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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Successful Farming at Agriculture . com

Mexico Prepared to Source South American Corn
Mexican officials won't put up with U.S. import tariff
By Luis Vieira
2/2/2017

The Mexican government would seek other agricultural suppliers in the case that President Trump fulfills his promise of imposing a major border tax of 20% on Mexican products in order to pay for a border wall.

This could mean a significant lost of market for U.S. farmers, including beef, poultry, hog, corn, soybeans, rice, and others.

“I warn you: The openness for grain and agricultural products for Brazil will eat the market that you have today in Mexico,” said Ildefonso Guajardo, Mexico’s economy secretary in a meeting this week with Stephen Bannon, Peter Navarro, and Jared Kushner, all Trump’s top aides, according to the Mexican press.

Throughout last year, Mexico has already sought to negotiate several trade agreements with both South American countries, but nothing concrete has been announced yet. According to Mike Zuzolo, president of Global Analytics & Consulting, there already has been market anxiety about what is going to happen on this issue and with cattle. Feed-meal traders from the south of the border are already trying to anticipate major decisions.

“It would all depend on the size of the second corn crop in Brazil. If Brazil has sufficient volume, it would be able to sell corn from $25 to $35 per ton (into Mexico), and there will be significant changes in the market. It’s all about the weather in Mato Grosso in the coming months,” Zuzolo predicted in a call with Agriculture.com.

On the other hand, it is unknown when a possible border tax between both countries woud be imposed, though it most likely that it would come after the third quarter of the year of even in 2018.

Mexico imports nearly 11 metric tons of yellow corn - all of it from the U.S.

In the view of Mexican analyst Alfonso García Araneda, general director of Gamaa Derivates in Mexico City, it would be harmful for both countries if a border tax is imposed. He highlights that corn and soybean purchases in Mexico are made by U.S.-based corporations such as Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill.

“The Mexican government is negotiating as hard as it can because there will be losses for both parts. I think that the U.S. administration will take into consideration all the damage it can generate for Americans. Mexican officials are trying to show it,” García told Agriculture.com.

Yet, the trade war with Mexico would not be the only one that could generate loss of market share for U.S. agricultural products. For Brazilian analyst Carlos Cogo, who is based in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, the U.S. exit of the TPP could be an opportunity for Brazil to sell at least 150 agricultural items for the 12 countries involved, but he sees a risk on the effect of Trump’s policies all over the world.

“The fiscal stimulus and higher interest rates will lead to a stronger dollar. This could generate a wave of devaluations of emerging markets’ currencies,” analyzed Cogo.
Post Fri Feb 03, 2017 2:10 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

The Hill
2 hrs ·

President Trump said today that part of the reason he's planning to cut "a lot" out of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law is because of "friends of mine, who have nice businesses, who can’t borrow money."
Trump on dismantling Wall Street regulation: 'Friends of mine can't borrow money'
President Trump on Friday said sweeping changes are needed to the Dodd-Frank financial reform law because his friends in business are struggling to get loans…
thehill.com
Post Fri Feb 03, 2017 2:17 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

The Hill


Trump signs executive orders to loosen Wall Street regs
By Peter Schroeder - 02/03/17 01:50 PM EST


Trump signs executive orders to loosen Wall Street regs
© Getty

President Trump Friday signed a pair of executive orders aimed at lightening the regulatory load on financial institutions, setting the stage for a broader push to scale back the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

The orders are somewhat limited in scale but indicate the new administration will make an overhaul of Wall Street rules a priority going forward.

Trump has repeatedly criticized Dodd-Frank, signed by President Obama in response to the 2008 financial crisis, painting it as dead weight dragging down the economy.

"Today we are signing core principles for regulating the United States financial system," Trump said while signing the orders.

One order would simply direct the Treasury secretary to meet with other top financial regulators and deliver a report in 120 days detailing what they believe is working, and not working, for Dodd-Frank. The report would also include recommendations for what legal and regulatory changes should be made to the law.

The order itself is limited, but Trump will be able to make his mark on the law going forward, primarily by filling out key regulatory positions with his own picks. But more wholesale changes to the overall structure of those rules will likely require help from Congress.

Early indications are that Democrats are eager to criticize any efforts to make life easier for Wall Street.

“The Wall Street bankers and lobbyists whose greed and recklessness nearly destroyed this country may be toasting each other with champagne, but the American people have not forgotten the 2008 financial crisis — and they will not forget what happened today,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in a statement.

The second order would have a more immediate impact. That executive action directs the Labor Department to halt work on a contentious rule aimed at retirement investment advisers, known as the “fiduciary duty” rule.

The rule would require financial advisers to act solely for the benefit of their clients, a requirement backers say is critical to ensuring customers are not steered into pricey and ineffective investments by advisers looking to boost their commissions.

The financial industry has fought the regulation, painting it as overbroad and overly burdensome.

That rule was finalized last summer by the Obama administration but was not planned to take effect until April 2017. But under the order, the government is delaying implementation of that rule and ordering it to be reviewed by the Labor Department.

With Trump in power, and Republicans and the financial industry longtime opponents of the regulatory effort, it is highly unlikely the rule will ever take effect in a substantially similar format.
Post Fri Feb 03, 2017 2:44 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Friday, Feb 3, 2017 03:59 AM CST
To commemorate Black History Month, Trump administration decrees that white supremacists can’t be terrorists
Trump wants to focus counterterrorism exclusively on Muslims. Is this a thank-you note to white supremacists?
Chauncey DeVega


During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to “take care of our African-American people.” Given Trump’s embrace of overtly or implicitly racist “law and order” policies, his history of racial discrimination against African-Americans and other people of color at his properties and his vigilante threats to commit a public lynching against the “Central Park Five,” there was always an element of menace to that declaration.

The threat is now confirmed. On Wednesday, Reuters reported as follows (with italics added):

The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters. The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.

Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller are two of Donald Trump’s closest advisers. They both admire and are affiliated with white nationalists and white supremacists. Is this policy change a quid pro quo directed at the overt racists and neo-Nazis who supported Trump with enthusiasm? The American public will likely never know the answer. Nevertheless, the implications should be frightening: When the federal government declines to use its counterterrorism resources to combat violent white supremacy, it amounts to the same thing.

This decision by the Trump administration is part of a bigger pattern in which (white) Republicans and conservatives — and their media offshoots — systematically try to suppress information and investigations about the threat posed by right-wing militias and hate groups.

I explored this subject in an earlier article for Salon, following the arrest of three white men in Kansas who called themselves the Crusaders:

On these matters, white privilege also imperils public safety. Since 2002 more Americans have been killed by white Christian right-wing terrorists than by Muslims or Arabs. As reported by Duke University’s Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security in 2015, “Law enforcement agencies in the United States consider anti-government violent extremists, not radicalized Muslims, to be the most severe threat of political violence that they face.” In its announcement about the arrest . . . the FBI also referred to the Crusaders as “domestic terrorists.”

But the right-wing media and the Republican Party have chosen to actively suppress that information — as was the case with West Point’s Combatting Terrorism Center’s findings about the threat posed by right-wing anti-government groups, which were met with protests, derision and threats to cut research funding. In all, the image of the Muslim-Arab bogeyman with a suicide vest hiding under the beds of white middle America does more political work for conservatives than a mature discussion of the significant dangers posed by white right-wing radicals and terrorists in the “sovereign citizens” and militia movements.




