that was a conversation that you weren’t having?

    TRISTAN HARRIS: I was getting a little bit disenchanted with whether or not we were having, I thought, the bigger conversation about when e-mail or any product that we make actually makes a positive impact on people’s lives.

    And I made kind of a slide deck manifesto, and it basically said, never before in history have 50, mostly male, 20-to-35-year-old designers, living in California, working at three tech companies, influenced how a billion people spend their time.

    CAT WISE: This is coffee bar in San Francisco, a popular hangout for high-powered techies like Harris, the ones whose choices can influence so many.

    This idea of missing something, I think that drives a lot of us.

    TRISTAN HARRIS: Tony Robbins has a great quote. He says: I run eight companies, and I have thousands of employees. What do you think the chances are that, at any given moment, if I check my e-mail, something has gone wrong?

    CAT WISE: With his organization, Time Well Spent, Harris is urging peers in the tech world to have new conversations about the best interests of consumers.

    TRISTAN HARRIS: We need to change the incentive.

    I mean, I think, so long as the business model of technology companies is advertising, we are going to have a problem. And that’s what we’re trying to do with Time Well Spent, is to change the conversation from being about maximizing engagement and time, to being about maximizing net positive improvements to people’s lives.

    CAT WISE: What are some examples of, you know, apps that people use on a pretty regular basis, and the ways that these companies are drawing us in?

    TRISTAN HARRIS: Have you noticed, if you ever log into Twitter, as an example, so there’s an extra delay that you don’t know how long it’s going to take, between two and three seconds, where that — the number of new notifications on Twitter you have?

    So, why is that there? Well, it makes that into — it’s called a variable schedule reward. It’s like a slot machine. So you’re playing the slot machine, and there’s a time delay. And you’re — in that time delay, your anticipation is building, and then you get to see how many notifications I get.

    And so you become more addicted to checking it again the next time.

    CAT WISE: It sounds like there’s just a lot of sort of trickery going on here.

    TRISTAN HARRIS: I call it the race to the bottom of the brain stem, to get people’s attention at all costs.

    Let’s say I’m YouTube, and I have got a certain amount of people’s attention. What’s YouTube’s biggest competitor? Probably Facebook. Or take — the CEO of Netflix recently said that the biggest competitors to Netflix are probably YouTube, Facebook, and sleep, meaning…

    CAT WISE: Sleep?

    TRISTAN HARRIS: Sleep, because, at the end of the day, there’s a finite amount of time people have. And if you’re not getting people’s time, someone else, some other app, or some other part of someone’s life is going to get it.

    So these services are in competition with where we would want to spend our time, whether that’s our sleep or with our friends. There’s this war going on to get as much attention as possible.

    CAT WISE: Tristan, tell me about how you use your phone.

    TRISTAN HARRIS: Well, I mean, I try to use it as consciously as I can.

    One thing, for example, is, I set it up so that I just have my in-and-out tools and my aspirational ways I want to spend my time on my home screen.

    CAT WISE: What do you mean by in-and-out tools? What does that mean?

    TRISTAN HARRIS: A tool is something that you use and you never use it longer or more than you want to, for example, Google Maps.

    Like, if I need directions, I don’t end up scrolling through Google Maps for half-an-hour randomly, right? I just go in, and I find where I need to go, and then I go out.

    CAT WISE: And these are things that really don’t draw you in for long periods of time?

    TRISTAN HARRIS: There’s nothing on my home screen that is — explicitly makes money from or wants to maximize how much time I spend on it.

    And I put all those other things inside of folders that are hidden.

    CAT WISE: Are people still texting you, or are sort of your friends and colleagues, maybe they’re not texting you or trying to reach out in a way that would distract you so often?

    TRISTAN HARRIS: At the end of the day, the thing that dictates what — how someone reaches out to you, and whether they use Facebook messenger or WhatsApp or iMessage, isn’t because they’re thinking deeply about it. It’s because it’s just the fastest and easiest thing to reach for.

    And so I think we have to recognize that, as human beings, there’s just a certain set of things we’re vulnerable to that do influence us. And if it buzzes right now, I would probably, without even thinking about it, with you here, check it.

    And so, if I don’t want that to happen, I just have to put it away. In fact, my phone just buzzed right now.

    (LAUGHTER)

    TRISTAN HARRIS: And I just looked. There you go.

    CAT WISE: Even knowing what you know, you still picked it up.

    TRISTAN HARRIS: And this is the thing, that even the people in the world of persuasion we were talking about earlier, you know all about these tricks of how to get people to use products and to use a slot machine dynamic, whatever it is.

    They will tell you that they themselves are no less vulnerable than the regular person, because these techniques work on everybody. It’s just part of being human.

    The post Your phone is trying to control your life appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    polimon

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in this country, President Trump’s immigration order has drawn deep divisions among lawmakers. Elected officials have voiced both support and condemnation, while a number are yet to weigh in.

    Here to help us understand the lay of the land on this and other issues of the week, our Politics Monday team, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR.

    Welcome to both of you. It’s been such a quiet week.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But I thought we would come together anyway.

    So, this immigration order we have been talking about all night, it’s a policy move, serious consequences, but it also, Amy, is something that President Trump talked about during the campaign. He said he was going to move on immigration.

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The public reaction is interesting. A Pew poll out earlier this month showed, what, by 48 to 42 percent, people supported this.

    AMY WALTER: Yes, this is actually — this is a Quinnipiac poll that came out earlier this month.

    And they said very specifically support or oppose suspending immigration from terror-prone areas, right, sounds very familiar, even if it means turning away refugees. So, they put that in there as well — 48 percent approved.

    But, as you know, Judy, the world that we live in right now, not surprisingly, 72 percent of Republicans supported it. Only 24 percent of Democrats said they supported it, and independents closely divided. And such we have the world that we’re going to inhabit, it looks like, for the foreseeable future.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Tam, what we’re watching is a very divided political reaction, Democrats almost universally saying this is a terrible idea, Republicans divided.

    TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: Yes, Democrats rallying at the Supreme Court tonight, introducing legislation that will go nowhere or not even be able to be brought up on the floor, but Democratic lawmakers are protesting.

    On the Republican side, there are sort of a range of reactions. There are people who strongly support what President Trump has signed and what he is doing. There are others who are expressing concerns, and that sort of falls into two categories.

    There are people who express a moral concern or a concern that action like this could actually make us less safe, rather than more safe, could give a propaganda advantage to organizations like ISIS. That’s John McCain, Lindsey Graham. Not very many Republican senators going that far.

    Most of them are talking more about like logistical challenges, about the rollout could have been a better. Well, the rollout could have been a lot better.

    But one senator said, this extreme vetting proposal needed more extreme vetting itself.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Amy, is there — we’re so early into this next term.

    AMY WALTER: That’s right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is there a political calculation for these Republicans?

    AMY WALTER: Right. I think a lot of them are still waiting to find out how people are reacting to it.

    So, we pointed to the poll, which was theoretical. What do you think about the theory behind this? — 48 percent support. Now that we have seen it, the rollout clearly varying, not very good, once we see the sort of human cost of it, is this going to change people’s minds, or are they going to get just even more hunkered down in this?

    And, as we all know, politicians like to wait and watch for where the folks are going. I think it’s really important, to Tam’s point, that even those Democrats who sit in red states, really red states, have come out unambiguously against Donald Trump. And even Republicans who sit in sort of squishy, tentatively Republican districts, most of them have held back and not said much.

    Some have come out, but mostly they have held back. I think you are going to see those battle lines. As we saw in that poll, if you’re a Democrat, you are going to support Trump — you’re going to oppose him. If you’re a Republican, you are going to support him.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And yet, Tam, we see, looking at a news organization, or at least an editorial page that normally is very friendly to Donald Trump, The Wall Street Journal, writing today, very critical, saying the way — critical of the way it was done, saying he needlessly alienated people, but then goes on to say, “The danger is, he will alienate the friends and allies at home and abroad he needs to succeed.”

    So, The Journal taking a longer look at this.

    TAMARA KEITH: Right.

    And that gets to some of the national security concerns, that national security experts and veterans of national security argue that this could actually put us in more danger, that there are — the best allies that America has in fighting organizations like ISIS are Muslims themselves.

    And I think that that’s getting at that, but it also gets at a little — it’s almost like a more liberal editorial board saying to the Obama administration, oh, my gosh, you really could have done the rollout of Obamacare better several years ago.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Sure.

    Well, it reminds us, Amy, these issues are complicated.

    AMY WALTER: They are.

    And I think I will go back to the point that you brought up earlier, which is, elections have consequences. Donald Trump the candidate said he was going to do this. A lot of people voted. Millions and millions of people voted for Donald Trump the candidate. He’s now the president, and he’s going through and he’s doing this.

    And so the sort of outrage that we’re seeing around the country, while it’s not surprising, it’s also has to — you have to remember that this is something that he promised that he was going to do on the campaign trail and that he’s putting out in reality.

    What we need to do — and we talked about this last week — is to wait and watch for the longer-term implications.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

    AMY WALTER: Is it going to have an impact on our national security? We don’t know. There may be something linked to that. Is it going to have something to do with our diplomacy? Is it going to have a detrimental impact on our diplomacy? Maybe. We don’t know yet.

    But it’s clear that this is something he said he was going to do, and he’s implementing it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Very quickly to both of you, another thing we saw is the influence of Steve Bannon, senior adviser to the president. We saw the president in the last few days say that he wants to add Steve Bannon, Tam, to the National Security Council principals, the people who sit in on these very important private sessions on what the country does.

    Steve Bannon is turning out to be a major player there.

    TAMARA KEITH: And when the senior stuff was announced, he was announced at the same time as the chief of staff as sort of a co-equal.

    And it’s very clear — it was clear in the inaugural address. It’s been clear in many of these memoranda and orders that his voice is there, his words are there.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And people watching because of this alt-right narrative around Breitbart.

    AMY WALTER: Right, and that he is going to be a very influential voice. But, at the end of the day, it’s Donald Trump’s name on all the legislation and all the executive orders, and the buck stops with him.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, Politics Monday, thank you both.

    TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

    AMY WALTER: You’re welcome.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Appreciate it.

    And a postscript. I told you on Friday that I would be interviewing Vice President Mike Pence tomorrow, but I will now be sitting down with him this Wednesday at the White House. Tune in.

