Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Trump picks Colo. appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court - washingtonpost

President Trump selected Colorado federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee on Tuesday, opting for a highly credentialed favorite of the conservative legal establishment to fill the opening created last year by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Gorsuch, 49, and Hardiman, 51, emerged from a list of 21 as Trump’s most likely choices. A third person on the shortlist — U.S. Circuit Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of Alabama — saw his chances diminish as some Senate Republican leaders have said his confirmation would be difficult.

By comparison, Gorsuch was confirmed a decade ago to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver on a voice vote.

Gorsuch is seen as a less bombastic version of Scalia; he also believes in an “originalist” interpretation of the Constitution and would seem destined to be a solidly conservative vote on the ideologically split court. But friends and supporters describe Gorsuch as being more interested in persuasion than Scalia, who was just as likely to go it alone as to compromise.

Senate Democrats have promised a vigorous battle, believing that Republican colleagues “stole” the court opening by refusing to hold even a hearing on former president Barack Obama’s nominee for Scalia’s seat, Judge Merrick Garland. His nomination withered.

Gorsuch would be the youngest Supreme Court justice since Clarence Thomas was confirmed in 1991. But Gorsuch has been on the bench for a decade, and at his 2006 investiture ceremony, friends joked that his prematurely gray hair was fitting.

“When Neil came to our firm in 1995 he had gray hair,” said one of his law partners, Mark C. Hansen. “In fact, he was born with silver hair, as well as an inexhaustible store of Winston Churchill quotes.”

Indeed, Gorsuch came equipped for the ultimate judicial elevation.

There is a family connection to Republican establishment politics, and service in the administration of George W. Bush. There is a glittery Ivy League résumé — Columbia undergrad, Harvard Law — along with a Marshall scholarship to Oxford. There is a partnership at one of Washington’s top litigation law firms and a string of successful cases.

There is a Supreme Court clerkship; Gorsuch was hired by Justice Byron White, a fellow Colorado native, who shared him with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

In Gorsuch’s words, the law “doesn’t just apply to protect popular religious beliefs: it does perhaps its most important work in protecting unpopular religious beliefs, vindicating this nation’s long-held aspiration to serve as a refuge of religious tolerance.” - Read More

Afghans who helped the U.S. military worry they, too, will suffer under Trump's refugee ban

While Afghanistan is not one of the seven countries on the list, Trump’s efforts to reduce immigration, particularly from Muslim nations he perceives as security threats, have alarmed Razeqy and others who feel the Special Immigrant Visa program will be abolished or curtailed even further.

An Afghan national traveling on an SIV was detained briefly Friday at San Francisco International Airport while his wife and children were allowed through, said Matt Zeller, an Afghanistan veteran and founder of No One Left Behind, a nonprofit group that helps Afghan and Iraqi combat interpreters resettle in the U.S.

Customs and Border Protection officers held the Afghan man for several hours because they were unclear on which nationalities were subject to the ban, Zeller said.

Trump’s order would slash the number of refugees allowed into the United States in 2017 to a maximum of 50,000 – fewer than half the number allowed last year. That could significantly restrict approvals under the SIV program, which has a backlog of 13,000 applicants in Afghanistan and only 1,500 more visas available over the next four years under the latest congressional authorization.

The visa program also seems in trouble because Trump’s order will prohibit immigration from countries that fail to provide adequate information to the U.S. about visa applicants. Record-keeping in Afghanistan has long been scant; many SIV applicants, for example, never obtained birth certificates.  

Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, is one of the harshest critics of the visa program and has argued that it should be killed.

The visa program has resettled more than 52,000 Afghan and Iraqi interpreters and family members in the United States since 2007. The program in Afghanistan was long criticized for bureaucratic delays until the State Department significantly sped up processing of the applications in 2014. - Read More, latimes

Afghans who helped the U.S. military worry they, too, will suffer under Trump's refugee ban

Trump's ban on some U.S. entries sparks confusion and protest worldwide, and legal rebukes at home

UN agency ‘alarmed’ by uncertainty facing refugees in the process of being resettled in US

30 January 2017 – The head of the United Nations refugee agency today said he is “deeply worried” by the uncertainty facing thousands of refugees around the world who are in the process of being resettled to the United States after the country suspended its refugee programme last week.

According to a news release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 800 refugees were set to make America their new home this week alone, but instead find themselves barred from travelling to the US.