Trump’s decision to ignore the dangers posed by white supremacists comes at a perilous moment. As compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center and other groups, since the November election there have been at least 900 documented hate crimes, an almost unprecedented increase. The FBI recently released information suggesting that white supremacist groups are actively trying to infiltrate police and other law enforcement agencies with the goal of targeting nonwhites for harassment and violence. The so-called Sovereign Citizens movement — whose members identify with white nationalism and white supremacy — also represents a major threat to public safety and order.



These are life and death matters. Last week, a white nationalist Trump supporter was arrested after allegedly killing six Muslims at a mosque in Quebec. In 2015, Dylann Roof — who was radicalized online by white supremacists — murdered nine African-Americans during a prayer session at their church in Charleston, South Carolina. These examples do not include the many other domestic terrorism plots by white supremacists and other right-wing groups that have been prevented by law enforcement.

The Trump administration’s decision to shift resources away from investigating white supremacist hate groups and focus exclusively on “radical Islam” leaves America less safe and less secure. As president of the United States, Trump is the nation’s chief law enforcement officer. He is supposed to ensure that the Constitution’s promise of “equal protection under the law” is properly fulfilled.

For Trump, those obligations do not appear to apply to African-Americans, Arab or Muslim immigrants and other people of color. As he suggested he would do all along, Trump is targeting Muslims and African-Americans. Now he appears to be rewarding his white supremacist supporters by extending them special protection.

Chauncey DeVega is a politics staff writer for Salon. His essays can also be found at Chaunceydevega.com. He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Chauncey DeVega Show. Chauncey can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.
Post Fri Feb 03, 2017 2:55 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Southern Poverty Law Center


"Nothing has changed. Travelers are still blocked, often trapped in places that are not their homes. How is Trump getting away with violating not one but multiple sweeping court orders telling him to stop the implementation of his travel ban?

"The administration has instructed airlines that it has “revoked immigrant and non-immigrant visas for travelers to the U.S. from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.” The Boston order applies in part to “holders of valid immigrant and non-immigrant visas.” The government says that since it revoked those visas—without having publicized it to anyone except the airlines—they are no longer valid, so the court order doesn’t apply to the people to whom it applies.
Post Fri Feb 03, 2017 3:12 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Jurisprudence
The law, lawyers, and the court.
Feb. 2 2017 8:27 PM
Disorder

The president is violating the court orders against his Muslim ban. Here’s how he’s getting away with it.
By Jeremy Stahl


Early Sunday, less than 48 hours after the haphazard and mistake-riddled implementation of Donald Trump’s almost certainly unconstitutional travel ban, two district court judges in Massachusetts issued a sweeping order appearing to call for a temporary halt to the executive order.

Donald Trump and anyone working with him to implement the ban, Judges Allison Dale Burroughs and Judith G. Dein wrote, “shall not, by any manner or means, detain or remove individuals with refugee applications approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as part of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, holders of valid immigrant and non-immigrant visas, lawful permanent residents, and other individuals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen who, absent the Executive Order, would be legally authorized to enter the United States.”

The judges went further, instructing Trump and his agents to notify airlines that these people would not be detained or returned “solely on the basis of the Executive Order” so long as they flew in to Boston’s Logan Airport. This was widely interpreted as a very clear instruction: Tell the airlines that previously blocked travelers are now allowed to fly to Boston.

By Tuesday night another court, this time in Los Angeles, had issued an injunction restraining Trump from “blocking the entry” of a number of specifically named would-be travelers trapped in Djibouti and “any other person from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen with a valid immigrant visa.” The order also instructed the airport to “immediately” notify all relevant authorities at Los Angeles International Airport and Djibouti’s international airport that the plaintiffs in the case were allowed to travel.
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It’s been more than four full days since the Boston order and more than one full day since the Los Angeles order. Nothing has changed. Travelers cleared by the two court orders to come to America have instead been blocked. They remain in legal limbo, often trapped in places that are not their homes. How is Trump getting away with violating not one but multiple sweeping court orders telling him to stop the implementation of his and the Republican Party’s travel ban? Trump has violated the spirit of the court rulings—and, in the opinion of experts, the letter—through a mix of legal chicanery and subterfuge, enabled by a Kafkaesque bureaucracy doing the president’s will rather than the will of the courts.

On Wednesday afternoon, I called the security department at Qatar Airways to try to determine what it had been instructed to do by Trump’s Customs and Border Protection agency. (I made multiple phone calls and sent multiple emails to Jaime Ruiz, a public information officer for CBP. His phone mailbox was full, and he has not returned my emails.) The lawyer who filed the Los Angeles suit, Julie Goldberg, told me in a phone call from Djibouti that she had been attempting to put her clients—who following the Massachusetts order should have been allowed to fly to Boston—on flights to Logan. They had been turned away en masse. That first court order, you’ll recall, explicitly instructs the administration to tell airlines that they need to let people on these flights. As of Monday morning, well after the order, Qatar Airways—which flies from Djibouti, where hundreds of Yemenis are trapped, to Boston via Doha—was not letting her clients board those planes. The security agency had told her its latest update from CBP had come Monday morning and had not added the travelers covered under the Boston order. On Wednesday, when I called the security department of Qatar Airways—the department at that airline that receives and carries out instructions from CBP on who is and isn’t allowed to board flights—I learned that the policy still hadn’t been updated, even after the Los Angeles court order and its instructions to “immediately” notify relevant authorities that some of these passengers were allowed to travel.

When I gave a man who identified himself as Hamdi a couple of the names listed in that Los Angeles order, he told me he couldn’t find them. “I have hundreds of billions of names—passengers who cannot travel today. So I’m not sure if we have these names today coming from Djibouti. But we have from Djibouti today, we have from Addis Ababa. We have from almost everywhere almost,” he told me. “Mostly they are Somali passengers. They are traveling using their visas, which is not allowed anymore, to go to the U.S. as per the new rules, which have been implemented recently, a few days ago. Passengers are intercepted and offloaded from the flights. We don’t have any further notice when we’re going to accept or accepting these people again.”

He informed me that the last update from CBP was received Monday—apparently the same one that Goldberg was aware of. The Trump administration had not updated its instructions with the Boston court order. “Other visas, immigrant visas, IR, IR1, IR2, these visas are not allowed to go,” Hamdi told me. (The Boston order clears for travel both refugees and “holders of valid immigrant and non-immigrant visas.”)

When I read him one of the court orders, Hamdi said: “No, no. I’m afraid this is not accurate information, because we have the information coming from Customs and Border Protection agency in U.S. saying it gives us the categories of visas that are allowed to travel to the U.S.”

Again, this was according to the last update from CBP, received Monday, he said. I then attempted to call a number I had been given for CBP headquarters at JFK; the number had also been publicized on Facebook. The response on the line was this: “You have reached an unworking number in our organization. If you’re trying to reach the Federal Aviation Administration, the new number is (718) 995-7999. All others please use the main agency number.”

When I called Qatar Airways back to try to get the new CBP number, we went around in circles for a half an hour. When I tried to get representatives to explain to me on what basis they were ignoring the court order, they repeatedly cited CBP. One man in the security department who identified himself as Deshaun attempted to explain it this way: We are following “direct orders given by the U.S. president. It’s there. It’s published in common website, general website.” Another man in the security department, Benson, told me he couldn’t give me the CBP number, but he could call CBP and ask officials if there had been any update to the policy since Monday. At that moment, anyone with access to Google had better information than the people working in the security department at Qatar Airways, and the administration didn’t seem in any rush to keep the principals updated, court order be damned.