    The post Will the refugee ban reinforce political division? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A man holds a sign during a protest held in response to President Donald Trump's travel ban in Seattle, Washington. Photo by David Ryder/Reuters

    A man holds a sign during a protest held in response to President Donald Trump’s travel ban in Seattle, Washington. Photo by David Ryder/Reuters

    SEATTLE — Washington state’s attorney general declared Monday that he was suing President Donald Trump over his temporary ban on immigration from seven countries with majority-Muslim populations, making it the first state to announce a legal action against the Trump administration over one of its policies.

    Trump’s executive order also suspended the United States’ entire refugee program and set off nationwide protests over the weekend, including one that drew 3,000 people to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

    “If successful it would have the effect of invalidating the president’s unlawful action nationwide,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said at a news conference.

    Ferguson was one of 16 state attorneys general who released a statement Sunday calling Trump’s immigration action “un-American and unlawful.”

    Trump has repeatedly said Friday’s order suspending immigration for citizens of the seven countries for 90 days is aimed at protecting the nation against extremists looking to attack Americans and U.S. interests.

    Ferguson said the lawsuit against Trump, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and high-ranking Trump administration officials would be filed later Monday in federal court in Seattle.

    The complaint seeks to have key provisions of the executive order declared unconstitutional, Ferguson said. The state is also asking for a temporary restraining order against enforcement of the order.

    “We are a country based on the rule of law and in a courtroom it is not the loudest voice that prevails, it’s the Constitution,” Ferguson said. “At the end of the day, either you’re abiding by the Constitution or you are not. And in our view, the president is not adhering to the Constitution when it comes to this executive action.”

    [Watch Video]

    The U.S. admitted 12,500 Syrian refugees in 2016, but President Donald Trump’s executive order Friday indefinitely bans any more from entering the U.S. NewsHour Weekend Correspondent Megan Thompson reports on how the Trump administration’s policy has left some refugees already in the country very concerned.

    Declarations of support from Amazon and Expedia — two Washington state-based businesses — will be filed with the lawsuit, said Ferguson, who was joined at the news conference by Gov. Jay Inslee.

    The complaint claims that Trump’s actions are separating Washington families, harming thousands of state residents, damaging the state economy, hurting Washington-based companies “and undermining Washington’s sovereign interest in remaining a welcoming place for immigrants and refugees,” Ferguson said.

    Inslee said the “inhumanity” of Trump’s order is obvious.

    “This is un-American, it is wrong, and it will not stand,” Inslee said. “The clear intent of this executive order is to discriminate against one faith amongst all God’s children.”

    Asked if he fears retaliation from the Trump administration, Inslee said “there’s no predicting this president, but we will not yield, we will not be leveraged, we will not be threatened, we will not be intimidated.”

    Inslee said he learned the hard way over the years “you do not back down to bullies.”

    Ferguson said he has been in contact with other attorneys general but at this point Washington state was acting on its own regarding the legal action.

    The Port of Seattle said over the weekend that people who were detained at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as a result of Trump’s order have been released.

    U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal said Sunday that two individuals were released. One is a citizen of Sudan and the other a citizen of Yemen, both countries named in Trump’s order.

    READ MORE: Fact checking Trump’s new immigration order

    The post Washington is first state to sue Trump over immigration order appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    kobach1

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    MILES O’BRIEN: And for a different point of view, I spoke a short while ago to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who was a top adviser to Mr. Trump during his presidential campaign and transition process.

    I began by asking him whether the U.S. is safer now as a result of the White House ban.

    KRIS KOBACH, Secretary of State, Kansas: These seven countries are the hotbeds of terrorism. They include places where ISIS controls foreign territory. And they are places where people are coming in to receive terrorist training and then being pushed out to carry out acts of terrorism across Europe, perhaps in the United States and elsewhere.

    And so, absolutely, it makes sense to put a temporary bar on people holding those passports from coming into the United States. Also another really important part of this executive order was the reviewing our refugee program, also putting that on hold, because we have huge problems with terrorists abusing our refugee program.

    I might just give you a quick statistic there. Since the 1990s, there have been 18 major terrorists who have either committed acts of terror or names you would recognize who got into our refugee program. The blind sheik, Omar Abdel-Rahman, came in through the refugee program. The two Boston Marathon bombers originally came into the United States through the refugee program.

    The Bowling Green, Kentucky, terrorists, refugee program. So, it makes sense to say, hey, we’re a very generous nation. We give out more asylum. We allow in more refugees than any other country on the planet, but we are going to reassess how we screen people because way too many terrorists are fraudulently coming into the United States as refugees.

    MILES O’BRIEN: The one problem with all that argument is that, of the seven countries singled out, no refugees from those particular countries are implicated in any attacks. Were the wrong countries picked?

    KRIS KOBACH: No, I don’t think so.

    The Bowling Green, Kentucky, I believe those were from Iraq. The geographical locus — focus of where the terrorists are active changes with time, right? So, al-Qaida wasn’t necessarily active in the exact same countries now.

    Somalia has become much more active as a place where terrorist training and terrorist activity occurs. So it only makes sense that the seven countries or 10 countries or however many we’re most interested in might change over time as the facts on the ground change.

    MILES O’BRIEN: A practical question here. You mentioned Somalia.

    If you’re trying to do extreme vetting of someone who comes from Somalia, how on earth do you do that? Somalia doesn’t even really have a functioning government. What does extreme vetting look like when a person comes out of a country like that?

    KRIS KOBACH: That’s a great question, because what happens when someone comes in, let’s take, for example, someone coming in as a refugee.

    So, they say that they have a credible fear of persecution — that’s the legal standard — in their home country. Well, if the home country doesn’t even have a functioning government, you don’t have any police departments, you don’t have any centralized database of records, you may not have any way of verifying anything that this person is saying.

    And, right now, in the refugee program for the past, you know, 10 years or so, there has been a sort of get-to-yes mentality, take the refugee’s, the intending refugee’s word for it.

    I think we have to be much stricter. And we have to say, look, we need some proof, we need some evidence that your story is true, because there are so many cases that we learn about after the fact where the refugee’s story was completely untrue.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Seems like that would be very difficult to come up with any kind of documentation in that situation.

    KRIS KOBACH: It would. It may be.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Let’s talk about politics for just a — yes.

    Some Republicans on the Hill are even expressing concerns about this, Senator McCain among them, saying that it basically fits in — I’m paraphrasing — fits into the ISIS narrative, in essence, that their — the propaganda that they spew out is that America is anti-Muslim, and this fits into that narrative well.

    If the real concern, the real threat is homegrown terrorism, incited by the Internet, by Twitter, by Facebook, if that’s the real threat, haven’t we made ourselves less safer by adding to this ISIS narrative?

    KRIS KOBACH: I don’t think so at all.

    I mean, we as a nation can walk and chew gum at the same time. You’re absolutely right. Homegrown terrorism is a threat, but so is imported terrorism where the terrorists are trained overseas and they are sent to the United States to kill Americans.

    So we have to do both. And there’s no reason why we can’t do both. But this is the best way to put enhanced screening on people seeking entry to the United States, the best way to protect the American public.

    And, remember, that’s the first and highest purpose of the United States government is to protect American citizens. We are not facing an invasion from a conventional army anytime soon, but we are facing individual acts of terrorism. And many of those individuals come in across our border through a port of entry.

    And we owe it to the American people. The U.S. government owes it to the American people to be very cautious in allowing someone in from these regions of the world where we know ISIS is active and there is active terrorist activity and training going on.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Is it possible, though, we have given ISIS a case in point for their argument that the U.S. is anti-Muslim?

    KRIS KOBACH: I don’t think so.

    You know, I hear the argument made that this executive order is anti-Muslim, and it seems to me that that’s clearly false. I mean, the — it’s based on the country of origin. So, if you’re an atheist, if you’re a Christian, if you’re a Jew coming from one of these countries, you will be subject to the same bar on entry as a Muslim coming from these countries.

    Furthermore, you have got about 40 additional countries in the world that are majority Muslim and they are not affected by this executive order. So, clearly, on its face, it is not anti-Muslim. It is a geographic-based action to secure America from people coming from dangerous places in the world.

    It is a geographic ban. It’s not in any way a religious ban.

    MILES O’BRIEN: OK, but there is a religious component to this. Christians, of course, are specifically singled out for priority.

    Let me ask you this. You teach or have taught constitutional law. How does this square with the Constitution? You know, I’m your student for a moment. Teach me about the Constitution and how this jibes with what the founding fathers were thinking.

    KRIS KOBACH: OK.

    Well, first of all, the — no one who is outside of the United States and is not a United States citizen has a constitutional right to enter the United States. I have heard some people who are critics of the president’s executive order argue that it’s unconstitutional. That’s absolutely incorrect.

    There is no constitutional right to enter the United States. Even if you have already been in the United States in the past, you have no constitutional right to come back in.

    Second thing is, the Congress has the authority to — it has what’s called plenary authority to pass laws relating to immigration. It has the first and highest authority to pass those laws.

    And there’s a statute, Title 8, Section 1182F, which gives the president a discretion that if he feels that the entry of any alien or class of aliens would be detrimental to the national interests of the United States, he can exclude those individuals.

    And there are similar statutes going all the way back to the beginning in 1789 with the Alien Acts. George Washington, after they were passed, had authority to exclude or remove anyone who was a national security threat way back then.

    So, legally speaking, the president is on absolutely secure ground. People may quibble about the politics of it all, but I think, in terms of the national security of the United States, these executive orders are a win. And I think that you will find that, in the end, the vast majority of Americans will be supportive.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Kansas Secretary of State and former Trump adviser Kris Kobach, thank you very much.

    KRIS KOBACH: My pleasure.

    The post Former Trump adviser says U.S. has ‘huge problems’ with terrorists abusing refugee program appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    albright

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, for more on the executive order on refugees and visa holders and changes the president to the makeup of the National Security Council, we turn first to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She served as the United States’ top diplomat during the Clinton administration.

    When we spoke a short time ago, I began by asking her reaction to the Trump White House ban on immigrants from seven countries.

    MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, Former U.S. Secretary of State: Judy, I’m appalled, because it’s done everything except keep America safer.

    And let me just say, I kind of have looked at things thinking that they made this executive action without really understanding what it’s all about. So, it was unprepared, I would say, because they didn’t really see how the government works. They didn’t really contact the various departments that are part of this homeland security, trying to figure out what would happen once you do something like this from the Oval Office.

    So, unprepared. And then I think, also, part of the problem was, they didn’t understand what I say the unintended consequences of this, because the truth is that the countries that have been designated are now reacting, creating more problems for us, and then banning people — our people from going there.

