CPAC attendees seen waving Russian flags

THE HILL

People attending the Conservative Political Action Conference could be seen waving small Russian flags emblazoned with the word “Trump” during President Trump’s speech.

It appeared to be a prank. CPAC workers quickly began to collect the flags after they were being waved.

Snapchat’s Peter Hamby captured some of the action in a tweet:

Trump’s ties to Russia have dominated the news during his nascent presidency.

The intelligence community has concluded that Russia interfered in the presidential election to help Trump, and Hillary Clinton’s Democratic campaign has blamed Moscow for her loss.

Just last week, Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned after leaks about his own discussions with Russian officials.

ALI BRELAND AND TAYLOR LORENZ

10 things you need to know today: February 24, 2017

Alex Wong/Getty Images

THE WEEK

1. Bannon tells CPAC attendees Trump will keep his promises
White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon on Thursday made his first public appearance since taking the post, taking the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference alongside White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to discuss their collaboration in President Trump’s West Wing. Bannon urged conservatives to unite behind Trump as he fights to keep his promises and push for the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” “We want you to have our back,” he said. Bannon also backed up Trump’s attacks on the media as the “opposition party,” saying clashes between the “corporatist, globalist media” and the administration would only get worse. Trump is scheduled to address CPAC on Friday.

Source: The Washington Post, The Hill

2. Malaysia says banned VX nerve agent killed Kim Jong Nam
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s estranged half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, was killed using VX nerve agent, Malaysian police said Friday. VX was listed as a banned chemical weapon under the Chemical Weapons Conventions of 1997 and 2005, but North Korea is not a party to those agreements. South Korea has blamed North Korea for the murder of Kim Jong Nam, who had been critical of hereditary rule in his home country. Pyongyang has angrily denied any involvement, but experts say the use of VX supports the theory that a state was behind the killing, because it takes a sophisticated weapons lab to make VX. Malaysian police have arrested three people in connection with the murder, including one North Korean, and are searching for seven other North Koreans in connection with the case.

Source: The New York Times, Reuters

3. Trump says U.S. nuclear arsenal must be ‘top of the pack’
President Trump said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday that he wants to expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal to ensure that it is “at the top of the pack.” “A dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack,” Trump said. Currently, Russia has 7,300 nuclear warheads, while the U.S. has 6,970, according to the anti-nuclear Ploughshares Fund. The new strategic arms limitation treaty, known as New START, requires both countries to hold their strategic nuclear arsenals at equal levels for 10 years, as of Feb. 5, 2018.

Source: Reuters

4. Mexican leaders confront Tillerson over Trump policies
Mexican leaders on Thursday expressed their government’s objections about Trump administration policies, such as the proposed border wall and increased deportations of undocumented immigrants, to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said the policies could be “hurtful to Mexicans,” and that more talks were needed to “overcome the negative feelings that are prevailing now.” Tillerson downplayed the tensions, saying that “two sovereign countries from time to time will have differences.” Kelly sought to ease tensions by vowing that there would be “no mass deportations.”

Source: CNN, The Associated Press

5. Treasury secretary says to expect ‘very significant’ tax reform by August
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that he hoped Congress would pass “very significant” tax reform by August. In his first TV interview since assuming the post, Mnuchin told CNBC that tax cuts and deregulation would increase economic growth by three percent by the end of 2018. President Trump has promised to unveil his tax plan by early March. “We are committed to pass tax reform, it will be very significant,” Mnuchin said. “It’s going to be focused on middle income tax cuts, simplification and making the business tax competitive with the rest of the world.”

Source: CNBC, BBC News

6. FBI refused Priebus’ request to refute Russia reports
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked the FBI to refute recent news reports that said Donald Trump’s advisers were in constant contact with known Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 presidential campaign, several White House officials told CNN and The Associated Press on Thursday. Priebus reportedly made the request after the FBI told the White House it believed a New York Times report last week on the alleged contacts, discovered in intercepts by U.S. agencies, was inaccurate, although the FBI rejected the request and had not stated any position on the matter publicly as of Thursday. Democrats accused the White House of violating rules against trying to interfere in an FBI investigation. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the White House “didn’t try to knock the story down. We asked them to tell the truth.”

Source: CNN, The Associated Press

7. Former House Speaker Boehner says GOP will fix, not replace, ObamaCare
Former House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that he believed that Republicans would not be able to completely repeal and replace ObamaCare, saying that is “not what’s going to happen.” Boehner, who retired in 2015 under pressure from hardline conservatives, said Republicans were more likely to fix problems with the existing law, the Affordable Care Act. “They’re basically going to fix the flaws and put a more conservative box around it,” he said at an Orlando health care conference. Angry constituents have been peppering Republican lawmakers at town hall meetings in their home districts, saying they feared the GOP would take away their current coverage without an adequate replacement.