That’s where the legal chicanery comes in. The administration has instructed airlines that it has “revoked immigrant and non-immigrant visas for travelers to the United States from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.” The Boston order applies in part to “holders of valid immigrant and non-immigrant visas.” The government says that since it revoked those visas—without having publicized it to anyone except the airlines—they are no longer valid, so the court order doesn’t apply to the people to whom it applies. This reading is tendentious at best and outright malevolent at worst. As Ahilan Arulanantham, legal director at the ACLU of Southern California, put it to me in a phone call: “If you were dealing with an administration that was adopting a fair reading of the law, that [Boston order] would have been sufficient. But what we found between Saturday night, and then Sunday, and then Monday, and [Tuesday], and [Wednesday]—based on what I’m hearing—is that the government has tried to subvert the order by exploiting these barely existent ambiguities.”

Those barely existent ambiguities are the “valid visa” portion of the order. “If you’re looking for daylight here, that is the daylight,” Pratheepan Gulasekaram, an associate professor and expert in immigration law at Santa Clara University School of Law, told me. “If the order says you can’t deny a ‘valid visa’ to somebody coming from one of these countries, then fine, make the visa invalid before they get in—then you’re no longer denying that visa.”

He added, “I think that it’s a nonsense way of doing it.”

Not only does the administration’s justification for refusing the Boston order disobey the spirit of the order, but it also seems to violate the letter. The order says, “Customs and Border Security shall notify airlines that have flights at Logan Airport of this Order and the fact that individuals on these flights will not be detained or returned solely on the basis of the Executive Order.” The secretly issued State Department memo that revoked those visas was handed down on the same day as the executive order. It says it was being issued “in implementation of … the Executive Order on Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals.” Hardly any ambiguity there: The State Department memo is just a proxy for the executive order.

The court orders have also run headlong into a confused and sprawling bureaucracy where the only clear chain of command leads right to Trump. As Gulasekaram told me: “I can imagine any number of scenarios where you have agency actors, especially low-level agency actors spread across these departments, being truly confused by it, and for others ideologically just feeling like they want to skirt the order to the fullest extent possible, and this is the way they’re going to do it.

The court orders have also run headlong into a confused and sprawling bureaucracy where the only clear chain of command leads right to Trump.

“Fundamentally, this comes down to the responsibility of the executive. The executive has to have control over his underlings, over his Cabinet-level members, and then have them control their line officers and get them in line, otherwise the president and everybody on down the line is essentially violating the court order and can be held in contempt.”

I witnessed this in my dealings with Qatar Airways. On Thursday, I checked the Qatar Airways website, and it had clearly been updated from what it had been on Wednesday with the CBP specifications for who was allowed and who wasn’t—but it still did not acknowledge the court orders. What this means, in all likelihood, is that at some point between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, CBP and Qatar Airways communicated in some fashion—and CBP apparently neglected to mention anything about the people affected by the Boston and L.A. court orders. (It’s possible, but doubtful, that the airline made the change on its own. The clear indication to me on Wednesday was that officials there were only following instructions from CBP.)

I called the Qatar Airways security line again Thursday from the same number I had on Wednesday to see if officials there had received this update after calling CBP at my behest. At that point I received an automated message in Arabic followed by this message in English: “Sorry, your call is restricted.” I tried again and received the same message. When I tried from a different number, a man answered, identifying himself as Shafeek. When I asked him if the policy had been updated since Wednesday, he said, “Yes, sir.” When I asked Shafeek when he had received new guidance for that, he handed me to Deshaun. Here is a condensed transcript of our conversation:

Me: It appears that they have now changed the information on the website?

Deshaun: I’m not in a position, like I told you, to give you any information or any update or any information related to visa requirements to the U.S. You need to speak to someone in the U.S. Embassy or consulate, or you need to refer to the website. As the airlines, we have very limited information that we are not going to disclose to an anon person.

Me: Is there a new policy? Have there been new instructions from CBP?

Deshaun: Like I told you, I’m not going to give you any new information, Jeremy, because you are [not] known to me. You are not working for any airline authority. Whatever we follow the instructions given by the U.S. authorities.

Me: Has the website changed?

Deshaun: I don’t know.

Me: Don’t know or can’t tell me?

Deshaun: I can’t give any information. We are not referring to any website here. Call Qatar Airways customer service.

Me: Yesterday someone in your office was able to tell me precisely what types of visas were allowed. Why can’t you do that now?

Deshaun: May I know who gave you this information yesterday?

Me: One of the people I spoke with did.

Deshaun: I am an employee of Qatar Airways. Like I told you, I am not in a position to give you information because you are an anon person from me.

Me: Who told you that you’re not in a position to give me information?

Deshaun: Nobody is stopping me. I know my rights. I know what I’m talking about. So like I said, I’m not going to give you any information.

Me: Why was I given information yesterday and not today?

Deshaun: Let’s stop this conversation. This is not going to work. You need to talk to customer service, or you need to talk to the CBP.

Again, CBP has not returned my repeated requests for comment, and the phone number I had for its headquarters is no longer working.

This farrago of miscommunication, bureaucratic entanglements, and legalistic misdirection surrounding an enormous and broad group of visa-holders—the Boston Globe reported that some 721 of the affected visa-holders had been prevented from boarding in the first three days—is precisely how the administration has been able to justify its defiance of the Boston order. In the case of the Los Angeles order, however, there is no ambiguity whatsoever. It applies, very specifically, to more than two-dozen plaintiffs and offers very explicit instructions on what the administration must do to make those plaintiffs whole.

From the order:

Defendants and their officers, agents, employees, attorneys, and all persons acting in concert or participating with them, are ENJOINED AND RESTRAINED from enforcing Defendant President Donald J. Trump’s January 27, 2017 Executive Order by removing, detaining, or blocking the entry of Plaintiffs, or any other person from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen with a valid immigrant visa; Defendants, and Defendant United States Department of State in particular, are hereby ENJOINED AND RESTRAINED from cancelling validly obtained and issued immigrant visas of Plaintiffs;

Defendants, and Defendant United States Department of State in particular, are hereby ORDERED to return to Plaintiffs their passports containing validly issued immigrant visas so that Plaintiffs may travel to the United States on said visas; and Defendants are hereby ORDERED to IMMEDIATELY inform all relevant airport, airline, and other authorities at Los Angeles International Airport and International Airport in Djibouti that Plaintiffs are permitted to travel to the United States on their valid immigrant visas.

There is no wiggle room here. So is the White House following this federal court ruling? On Thursday, Goldberg told me she had attempted to take her clients to the embassy in Djibouti. “We took a video of us going there, and [officials at the embassy] refused to give [these plaintiffs their] passports back,” she said. “And the police kicked everybody off the embassy. There were U.S. citizens [kicked out]. Everybody was really upset. So, it’s been a long day.”
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“They are absolutely not following the court order,” she added. In addition to not handing over the passports and the visas—as the order clearly instructs the State Department to do—airlines were still not letting the plaintiffs in this case board flights. Goldberg is attempting to find a workaround so that she doesn’t have to deal with the airlines.

“At this point, I am looking for a private charter who is not going to be intimidated by CBP to charter a plane and bring all 240 people,” she said. (She filed the suit on behalf of a small number of clients, but she has begun to work on behalf of a much larger group that she intends to add to the suit as part of a class action.) “The cost is absolutely prohibitive for some of these people.” She would like to crowdfund the costs of the flights “because you know they’ve already paid once, and now they’re paying a second time.”