    For instance, in Iraq, how do we protect our troops? What about the people that are interpreting? And then I think all of it is based on untrue facts. And so I think it is a very serious problem in terms of how the whole system works.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me take a couple of those, one at a time.

    What they’re saying is if — they’re saying, if they had let the rest of the government know what they were doing, that it would have leaked, and they said there would have been a flood of people trying to get in. And they also say that they’re basically only following what the Obama administration had done a few years ago in listing countries that were the most for the United States to fear in terms of terrorism.

    MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, the latter is true.

    What was happened was, there was an incident where something was coming out of Iraq. They were concerned about what the facts really were. They wanted to re-vet some people. They didn’t have enough manpower to do that, so things slowed down.

    So there is nothing like that that happened in the Obama administration. I think the excuse about not letting others know, first of all, they need to understand that the government, in fact, when people trust each other, doesn’t leak out when it’s an important issue.

    But how can you not let the departments that have something to do with executing the order not know? Because I think that they were genuinely surprised by, you know, how slow it was, what happened when they detained people, what happened then when there were demonstrations against it.

    So I’m willing to say they were surprised at the reaction to it, but that’s a sign of the fact they didn’t understand what they were doing.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The other argument they make, Secretary Albright, is this will all settle out, it’s just the hurly-burly of the first few days, that it’s only 109 people, they said, out of over 300,000 travelers over the weekend, and that we’re all making too much of this.

    MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: No, we’re not, because what it’s shown is that the United States is not prepared to deal with something that the president has decided he wants to do, so it puts real question as to how the system works.

    It also has undermined other countries’ trust in what we do, trying to figure out who in the department is responsible for what. And then I actually think it’s a gift to those that hate us, because now what has happened is ISIS is really kind of saying, yes, right, this is what America is like, you can’t trust us.

    And so I think they basically were completely unprepared for what they kind of unwrapped, without really considering the unintended consequences, and I don’t think it makes us any safer.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: One of the other moves the Trump administration made over the weekend was to announce a reorganization of the National Security Council, which, in effect, appears to downgrade the role of the director of national intelligence, and also the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    They had also downgraded the role of the CIA director, but they now in the last — today have restored that. How do you read that move on the part of President Trump?

    MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, I teach about decision-making, so I have been thinking about this.

    And I think it also wasn’t thought out, and partially because — we have heard a lot of stories about how the transition really wasn’t done very well. I have been transitioned into and I have done the transitioning. It’s a fascinating process of turning over the crown jewels when it’s done properly. That didn’t happen.

    And so I think they didn’t understand how the system works, and, in fact, downgrading the role of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Maybe they think they already have too many generals, but the bottom line is that it’s important for that person to be in the meetings no matter what.

    And what they have done is say only when it’s really necessary, decided by the national security adviser, and the same for the director of national intelligence. It’s important to know the intelligence and the response of the military.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The other change they made was to add Steve Bannon, who is a senior adviser to the president, to the — the campaign adviser — add him to the National Security Council attendees, principals — I guess you call it principals list.

    Their argument is, well, the Obama administration had people like David Axelrod and others who sat in on national security meeting.

    MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: That — you know, frankly, that is the most outrageous thing that they have done, is to add somebody with an extreme ideology to those that are supposed to be making decisions based on U.S. national interests, not on ideology.

    And it’s one thing to have one of the advisers come in on occasion when the issue is some combination of domestic and foreign policy, but not to have somebody with the views of Bannon that we now hear to be there all the time.

    And the troublesome part about all this is, what is the circle around the president? Who does he listen to? And the examples that we have had, whether it’s now with the immigration executive action or just generally, is the decision-making process.

    We’re not a new country. We have had a decision-making process. And they have, in fact, developed something different. And, Judy, I thought the following. Disruption is not a bad thing for bureaucracy. Destruction, however, is very dangerous.

    And so what we have seen in the last week, I think, is dangerous.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Very quickly, last question. Impression of Rex Tillerson, who is the president’s designee to be the next secretary of state?

    MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, I have met him. I think he’s a very fine person. He’s been a very good CEO of Exxon.

    The question is how he’s going to operate within this particular setup, how he’s going to work with the State Department, where a top group of people have left who are some of the operational people, and then how is he going to define what the roles of the State Department is?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state, thank you very much for talking with us.

    MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Great to be with you. Thank you.

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    Dozens of pro-immigration demonstrators cheer and hold signs as international passengers arrive at Dulles International Airport, to protest President Donald Trump's executive order barring visitors, refugees and immigrants from certain countries to the United States, in Chantilly, Virginia, in suburban Washington, U.S., January 29, 2017.  REUTERS/Mike Theiler - RTSXYQP

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: As we reported earlier, President Trump’s executive order barring people coming to the U.S. from certain countries sparked widespread protests and confusion over the weekend.

    The NewsHour’s William Brangham spent much of yesterday tracking that response, and talking with people who’ve been affected by the order.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The arrivals gate at any airport, not just here at Dulles outside of Washington, is normally a quiet scene of warm greetings and family reunions, but not this weekend.

    Protests erupted within hours Friday and continued all weekend, after President Trump issued his sweeping executive order temporarily barring all refugees and travelers from seven majority-Muslim nations. Syrian refugees were blocked indefinitely.

    The president said it was crucial to keeping America safe.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Protection of the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States. We all know what that means.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The Trump administration insisted again today that coverage of the problems has been overblown. But the orders did cause widespread confusion at the nation’s airports. Who was turned away? Who had been detained? Did having a green card mean you could enter?

    According to media reports, customs and immigration officials had little advance warning of the order, a claim the White House denied. An army of volunteer lawyers gathered to help families of those detained.

    Mariam Masumi is an immigration attorney in Northern Virginia.

    MARIAM MASUMI, Immigration Attorney: There was no communication between any of the agencies. I think that this order was just issued without any cooperation, collaboration. And it’s caused a lot of confusion on the part of so many agencies. Without the knowledge and whether those people are back there, we can’t help.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Even members of Congress said they were in the dark. Representative Don Beyer, a Virginia Democrat, was at Dulles trying to find out if people being detained had access to lawyers, as a federal judge had ordered. Beyer said he couldn’t even find out how many people were being held.

    So, you, as a member of Congress, cannot get an answer as to how many people our government is holding here?

    REP. DON BEYER, D-Va.: That’s exactly correct right now. This notion of cooperation between the executive branch and the legislative branch seems to have totally broken down.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And it wasn’t just Democrats. Congresswoman Barbara Comstock is a Republican who’s long advocated for stricter vetting of immigrants. But she said this move was too broad and poorly executed.

    REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK, R-Va.: We need to go back to the drawing board on this. As I have consistently said, we shouldn’t have a ban on people coming to this country based on religion.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The executive order caused problems outside the U.S. as well. With the policy issued so swiftly, Ali Abdi didn’t know what to do. Abdi is a Yale Ph.D. student originally from Iran who was studying abroad. He lives in the U.S. and has a green card. And even though officials have clarified that means he can come home, he was worried about trying.

    I spoke with him via Skype from Dubai this morning.

    ALI ABDI, Green Card Holder: There has been even changes in the way the order has been interpreted over the last 48 hours. And I am very, very hopeful that the other side of the U.S., which is not bigotry and racism, changes the status quo.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: He says people like him are not the ones to be feared.

    ALI ABDI: Let’s see who are these people who are now banned from entering the country. There are students like me, graduate students who are doing their Ph.D.s, doing their master’s. And they were later meant to serve the American public by teaching there, by producing knowledge there.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Another Ph.D. student and green card holder tried her luck getting back home on Friday night. Nisrin Elamin is Sudanese, but she’s lived in the U.S. for 20 years. She’s getting her Ph.D. at Stanford, but was in Sudan doing research. Her return was a homecoming like no other.

    NISRIN ELAMIN, Green Card Holder: I was taken to a room and I was patted down, which was quite uncomfortable because I was touched in my chest and groin area. And then I was handcuffed very briefly, at which point I started to cry, not so much because of the handcuffs, but because, at that point, I felt like I was probably going to get deported.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: After more than five hours at JFK Airport in New York, Elamin was released and told it would be best for her not to leave the U.S. again, leaving her potentially separated from her family indefinitely.

    NISRIN ELAMIN: But the order, as it stands right now, my parents aren’t green card holders, and they, at this point, will not be able to apply for a visa to enter the United States if they wanted to visit me.

    Similarly, my sister, who lives in Australia and is a dual citizen, cannot apply for a visa. So, at present, we’re in three different continents, and we can’t see each other because I’m also not comfortable traveling. And that makes me very sad. It also scares me a little bit.

    ZAINAB CHAUDRY, Council on American-Islamic Relations: With just a stroke of a pen, people’s lives have changed completely.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Zainab Chaudry is with the Council on American-Islamic relations. She arranged for some speakers to come to this Muslim center in Maryland to help answer people’s questions. Her group, CAIR, filed a federal lawsuit today challenging the constitutionality of the president’s order.

    ZAINAB CHAUDRY: I received a phone call from a man who’s not a citizen. He’s a legal permanent citizen, LPR, and his mother passed away in Iran. And he was advised by his attorney to not travel to Iran to bury his mother because he wouldn’t be able — chances are he wouldn’t be able to return to the United States.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Last night at his mosque in Washington, D.C., Imam Talib Shareef said even American citizens in his congregation are afraid.

    TALIB SHAREEF, Imam: They’re afraid because they don’t know. Obviously, there’s a sense of anger right now that this is happening. They’re saying, how could this have been allowed to happen? They’re contributing citizens. They haven’t done anything wrong. They have no intentions of doing anything wrong.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: He’s worried these fears could fester into anger, and stir the pot of resentment.

    TALIB SHAREEF: We’re now going to create enemies and we’re going to divide the country further. They are hearing significant people from the administration saying, we’re just getting started.

    So, what does that mean? What does that mean for the citizens who share a religious label that has been targeted? What does that mean?

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The Trump administration says that, in time, people will see the value of this action and it will improve the nation’s security.

    But, meanwhile, protesters, lawyers and religious groups alike continue to watch, warily.

    For the PBS NewsHour I’m William Brangham in Washington, D.C.

    The post Trump’s immigration ban closes the door and changes lives appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A sign welcoming refugees lies on bench in the international arrivals area of Logan Airport after U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order travel ban in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. January 30, 2017.   REUTERS/Brian Snyder - RTX2YWCR

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, now we begin with the ongoing uproar over President Trump’s order on refugees and immigrants.

    John Yang reports on this day’s events.