Source: Politico

8. Trump meets with manufacturing CEOs on increasing U.S. jobs
President Donald Trump met with 24 CEOs from the country’s largest manufacturing companies on Thursday to discuss cutting taxes and regulations, and how to encourage companies to increasing jobs in the U.S. instead of moving them abroad. “Everything’s going to be based on bringing our jobs back, the good jobs, the real jobs,” Trump said during the White House meeting. “I’m delivering on everything that we’ve said.” Trump spoke favorably about a GOP plan to propose an export-boosting border adjustment tax. He said it would boost U.S. jobs, although large retailers such as Walmart and Target oppose it. “All the CEOs are very encouraged by the pro-business policies of President Trump,” Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris said after the meeting.

Source: The Washington Times, Los Angeles Times

9. India leader expresses shock over possible Kansas hate crime
India’s Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj said Friday that she was “shocked” by the fatal shooting of an Indian immigrant engineer by a man who, according to a witness, said, “Get out of my country,” before opening fire. The victim, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, was having a weekly drink with a friend, Alok Madasani, who was injured in the attack. Another bar regular was injured when he tried to intervene. Adam Purinton, 51, was charged Thursday with one count of premeditated first degree murder and two counts of attempted premeditated first degree murder. The killing led news reports in India, where critics said the crime suggested President Trump’s “America First” policies were fueling intolerance. Federal authorities are investigating the killing as a possible hate crime.

Source: Reuters, The New York Times

10. Beyoncé drops out of Coachella, citing advice from doctors
Beyoncé will forgo her planned performance at the 2017 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, event organizers announced Thursday. The pop star, who announced last month she is expecting twins with husband Jay Z, cited doctors’ advice to “keep a less rigorous schedule in coming months” as the basis for the decision. In lieu of leading the Coachella 2017 lineup, Beyoncé will headline the 2018 festival. Her replacement for this year has yet to be announced. Beyoncé has not revealed her due date, but as she was already showing at her performance at the Grammys on Feb. 12, many predicted she might drop out of Coachella. She was slated to headline on both April 15 and April 22 of the two-weekend-long affair in Indio, California.

Source: Coachella, Pitchfork

TrumpBeat: Is Trump Already Messing With Government Data?

TrumpBeat

FiveThirtyEight

Welcome to TrumpBeat, FiveThirtyEight’s weekly feature looking at how developments in Washington affect people in the real world. Want to get TrumpBeat in your inbox each week? Sign up for our newsletter. Comments, criticism or suggestions for future columns?

When then-President Barack Obama promised, in his 2010 State of the Union address, to “double our exports over the next five years,” experts were skeptical — and with good reason. Obama didn’t even come close to achieving that goal. Even today, two years after Obama’s five-year deadline expired, exports are up only about 30 percent since early 2010.

So mark that down as a failure for Obama. But at least we know he failed — the data is right there on the Census Bureau’s website. There is reason to doubt whether the Trump administration will be equally transparent.

The Wall Street Journal this week reported that the White House was considering changing the way the government calculates the trade deficit. Specifically, the proposed change would affect how the government accounts for “re-exports” — products that are imported into the U.S. and then sold to customers overseas. Right now, re-exports are a wash for the trade deficit because they count on both sides of the equation (as both imports and exports). The Trump administration, according to the Journal, is weighing whether to count them as imports but not as exports, which would make the overall trade deficit look larger.

From an economic perspective, the change makes no sense — it’s the equivalent of Starbucks accounting for the cost of buying coffee but not the revenue from selling it. But politically, it could serve Trump’s purposes by making the deficit (and therefore U.S. trade policy) look worse than it really is. That could make it easier for Trump to push through protectionist trade policies.

It isn’t clear whether any of this will ever happen; the first month of Trump’s administration has been full of rumored policy moves that haven’t materialized. But the mere idea points to a larger concern about President Trump’s commitment to reliable data. During the presidential campaign, Trump famously questioned the validity of the unemployment rate (“one of the biggest hoaxes in politics”) and other government statistics, and in the weeks before he took office, many experts fretted about the possibility that Trump could seek to erode or manipulate government data.