That Goldberg can’t find a carrier willing to ignore CBP’s illegal orders and take these people to the United States isn’t even worst part of this story. Even more egregious, she said, is the defiance of a court order issued Tuesday night specifically instructing U.S. officials to return to the plaintiffs “their passports containing validly issued immigrant visas.” On Wednesday, Goldberg tried to get the passports back, with no luck. On Thursday, she tried again and was again turned away.
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“If you would have asked me any time in my life, would we get a president who could absolutely disregard the three-system body that we have in this country, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Goldberg told me when we spoke on Wednesday. “To blatantly disregard a judicial order is for me beyond comprehension.” Fourteen days into the Trump administration, we’re learning the world is daily more full of things previously thought to be beyond comprehension.
Post Fri Feb 03, 2017 3:21 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

The Agenda
The little-noticed bombshell in Trump's immigration order

The travel ban got all the headlines, but experts are realizing another provision could clamp down on normal tourism and even diplomats.

By Danny Vinik

02/03/17 03:26 PM EST


When President Donald Trump issued his executive order on immigration last week, it was the travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries that dominated headlines—leaving hundreds of people in limbo, provoking airport protests, and raising questions about whether the U.S. was targeting religion in the guise of a new security rule.

But immigration lawyers who have read the order carefully are now increasingly concerned that one of its provisions could have much wider repercussions, affecting literally every foreign visitor to America, from tourists to diplomats.

The little-noticed section, appearing immediately after the travel ban, calls for the government to develop a “uniform screening standard and procedure” for all individuals seeking to enter the United States. As written, it appears to require all visitors to go through the same vetting measures, regardless of where they come from or how long they intend to stay.

If interpreted as broadly as it’s written, “It would basically shut down tourism,” said Stephen Legomsky, the former chief counsel for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during the Obama administration.

Trump’s executive order, issued last Friday, has already been criticized as hastily drafted and confusing, and the White House has already loosened up one portion of it, allowing green card holders currently overseas to re-enter the U.S.

But little attention has focused on section four, which directs federal officials to implement a “uniform screening standard and procedure” as part of the “adjudication process for immigration benefits” for all individuals seeking to enter the United States. In immigration parlance, “immigration benefits” refers to any permission granted a foreign visitor, from full-scale refugee resettlement to a passport stamp for tourists visiting Disneyland. That wording is about as broad as it can get, lawyers said, and if taken literally would include every single foreigner coming to the United States. “[It] is basically everything,” said Dan Stein, the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a group that supports reducing immigration levels.

“What they are talking about doing has scared the shit out of my members, about the lack of guidance and lack of clarity,” said Ben Johnson, the head of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

The implications of the order as written are so extreme that most lawyers are convinced that the Trump administration will not adhere to its literal meaning; as with other sections of the order, they expect the White House to stray from the drafted language. But such uncertainty has left lawyers baffled about what the interpretation will actually look like, and wondering whether Trump and his top advisors really do intend to upend the U.S. immigration system—and possibly disrupt global travel altogether.

Said Kathleen Campbell Walker, an immigration attorney in Texas and former head of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, “Good Lord, I’ve been doing this for 31 years and I’m trying to figure out what this means.”

“Do they want to create, like we have for refugees now, a two-year process [for everyone looking to enter the U.S.] that involves multiple screenings and re-screenings and vetting by every single security agency?” said Donald Kerwin, the executive director of the Center for Migration Studies. “I don’t think so. I think that would shut down immigration to the United States.”

Former government officials from both parties pointed out that enforcing it would be virtually impossible with current resources, either forcing the administration to abandon the standard or dramatically reducing the number of foreigners who travel to the U.S.

“They just can’t physically do it. It really can’t happen,” said Legomsky, who also pointed out that if they did, it would cause blowback that would hurt American travelers as well. “Other countries would reciprocate some of our constraints on U.S. citizens seeking to travel,” he said.

“I don’t know what they mean by that,” said Robert Divine, the former chief counsel at U.S. Immigration and Custom Services during the George W. Bush administration. A uniform standard is so resource-intensive, he said, as to be completely unworkable. “They’ll find out that there aren’t enough resources to go around and the nation still needs the wheels to turn and people to come here. It’ll be a painful process of realization.”

More than 10 million people traveled to the U.S. on a visa in 2015—including immigrants and nonimmigrants—while tens of millions visited the United States without a visa. The section calls for the secretary of state, secretary of homeland security, director of national intelligence and FBI director to develop a “uniform screening standard and procedure” for all of them. That could slow travel to the U.S. to a crawl, upending the tourism industry and creating massive headaches for companies with foreign employees who frequently travel to the U.S. Foreign airline employees would have to go through significant vetting procedures every time they enter here.

So what does Trump really mean by a “uniform screening standard and procedure”? Immigration lawyers weren’t sure. Given Trump’s promise of “extreme vetting,” it could be very stringent, requiring an in-person interview, detailed documentation, medical histories and biometric testing such as fingerprints, among other information. The section suggests, but doesn’t mandate, in-person interviews, a database of identity documents and forms with questions to identify fraudulent answers and to confirm the applicant’s identity. That would be a huge break from the current system, which adopts a risk-based approach where people considered to pose a greater risk to the U.S. undergo a more thorough and lengthy vetting process, and in which people travelling from any of 38 specified countries—allies like Britain, France and Australia—don’t need a visa to visit at all. Requiring those travelers to undergo the same vetting procedures as a refugee would create an enormous strain on foreign consulates and U.S. immigration authorities, effectively imposing tight new limits on how many people can visit the U.S. each year.

“It’s hard for me to imagine a screening procedure that is rigorous enough for people who are coming here permanently that, with present resources, we could come even close to using for the 50 million tourists entering our territory,” said Legomsky. He added, “Either the language is hopelessly incompetent or they really do mean that there has to be one uniform screening standard that would be unworkable in practice.”

Unlike other sections of the order, section four doesn’t mention an exception for certain visa holders, including those with diplomatic visas, and it does not grant the secretary of homeland security, or any other official, the authority to waive the screening on a case-by-case basis. Based on the text, then, foreign heads of states, including those of allies like Britain’s Theresa May and Germany’s Angela Merkel, would have to go through the same vetting process as every other foreigner seeking to enter the U.S.

The pragmatic view of the order is that the final policy would naturally include plenty of exemptions; Stein, the head of FAIR, argued that the order should not be read to mean that every foreigner would undergo the same vetting process but instead that vetting would context-specific. “There are not unlimited resources,” he said. “So therefore, one would assume that they are going to use a rule of reason in what they mean by ‘uniform’.” He continued, “Spinning out scenarios of an impractical uniformity sounds kind of foolish, because that’s not the real world.”

Most immigration lawyers agreed with Stein that the Trump administration would ultimately interpret “uniform” to mean context-specific—that is, not really uniform.

“I don’t think this limits itself to one size has to fit all,” said Michael Neifach, a lawyer who held senior positions at DHS during the Bush administration. “But this is very broad language. You’ve seen with the other sections of the executive order, it’s subject to modification.”

The White House did not respond to multiple emails asking how to interpret the section. The office of the director of national intelligence said “it did not have anything to offer on this question” and the FBI directed requests to Department of Homeland Security, which did not respond to emails and calls asking for clarification. A State Department official said the new policy was underway, but without offering specifics: “Working closely with the Department of Homeland Security, we are implementing the Executive Order. We will announce any changes affecting travelers to the United States as soon as that information is available.”