    JOHN YANG: After a weekend of mass protests and chaos at airports, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer insists it’s all an overreaction.

    SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary: We have got to keep this in proportion, folks. This was 109 people being stopped out of 325 over a 24-hour period. And I know that everyone likes to get where they want to get to as quick as possible, and I think the government did a phenomenal job of making sure that we process people through.

    JOHN YANG: In any event, Spicer said, it’s a small price to pay.

    SEAN SPICER: We don’t know when that individual crosses into our border to do us harm. And so the idea of waiting when you don’t know could it be that night, could it be the next day, could it be the next week, and the president’s view is, I’m not going to wait.

    JOHN YANG: President Trump sparked the uproar with the stroke of a pen, signing an executive order banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for 90 days, effective immediately.

    Across the country, there were protests on college campuses and at airports. A federal judge in New York blocked the ban for people who were either already in transit or had arrived in the United States.

    In Seattle today, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a new lawsuit, and said he’s got the support of Amazon and Expedia.

    BOB FERGUSON, Washington State Attorney General: In our view, the president is not adhering to the Constitution when it comes to his executive action. It’s my responsibility as attorney general to defend the rule of law, the uphold the Constitution on behalf of the people of this state.

    JOHN YANG: State Department employees circulated a dissent channel memo. It warned the policy will not achieve its aim of making our country safer and that it runs counter to core American values.

    Spicer said, if they oppose the policy, they could quit.

    Federal judges intervened to protect foreign holders of green cards, legal permanent residents of the United States. Overnight, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly waived the travel ban for green card holders.

    At breakfast with small business leaders today, President Trump said his immigration order was a success.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We actually had a very good day yesterday in terms of homeland security. And some day, we had to make the move, and we decided to make the move.

    JOHN YANG: He blamed chaos at airports on a Delta Air Lines’ computer problem and on Democrats.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I noticed that Chuck Schumer yesterday with fake tears. I’m going to ask him, who was his acting coach because I know him very well. I don’t see him as a crier.

    JOHN YANG: On Twitter, the president said he didn’t give advance notice of the order because he didn’t want to tip off would-be terrorists. He said: “If the ban were announced with a one-week notice, the bad would rush into our country during that week.”

    A number of Republican senators, including Marco Rubio, Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham and John McCain, criticized the order and the way it was rolled out.

    Former President Obama weighed in with a statement today, saying he “fundamentally disagrees with targeting people based on religion.” He also seemed to encourage the protests, saying, “It’s exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.”

    Meanwhile, Mr. Trump signed a new executive action today significantly cutting federal regulations.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: There will be regulation. There will be control, but it will be a normalized control, where you can open your business and expand your business very easily. And that is what our country has been all about.

    JOHN YANG: The order requires that, for every new regulation proposed, two regulations must be repealed. And it says the net economic cost of new regulations must be zero.

    The president also announced that Lockheed Martin has cut $600 million from its next batch of F-35 Joint Strike fighter planes after he criticized the cost.

    That Obama statement is not worthy. On his way out, aides suggested that the former president would give the new president what he said he was grateful to former President Bush for giving him, silence. But in his final press conference, he said he was tempted to speak out if he saw core American values being threatened. Turns out he didn’t wait very long — Miles.

    MILES O’BRIEN: John, a couple of other interesting bits at the briefing.

    The reorganization of the National Security Council, the permanent or principal seats, putting a political strategist in one of those, Steve Bannon, did Mr. Spicer address that?

    JOHN YANG: Today, a lot of eyebrows being raised about that.

    Spicer defended it, noted that Bannon had been a Naval officer, even though that was more than four decades ago. He also pointed out that David Axelrod, the political adviser to President Obama, occasionally sat in on some NSC meetings and said that by putting Bannon and giving him a seat permanently on the NSC, it was their bow to transparency.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Speaking of seats, empty seat on the Supreme Court, big announcement on that. Tell us about it.

    JOHN YANG: Tomorrow night in prime time, just like “The Apprentice,” he is going to announce it live on television.

    You may remember he tweeted last week that the announcement would be coming on Thursday. Why the change? Spicer said because he wanted to — Miles.

    MILES O’BRIEN: John Yang at the White House, thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And in the day’s other news: The president’s immigration order provoked a growing backlash overseas.

    In Iraq, members of parliament voted to demand retaliation. Under the order, Iraqis are now banned from entering the U.S. And, in London, Britain’s foreign secretary said Mr. Trump’s planned state visit will go ahead, despite the immigration order.

    BORIS JOHNSON, British Foreign Minister: I have said that it’s divisive, I have said that it’s wrong, and I have said that it stigmatizes people on grounds of their nationality. But what I will not do is disengage from conversations with our American friends and partners in such a way as to do material damage to the interests of U.K. citizens.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: More than a million British citizens have petitioned against the Trump visit set for later this year.

    MILES O’BRIEN: President Trump’s pick to be secretary of state survived a key procedural vote in the Senate tonight. Republicans resisted a Democratic push to delay action on Rex Tillerson, a former ExxonMobil CEO. That clears the way for a confirmation vote this week.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In Yemen, security officials say a suspected U.S. drone strike killed two al-Qaida militants today. It came a day after U.S. commandos killed three alleged leaders of al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen. Thirty other people and one U.S. Navy SEAL died in the Sunday raid. It was the first U.S. combat death under President Trump.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Police in Quebec City, Canada, are looking for a motive after a shooting at a mosque left six dead last night. A suspect is in custody. More than 50 people were in the mosque at the time of the attack. Officials say it was an act of terror, and they’re calling for unity.

    PHILIPPE COUILLARD, Premier, Quebec: Normal in times of crisis that everyone will speak with the same voice of tolerance, integration and inclusion. The real challenge will be two weeks from now to continue saying this, to refuse any compromise towards intolerance or exclusion.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Later in Parliament, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke directly to the more than one million in Canada and he said to them, “We are with you.”

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Philippines’ national police forces will no longer take part in a sweeping anti-drug campaign in that country. The crackdown began in July, when President Rodrigo Duterte took office. Since then, about 7,000 people have been killed. But the national police chief said he’s calling a halt after rogue officers kidnapped and killed a South Korean businessman for money.

    MILES O’BRIEN: The man accused of killing five people and wounding six at the Fort Lauderdale Airport pleaded not guilty today. Esteban Santiago appeared in federal court on 22 charges from the shooting this month. Authorities say he opened fire in the baggage claim area with a handgun he’d stowed in a checked bag. He’d flown in from Anchorage, Alaska.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Wall Street had a rough day as the president’s immigration order depressed airline stocks. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 122 points to fall back below 20000. The Nasdaq fell 47, and the S&P 500 gave up 12.

    MILES O’BRIEN: And doctors in Houston released former President George H.W. Bush from a Houston hospital today. He’d been there for two weeks with pneumonia. Mr. Bush is 92. His wife, Barbara, now 91, was released last week from the same hospital. She was treated for bronchitis.

    The post News Wrap: Trump order on immigrants challenged by lawsuits, protests, State Department memo appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in 2015. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    Then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in 2015. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    Updated Jan. 30 at 9:30 p.m. ET | President Donald Trump fires acting Attorney General Sally Yates hours after she instructed Justice Department attorneys to not uphold the executive refugee and immigration ban.

    In a statement, the White House said Yate “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States,” adding that the executive order was approved by the department’s legal counsel.

    “Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration,” the statement continued.

    The White House named attorney Dana Boente to serve as acting attorney general until Senator Jeff Sessions is fully confirmed by the Senate.


    Original story:

    WASHINGTON — Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, a Democratic appointee, on Monday directed Justice Department attorneys not to defend President Donald Trump’s controversial executive refugee and immigration ban, joining a growing group of administration officials distancing themselves from the new president’s order.

    Her directive was likely to be temporary, given that Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general, will likely move to uphold the president’s policy. Sessions is awaiting Senate confirmation.

    Still, it set up a dramatic standoff between a president and his own Justice Department just days into his tenure.

    “I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right,” Yates wrote in a letter announcing her position. “At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful.”

    There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.

    Trump responded Monday by accusing Democrats of delaying approval of his Cabinet nominees for political reasons. “Now have an Obama A.G.,” the president wrote on Twitter.

    The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to approve Sessions’ nomination Tuesday and he could be approved by the full Senate soon after.

    Yates’ abrupt decision deepened the discord and dissent surrounding Trump’s order, which temporarily halted the entire U.S. refugee program and banned all entries from seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days. As protests erupted at airports over the weekend and confusion disrupted travel around the globe, some of Trump’s top advisers and fellow Republicans privately noted they were not consulted about the policy.

    At least three top national security officials — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Rex Tillerson, who is awaiting confirmation to lead the State Department — have told associates they were not aware of details of directive until around the time Trump signed it. Leading intelligence officials were also left largely in the dark, according to U.S. officials.

    Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, said that despite White House assurances that congressional leaders were consulted, he learned about the order in the media.

    Other parts of Trump’s administration were voicing dissent Monday. A large group of American diplomats circulated a memo voicing their opposition to the order, which temporarily halted the entire U.S. refugee program and banned all entries from seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days. In a startlingly combative response, White House spokesman Sean Spicer challenged those opposed to the measure to resign.

    “They should either get with the program or they can go,” Spicer said.

    The blowback underscored Trump’s tenuous relationship with his own national security advisers, many of whom he met for the first time during the transition, as well as with the government bureaucracy he now leads. While Trump outlined his plan for temporarily halting entry to the U.S. from countries with terror ties during the campaign, the confusing way in which it finally was crafted stunned some who have joined his team.

    Mattis, who stood next to Trump during Friday’s signing ceremony, is said to be particularly incensed. A senior U.S. official said Mattis, along with Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph Dunford, was aware of the general concept of Trump’s order but not the details. Tillerson has told the president’s political advisers that he was baffled over not being consulted on the substance of the order.

    U.S. officials and others with knowledge of the Cabinet’s thinking insisted on anonymity in order to disclose the officials’ private views.

    Trump’s order pauses America’s entire refugee program for four months and indefinitely bans all those from war-ravaged Syria. Federal judges in New York and several other states issued orders that temporarily block the government from deporting people with valid visas who arrived after Trump’s travel ban took effect.

    The president has privately acknowledged flaws in the rollout, according to a person with knowledge of his thinking. But he’s also blamed the media — his frequent target — for what he believes are reports exaggerating the dissent and the number of people actually affected.

    Trump has also said he believes the voters who carried him to victory support the plan as a necessary step to safeguard the nation. And he’s dismissed objectors as attention-seeking rabble-rousers and grandstanding politicians.

