Ahead of #NoMuslimBanEver March, Federal Judges Block Trump's Latest Travel Ban

Written by Super User on . Posted in Front News

by Jessica Corbett, staff writer,  October 18, 2017

www.commondreams.org

Ahead of #NoMuslimBanEver March, Federal Judges Block Trump's Latest Travel Ban

"Is anyone else seeing a pattern here? Muslim ban issued, courts strike it down."

 

After a federal judge in Hawaii temporarily halted President Donald Trump's third travel ban Tuesday afternoon, a second judge in Maryland issued a similar ruling Wednesday morning, calling the latest iteration the "inextricable re-animation of the twice-enjoined Muslim ban."

The latest ban, which was scheduled to take effect Wednesday, attempted to make permanent the restrictions targeting most of the Muslim-majority nations from the past two versions while also adding rules for travelers from Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela.

Judge Derrick K. Watson of Hawaii wrote (pdf) in his 40-page decision that Trump's third executive order is "simultaneously overbroad and underinclusive," "does not reveal why existing law is insufficient to address the president's described concerns," and "contains internal incoherencies that markedly undermine its stated 'national security' rationale." Watson's ruling impacted restrictions on travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, but not those imposed on travelers from North Korea and Venezuela.

In Maryland, Judge Theodore D. Chuang, as the Washington Post reports, "issued a somewhat less complete halt on the ban than his counterpart in Hawaii did a day earlier, blocking the administration from enforcing the directive only on those who lacked a 'bona fide' relationship with a person or entity in the United States, such as family members or some type of professional or other engagement in the United States."

Chuang's ruling, however, reportedly cited the president's comments on Twitter and during the campaign as evidence that the order was an unconstitutional ban on Muslims. He asserted that the order made "certain subjective determinations that resulted in a disproportionate impact on majority-Muslim nations" while offering "no evidence, even in the form of classified information submitted to the Court, showing an intelligence-based terrorism threat justifying a ban on entire nationalities."

Rights groups celebrated the pair of rulings ahead of a #NoMuslimBanEver March they planned to take place in Washington D.C. on Wednesday.

New York Immigration Coalition executive director Steve Choi said blocking the third ban confirms "it is un-American to discriminate against people based on race or religion," adding, "we will not make this country safer or greater by defying the founding principles on which it was built: liberty and justice for all."

"We're glad, but not surprised, that President Trump's illegal and unconstitutional Muslim ban has been blocked once again," said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, after the first ruling. The ACLU was one of the organizations that launched the legal challenge in Maryland.

"Is anyone else seeing a pattern here? Muslim ban issued, courts strike it down," the National Immigration Law Center tweeted Tuesday, later adding: "The third Muslim ban may be blocked, but the fight continues. Join a #NoMuslimBanEver rally or vigil tomorrow!"

In addition to the D.C. rally, several rights organizations have banded together to create a campaign and website to oppose the ban, which includes a search tool to find events across the country.

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All-Out War' in North Dakota as Police Arrest 141 Water Protectors

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by Nadia Prupis, staff writer

www.commondreams.org

All-Out War' in North Dakota as Police Arrest 141 Water Protectors

Activists vow to keep up resistance to Dakota Access Pipeline

Police arrested 141 people in North Dakota on Thursday, moving in with pepper spray and armored tanks on Native American water protectors and other activists who for months have waged resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

Tara Houska, an Ojibwe attorney and director of the rights group Honor the Earth, told Democracy Now! on Friday that the raid was an act of "all-out war...waged on Indigenous protectors."

Houska, who was reportedly shot in the face with a beanbag round during the onslaught, also said in a separate statement released by a coalition of Indigenous groups on Friday, "Yesterday was a shameful moment in American history. Law enforcement is supposed to serve and protect the people, not corporate interests. Police enacted violence on people who were armed only with prayer."

"I'm still in shock and keep waiting to wake from what's surely a nightmare though this is my reality as a Native woman in 2016 trying to defend the sacred."

—Kandi Mossett, Indigenous Environment Network

Thursday's raid of the Cannon Ball site came amid months of Indigenous-led resistance to the $3.8 billion pipeline, which opponents say violates Native Americans' treaty rights and threatens their access to safe water. The militarized response also signals that recent escalation of police tactics, which reportedly include brutality and excessive criminal charges against protesters and journalists, may continue. Altogether, police have made about 260 arrests since the demonstrations began to pick up momentum and media coverage in August.

Rose Stiffarm, a Native American cinematographer, told the Guardian that the response Thursday was unnecessarily harsh. "The government is attacking us for protesting, for protecting the water," she said Friday. "We are innocent people—women, children, and elders."