The statement follows President Donald Trump's signing last Friday of an Executive Order that, among things, suspends the US refugee programme for 120 days and, according to the media, bars entry of refugees from several mostly Muslim countries, including Syria, until further notice.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi underlined once again UNHCR’s position that refugees should receive equal treatment for protection and assistance, and opportunities for resettlement, regardless of their religion, nationality or race.

UNHCR estimates, based on average monthly figures for the last 15 years, that 20,000 refugees in precarious circumstances might have been resettled to the US during the 120 days covered by the Order.

“Refugees are anxious, confused and heartbroken at this suspension in what is already a lengthy process,” the release said.

“Those accepted for resettlement by the United States are, after a rigorous US security screening process, coming to rebuild their lives in safety and dignity. UNHCR hopes that they will be able to do so as soon as possible,” the release added.

Noting that for decades, the US has been a global leader in refugee protection, a tradition rooted in the tolerance and generosity of the American people, UNHCR expressed the hope that the country will continue its strong leadership role and its long history of protecting those who are fleeing conflict and persecution.

Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) issued a statement on child refugees that might be affected by the new US policy.

“The needs of refugees have never been greater. Worldwide 28 million children have been uprooted by conflict, driven from their homes by violence and terror. They need our help,” the statement said. - Read More

UN agency ‘alarmed’ by uncertainty facing refugees in the process of being resettled in US

UN agencies express hope US will continue long tradition of protecting those fleeing conflict, persecution

Amid hate speech, negative media spin ‘real stories’ of refugees and migrants must be told – UN official

Monday, January 30, 2017

EDITORIAL: Diplomats Decry Muslim Ban - Nytimes

More than 100 State Department employees have indicated they will sign a memorandum in coming days registering their opposition to President Trump’s travel ban through the department’s “dissent cable” system, an official mechanism created to voice dissent to policies.

draft of the memo, written by a midlevel officer in the State Department’s consular bureau, predicted that the ban on citizens of seven nations, and the indefinite suspension of the resettlement of Syrian refugees, would be “counterproductive” to its stated goal of enhancing national security.

“This ban stands in opposition to the core American and constitutional values that we, as federal employees, took an oath to uphold,” the memo said, warning that the ban has the potential to increase anti-American sentiment among Muslims worldwide. The acting attorney general, Sally Yates, an Obama administration holdover, backed that view in a letter Monday to Justice Department lawyers, instructing them not to defend the order in court. Hours later, Mr. Trump fired Ms. Yates.

“We have a special obligation,” the draft memo said, “to maintain an immigration system that is as free as possible from discrimination, that does not have an implied or actual religious tests, and that views individuals as individuals, not as part of stereotyped groups.” - Read More

Diplomats Decry Muslim Ban

Trump’s travel ban is having a spillover effect on European dual nationals - washingtonpost

 Thousands of citizens of U.S.-allied nations in Europe and beyond may be barred from entering the United States under President Trump’s travel ban, sparking a wave of outrage and fresh confusion that threatened to open an early rift across the Atlantic.

Yet the administration also appeared to be doling out exceptions to nations such as Britain — playing favorites among allies at the possible expense of long-standing relationships.

Following instructions from the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. embassies in Berlin and Paris warned Monday that German and French citizens who are also dual nationals of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — the seven mostly Muslim nations targeted by the ban — would fall under the travel ban, joining people who hold passports only from those countries.

The measure’s full effect appeared unclear — even to the U.S. embassies in Europe, where conflicting information circulated. The U.S. Embassy in Paris, for instance, warned that even existing U.S. visas granted to dual citizens would be revoked, while the U.S. Embassy in Berlin suggested only that new visas would not be granted.

The Trump administration, however, may be favoring the dual nationals of some Western nations — a turn of events that could further complicate the White House’s already floundering relations with Europe. After talks with the White House, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, for instance, reassured his nation Monday that dual British nationals of the flagged Muslim nations have received an “exemption” from the travel ban.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested that it targets Muslims and said she would seek to defend the travel rights of all German citizens.

“The necessary and also resolute fight against terror does not justify in any way a general suspicion against people of a certain faith, in this case against people of Muslim faith, or people of a certain origin,” Merkel said Monday. Alluding to the uncertainty surrounding the ban, she added that Germany “is making all efforts to clarify the legal situation for the dual citizens affected and to strongly assert their interests.”