    After a chaotic weekend during which some U.S. legal permanent residents were detained at airports, some agencies were moving swiftly to try to clean up after the White House.

    Homeland Security, the agency tasked with implementing much of the refugee ban, clarified that customs and border agents should allow legal residents to enter the country. The Pentagon was trying to exempt Iraqis who worked alongside the U.S. and coalition forces from the 90-day ban on entry from the predominantly Muslim countries.

    “There are a number of people in Iraq who have worked for us in a partnership role, whether fighting alongside us or working as translators, often doing so at great peril to themselves,” said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.

    Policies with such broad reach are typically vetted by affected agencies and subject to review by multiple agencies. It’s a process that can be frustratingly slow but is aimed at avoiding unintended consequences.

    On Capitol Hill, lawmakers in Trump’s party sought to distance themselves from the wide-ranging order.

    While Spicer said “appropriate committees and leadership offices” on Capitol Hill were consulted, GOP lawmakers said their offices had no hand in drafting the order and no briefings from the White House on how it would work.

    “I think they know that it could have been done in a better way,” Corker said of the White House.

    Some Trump supporters defended the president, saying his actions should not have come as a surprise given his positions during the campaign.

    “Nothing he did over the weekend was new,” said Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and an informal adviser. He conceded that coordination could have been better, but he said Trump’s vow to quickly bring change to Washington will sometimes mean he needs to prioritize fast action over broad consultation.

    “If you’re the reformer, you need the momentum,” Gingrich said.

    AP writers Matthew Lee, Lolita C. Baldor, Erica Werner, Jonathan Lemire and Vivian Salama contributed to this report.

    READ MORE: Fact checking Trump’s new immigration order

    The post Trump replaces acting attorney general Yates after she orders DOJ to stop defending refugee ban appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — Republicans are muscling more of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees to the cusp of Senate confirmation over Democratic objections, with committees poised to advance his picks to head agencies in the thick of partisan battles over health care, legal protections, education and the economy.

    The Senate Finance Committee was expected Tuesday to advance Trump’s picks of Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., to be health secretary and Steve Mnuchin, a wealthy former financier, to lead Treasury.

    Other panels were considering Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., to be attorney general and wealthy conservative activist Betsy DeVos to head the Education Department. All had strong Republican support, though final confirmation votes by the full Senate weren’t yet scheduled.

    The Finance Committee’s top Democrat, Ron Wyden of Oregon, said he’d oppose Price and Mnuchin. Democrats have accused Price of insider trading in health industry stocks, which he’s denied, and criticized Mnuchin for not initially revealing nearly $100 million in assets.

    “I cannot support nominees who treat disclosures like shell games and ethics laws like mere suggestions,” Wyden said.

    Republicans were trying to help Trump staff his Cabinet in the second week of an administration that has ignited fights on multiple fronts. Trump by executive action has clamped temporary bans against refugees from all countries and visitors from seven Muslim-majority nations, and he’s seen relations with Mexico sour after insisting it will pay for a border wall. And he’s backing the GOP’s problematic efforts to dismantle President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

    Trump complained Monday night about the confirmation process, tweeting: “The Democrats are delaying my cabinet picks for purely political reasons. They have nothing going but to obstruct.”

    Trump has nominated some of the wealthiest Americans to serve a president, leading to exhaustive ethics reviews. A Senate schedule interrupted by breaks has also delayed the process.

    Democrats have targeted Price, a seven-term congressional veteran, for his staunch backing of his party’s drive to scuttle Obama’s health care law and to reshape Medicare and Medicaid, which help older and low-income people afford medical care.

    They’ve also assailed Price for buying stocks of health care firms, accusing him of using insider information and conflicts of interest for backing legislation that could help his investments. Price says his trades were largely managed by brokers and that he’s followed congressional ethics rules.

    The Finance panel was also expected to approve Mnuchin to become treasury secretary. Democrats have accused Mnuchin of failing to protect homeowners from foreclosures and criticized him for not initially disclosing all his assets.

    Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., was on track to win Senate Judiciary Committee approval to become attorney general. That vote was coming with Democrats and demonstrators around the country in an uproar over Trump’s executive order blocking refugees. Even some Republicans were warning it could hinder anti-terrorism efforts.

    Democrats have questioned Sessions’ devotion to enforcing civil rights laws.

    DeVos, a wealthy GOP donor, has long supported charter schools and allowing school choice. That’s prompted opposition from Democrats and teachers’ unions, which view her stance as a threat to federal dollars that support public education.

    Critics have mocked her for suggesting that guns could be justified in schools to protect students from grizzly bears. Health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., called her an “excellent” choice.

    The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee was expected to affirm the nominations of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to become energy secretary and Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., to head the Interior Department.

    The full Senate was on track to easily confirm Elaine Chao to become transportation secretary in a mid-day vote.

    Chao was labor secretary under President George W. Bush, and is wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. She would be a lead actor in pursuing Trump’s promise to invest $1 trillion to improve highways, rail service and other infrastructure projects.

    On Monday evening, the Senate cleared the way for a final vote on Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee to be secretary of state. Democrats wanted Tillerson to answer questions about Trump’s ban against entry for people from seven majority Muslim countries, but lost a bid to delay his nomination.

    Democrats were opposing Tillerson’s selection even before Trump issued his immigration orders over the weekend, citing his close ties with Russia as CEO of Exxon Mobil. Democrats want him to retain sanctions imposed by Obama because of Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian territory and U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Moscow meddled in November’s U.S. elections to help Trump.

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    WASHINGTON — A Senate committee has approved Republican donor and school choice advocate Betsy DeVos for education secretary, even as two GOP senators expressed some reservations.

    After a heated debate Tuesday morning, senators on the Health, Education, Pensions and Labor Committee have voted 12-11 along partisan lines to support DeVos’ nomination, sending it to the full Senate for action.

    But two prominent Republicans on the committee, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, are expressing their skepticism over DeVos. They say they are not yet sure whether they will vote for her on the Senate floor.

    Murkowski says DeVos has yet to prove that she deeply cares about America’s struggling schools and its children. Murkowski says the nominee has not yet earned her full support.

    The Associated Press wrote this report.

    The post WATCH: Senate committee approves Betsy DeVos for education secretary appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — Senate Finance Committee votes to confirm President Donald Trump’s picks for health and Treasury secretary are being indefinitely postponed after Democrats boycotted the meeting.

    Democratic senators held an abruptly called briefing for reporters outside the hearing room. They said they were demanding more information about the two nominees, GOP Georgia Rep. Tom Price to be Health secretary and financier Steve Mnuchin to head the Treasury Department.

    The Democrats cited separate newspaper reports about Price’s trading in a health company stock and Mnuchin’s behavior involving foreclosures when he was a banker.

    Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said he planned to reschedule the votes but did not say when. He said Democrats “ought to stop posturing and acting like idiots.”

    Meanwhile, the confirmation hearing for the president’s choice to head the Labor Department has again been postponed.

    A spokeswoman for the Senate panel that had been set to hold Andrew Puzder’s hearing Feb. 7 said the fast food CEO’s financial and other statements have not been filed to the panel. No new date for the session has been set.

    It’s at least the third postponement for the head of CKE Restaurants, Inc. The company owns Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.

    Union leaders and Democrats say Puzder is ill-suited to head the Cabinet agency that enforces protections for workers. Puzder is against much of their agenda, including a big hike in the minimum wage.

    Trump nominated Puzder on Dec. 9.

    The Associated Press and the News Desk wrote this report.

    The post Democrats force Cabinet delays; Labor choice hearing postponed appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange August 21, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid  - RTX1P37V

    Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Aug. 21, 2015. Photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

    Most people see last week’s “Trump stock market rally” as an endorsement of the president’s economic policies. President Donald Trump has made exactly this claim: that the stock market’s rally was a validation of his decisions.

    “We just hit a record, and a number that’s never been hit before,” Trump told ABC News in reference to the Dow hitting 20,000. “So I was very honored by that.”

    Viewed correctly, however, the stock market’s “Trump bump” is surprisingly small, which indicates it has a negative view of President Trump’s policies.

    The reality is the stock market’s “Trump bump” is surprisingly small, which indicates it has a negative view of President Trump’s policies.

    On Nov. 8, 2016, when the world expected Hillary Clinton to win the election, the Dow Jones Industrial Average sat at 18,332. The Trump rally took the U.S. stock market up to over 20,000 on Jan. 25, 2017.

    The Trump rally is weak

    The stock market has risen close to 10 percent since the election (but has fallen about a percent between Jan. 30 and 31). How is a 10 percent rally a negative statement on President Trump’s policy? The government is going to increase corporate profits almost 15 percent by giving them taxpayer money. The market’s evaluation of the rest of the looming policies (other than corporate tax cuts) is negative 5 percent. Here is the summary:

    +15%    Value of taking your money and giving it to companies
    – 5%       Impact of all other Trump policies

    —–
    +10%    Total

    The stock market is giving President Trump’s policies, outside of the corporate tax cut, a negative grade. The stock market’s message is clear: Taking your money and giving it to companies through lower taxes is good for the companies and good for the stock market. All the other Trump actions are hurting the U.S. economy and company profits.

    In broad strokes, the stock market estimates for every $3 the Trump plans give to companies in taxes, $1 is being destroyed by other actions.

    Taking your money and giving it to companies

    Any dope can make the stock market rally by picking your pocket.

    President Trump is likely to vastly decrease the amount of taxes paid by companies. The immediate impact of cutting taxes is not to create wealth, but rather to take money from future taxpayers and give it to companies. Of course, there might be incentive effects of tax cuts, but those are smaller than the immediate impact of boosting corporate profits.

    Tax cuts are free money for companies. Because of the tax cuts, the federal deficit and debt will increase; you, your children and your grandchildren are going to repay these debts.

    S&P 500 profits terry burnham

    Any dope can make the stock market rally by picking your pocket.

    Officially, large U.S. companies currently face a 35 percent tax rate. However, legal tax avoidance reduces this to an “effective” corporate tax rate of about 25 percent. The stock market would have risen by 14.7 percent if the corporate tax rate were to drop from the current effective rate of 25.9 percent to 15 percent as detailed by the Trump plan.

    Is the stock market so smart?

    Should we listen to the stock market? Probably not.

    The stock market is often crazy. It soared during the early part of President Herbert Hoover’s presidency just before the Great Depression. Similarly, stocks rose relentlessly in 2005, 2006, 2007 just before the housing-related collapse.