Experts are also concerned with the potential criteria that the order suggests should be included in a uniform standard. It suggests a “process to evaluate the applicant’s likelihood of becoming a positively contributing member of society and the applicant’s ability to make contributions to the national interest,” wording that lawyers said was impossible to decipher. “What does that mean?” asked a Democratic aide. “Who is a positively contributing member of society?” The order also suggests that the standard include some mechanism to determine whether the applicant “has the intent to commit criminal or terrorist acts” in the U.S.

The order lays out no timetable for when the uniform standard should be implemented, but directs the secretary of homeland security to submit three reports—within 60 days, within 100 days and within 200 days—on the departments’ progress complying with the order.

Even with a less extreme interpretation, immigration experts expect that changes to the vetting process will still affect nearly everyone coming to the U.S. Trump advisors Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, two of the leading authors of the executive order, have shown interest in not just reducing the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. but reducing the flow of legal immigrants as well. The travel ban, controversial as it is, does not go far towards accomplishing that goal, since it is largely restricted to seven countries that send relatively few people to America. But a broader tightening of the vetting process could be far more effective, gumming up the entire system and slowing the flow of all arrivals.

To immigration restrictionist groups like FAIR, such a crackdown on immigration flows has long been needed for America’s national and economic security. Stricter vetting measures are necessary even for people coming from closely allied countries included in the Visa Waiver Program, they say, due to the fact that more than a million refugees have migrated to Europe, specifically Germany.

“If you are going to keep Schengen in place and keep the E.U. functioning,” said Stein, referring to the area of Europe with passport-free travel, “there is going to have to be a far more elaborate vetting process over the chaos that Merkel has been leading the last several years.”

Many immigration lawyers and former Obama administration officials are critical of that reasoning. Instead of making the country safer, they said, a uniform screening standard would waste limited resources on low-risk travelers, potentially allowing more high-risk ones to fall through the cracks. “That creates a bit more of a needle in a haystack problem,” said Betsy Cooper, a former attorney advisor at the Department of Homeland Security. “If you are treating every piece of hay like it could equally be a needle, it becomes a lot harder to find the needle.”
Authors:

Danny Vinik
dvinik@politico.com
Post Fri Feb 03, 2017 4:21 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

.

Robert Reich and 5 others shared a link.
Trust Records Show Trump Is Still Closely Tied to His Empire
New documents on the president’s trust, set up to allay fears of conflicts of…
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nytimes.com|By Susanne Craig and Eric Lipton

Robert Reich
1 hr ·

Just before becoming president, Trump told the American public that he’d placed his business holdings in a trust -- in order allay fears that he might exploit the Oval Office for personal gain.

It turns out his “trust” is a sham and a ruse -- and those fears continue to be justified.

According to documents made public today through a Freedom of Information Act request by ProPublica:

1. Trump receives reports on the profits or losses of his businesses.

2. He can revoke the authority of his son and the business’s CFO (who oversee his assets in the business) at any time – meaning that, as a practical matter, Trump retains day-to-day authority.

3. The stated purpose of the so-called Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust is to hold assets for the “exclusive benefit” of the president. The trust even remains under Mr. Trump’s Social Security number.

Trump is ripping us off, folks. At this very moment, foreign governments and their diplomats are booking suites at the Trump International Hotel in Washington in order to curry favor with him. He gets 67 percent of the profits. This is a clear violation of Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution – grounds for impeachment.

What do you think?
Post Sat Feb 04, 2017 4:49 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

U.S.
How Washington State Upended Trump’s Travel Ban
By ALEXANDER BURNSFEB. 4, 2017

Bob Ferguson, the Washington State attorney general, on Friday in Seattle, where a judge temporarily blocked President Trump’s immigration order from being enforced nationwide.
Credit
Karen Ducey/Getty Images
While President Trump’s travel ban threw American airports into chaos last weekend, Bob Ferguson, the attorney general of Washington State, was biding his time on an airplane.
On his way home from a conference of Democratic attorneys general in Florida, Mr. Ferguson landed a week ago in the center of a political and legal firestorm. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was in disarray, with protests massing. Gov. Jay Inslee, a fellow Democrat, had sent word to the attorney general’s staff that he wanted to mount a battering-ram attack on the president’s decree.
Within two days, Mr. Ferguson had become a leading combatant in a battle with the president of the United States, filing a dramatic challenge to Mr. Trump’s travel ban that yielded a ruling from a federal judge on Friday freezing the order’s implementation.
A genial 51-year-old with an earnest demeanor, Mr. Ferguson cuts an unlikely figure as an antagonist for the most pugilistic president in modern times. He is seen in the state less as a chest-thumping showman than as a former member of the King County Council with a wonky sensibility and an eager manner.
But Mr. Ferguson, by his own account and the description of his associates, was incensed and offended by Mr. Trump’s sweeping immigration restrictions. And having landed in Seattle on the first full day the ban was in effect — while demonstrations grew across the country — he went home to greet his family and then went to work devising a plan to cripple Mr. Trump’s new policy.
In an interview, Mr. Ferguson said he had concluded from the start that Mr. Trump’s order was “unlawful and unconstitutional,” and that any appropriate response would have to aim at neutering it entirely. Eschewing the approach of other Democratic-leaning states, which have challenged Mr. Trump’s order by highlighting the claims of individual plaintiffs, Mr. Ferguson and his office opted to draft a complaint arguing that the ban would cause drastic damage to Washington State as a whole.
Mr. Ferguson said that the state solicitor general, Noah Purcell, a former Supreme Court clerk for David H. Souter, had suggested last weekend that the state enlist major private companies as allies. And so the attorney general spoke by telephone with a host of executives, including the corporate counsels of Expedia and Amazon, who agreed to supply forceful declarations for the state’s suit, describing the damage that the White House order could inflict.
Mr. Ferguson said he had recognized at the time that this was a potentially risky approach, seeking a more sweeping victory with a comparatively untested legal strategy.

But Mr. Ferguson, a former state chess champion, explained in precise language that he had decided it was a gamble worth taking.
“From my standpoint there is risk in everything, but I am someone who believes in calculated risk,” Mr. Ferguson said in the interview. “One just needs to be comfortable with that. And when it comes to the constitutional rights of my people, the people I represent, I’m prepared to take a calculated risk on their behalf.”
Mr. Inslee, also in an interview, said he strongly backed Mr. Ferguson’s approach, viewing Mr. Trump’s order as a unique threat to their state’s economy, which depends heavily on international trade, and to the state’s diverse population. In his view, the governor said, the state was right to make “any plausible claim” to take down the order.
Few other states adopted such a daring strategy. Mr. Ferguson said he had invited other Democratic attorneys general to join in his lawsuit, finding only one taker so far: Lori Swanson of Minnesota. Mr. Ferguson said there were other states still weighing whether to join him.
Mr. Inslee described the Friday ruling as a special kind of victory for Washington State, which draws relatively little attention in national politics but tends to race ahead of national trends on social issues.
“It’s part of our nature and history,” Mr. Inslee said. “This is the first time this administration has been reined in.”
A version of this article appears in print on February 5, 2017, on Page A13 of the New York edition with the headline: How Washington State Banded Together to Halt Trump’s Travel Decree.
Post Sun Feb 05, 2017 5:22 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

https://a.msn.com/r/2/AAmCZbE?m=en-us



Top News | Sun Feb 5, 2017 | 12:20pm IST
Reuters


By David Shepardson | WASHINGTON

The U.S. Justice Department filed an appeal late Saturday to restore President Donald Trump's immigration order barring citizens from seven mainly Muslim countries and temporarily banning refugees, even as travelers raced to enter the country while the ban was lifted.