The U.S. guidance appeared to catch the Europeans off guard. The French Foreign Ministry issued a warning about travel to the United States, mentioning the uncertainty of the regulations for dual nationals. - Read More

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Trump defends executive action, says 'This is not a Muslim ban - The Hill

President Trump on Sunday released a statement stressing the importance of keeping the country safe and denying that his executive order amounts to a Muslim ban, amid protests and backlash from lawmakers.

"America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those feeling oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border," the president said in the statement.

"We will keep it free and keep it safe, as the media knows, but refuses to say."

Trump said his policy is similar to what former President Obama did in 2011, when he "banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months."

Trump also pointed to the Obama administration for identifying the seven countries included in Trump's executive order.

"To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion - this is about terror and keeping our country safe," he said.

"There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order." -  Read More

Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration: What We Know and What We Don’t - nytimes

President Trump’s executive order on immigration indefinitely barred Syrian refugees from entering the United States, suspended all refugee admissions for 120 days and blocked citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, refugees or otherwise, from entering the United States for 90 days: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The order unleashed chaos on the immigration system and in airports in the United States and overseas, and prompted protests and legal action.

Here is a quick guide to what we know and what we don’t know about the order.

What We Know
The executive order was signed at 4:42 p.m. Eastern on Friday. The full text can be found here.

The order does not affect naturalized United States citizens from the seven named countries.

After the order was signed, students, visitors and green-card-holding legal permanent United States residents from the seven countries — and refugees from around the world — were stopped at airports in the United States and abroad, including Cairo, Dubai and Istanbul. Some were blocked from entering the United States and were sent back overseas.

Thousands of people protested the executive order in cities across the country on Saturday, many of them at airports. Those protests continued on Sunday, and a large rally was held outside the White House.

On Saturday night, a federal judge in Brooklyn blocked part of Mr. Trump’s order, saying that refugees and others being held at airports across the United States should not be sent back to their home countries. But the judge stopped short of letting them into the country or issuing a broader ruling on the constitutionality of Mr. Trump’s actions.

Federal judges in three states — Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington — soon issued similar rulings to stop the government from removing refugees and others with valid visas. The judge in Massachusetts also said the government could not detain the travelers.

On Sunday morning, the Department of Homeland Security said it would comply with the rulings while it continued to enforce all of the president’s executive orders. “Prohibited travel will remain prohibited,” it said in a statement.

Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, said on Sunday that green card holders from the seven banned countries would not be prevented from returning to the United States “going forward.” That appeared to be a reversal from one of the order’s key components.

Mr. Priebus also said that border agents had “discretionary authority” to subject any travelers, including American citizens, to additional questioning and scrutiny if they had been to any of the seven countries mentioned in the executive order. - More

Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration: What We Know and What We Don’t

The New Age of Protectionism - Trump's Attack on Germany and the Global Economy - Der Spiegel

It has been quite a scene at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York recently, with a never-ending parade of stretch limousines and armored S-Class Mercedes pulling up to the building. The heads of Ford, Tesla, Boeing and dozens of other companies have all dropped by for an audience with Donald Trump. The president has consistently gushed about the "great meetings," but little more than silence could be heard from the other side.

Behind the scenes, this much has become clear: They didn't come for negotiations or even to offer advice to the new president. They came to hedge their bets. They are on the defensive, in the hopes that Trump will be less aggressive with those who he knows.

 Senior executives in Germany have been keeping close tabs on the stream of visitors heading for an audience with Trump, full of concern and nervous about what the future might hold. They have refrained from speaking about Trump publicly, but internally, it's the only thing they are talking about.

There is significant fear that they too might become Trump targets. Nobody knows what rules are still valid in this new political era, one in which billions in value can be destroyed by a single tweet. An era in which it is no longer clear who is a friend and who is an enemy.

It is an era that began on Donald Trump's first day in the White House, when he turned away from what has been the global economy's most important motor for decades: free trade and globalization no longer have any place in America's new populism.

Trump immediately backed out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and is intent on renegotiating other such free trade deals, these "horrible deals," which he sees as the source of America's downfall. "This wave of globalization has wiped out totally, totally, our middle class," he said while on the campaign trail.

On the same Monday, he received dozens of America's most important executives, representatives of the country's leading economic sectors. Trump called it a "listening session," but he didn't appear to be the one interested in listening. Rather, it was the business leaders who were to receive the new rules of this new era. "America first," is the only relevant philosophy, and those who go along will be rewarded by way of massive tax cuts and investments.