    The stock market is, like many people on Wall Street, frequently wrong, but never in doubt.

    The stock market is, like many people on Wall Street, frequently wrong, but never in doubt.

    However, if we, like President Trump, seek to use the stock market to evaluate the economy, that evaluation is currently negative.

    The post Column: The stock market hates Trump’s economic policies appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    One college has an unusual approach to solving a ubiquitous remediation problem.

    One college has an unusual approach to solving a ubiquitous remediation problem.

    Chet Jordan stood in front of his class at Guttman Community College dressed in black skinny jeans and a bowler hat, sipping coffee. He took a straw poll of his students: How many of you know that this school doesn’t place students in not-for-credit remedial classes?

    The answer surprised him. Not only were the six students in the room aware of the policy, they all said it was a central reason they chose Guttman.

    Remedial education has been the proverbial thorn in the side of higher education for decades. Students are placed in remedial math and English courses when they are deemed unprepared for college-level work, and traditionally must pass them before enrolling in classes that count toward a degree.

    “It’s not so much we feel all students need remediation. It’s that for all students, simply demonstrating minimal proficiency in a subject doesn’t really prepare them for college-credit
    coursework.” Stuart Cochran, Guttman Community College

    Not only do remedial classes become a hurdle that nearly half the students don’t clear, they cost up to an estimated $7 billion of student and taxpayer money nationally. A Hechinger Report investigation of 44 states found that nearly all two-year schools that award associate degrees report having students who are placed into developmental education.

    But not Guttman.

    The 945-student school, which opened in August 2012 as part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system, is designed to break the community college model in many ways. Students are required to attend a two-week summer orientation program, must enroll full time in their first year and are grouped in cohorts to foster a sense of community. But perhaps the biggest deviation is that the school has eschewed traditional remedial courses altogether, building that content into its first-year curriculum and giving students whatever extra support they need in the credit-bearing classes.

    The premise is that students can learn grammar while learning how to structure a research paper; that they can master algebraic concepts while learning statistical theories. The idea is to treat college readiness not as a binary distinction — either students are ready or not — but as a continuum that students enter at a variety of skill levels. Research has suggested that students who score just above and just below the cutoff on a needs-remediation test will perform similarly when placed directly into college-level classes.

    Related: The quandary faced by colleges around the country: What do you when your students aren’t ready for college?

    “The decision to place into [remediation] or not can have very high-stakes outcomes,” said Stuart Cochran, Guttman’s dean of strategic planning and institutional effectiveness. “The rationale for making that decision is often very weak.”

    But remediation is still relied upon in the CUNY system. In 2013, nearly 80 percent of first-time freshmen at CUNY community colleges needed remediation in at least one subject. A remediation task force was created in 2015 to analyze the issue and come up with recommendations to change remedial placement and instruction across the system. The hope at CUNY, and at community colleges across the country, is that cracking the remediation puzzle will raise graduation rates.

    In 2015, CUNY’s three-year graduation rate across all community colleges was 21 percent. At Guttman, it was 49.5 percent,

    In 2015, Guttman Community College’s within-three-years graduation rate was 49.5 percent, compared to 21 percent for all CUNY community colleges.

    Guttman’s strategy is somewhat a blend of two other popular means of solving the remediation problem. One solution is to enroll students in remedial classes and college-level courses at the same time. This so-called co-requisite model still uses tests to screen students, but doesn’t delay students from earning college credit, and has shown promising results around the country.

    The other solution is to ban remediation outright. The City University of New York system has done so at the four-year level, as have several states, including Arizona, Hawaii and Tennessee. Students who are deemed to need remediation in those places may still take it at two-year institutions, however.

    By contrast, Guttman enrolls dozens of students who would be placed in remediation courses elsewhere, and immediately puts them in college-level, credit-bearing classes.

    Cochran acknowledges the model wouldn’t necessarily work for all schools, such as large community colleges where significant portions of the student body attend part-time and where some students may be coming in with extreme skill deficiencies. Many students at Guttman need extra support, but they still have a minimum level of competency.

    To ensure that baseline, Guttman refers students who are behind in all three potential remediation areas — math, reading and writing — to CUNY Start, a 15 to 18-week course that costs $75 and focuses on basic skills. After completing it, the students can start at Guttman.

    “We don’t just say, OK, put everybody into a college credit course and they’re going to succeed,” Cochran said. “If it were that simple, everybody else would have done it.”

    Related: We don’t know how many students in college aren’t ready for college. That matters.

    In math, all students still must take a placement test. Those who pass it take a one-semester statistics course and can then move on to other courses. Everyone else takes two semesters of statistics — but earns credit for both.

    In English, all students are enrolled in a four-strand program called City Seminar. Across three classes — Reading and Writing, Quantitative Reasoning and Critical Issues — students study

    and write about different aspects of an overarching theme. In the fall semester, the theme for Jordan’s students was “Structural Inequities and Radical Possibilities.”

    After his straw poll, Jordan pulled up a Vladimir Lenin quote about class political consciousness. He asked students to write about what they thought it meant. From there, Jordan led a discussion that touched on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, student debt, cultural appropriation and white privilege. He and the two most vocal students in the class debated what the modern-day definition of “working class” should be.

    When the hour and a half ended, Jordan talked for a few minutes with a student who was contemplating dropping out due to personal problems, then walked down the hall to his next class. There, students worked on revising their first paper of the semester.

    A primary goal of City Seminar is to introduce students to college-level writing. Jordan’s students had to pull from readings they’d done to answer the question, ”What is structural inequality?” As Jordan worked with students one-on-one, he reminded several to go back to check a handout on how to organize the paper.

    Students in this class, too, found Guttman’s no-remediation approach appealing. Maura McHale, for instance, said she sometimes struggles with math. She is taking the two-semester statistics course, but appreciates that she is earning college credit both semesters. “I really don’t want to pay for an extra class,” she said.

    Samantha Stevens worried that she would be placed in remedial English if she went to another community college. (It took her until June, after she’d already decided on Guttman, to score high enough on her English Regents exam to guarantee that she could go straight to college-level English at another school.)

    Even so, she said that Guttman’s classes are more challenging than the ones she took in high school. “It’s a lot more complex,” she said. High school was simpler: “They ask you a question, you answer it.” She said she’s never written a paper like the one assigned in City Seminar.

    Several students said they appreciated Guttman’s small class sizes and the feeling of support they got from professors and counselors. All students must also attend the fourth component of City Seminar, called Studio, in which students can work on assignments and get help as needed.

    “It’s not so much we feel all students need remediation,” Cochran said. “It’s that for all students, simply demonstrating minimal proficiency in a subject doesn’t really prepare them for college-credit coursework. Every student needs some guidance in making that transition from high school to college.”

    This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Read more about higher education.

    The post Why this community college is getting rid of remedial classes appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Homeland Security Sec. John Kelly is addressing President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration and how it’s been implemented.

    Watch Sec. Kelly’s remarks in the player above.

    The immigration ban caused confusion and prompted protests over the weekend. On Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended the ban, saying coming to America was a “privilege, not a right.”

    Representatives from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will speak alongside Kelly at today’s conference.

    PBS Newshour will update this story after Sec. Kelly’s remarks

    The post WATCH: Homeland Security Sec. John Kelly addresses immigration ban appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A view of the U.S. Supreme Court building is seen in Washington, October 13, 2015. Hearing a death penalty case for the first time since their divisive lethal-injection ruling in June, the nine justices of U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday appeared poised to rule against two brothers challenging their sentences for a Kansas crime spree known as the "Wichita Massacre." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTS49ZK

    President Trump is scheduled to announce his pick for the Supreme Court on Tuesday night. Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    At one point during the presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s shortlist for the Supreme Court had 21 names on it: a mix of federal appellate court judges, state supreme court judges, two federal trial judges and even a U.S. senator.

    That speculation surrounding his nominee will finally come to an end Tuesday night, when President Trump is scheduled to announce his pick in a prime-time address on national television.

    Since the election, President Trump and his aides have dropped few hints about which of the 21 candidates were still being considered to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia’s seat has been vacant since his death last February. President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland, chief judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to fill Scalia’s seat last February, but Senate Republicans refused to consider his nomination.

    But reports over the last week on Mr. Trump’s top picks have focused on three appellate court judges from different parts of the country, all of whom had to win Senate approval on the way to their current posts. Whoever Trump picks, the Senate confirmation battle will be contentious. Here’s a closer look at the three leading contenders.

    Judge Thomas Hardiman

    Thomas Hardiman, one of the names on Trump’s original list, is reportedly among the top contenders for the nomination. Like Trump’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, Hardiman sits on the federal appeals court in Philadelphia. He was nominated twice by President George W. Bush for judicial posts — once to become a federal trial judge in Pittsburgh, and once for his current seat — and both times, he saw little to no opposition in the Senate.

    In his decade on the federal appeals court, Hardiman has not had many occasions to weigh in on White House policies, making his views on hot-button national issues somewhat less clear.

    But he has had to consider disputes over issues like policing and gun laws. In 2013, for example, Hardiman wrote that he would have struck down a New Jersey gun law because the Second Amendment protection of a person’s right to possess a firearm “extends beyond the home.”

    The view should hearten gun rights advocates and would appeal to Trump’s political base. During the campaign, Trump vowed to fight gun control efforts as president and protect the Second Amendment.

    If confirmed, Hardiman would be the only justice on the Supreme Court who did not attend law school at Harvard or Yale. His bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame is the first college degree anyone in his family has earned, and he drove a cab to pay for his law studies at Georgetown University.

    Picking a Supreme Court nominee who does not have an Ivy League background would also burnish Trump’s image as an outsider willing to shake up the state quo in Washington.

    Judge Neil Gorsuch

    Neil Gorsuch, who sits on the federal appeals court in Denver, also saw an easy path to confirmation for his current seat. His confirmation hearing before the Judiciary Committee in 2006 lasted all of 20 minutes; Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was the only senator in attendance.

    Some of Gorsuch’s most notable rulings since then have come against Obama administration policies. In 2013, he signed onto a ruling blocking the Obama administration from requiring the Hobby Lobby store chain to provide contraceptive coverage as part of its employee health insurance plans.

    But if Trump is looking for an anti-elite, outsider candidate, Gorsuch does not fit the bill.

    Gorsuch is a graduate of Columbia, Harvard and Oxford. Before becoming a judge, Gorsuch spent a decade in Washington, where he worked for a private law firm and briefly served in President George W. Bush’s Justice Department.