The government moved to reverse a federal judge's Friday order that lifted the travel ban and warned the decision posed an immediate harm to the public, thwarted enforcement of an executive order and "second-guesses the president’s national security judgment about the quantum of risk posed by the admission of certain classes of (non-citizens) and the best means of minimizing that risk."

Friday's ruling prompted Trump to denounce the "so-called" judge in a series of tweets on Saturday..

The appeal now goes to a three-judge panel which can act at anytime to uphold the order or suspend it pending a full appeal. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment beyond the filing.

A ruling could come at any time.

Seattle U.S. District Judge James Robart's decision barred the administration from enforcing the sweeping order that also indefinitely barred Syrian refugee admissions and prompted large protests across the United States.

Trump, whose personal attack on Robart, decrying his opinion as "ridiculous," went too far for some who said the president was undermining an institution designed to check the power of the White House and Congress, said he was confident the government would prevail.

"We'll win. For the safety of the country, we'll win," he told reporters in Florida.

Robart's ruling came in a case brought by the state attorney general of Washington state and was backed by major state employers Amazon.com Inc and Expedia Inc.. The lawsuit is one of several now filed against the Trump executive order around the United States, but it was the first case leading to a broad decision that applies nationwide.

The Justice Department appeal criticized Robart's legal reasoning, saying it violates the separation of powers and steps on the president's authority as commander chief.

The appeal said the state of Washington lacked standing to challenge the order and denied that the order "favors Christians at the expense of Muslims."

Congress gave the president "the unreviewable authority to suspend the admission of any class" of visitor, the Justice Department wrote.

"Courts are particularly ill-equipped to second-guess the president’s prospective judgment about future risks," the appeal said, calling the decision "vastly overbroad."

Washington state lawyers worked around the clock last weekend against the backdrop of turbulent scenes at U.S. airports, where immigrants were detained by federal officials unprepared to implement the president's directive.

A spokesman for Washington state attorney general Bob Ferguson didn't immediately comment early Sunday.

The U.S. State Department and Department of Homeland Security said they were complying with Robart's order and many visitors are expected to start arriving on Sunday, while the government said it expects to begin admitting refugees again on Monday.

A decision to reinstate Trump's order could again cause havoc at U.S. airports because some visitors are in transit, as was the case when the order took effect on Jan. 27.

As the ban lifted Friday, refugees and thousands of travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who had been stopped in their tracks last weekend by the executive order scrambled to get flights to quickly enter the United States.

The panel that will decide whether to immediately block the ruling includes three judges appointed by former Republican president George W. Bush and two former Democratic presidents, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.

U.S. immigration advocacy groups including the American Civil Liberties Union on Saturday in a joint statement urged those with now valid visas from the seven nations "to consider rebooking travel to the United States immediately" because the ruling could be overturned or put on hold.

A U.S. State Department email reviewed by Reuters said the department is working to begin admitting refugees including Syrians as soon as Monday.

Trump's Jan. 27 order had barred admission of citizens from seven majority Muslim nations for 90 days, suspended all refugee admissions for 120 days and indefinitely barred Syrian refugees.


SEPARATION OF POWERS

It is unusual for a president to attack a member of the judiciary, which the U.S. Constitution designates as a check to the power of the executive branch and Congress.

Reached by email Saturday, Robart declined comment on Trump's tweets.

Democratic U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont said in a statement Saturday that Trump's "hostility toward the rule of law is not just embarrassing, it is dangerous. He seems intent on precipitating a constitutional crisis."

In an interview with ABC scheduled to air Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence said he did not think that Trump's criticisms of the judge undermined the separation of powers.

The court ruling was the first move in what could be months of legal challenges to Trump's push to clamp down on immigration.

The sudden reversal of the ban catapulted would-be immigrants back to airports, with uncertainty over how long the window to enter the United States will remain open.

In Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, Fuad Sharef and his family prepared to fly on Saturday to Istanbul and then New York before starting a new life in Nashville, Tennessee.

Virtually all refugees also were barred by Trump's order, upending the lives of thousands of people who have spent years seeking asylum in the United States.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Nick Macfie)


Last edited by untanglingwebs on Wed Feb 08, 2017 3:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
Post Sun Feb 05, 2017 5:31 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Robert Sobel
Published on:
8 February 2017


Sean Spicer cites nonexistent terror attack in Atlanta to justify 'Muslim ban'
Sean Spicer appears to be following in Kellyanne Conway's footsteps when it comes to referencing fake terrorist attacks.


In the two weeks since #Donald Trump has been commander in chief, the most controversial aspect has been his executive order that critics call the "Muslim ban." His administration has often cited various examples to justify the order, but have not always given all the facts.
Spicer debunked

Last week, Presidential Counsel Kellyanne Conway came under fire while speaking to MSNBC host Chris Matthews. In an attempt to justify Donald Trump's controversial "Muslim ban" executive order, Conway cited the now in famous "Bowling Green Massacre," that allegedly occurred in the Kentucky city by two Islamic terrorists. The problem is that the attack never took place, but instead involved two Iraqi immigrants living in Bowling Green who were arrested for aiding terrorists in the Middle East. While Conway has been the butt of many jokes, White House Press Secretary #Sean Spicer is also guilty of promoting a fake terrorist attacks, as reported by The New York Daily News on February 8.

In several interviews over the last week, Sean Spicer has referenced an apparent terrorist attack in Atlanta when defending Donald Trump from media criticism. During an interview last week with ABC's "The Week," Spicer first mentioned the apparent attack in the Georgia city. "What do we say to the family that loses somebody over a #Terror Attack,, whether it's Atlanta or San Bernardino or the Boston bomber?" Spicer asked host Martha Raddatz.

The following morning, Sean Spicer spoke to MSNBC's "Morning Joe," and once again referenced the nonexistent incident. "Too many of these cases that have happened, whether you're talking about San Bernardino, Atlanta, they've happened, Boston," the press secretary said.
Possible clarification

While it's unknown what Sean Spicer was actually talking about, it's possible that he was referring to the bombing during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. However, the man responsible, Eric Rudolph, was a white American citizen, and not an Islamic terrorist from any of the countries listed in the executive order. As of press time, neither Spicer nor the White House has offered a comment to clarify the remarks.
Post Wed Feb 08, 2017 3:19 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

News
Trump Starting To Become Mad As He Realize It’s President Bannon Running The Show
By Left Liberal Reporter | February 7, 2017

President Steve Bannon is starting to get on Donald Trump’s nerves.

In the first two weeks of Trump’s presidency, many have speculated that Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart chief, is the one calling the shots in the White House.

The numerous executive orders signed by Trump fit neatly into Bannon’s white nationalist agenda; their poor execution signal that a government novice is pulling the strings; and Bannon’s unconventional (and possibly illegal) appointment to the National Security Council suggests that he, more than anyone, holds Trump’s ear.



Last night, The New York Times published a piece that said as much. According to the Times, upon entering the White House, Bannon “rushed into the vacuum, telling allies that he and adivsr Stephen Miller have a brief window in which to push through their vision of Mr. Trump’s economic nationalism.” But with protests erupting around the country, and headlines shouting that Bannon is the power behind the throne, it seems like Trump is starting to get annoyed with his racist Wormtongue.