Those who resist will be punished, with tariffs, special taxes, government reprisals and, more than anything, the fury of the president -- announced on Twitter and followed by a plunge in the stock price on Wall Street. - Read More, Der Spiegel

Trump's Attack on Germany and the Global Economy

Why Does the EU Get Such a Bad Rap? - More

Federal judge stays deportations under Trump Muslim country travel ban - The Guardian

:  A federal judge has granted a stay on deportations for people who arrived in the US with valid visas but were detained on entry, following President Donald Trump’s executive order to halt travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The stay is only a partial block to the broader executive order, with the judge stopping short of a broader ruling on its constitutionality. Nevertheless, it was an early, significant blow to the new administration.

“I think the government hasn’t had a full chance to think about this,” Donnelly told a packed courtroom. 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups filed the lawsuit earlier on Saturday, challenging the detention of the two Iraqi men, with two more plaintiffs were later added to the suit, who were both valid US green-card holders. But the judge’s ruling extended to all individuals facing similar situations across the United States.- Read More

Federal judge stays deportations under Trump Muslim country travel ban

France, Germany concerned about Trump's moves to limit refugees

France, Germany and Luxembourg voiced disquiet on Saturday over U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to limit immigration and refugees from some Muslim countries, with Berlin and Paris also reaffirming a firm line on Russian sanctions.

Speaking at a joint news conference in Paris with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said many of Trump's decisions worried the two U.S. allies, including new immigration restrictions.

Trump on Friday signed an executive order that will curb immigration and refugees from some Muslim-majority countries and he separately said he wanted the United States to give priority to Syrian Christians fleeing the civil war there.

"This can only worry us, but there are many subjects that worry us," Ayrault said, adding that he would soon invite his future American counterpart Rex Tillerson to Paris to explain Europe's interests, values and vision of the world.

"Welcoming refugees who flee war and oppression is part of our duty," Ayrault said.

Germany has taken in more than one million refugees and migrants, mainly from the Middle East, since 2015. - Read More, Reuters

France, Germany concerned about Trump's moves to limit refugees

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Trudeau says Canada will take refugees banned by U.S - Associated Press

TORONTO –€” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a message for refugees rejected by U.S. President Donald Trump: Canada will take you.

He also intends to talk to Trump about the success of Canada’s refugee policy.

Trudeau reacted to Trump’s ban of Muslims from certain countries by tweeting Saturday: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.”

Trudeau also posted a picture of him greeting a Syrian child at Toronto’s airport in late 2015. Trudeau oversaw the arrival of more than 39,000 Syrian refugees soon after

 A spokeswoman for Trudeau said Trudeau has a message for Trump.

“The Prime Minister is looking forward to discussing the successes of Canada’s immigration and refugee policy with the President when they next speak,” Trudeau spokeswoman Kate Purchase told The Associated Press.

Trudeau is expected to the visit the White House soon.

The prime minister has refrained from criticizing Trump to avoid offending the new president. More than 75 percent of Canada’s exports go to the U.S.

Toronto Mayor John Tory also weighed in, noting that the city is the most diverse in the world.

“We understand that as Canadians we are almost all immigrants, and that no one should be excluded on the basis of their ethnicity or nationality,” Tory said in a statement. - Read More, PBS

Open doors, slamming gates: The tumultuous politics of U.S. immigration policy

In his farewell address to the nation in 1989, President Ronald Reagan told the story of a Navy sailor patrolling the South China Sea who came upon a “leaky little boat” crammed with refugees from Indochina trying to find a way to America.

“Hello, American sailor,” a man in the boat shouted up to the Navy vessel. “Hello, freedom man.” Reagan couldn’t get that moment out of his mind because of what it said about what the United States meant — to those who live here and to the rest of the world.

But history reveals that even as the United States moved from the restrictive immigration policies of a century ago to Reagan’s advocacy of an open door to refugees, public opinion has oscillated. President Trump’s move Friday to bar entry into the United States for residents of seven majority-Muslim countries harks back to a period when the U.S. government regularly banned immigrants and refugees from countries whose people were considered inferior, dangerous or incompatible with American values.

Trump’s executive action marks the first time a president has sought to bar people because of their nation of origin — or their religion, as only Muslim-dominated countries are included in the order — since the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act scrapped national-origin quotas, putting the focus instead on immigrants’ skills and personal connections to Americans.