    Federal appointments are in the family: Gorsuch’s mother, Anne Gorsuch Burford, was named by President Ronald Reagan to be the first female head of the Environmental Protection Agency. She was forced to resign after 22 months in office, after being cited for contempt of Congress because of her refusal to hand over Superfund records.

    Judge William Pryor

    William Pryor’s path to a federal appellate court judgeship was not as smooth as Gorsuch’s or Hardiman’s.

    In 2003, President George W. Bush nominated the graduate of Northeast Louisiana and Tulane universities to fill a seat at the federal appeals court based in Atlanta. But Senate Democrats blocked his nomination, citing his stances on gay rights and abortion.

    A recess appointment allowed Pryor to begin serving on the appeals court, and he was ultimately confirmed by the Senate. But that wasn’t until 2005 — and even then, he won confirmation on a close 53 to 45 vote. He lost the vote of at least one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a signal that he could face opposition from moderate Republicans again if he gets picked for the high court.

    Pryor is arguably the most controversial pick among the leading candidates for the nomination. Choosing him would assuage conservatives who want Trump to swing the court sharply to the right.

    Pryor has called the landmark Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights, Roe v. Wade, “the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history.” But his record is mixed. In the early 2000s, while serving as Alabama attorney general, he also prosecuted the state Supreme Court’s chief justice, Roy Moore, who was ignoring an order from a federal court to remove a Ten Commandments statue from the state Supreme Court building.

    The post Meet the three judges on Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is insisting President Donald Trump’s immigration order should not be referred to as a travel “ban.” That’s despite the fact the president has called it that himself.

    Spicer says during a press briefing that, “When we use words like travel ban that misrepresents what it is.” He says “a ban would mean people can’t get in.”

    Trump’s policy bars the entry of nationals from seven majority-Muslim countries for 90 days and temporarily suspends the country’s refugee program.

    Trump himself referred to his order as “the ban” in a Monday tweet.

    Spicer says Trump was only using the media’s words.

    Watch Spicer’s remarks in the player above.

    Earlier in the day, reporters also questioned Department of Homeland Security Sec. John Kelly about his agency’s vetting of the order and how agents will handle it going forward.

    The post WATCH: Sean Spicer addresses questions about immigration ban rollout appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo courtesy of

    Namo Abdulla and his wife on their wedding day. Photo courtesy of Namo Abdulla

    In a high-rise building in Northwest Washington D.C., one floor buzzed with kinetic activity this weekend. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) was fielding a steady stream of calls from people desperate for legal guidance on behalf of friends or family who were detained in airports or unable to board flights to America.

    President Donald Trump’s executive order took effect on Friday afternoon. The order blocks entry indefinitely for Syrian refugees, freezes entry temporarily for all other refugees and puts a 90-day freeze on entry by people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. These countries are also predominantly Muslim. Opponents of the order have called it a “Muslim ban,” which the administration denies.

    White House officials have clarified that green card holders were not part of the order although that was not clear in the first 24 hours of its implementation. The order also applies to dual nationals with an additional passport from the banned countries, such as a French citizen who is of Iraqi national origin. The White House says the aim of the presidents order, which has been widely criticized, is to block terrorists from entering the country until a more rigorous vetting process can better review refugees and immigrants from these seven countries.

    “She’s not going to be allowed in,” ADC staff attorney Yolanda Rondon was saying into the phone. “She’s going to have to go back to her country of origin and apply for a waiver.” She added flatly, “This could take weeks or months.” The woman on the other line, a student, was traveling back to the U.S from Amman, Jordan with her young child — an American citizen. On the last leg of her trip, immigration officials stopped them from boarding a flight back to the United States, informing her that her student visa, valid just hours earlier, was now revoked. “The child will be allowed back in the country,” Rondon said. “She will not be.”

    As the phone beeped impatiently with other callers, there was little room for niceties or personal details. “We tell them they are probably banned,” says Abed Ayoub, ADC’s legal and policy director. As the phone kept ringing, more stories of lives suspended and between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place decisions.

    Meanwhile, across the river in Arlington, Virginia, Namo Abdulla was wrestling with his own personal nightmare brought about by the order. Abdulla, a journalist from Iraq, has been studying and working in the United States on a green card for more than five years now. For the last two years, and the entire time they’ve been married, his wife Jwana had been going through the visa process to join him in America from Iraq, where she currently lives.

    In September, she did her in-person interview at the U.S Embassy there. It was, she thought, the last hoop in the lengthy process. This week, the couple planned to reunite in Beirut, Lebanon. Those plans were abruptly canceled on Friday. “My wife is completely devastated,” he said.

    As Abdulla read the order, formally titled “Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” it became clear this could upend the life he and his wife had so carefully plotted since they were engaged four years ago. “I was shocked to see the language.” Iraq was one of the banned countries and would nullify his wife’s near complete visa application.

    In 2012, Abdulla was awarded a scholarship from the White House Correspondents’ Association — an organization of journalists who cover the White House and the president. But today his future in America is unclear. ”You have to leave whatever you have in DC,” his wife told him.“I have a well paying job here, but she says, ‘Let’s live somewhere, anywhere.’”

    On Monday, the acting attorney general Sally Q. Yates was abruptly fired by President Trump for refusing to defend the order. Multiple lawsuits have been filed, challenging the order in court, including those from the American Civil Liberties Union and Washington state’s attorney general. In the meantime, Abdulla tries to comfort his wife, but to little effect.

    “I try to tell her this might change, but she really doesn’t believe me when I say that.”

    The post For those caught up in immigration order, tough decisions and lives in limbo appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Residents apply for or renew their driver's license at a driver services facility in Chicago, Illinois. States are scaling back or scrapping laws that automatically suspend the driver’s licenses of people with drug convictions. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

    Residents apply for or renew their driver’s license at a driver services facility in Chicago, Illinois. States are scaling back or scrapping laws that automatically suspend the driver’s licenses of people with drug convictions. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

    When Shane Bradwell got out of jail in 2011, he knew he would have a hard time getting a job, so he decided to start a house-painting business. But he quickly ran into a roadblock: Massachusetts suspended his driver’s license, not because he was a bad driver, but because of his drug conviction.

    That meant Bradwell had to balance scrapers and brushes and even a gallon or two of paint on his bike. On workday mornings, he peddled to the bus stop, hopped on the bus with all his gear, and traveled as far as he could. Then he unloaded all of his stuff, rearranged it on his bike, and rode the rest of the way to his job site.

    Massachusetts last year joined the majority of states that have scaled back or scrapped laws that automatically suspend the driver’s licenses of people with drug convictions and often charge hefty fees to get them reinstated. Unfortunately for Bradwell, Massachusetts made the change after he had borrowed money to pay the $500 fee to get his license back.

    Many of the state license suspension laws were prompted by a 1991 federal law that threatened to withhold a portion of states’ highway funding if they didn’t suspend driver’s licenses after a drug conviction. Nearly 40 states have since taken advantage of a provision of the law that allows them to opt out. While penalties remain for people convicted of driving while high, those whose drug convictions have nothing to do with driving are able to hold on to their licenses.

    Today, just 12 states and the District of Columbia remain covered by the federal law, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, which researches the effects of mass incarceration. And, amid a move in many states to make it easier for people with criminal records to re-enter society, some of them are reconsidering.

    Last year, Ohio gave judges discretion over whether to suspend driver’s licenses for drug crimes. Legislation proposed this year in Washington, D.C., and Virginia would repeal their current suspension laws. Last week, the Virginia Senate approved another bill that would end the practice just for those convicted of marijuana possession.

    And a bill in Florida would reduce the suspension period from one year to six months while the state pursues a waiver from the federal government, after which the sponsor hopes to end the suspension entirely.

    “If someone gets caught with drugs, the last thing you want to do is take away their ability to drive and get a job,” said Florida state Sen. Jeff Brandes, a Republican who sponsored the legislation there. “Keeping them from being employed is at cross purposes with what our desire is.”

    In some states, the laws have been only partially lifted. Indiana, like Ohio, gives judges discretion over whether to suspend a license. Some, like Massachusetts, still suspend the licenses of people convicted of dealing drugs, reflecting a hesitation among some lawmakers to make life easier for drug dealers in the face of a raging opioid epidemic. But the bills have generally received wide support, including the backing of judges, prosecutors and, in Massachusetts, the attorney general.

    “We want to make sure people who have done their time don’t suffer doubly,” said Brian Ferguson, director of the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs in Washington, D.C.

    Calculating Risk
    In most states that automatically suspend licenses for those with drug convictions, the suspensions aren’t permanent. The federal law requires suspensions last at least six months, though some states go further, requiring a year or more. Afterwards, people can pay a fee to have their license reinstated, but it typically costs more than $100. In Virginia it costs $145 and in Alabama it’s $275.

    Some lawmakers who have sponsored legislation to eliminate the suspensions said they worried that the difficulty in finding work after a conviction, especially without being able to drive, coupled with the high fees to get licenses back, would steer people back to crime or drug use.

    “In most cases they don’t have the money. Five hundred dollars to someone who has just gotten out of jail is like a million dollars,” said Massachusetts Senate Majority Leader Harriette Chandler, a Democrat who sponsored last year’s law. Roughly 7,000 people a year had their licenses suspended in the state because of drug convictions, according to a Prison Policy Initiative report.

    And because many people continue to drive with a suspended license, some legislators worried those most committed to turning their lives around were the ones being hurt by the rules.

    Bradwell, a 33-year-old high-school dropout, had his license suspended for previous drug crimes, and back then, he said, he continued to drive anyway.

    “At first I had a drug habit so I did what I had to do to … feed the habit of using drugs,” said Bradwell, who had been caught with marijuana, crack and opioid pills, and later was caught driving with a suspended license.

    But after his most recent 60-day stint in jail for drug possession in 2011, he was determined to follow the law. He said he spent as much as $100 a week on transportation, either hiring someone with a truck to carry his supplies and equipment or taking public transportation with all his gear. He limited himself to painting houses he could get to from his home in Worcester.

    And this time, he didn’t drive with a suspended license. “I wouldn’t do it. Not at all,” he said. He knew getting caught would unravel his progress as he was getting his life together and trying to save money to get his license reinstated. “I wasn’t able to take the risk anymore.”

    Trapped in a Cycle
    Lawmakers and others who want to end the automatic suspensions argue that driver’s licenses shouldn’t be taken away for offenses that have nothing to do with driving.

    “We shouldn’t be taking away people’s ability to have mobility,” said Brandes, the Florida legislator. “We shouldn’t be taking that away for things that have nothing to do with their competency to drive.”