Despite the raid, pipeline opponents have sworn to remain steadfast in their actions. "Everybody is still standing strong. We are still holding the lands," Dean Dedman, Jr., a member of the Standing Rock Hunkpapa tribe from South Dakota, added to the Guardian. "We're all just trying to keep the prayer and keep the singing."

Kandi Mossett of the Indigenous Environmental Network described the scene as being "a war zone. I was sprayed in the face with pepper spray, the guy next to me was shot by something that didn't break the skin but appeared to have broken the ribs, and another guy beside me was randomly snatched violently by police shoving me into the officers who held me off with batons then tried to grab me."

"I'm still in shock and keep waiting to wake from what's surely a nightmare though this is my reality as a Native woman in 2016 trying to defend the sacred," she said.

    #OcetiSakowin Treaty Camp Violently Attacked by Multi-State Police & Military Forces - 100+ Arrests (VIDEOS) https://t.co/XvSewcd7UL #NoDAPL pic.twitter.com/30mpsK1bGu

    — Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) October 28, 2016

    pick your side #NoDAPL pic.twitter.com/Gw4ZBXAtSY

    — Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) October 27, 2016

    Happening now: 100+ Police in ND approaching #NoDAPL frontline resistance camp with multiple MRAPs, sound cannon, armored truck, bulldozer pic.twitter.com/QzqEhO4Kgk

    — Democracy Now! (@democracynow) October 27, 2016

    These incredible images show #NoDAPL protesters standing strong as police move on their camp: https://t.co/qKvmuEiGLA pic.twitter.com/rStjUjyunY

    — Fusion (@Fusion) October 28, 2016

Houska recalled similar scenes. "I saw an officer raise his gun to my face and was pulled back by another protector just as a beanbag round ricocheted off a trailer next to my head. As that was happening, several teenagers a few feet a way were maced as some police officers smiled and laughed. The original peoples of this country have rights—yesterday we were treated like animals for the benefit of Dakota Access. Construction resumed as night fell."

Eryn Wise of the Indigenous Youth Council said, "I have no words for what happened to any of us today. They are trying to again rewrite our narrative and we simply will not allow it. Our youth are watching and remember the faces of the officers that assaulted them. They pray for them."

Environmental law firm Earthjustice, which represents the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, also noted that the Obama administration still has "a tremendous amount of responsibility and control" over what happens at the DAPL site. That includes making a decision on the easement which could prohibit the pipeline company from building under Lake Oahe. The government has requested that the oil company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, cease construction within 20 miles of the easement, but the company has been ignoring that request as it creeps closer to the water's edge and fueling tensions between police and protesters.

Regardless of the easement decision, Earthjustice added, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has the authority to order that work stop on the pipeline in the immediate area of Lake Oahe.

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Alongside Sanders, New York Governor Announces First-in-Nation Free Tuition Plan

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by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

www.commondreams.org

Alongside Sanders, New York Governor Announces First-in-Nation Free Tuition Plan

'Our job is to encourage every person in this country to get all of the education they can, not to punish them for getting that education,' Sanders says in New York

 

With Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at his side, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced a plan to offer free tuition at state and city colleges for middle- and low-income New Yorkers.

Under the Excelsior Scholarship, described as the first of its kind in the nation, students whose families make $125,000 or less per year would be eligible to attend all public universities in New York for free. More than 940,000 middle class families and individuals would qualify for the program, according to a statement from Cuomo's office.

"A college education is not a luxury—it is an absolute necessity for any chance at economic mobility," said Cuomo, a Democrat, "and with these first-in-the-nation Excelsior Scholarships, we're providing the opportunity for New Yorkers to succeed, no matter what zip code they come from and without the anchor of student debt weighing them down."

The governor said that in 2015, the average student loan debt in New York was $29,320. Once passed by the state legislature, the proposal would be phased in over three years.

Of the progressive senator from Vermont, who was present at the LaGuardia Community College announcement and made tuition-free higher education a key plank of his presidential campaign, Cuomo added: "I am honored to have the support of Senator Sanders, who led the way on making college affordability a right, and I know that together we can make this a reality with New York leading the way once again." 

Indeed, it was Sanders who pushed his one-time rival, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, to put forth a means-tested college affordability plan that Sanders praised as a "bold initiative" that would "revolutionize the funding of higher education in America."