“This is a paradigm shift,” said David Bier, who studies immigration policy at the Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank. “This is an explicit rejection of the approach that George W. Bush and Barack Obama embraced, in which a big part of the war on terror was to bring in allies, to prove we’re not waging a war on Islam and to show that we’re an open society toward Muslims.” - Read More

Open doors, slamming gates: The tumultuous politics of U.S. immigration policy

Trump orders ISIS plan, talks with Putin and gives Bannon national security role - washintonpost

President Trump on Saturday ordered the Pentagon to devise a strategy to defeat the Islamic State and restructured the National Security Council to include his controversial top political adviser as he forged a partnership with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin in their first official phone call.

Trump and Putin spoke for one hour and vowed to join forces to fight terrorism in Syria and elsewhere, according to the White House and the Kremlin, signaling a potential shift in U.S.-Russian relations that have been marked by high tension.

Meanwhile, Trump signed a presidential memo directing the Pentagon to submit a plan within 30 days to defeat the Islamic State, an effort to make good on his campaign promise to more aggressively confront Islamist terrorism than his predecessor did.

In their call, Putin and Trump discussed Ukraine and Syria, and they agreed to build stronger economic ties between the United States and Russia, according to a statement issued by the Kremlin. They said they would arrange an in-person meeting, but Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Interfax news agency that the two presidents did not specifically talk about a lifting of the sanctions the Obama administration imposed against Russia over alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine.

Eliminating the sanctions is a priority for Moscow, but Trump is under pressure in the United States to maintain them and said Friday that he thought it was premature to consider lifting them.

The White House described the conversation as “a congratulatory call” initiated by Putin.

“The positive call was a significant start to improving the relationship between the United States and Russia that is in need of repair,” read a statement from the White House. “Both President Trump and President Putin are hopeful that after today’s call the two sides can move quickly to tackle terrorism and other important issues of mutual concern.”

This was one of five conversations Trump had Saturday with world leaders. Seeking to cultivate a personal rapport, Trump spoke with the leaders of Australia, France, Germany and Japan, but his administration’s suspension of the acceptance of all refu­gees and a suspension of entry by citizens from seven ­majority-Muslim nations injected some diplomatic tension into the conversations.

In their call, French President François Hollande told Trump that he believes defending their democracies would be effective only if their governments adhere to “the principles on which they are founded, in particular the reception of refugees,” according to the Elysee Palace, the French president’s office.

Trump then spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom he had blasted repeatedly on the campaign trail over the German policy of admitting large numbers of Syrian refugees. Trump and Merkel covered a range of issues, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, according to the White House.

After Trump’s criticism of NATO during his campaign, the president and Merkel agreed on the alliance’s “fundamental importance to the broader transatlantic relationship and its role in ensuring the peace and stability of our North Atlantic community,” read a White House statement.

Trump accepted Merkel’s invitation to visit Hamburg, in July for the G-20 summit, and Trump invited the chancellor to visit Washington soon, the White House said. - Read More

Trump's latest executive order: Banning people from 7 countries and more

Washington (CNN)- With just a few quick strokes of the pen, President Donald Trump on Friday banned -- temporarily, for now -- more than 134 million people from entering the United States.

Trump barred citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US for at least the next 90 days by executive order, which a senior White House official said later Friday is likely just a first step toward establishing a broader ban.

Full text of Trump's executive order

It's unclear how many more countries will be added to the list, but the official said the administration will be "very aggressive" as it weighs how many more countries to add to the list.

Asked what criteria the administration will consider as it looks to expand the ban beyond the initial seven countries, the official said simply the "mandate is to keep America safe."

"Not going to take any risks," the official added.

That's just one part of the controversial executive order Trump signed Friday dubbed: "Protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States." Many of the provisions in the order are consistent with Trump's campaign pledges.

Here's a breakdown of what the executive order does. - Read More

Trump's latest executive order: Banning people from 7 countries

Full Executive Order Text: Trump’s Action Limiting Refugees Into the U.S.

President Trump signed an executive order on Friday titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” Following is the language of that order, as supplied by the White House.

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, including the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq., and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Purpose. The visa-issuance process plays a crucial role in detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States. Perhaps in no instance was that more apparent than the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when State Department policy prevented consular officers from properly scrutinizing the visa applications of several of the 19 foreign nationals who went on to murder nearly 3,000 Americans. And while the visa-issuance process was reviewed and amended after the September 11 attacks to better detect would-be terrorists from receiving visas, these measures did not stop attacks by foreign nationals who were admitted to the United States.