    Joshua Aiken, author of the Prison Policy Initiative report, said many drivers who skirt the law in order to get to work are just one broken taillight or lane change violation away from getting caught.

    And that makes the strain on the courts even worse, Brandes and others say.

    “I sat in a courtroom about a year ago and watched the hearings, and a good two-thirds of them were for suspended driver’s licenses and pleading to driving with a suspended license,” Brandes said. That means adding new convictions to their records and extra court fees to pay off, he said. “They get trapped in this cycle.”

    In Ohio, judges supported ending the mandatory suspensions in part because of the extra work it created as people petitioned to drive to work or were caught driving with a suspended license, said Louis Tobin, deputy director of the Ohio Judicial Conference.

    Further complications arise when people driving with a suspended license are involved in an accident, because their insurance may not cover them, leaving other drivers to cover the costs.

    Pumping the Brakes
    Some states have been hesitant to repeal their laws entirely.

    In Massachusetts, a last-minute amendment added to the bill kept in place a $500 reinstatement fee and imposed a five-year suspension on people caught trafficking heroin and other drugs, but not marijuana.

    Massachusetts state Rep. Jim Lyons, a Republican who supported the amendment, said legislators shouldn’t roll back penalties on drug dealers in the midst of an opiate epidemic the state is determined to end.

    “I have little sympathy for someone who sells fentanyl knowing it’s going to kill people,” Lyons said. “I wanted to help those struggling with disease to get back on their feet, but I didn’t want to give the impression in any way that we are easing our approach on drug traffickers in Massachusetts.”

    Though Maine has already opted out of the federal law, Republican Gov. Paul LePage pushed a bill last year that would have required the state to start suspending the licenses of people convicted of drug trafficking. The measure was voted down in committee, despite LePage’s assertion that the state’s waiver was inconsistent with his position on fighting drugs.

    In Ohio, judges were given discretion over whether to suspend licenses so that those who are viewed as a risk because of their drug use won’t be able to get behind the wheel, said Republican state Sen. Bill Seitz, who sponsored last year’s law.

    “It does not mean everyone convicted of a drug offense will never have their license suspended,” Seitz said of the law. “If you’re a heroin addict, a judge may very well say upon conviction, ‘We don’t want you to have a license until you’ve completed treatment.’ ”

    Tobin, with the Ohio Judicial Conference, said judges saw the law as an impediment to re-entry, keeping people from meeting requirements of probation like going to treatment and working.

    “If a judge requires treatment and then has to suspend a license, especially in rural Ohio, people had no way to get to their required treatment,” he said. “The judge knows the offender best, and one size doesn’t always fit all.”

    This story was produced by Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts. You can read the original story here.

    The post States reconsider suspending licenses of drivers with drug convictions appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump was poised Tuesday to announce his choice to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, one of the most consequential moves of his young administration and a decision with ramifications that could long outlast his time in office.

    The president is to unveil his pick during an 8 p.m. EST televised address from the White House.

    Two finalists for the high court slot — Neil Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman — were both summoned to Washington ahead of Tuesday’s announcement, adding a dash of drama to the announcement from the reality television star turned president. Their travel to Washington was confirmed by a White House official, who was not authorized to discuss the Supreme Court pick and insisted on remaining anonymous.

    Gorsuch, 49, serves on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. A conservative with a writer’s flair and polished legal pedigree, Gorsuch would be the youngest Supreme Court nominee in a quarter-century.

    Hardiman, a 51-year-old with a conservative track record and working-class background, serves alongside Trump’s sister on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

    Meet the three judges on Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist

    Both were appointed federal appeals court judges by President George W. Bush. Trump is also said to have considered a third judge, William Pryor, but Pryor’s standing appeared to slip in recent days, in part because his reputation as a staunch conservative seemed likely to make him a rich target for Democratic senators in a confirmation hearing.

    The judges appeared on Trump’s list of 21 possible choices that he made public during the campaign, and each has met with him to discuss the vacancy that arose when Antonin Scalia died nearly a year ago.

    Trump’s pick will restore a general conservative tilt to the court but is not expected to call into question high-profile rulings on abortion, gay marriage and other issues in which the court has been divided 5-4 in recent years.Trump’s pick will restore a general conservative tilt to the court but is not expected to call into question high-profile rulings on abortion, gay marriage and other issues in which the court has been divided 5-4 in recent years.

    Despite Gorsuch and Hardiman emerging as the most likely picks Tuesday, Trump is well-known for changing his mind. Just hours before the president’s announcement, his final decision was being closely held — a level of secrecy out of character for Trump advisers and associates who sometimes discuss even private deliberations in the press.

    Gorsuch served for two years in Bush’s Department of Justice before the president appointed him to an appeals court seat. There he has been known for clear, colloquial writing, advocacy for court review of government regulations, defense of religious freedom and skepticism toward law enforcement.

    He has contended that courts give too much deference to government agencies’ interpretations of statutes, a deference that stems from a Supreme Court ruling in a 1984 case. He also sided with two groups that successfully challenged the Obama administration’s requirements that employers provide health insurance that includes contraception.

    Hardiman has a reputation as a solid conservative on the bench but not an ideological activist. He has sided with jails seeking to strip-search inmates arrested for even minor offenses, but he joined more liberal-leaning colleagues in doing so. In Second Amendment cases, the active Federalist Society member has supported gun rights, dissenting in a 2013 case that upheld a New Jersey law to strengthen requirements to carry handguns in public.

    The ninth seat on the Supreme Court has sat empty since Scalia died in February 2016. President Barack Obama nominated U.S. Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland for the vacancy, but Senate Republicans refused to consider the pick, saying the seat should be filled only after the November election.

    That GOP effort outraged the White House and congressional Democrats, who have suggested they might seek to block any choice Trump makes. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has said Democrats will oppose any nominee outside the mainstream.

    White House spokesman Sean Spicer said that while Democrats may not like the “political or philosophical background” of the president’s pick, “the criteria in terms of academia background, time on the bench, the expertise and criteria meets the intent of both Republicans and Democrats.”

    If Democrats decide to filibuster, the fate of Trump’s nominee could rest in the hands of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trump has encouraged McConnell to change the rules of the Senate and make it impossible to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee — a change known in the Senate as the “nuclear option.”

    A conservative group already has announced plans to begin airing $2 million worth of ads in support of the nominee in Indiana, Missouri, Montana and North Dakota, four states that Trump won and in which Democrats will be defending their Senate seats in 2018.

    The post Watch Live: President Trump announces his Supreme Court nominee appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Judge Neil Gorsuch speaks Tuesday after President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images.

    Judge Neil Gorsuch speaks Tuesday after President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images.

    President Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch, a fast-rising conservative judge with a writer’s flair, to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, a selection expected to spark a fierce fight with Democrats over a jurist who could shape America’s legal landscape for decades to come.

    At 49, Gorsuch is the youngest Supreme Court nominee in a quarter century. He’s distinguished himself on the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals with his clear, colloquial writing, advocacy for court review of government regulations, defense of religious freedom and skepticism toward law enforcement.

    “Judge Gorsuch has outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline and has earned bipartisan support,” Trump said, announcing the nomination in his first televised address from the White House.

    Gorsuch’s nomination was cheered by conservatives wary of Trump’s own fluid ideology. If confirmed by the Senate, he will fill the seat left vacant by the death last year of Antonin Scalia, long the right’s most powerful voice on the high court.

    Some Democrats, still smarting over Trump’s unexpected victory in the presidential election, have vowed to mount a vigorous challenge to nearly any nominee to what they view as the court’s “stolen seat.” President Barack Obama nominated U.S. Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland for the vacancy after Scalia’s death, but Senate Republicans refused to consider the pick, saying the seat should be filled only after the November election.

    Trump’s choice of Gorsuch marks perhaps the most significant decision of his young presidency, one with ramifications that could last long after he leaves office. After an uneven start to his presidency, including the chaotic rollout of a controversial refugee ban, Trump’s selection of Gorsuch appeared to proceed with little drama.

    For some Republicans, the prospect of filling one or more Supreme Court seats over the next four years has helped ease their concerns about Trump’s experience and temperament. Three justices are in their late 70s and early 80s, and a retirement would offer Trump the opportunity to cement conservative dominance of the court for many years.

    If confirmed, Gorsuch will restore the court to the conservative tilt it held with Scalia on the bench. But he is not expected to call into question high-profile rulings on abortion, gay marriage and other issues in which the court has been divided 5-4 in recent years.

    Gorsuch was among the 21 possible choices for the court Trump released during the campaign. Other finalists also came from that list, including Thomas Hardiman, who serves alongside Trump’s sister on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and William Pryor, a federal appeals court judge and Alabama’s attorney general from 1997 to 2004.

    Pryor’s standing slipped in the lead up to the announcement, in part because his reputation as a staunch conservative seems likely to make him a rich target for Democratic senators in a confirmation hearing.

    READ MORE: Meet the three judges on Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist

    Yet Gorsuch, too, is expected to face intense scrutiny from Democrats. Some liberals have demanded that Democrats block any Trump choice, underscoring the deep partisan discord surging through Washington.

    “Now is not the time for business as usual,” MoveOn.org’s Ilya Sheyman said in a statement.

    Gorsuch is a Colorado native who earned his bachelor’s degree from Columbia University in three years, then a law degree from Harvard. He clerked for Supreme Court Justices Byron White, a fellow Coloradan, and Anthony Kennedy before earning a philosophy degree at Oxford University and working for a prominent Washington, D.C., law firm.

    He served for two years in President George W. Bush’s Department of Justice before the president nominated him to the appeals court.

    Gorsuch has contended that courts give too much deference to government agencies’ interpretations of statutes, a deference that stems from a Supreme Court ruling in a 1984 case. He sided with two groups that successfully challenged the Obama administration’s requirements that employers provide health insurance that includes contraception.

    If Democrats decide to filibuster Gorsuch’s nomination, his fate could rest in the hands of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trump has encouraged McConnell to change the rules of the Senate and make it impossible to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee — a change known in the Senate as the “nuclear option.”

    A conservative group already has announced plans to begin airing $2 million worth of ads in support of the nominee in Indiana, Missouri, Montana and North Dakota, four states that Trump won and in which Democrats will be defending their Senate seats in 2018.

    Associated Press reporters Julie Pace and Mark Sherman wrote this report. PBS Newshour will update this story with more information as it becomes available.

    The post Trump nominates Neil Gorsuch to Supreme Court appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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