While Bannon remains Trump’s “dominant adviser,” Trump is angry that he treated him like a human fountain pen, sneaking his way into the National Security Council through an executive order that Trump apparently didn’t read. And Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who seems to have been muscled out by Bannon, has regained some control, instituting a “10-point checklist” before any new initiatives are rolled out.

I call my own shots, largely based on an accumulation of data, and everyone knows it. Some FAKE NEWS media, in order to marginalize, lies!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 2017

It’s clear that the President Bannon memes are getting to Trump. He might not like to do boring boss things, but he definitely wants to look like the boss. This morning he tweeted:

Trump wants all the world to know that he is the biggest boy in the White House.



It looks like Mike Pence and millions in campaign contributions are going to save Betsy DeVos.

Late last week, DeVos’s nomination to lead the Department of Education looked to be in jeopardy after two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, jumped ship, citing DeVos’s radical views and, particularly, her support of vouchers, which can cripple rural school districts.

DeVos’s views on education—she believes in Jesus and privatization, though not always in that order—have come under withering attack from teachers, parents, and many, many others. In a cabinet full of controversial and radical figures, her nomination has received perhaps the most criticism—only Jeff Sessions, who once joked that he thought the KKK was “OK until I found out they smoked pot,” can compete.

DeVos’s nomination wasn’t only controversial because of her radical views or her incompetence. Her financial holdings also seem to make conflicts of interest inevitable. (Sound familiar?) Over the weekend, former ethics lawyers for George W. Bush and Barack Obama called on the Senate to dismiss her nomination because “her financial holdings present significant—and unresolved—conflict of interest issues. She also failed to provide the Senate with accurate information about her involvement with outside organizations.”

But it looks as if DeVos will survive by the skin of her teeth. Right now, she has 50 votes in the Senate, which means that Vice President Mike Pence, a friend of the ultra-wealthy, ultra-conservative DeVos family, will cast the deciding vote in her favor. Indeed, it looks as if many Republicans will be kept in line because of the tens of thousands (if not more) they’ve received in campaign contributions from the DeVos family.

(The DeVos family has contributed hundreds of millions to the Republican Party in campaign contributions and dark money over several decades.) The Democrats, powerless to stop her, will spend the next 24 hours talking about how bad she is on the floor of the Senate, which is better than nothing.

If there’s one silver lining here, it’s that the mobilization against DeVos has been profound and has inched over partisan lines. That’s because DeVos’s Department of Education will adversely affect students of widely different backgrounds across the country. And it also suggests that this fight won’t end with her confirmation.


Trump’s FCC is as shady as you’d expect.

Last week, while the Trump administration wreaked more havoc upon the nation, the Federal Communications Commission, currently chaired by Ajit Pai, quietly worked to dismantle existing consumer protections and chip away at net neutrality rules. His actions included cutting the federal assistance program for low-income broadband users and refusing to defend existing FCC rules that cap inmate intrastate calling rates.

Pai, who was appointed by Barack Obama to serve as the FCC’s minority Republican member, is a former lawyer for Verizon and a known critic of net neutrality—the concept that internet providers should not favor certain kinds of content over others. The Obama administration implemented broad rules protecting net neutrality, but they are now vulnerable. In a statement released on Friday, Pai halted an investigation into AT&T and Verizon giving themselves a competitive advantage in the market using arbitrary usage caps.

The really disconcerting thing is the lack of transparency surrounding these rollouts. According to the The New York Times: “Mr. Pai released about a dozen actions in the last week, many buried in the agency’s website and not publicly announced, stunning consumer advocacy groups and telecom analysts.” This mirrors the actions of the Trump administration as a whole.

These next four years will be defined by secrecy and the growing clout of major corporations—all at the expense of consumers.

Jeet Heer
Post Thu Feb 09, 2017 10:36 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

California Farmers Backed Trump, but Now Fear Losing Field Workers

Workers rifle through muddy leaves to find purple heads of radicchio. California farmers could lose workers, many of whom are unauthorized, if President Trump’s immigration promises come to pass.
Max Whittaker for The New York Times
By CAITLIN DICKERSON and JENNIFER MEDINA
February 9, 2017

MERCED, Calif. — Jeff Marchini and others in the Central Valley here bet their farms on the election of Donald J. Trump. His message of reducing regulations and taxes appealed to this Republican stronghold, one of Mr. Trump’s strongest bases of support in the state.

As for his promises about cracking down on illegal immigrants, many assumed Mr. Trump’s pledges were mostly just talk. But two weeks into his administration, Mr. Trump has signed executive orders that have upended the country’s immigration laws. Now farmers here are deeply alarmed about what the new policies could mean for their workers, most of whom are unauthorized, and the businesses that depend on them.

“Everything’s coming so quickly,” Mr. Marchini said. “We’re not loading people into buses or deporting them, that’s not happening yet.” As he looked out over a crew of workers bent over as they rifled through muddy leaves to find purple heads of radicchio, he said that as a businessman, Mr. Trump would know that farmers had invested millions of dollars into produce that is growing right now, and that not being able to pick and sell those crops would represent huge losses for the state economy. “I’m confident that he can grasp the magnitude and the anxiety of what’s happening now.”

Mr. Trump’s immigration policies could transform California’s Central Valley, a stretch of lowlands that extends from Sacramento to Bakersfield. Approximately 70 percent of all farmworkers here are living in the United States illegally, according to researchers at University of California, Davis. The impact could reverberate throughout the valley’s precarious economy, where agriculture is by far the largest industry. With 6.5 million people living in the valley, the fields in this state bring in $35 billion a year and provide more of the nation’s food than any other state.

The consequences of a smaller immigrant work force would ripple not just through the orchards and dairies, but also to locally owned businesses, restaurants, schools and even seemingly unrelated industries, like the insurance market.

Many here feel vindicated by the election, and signs declaring “Vote to make America great again” still dot the highways. But in conversations with nearly a dozen farmers, most of whom voted for Mr. Trump, each acknowledged that they relied on workers who provided false documents. And if the administration were to weed out illegal workers, farmers say their businesses would be crippled. Even Republican lawmakers from the region have supported plans that would give farmworkers a path to citizenship.

“If you only have legal labor, certain parts of this industry and this region will not exist,” said Harold McClarty, a fourth-generation farmer in Kingsburg whose operation grows, packs and ships peaches, plums and grapes throughout the country. “If we sent all these people back, it would be a total disaster.”
Workers packing a bin at a farm in California’s Central Valley.
Max Whittaker for The New York Times

Mr. McClarty is not just concerned about his business, but also about his work force, he said. Many of them have worked for him year-round for more than a decade, making at least $11 an hour. After immigration officials audited his employee records a few years ago, he was forced to let go of dozens of employees.

“These people had been working for us for a long time, and we depended on them.”

Now he worries that a Trump administration could mandate a Homeland Security Department program called E-verify, which was aimed at stopping the use of fraudulent documents. In all but a few states, the program is voluntary and only a small fraction of businesses use it.

Farmers here have faced a persistent labor shortage for years, in part because of increased policing at the border and the rising prices charged by smugglers who help people sneak across. The once-steady stream of people coming from rural towns in southern Mexico has nearly stopped entirely. The existing field workers are aging, and many of their children find higher-paying jobs outside agriculture.

Many growers here and across the country are hopeful that the new administration will expand and simplify H-2A visas, which allow them to bring in temporary workers from other countries for agricultural jobs. California farmers have increasingly come to rely on the program in the last few years.