Numerous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since September 11, 2001, including foreign nationals who entered the United States after receiving visitor, student, or employment visas, or who entered through the United States refugee resettlement program. Deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States. The United States must be vigilant during the visa-issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism.

In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation. - Read More, NYtimes

Full Executive Order Text: Trump’s Action Limiting Refugees Into the U.S.

Trump Meets Theresa May of Britain as He Weighs Lifting Russia Sanctions - nytimes

WASHINGTON — President Trump plans to open a dialogue with Russia on Saturday that could lead to lifting American sanctions, even as Britain’s visiting prime minister and leading senators from his own party urged him not to let up the pressure on the Kremlin until it reverses its armed intervention in Ukraine.

Mr. Trump’s meeting with Mrs. May was his first with a visiting foreign leader since taking office with a promise to pursue an “America First” foreign policy. For Mr. Trump, it was a debut on the world stage that took on additional meaning after a scheduled White House visit by Mexico’s president next week fell apart in a dispute over the border wall Mr. Trump wants to build.

Mr. Trump appeared comfortable and confident with Mrs. May standing to his right. He offered a brief opening statement that referred twice to the “special relationship” between the two countries, a phrase Britons take seriously. He offered crisp answers, in contrast to Mr. Obama, who tended to talk at length. While Mr. Trump did not demonstrate detailed policy knowledge, he went out of his way to emphasize commonalities with Mrs. May.

He also tried to reassure Europeans who view him with deep skepticism. When a British reporter referred to him as a “brash TV extrovert,” Mr. Trump replied, “Actually, I’m not as brash as you might think.”

Mrs. May, eager to forge a relationship with him akin to Margaret Thatcher’s alliance with Ronald Reagan, reciprocated the warm sentiments, praising his “stunning election victory” and conveying an invitation from Queen Elizabeth II for the president to make a state visit, which he accepted.

Addressing one area of disagreement, Mrs. May said that the president had privately expressed his support for NATO, despite past comments disparaging the alliance as “obsolete.” “Mr. President,” she said, “I think you said, you confirmed that you’re 100 percent behind NATO.” - Read More

Trump Meets Theresa May of Britain as He Weighs Lifting Russia Sanctions

Friday, January 27, 2017

What Is the Best Way to Deal with the Problem of Islamic Terrorism? - The National Interest

The Center for the National Interest partnered with the Charles Koch Institute to host a foreign policy roundtable. Among the topics addressed was: What is the best way to deal with the problem of Islamic terrorism? Watch the rest of the videos in the series “Today’s Foreign Policy Challenges.”

Reducing the threat of Islamic terrorism has been a primary focus of American foreign policy for more than 15 years. The Bush administration declared a global war on terror, seeking out terrorist groups in their own countries and taking the fight to them. The Obama administration extended this strategy to new theaters. In practice, this has meant war in Iraq and Afghanistan, drone campaigns across the Middle East, and local partnerships to disrupt terrorist networks and destroy their safe havens. The global war on terror has been expensive—a new study from Brown University puts the tab at $5 trillion. Surely these efforts have made America safer? 

A panel of top international relations experts thinks otherwise. Collectively, these scholars believe that America’s deep engagement in the Middle East has not helped improve American security. Instead, in the words of Boston University’s Andrew Bacevich, “On balance, U.S. military intervention in the Islamic world has made things worse—at great cost to ourselves and, frankly, at great cost to the people we’re supposedly liberating.” The panelists discussed a number of issues relating to the roots of Islamic terrorism and its implications for U.S. policy. They focused on how Western policymakers perceive the problem and how this has shaped our strategic response. Finally, the scholars discussed practical solutions that the United States should adopt and ways that these might differ from current policy.- Read More

What Is the Best Way to Deal with the Problem of Islamic Terrorism ... Hugo Kirk

Trump signs executive action to keep out 'radical Islamic terrorists'

(CNN) - President Donald Trump signed two executive actions Friday at the Department of Defense, including one limiting the flow of refugees into the United States by instituting what the President has called "extreme vetting" of immigrants.

Titled "Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States," the measure would start to make good on Trump's promise to tighten borders and halt certain refugees from entering the United States.

"I am establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America," Trump said during the signing at the Pentagon after the swearing-in of Defense Secretary James Mattis. "We don't want them here."

He added, "We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas. We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people."