In his remarks in New York on Tuesday, Sanders declared: "It is basically insane to tell the young people of this country, 'we want you to go out and get the best education you can, we want you to get the jobs of the future—oh, but after you leave school, you're going to be 30, 50, 100 thousand dollars in debt...and you're going to have to spend decades paying off that debt...and if you don't pay off that debt when you're old they may garnish your Social Security payment to pay off that debt.'"

"Our job is to encourage every person in this country to get all of the education they can, not to punish them for getting that education," said Sanders, a Brooklyn native. 

Online, Sanders expressed confidence that New York would pave the way for other states to make similar moves:

While the New York Times describes Cuomo as "a centrist with rumored presidential ambition," the Buffalo News reports: "Officials were already pitching the plan as a continuation of Cuomo's 'progressive' agenda for New York, which the governor counts as including a sharp rise in the minimum wage, the marriage equality law, and stronger gun control provisions known as the SAFE Act."

But to really prove his progressive bona fides, Cuomo must "lead his own state party into unified opposition to [President-elect Donald] Trump's toxic agenda," as Ilya Sheyman, executive director of MoveOn.org," told The Atlantic in December.

Indeed, a coalition of labor and environmental groups gathered in Albany last month to urge Cuomo to stand up to Trump by embracing renewable energy as well as a broader pro-labor, social justice agenda on the state level.

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Amid Food Shortage and Slow Relief Efforts, Post-Irma 'Survival' Is Not 'Looting'

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by Julia Conley, staff writer, September 11, 2017

www.commondreams.org

Amid Food Shortage and Slow Relief Efforts, Post-Irma 'Survival' Is Not 'Looting'

"When there's no food, no water...there's no such thing as 'looting.' It is called survival."

As the Dutch announced it would send more troops to St. Martin this week following Hurricane Irma, the response seemed focused on "restoring order" amid reports of "looting," which emerged as the island experienced a food shortage. (Photo: @Telegraph/Twitter) 

As much of the media's attention shifted to Hurricane Irma's impact on Florida, the affected Caribbean islands were left cut off from aid in recent days as officials assessed the storm's damage. The region's isolation gave way to desperation as residents scavenged for food and drinking water—leading to media reports of "looting." But critics questioned the characterization of the chaos that's broken out on the islands, highlighting the difference between looting and survival.

St. Martin experienced some of the worst damage last week, with Irma reportedly leveling 95 percent of the island's structures. The island, a territory of the Dutch and the French, experienced a severe food and water shortage after the storm, with businesses reportedly gouging prices on necessities; the Wall Street Journal interviewed two American vacationers who paid $150 for Gatorade and water in the wake of the hurricane. 

For most St. Martin residents, such prices are out of the question. The New York Times reported that people searched for necessities at grocery stores over the weekend, with fights eventually breaking out amid the food shortage. A 63-year-old resident told the Times, "All the food is gone now. People are fighting in the streets for what is left."

"Some people steal luxury things and booze, but a lot of people are stealing water and biscuits," said Paul De Windt, a newspaper publisher in St. Martin, to the Times.

The Dutch and French said they would send more troops to join the 265 military personnel that were already stationed in St. Martin, but the response seemed aimed largely at stopping the so-called "looting."

"We need to restore public order to Saint-Martin," said Annick Girardin, minister of France's overseas territories, in a BBC report. "I was out this morning and this afternoon and there was looting right there in front of my eyes. There is a strange mood at the moment in Saint-Martin, so we need to think about public order."

But many rejected the characterization of post-disaster survival as "looting."

In an interview with the Washington Post last week, retired Army Lieutenant General Russel Honore questioned reports of looting in Houston after Hurricane Harvey, speaking from his experience of overseeing military relief efforts in Houston and after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005.

"There's no doubt that on any given day, there are people who are going to steal other people's stuff," said Honore. "But what we see after these storms is a greatly over-exaggerated concern...That's not looting, that's survival mode."

 

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An In-Depth Discussion with Carlos J. Ron, Chargé d'Affaires of the Venezuela Embassy in the U.S.

Written by stephanie case on . Posted in Front News

The New York Times is reporting that in Venezuela, the opposition to the government of Nicolas Maduro has been weakened, and The Guardian is reporting that the opposition has indeed splintered. These reports come after two major victories at the polls for the Maduro government: first, the success in electing the newly formed Constituent Assembly, despite fierce opposition by the Trump administration and other Western nations; second, the success of region elections.

So, what is going on in Venezuela? Is Chavismo back on the rise? What about the country's economic crisis? What is the reality on the ground? What – if any – regional support does the Maduro government have?

Our guest is Carlos Ron, Charge d'Affaires of Venezuela in Washington, D.C.

Listen to past shows here.

Photo: Reuters via BBC.

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