But Mr. McClarty and others say that legalizing the existing work force should be the first priority. While they support the idea of deporting immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes, they oppose forcing people to leave the country for minor crimes, like driving without a license. Since the election, they have continued to call their congressional representatives and lobbied through trade associations, like the Western Growers Association, whose chief executive is part of Mr. Trump’s agricultural advisory board.

Farmers are also anxiously awaiting the administration’s plans to alter longstanding trade agreements. Mr. Trump has said he will pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement if he cannot negotiate better terms for the United States. Growers would benefit if Mr. Trump negotiated more favorable terms. But backing out of the agreement entirely could provoke retaliation from Mexico that would hurt California’s agricultural industry, which earned $21 billion from trade last year.

[Sorting radicchio at a packing plant in Central Valley. Some farmers have used the same undocumented workers for years.
Max Whittaker for The New York Times]

Yet, many of Mr. Trump’s supporters say they are counting on him to follow through on his promises. Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said that limiting the use of foreign labor would push more Americans into jobs that had primarily been performed by immigrants.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s programming computers or picking in fields,” he said, “Any time you’re admitting substitutes for American labor you depress wages and working conditions and deter Americans.”

The prospect has business owners in the valley on edge. Patricia Pantoj runs a travel agency in Madera, north of Fresno, where the city’s approximately 60,000 residents are predominantly Latino and work in the fields. This year, she said, fewer people than ever before traveled back to their hometowns in Mexico.

“They didn’t want to risk it,” she said. “Everyone is scared, even if they have papers.”

A few doors away from the travel agency, Maria Valero said all the customers at her gift shop were undocumented.

“If they went away, I would be out of business tomorrow,” she said.

Jhovani Segura, an insurance agent in Firebaugh, near the southern end of the valley, said that as much as 80 percent of their new car insurance policies came from undocumented immigrants who, under a new state law, became eligible for driver’s licenses in 2015.

“If there were mass deportations, we would have to cancel half of our policies,” he said.

In Ceres, north of Merced, the public school district is the largest employer by a large number, and many of the jobs were created to support the children of immigrants. Administrators say any crackdown would result in huge job losses and would reduce funding, which is distributed by the state based on need, for all the children in the district.

Most of the workers in Mr. McClarty’s vineyards and orchards have well-established lives in the area.


Javier Soto, 46, bought a home for his family of five in Reedley, a city of 25,000 that calls itself “the world’s fruit basket.” He has worked for Mr. McClarty’s farm for the last six years and his supervisor knows he is here without papers.

“It is more scary now that he is really the president and we see what he is doing,” Mr. Soto said.

They are hopeful Mr. Trump will not make good on most of his threats. “Quien más habla, menos hace,” they tell each other — the more you talk, the less you do. There are too many of them, they reason, to throw them all out.

“We’re just waiting and praying, hoping that somebody can convince them that we are not hurting anyone by being here,” said Isabel Rios, 49, who has been picking grapes for the last two decades. Like most women in the fields, she covers her face with a bandanna to protect against the blaring sun, dust and pesticides. Her two children, 9 and 18, are American-born citizens and she worries what will happen to them if she is sent back to Mexico. “Who will benefit if we are not here?”

Mr. Marchini, the radicchio farmer, said he felt similarly after seeing generations of workers on his family farm send their children to college and join the middle class. Mr. Marchini’s family has farmed in the valley for four generations and he grew up working side by side with Mexican immigrants.

He said that no feasible increase in wages or change in conditions would be enough to draw native-born Americans back into the fields.

It was the other conservatives, Mr. Marchini said, who were out of touch about how to deal with foreign workers. “If you find a way to get in here,” he said, “there’s a need for what you do.”
Correction: February 9, 2017

An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of a Central Valley farmer in some later references. As noted in earlier references, he is Harold McClarty, not McClatchy.
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Post Thu Feb 09, 2017 1:23 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Washington Post
4 mins ·

Refugees and others from seven Muslim-majority countries who had previously been blocked can continue to enter the United States.
Federal appeals court maintains suspension of Trump’s immigration order
A panel with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld a lower court…
washingtonpost.com|By Matt Zapotosky
Post Thu Feb 09, 2017 6:23 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

TheHill.com
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Appeals court unanimously rejects Trump on travel ban
By Melanie Zanona - 02/09/17 06:15 PM EST

Appeals court unanimously rejects Trump on travel ban
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A San Francisco-based appeals court on Thursday rejected the Trump administration’s request to resume his executive action on immigration and refugees, setting up a potential showdown in the Supreme Court.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled unanimously that a nationwide restraining order against President Trump’s temporary travel ban may continue while a federal judge considers a lawsuit over the policy.

The three-judge panel hearing the case included Judges William C. Canby Jr., a Jimmy Carter appointee; Richard R. Clifton, a George W. Bush appointee; and Michelle T. Friedland, a Barack Obama appointee.

The administration can now ask the Supreme Court to immediately intervene, which legal experts think is likely, or wait until a ruling on the preliminary injunction order. The high court is currently shorthanded with eight justices. If there is a split decision, the lower court’s ruling would be upheld.

“We're going to take it through the system,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with sheriffs at the White House, before the ruling came down. “It's very important for the country.”

U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle — a George W. Bush appointee — temporarily froze Trump’s order blocking refugees and citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. last week. Hundreds of travelers from the blocked countries have raced to get into the county while the controversial policy was put on ice.

The Department of Justice asked for the restraining order to be lifted. The appeals court denied the agency’s request for an emergency stay, but asked for additional legal briefs from both sides and held oral arguments on Tuesday.

During the hour-long hearing, August Flentje — representing the Trump administration as special counsel for the Department of Justice — argued that states do not have legal standing to bring the lawsuit and that it is within the president’s broad legal authority to protect the country's national interest with respect to the entry of aliens or refugees.

Lawyers for each side had 30 minutes to make their case in a conference call with the judges that was broadcast live online and received heavy media coverage.

But the judges seemed to signal that the states do have grounds for a lawsuit.

"Sure they can," Clifton, the Bush appointee, said when Flentje asserted that states do not have legal standing to challenge the denial of visas.

The judges also voiced skepticism that the countries targeted in the ban posed a real risk for terrorism. Flentje said the nations were previously identified by Congress and the Obama administration as "countries of concern."

Washington state Solicitor General Noah G. Purcell had urged the judges to uphold the lower court’s ruling and continue suspension of Trump’s order as lawsuits make their way through the legal system.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs, the states of Washington and Minnesota, argued in part that the order violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from favoring one religion over another.

"I'm not persuaded," Clifton said. The countries targeted "encompass only a relatively small percentage of Muslims."

Purcell said states just needed to prove the order was motivated by a desire to discriminate against Muslims, citing Trump's remark in December 2015 about a "total and complete shutdown on Muslims entering the United States."


Following the hearing, Trump lashed out at the panel of federal judges weighing the case and suggested the court was political. The president had sparked backlash last weekend for calling the judge who put a hold on his ban a "so-called" judge on Twitter.

“I don’t want to call a court biased, so I won’t call it biased,” the president said at a gathering of the Major Cities Chiefs Association in Washington. “Courts seem to be so political and it would be so great for our justice system if they could read a statement and do what’s right.”

Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, reportedly told a Democratic senator that such attacks on the judicial system were "disheartening."

Trump’s executive order bars people from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia from entering the U.S. for 90 days and temporarily halts the United States' refugee resettlement program for 120 days, while indefinitely suspending resettlement for refugees from Syria.

The order also says the administration should “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual's country of nationality.”
Post Thu Feb 09, 2017 6:32 pm 
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