The White House has not yet released the official text of the executive actions. - Read More

Trump signs executive action to keep out 'radical Islamic ... - CNN

Trump signs order to vet refugees - Thehill

President Trump on Friday signed an executive order that he said would provide a thorough vetting of refugees to ensure that terrorists cannot get into the United States.

"I'm establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America,” Trump said at a signing ceremony at the Pentagon.

"We don't want them here. We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas. We only want to admit those into our country who support our country and love deeply our people."

The White House did not provide immediate details about Trump's order, but reports in recent days suggest the U.S. will refuse to issue visas to people coming from some Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Iraq.

The order was expected to indefinitely block refugees from war-torn Syria from entering the U.S. and suspend all refugee admissions for 120 days while the administration determines which countries pose the least risk.

An extensive vetting process for refugees already existed prior to Trump’s order. The screening process took 18 to 24 months on average.
At the same ceremony at the Pentagon, Trump signed another order to significantly expand the military, modernize the nuclear arsenal and add new special operations forces.

Trump signs order to vet refugees  - More

Trump wants to kill these 17 agencies: Here's what they cost - msn

A host of planned funding cuts to federal agencies, reported last week by The Hill, are part of the Trump administration's desire to eliminate roughly $10.5 trillion in spending over the next 10 years - nearly all of the federal government's discretionary spending.

Yet Trump has vowed not to cut entitlements, such as Medicare and Social Security, and promised to beef up military spending, which represents the lion's share of federal spending - making it hard for him to do more than chip away at the margins of the nearly $20 trillion national debt.

What, then, would the reported cuts accomplish? The answer appears to be defunding a number of projects seen as liberal darlings - including groups aimed at preserving and supporting the environment, civil rights protections, the arts, minority-owned businesses, and public broadcasting.

To put this in context: The total cost, per American, of the following 17 programs said to be on the chopping block is $22.36 - of which more than a third comes from a single clean-energy program. By contrast, housing subsidies, like the mortgage interest deduction, which are disproportionately used by the wealthy, cost $296.29 per American. - More

Trump wants to kill these 17 agencies: Here's what they cost

Trump team prepares dramatic cuts | TheHill - Read More

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Trump’s order to ban refugees and immigrants triggers fears across the globe

 President Trump’s executive order to tighten the vetting of potential immigrants and visitors to the United States, as well as to ban some refugees seeking to resettle in the country, will shatter countless dreams and divide families, would-be immigrants and human rights activists warned.

The draft order, expected to be signed as early as Thursday, calls for the immediate cessation of ongoing resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States, rejecting visas for visitors and immigrant hopefuls based partly on their ideology and opinions.

A copy of the draft orders was leaked Wednesday to civil rights groups and obtained by The Washington Post.

If the order is enacted, among those immediately affected would be potential immigrants and visitors from seven Muslim countries — Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Iran, Libya and Sudan — that are considered by the Trump administration as nations whose citizens “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.” For the next 30 days, they will not be allowed entry into the United States, even if they have visas and relatives who are U.S. citizens.

The order also calls for halting all admission and resettlement of refugees for 120 days pending the review of vetting procedures. For Syrian refugees, the ban will remain in place until further notice.

Once restarted, annual refugee admissions from all nations would be halved, from a current level of 100,000 to 50,000.

For those affected, the fear is that the order will be a harbinger for even greater restrictions on the horizon for Muslim immigrants, refugees and visitors — fulfilling Trump’s campaign promises of “extreme vetting” of foreigners seeking entry into the United States and installing “a Muslim ban.” Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Iran are among the leading countries of origin of recent refugees to the United States.

“It’s going to be devastating,” said Denise Bell, senior campaigner for refugee and migrant rights for the watchdog group Amnesty International. “Refugees are not a threat. They are the ones fleeing horrific violence. They are trying to rebuild their lives. They want the same safety and opportunities that any of us would want.”

“And so we are scapegoating them in the guise of national security. Instead, we are betraying our own values. We are violating international law,” she said.

Since Wednesday, as news of the impending order spread, lives were quickly affected across the world, particularly among the citizens of the countries immediately targeted. For them, it's already difficult to get visas or immigrate to the United States. Vetting has been stringent since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, say human rights activists. Even so, many potential Muslim immigrants went through long screening processes, often lasting years, to gain entry to the United States. Now, many find themselves in an emotional and bureaucratic limbo. - Read More, washingtonpost