Now we’re seeing the first hints that could be happening. Last week, the Journal reported in a separate story that some in the White House were trying to fit economic forecasts to the administration’s tax and spending plans, rather than the other way around. Trump’s newly confirmed budget director, Mick Mulvaney, once voted to eliminate funding for the American Community Survey, the Census Bureau’s premier source of annual data. And scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency have complained about efforts — now on hold — to remove data on climate change from the agency’s website.

It’s much too soon to declare that Trump will undermine government data. But it’s not too soon to start paying attention. After all, that data is often the only way to know whether Trump — or any president — is keeping his promises.

Here are some of the major policy developments from the past week:

Immigration: This is going to cost a lot

Two new memorandums from the Department of Homeland Security this week made clear that Trump intends to follow through on campaign promises to ramp up deportation of undocumented immigrants. They also made clear that he’s going to need a lot of money if he wants to turn those intentions into reality.

The policies call for some very expensive changes, even without taking into account the multibillion-dollar wall he’s proposed along the southern border. Among the most costly are the hiring of 15,000 enforcement and border patrol agents (never mind that hiring freeze) and a move to keep immigrants locked up while they await deportation. The current budget for 2017 requests $3.83 billion for 21,070 Customs and Border Patrol employees, meaning adding another 5,000 agents, as Trump requested, would likely run upwards of $900 million. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requested $3.1 billion for removal and enforcement, before the proposed increase of 10,000 agents and additional removals. That doesn’t even include the cost of building additional housing for CBP agents, who are often assigned to remote areas, or purchasing equipment.

Meanwhile, detaining more immigrants for longer periods of time could easily tally up to billions of dollars a year. The Department of Homeland Security requested $1.75 billion to fill about 31,000 beds. Trump’s call to both expand who can be deported and to keep deportees locked up while they wait could easily quadruple or triple that number. Trump can take some initial steps by moving around some funds, but achieving his larger goals will take action from Congress — and a lot of taxpayer dollars.

Health care: The closer its demise, the more popular Obamacare gets

The Affordable Care Act is the most popular it’s been since 2010, according to a new poll out Friday. The Kaiser Family Foundation, which has been tracking opinions of the ACA since it passed, found that 48 percent of people had a favorable view of the health care law this month, up from 43 percent in December. That shift is largely due to a change of view among political independents – just 18 percent of people identifying as Republicans had a favorable view of the law, the same as in December. Among independents, however, favorability rose from 42 to 50 percent. There was a slight increase among Democrats as well, though most of them already supported for the law.

Other polls have come to the same conclusion in recent weeks. On Thursday, the Pew Research Center released a survey showing majority approval for the law for the first time since it passed. A Fox News poll found that 50 percent of survey respondents felt favorably towards the law, up from 41 percent the last time they polled in 2015. In an NBC/Wall Street Journal survey released last week, 45 percent of people thought the law was “a good idea,” the highest percentage since that poll began asking that question in April 2009 (and 4 percentage points more than people who thought the law was a “bad idea”).

A January poll from NPR/Ipsos might help explain what’s going on. The poll showed about an even split on support for the law, but among those who wanted it repealed, most wanted it replaced with something else. The “replace” part of “repeal and replace,” however, has proved thornier than some Republicans expected.

Meanwhile, there’s one subject with resounding, bipartisan support: Medicaid. In the Kaiser Family Foundation poll, the majority of respondents from all parties felt that the expanded insurance program for the poor should stay in place (in states that expanded Medicaid coverage, as allowed under the ACA), no matter what comes of the law overall.

The environment: The cost of regulation

Scott Pruitt was sworn in as EPA administrator on Feb. 17, bringing the era of speculating about what he might do in the role to a close. Now we get to watch what he does do. One of the first things on Pruitt’s agenda: doubling down on the idea that previous administrations have unnecessarily pitted environmental protection against job creation. In his introductory speech to agency employees on Tuesday, Pruitt positioned himself as the person who will set the EPA on a new course. “We as an agency and we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs and we can be pro-environment,” he said.

This is an interesting claim because the groups opposing Pruitt and his agenda basically agree: They, too, think the apparent conflict between environmental regulation and jobs is a false dichotomy. But whereas Pruitt argues that regulations have killed jobs, his opponents disagree. Or, at the very least, they don’t think the rules have been bad for the economy as a whole.

Take this 2015 report by the the Office of Management and Budget, which looked at the economic impacts of new EPA rules between 2004 and 2014. The agency implemented 32 major rules during that period, including the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, one of the many EPA provisions that Pruitt fought as Oklahoma attorney general. The estimated costs of those rules ranged from $38 billion to $45 billion, in 2010 dollars. The estimated benefits to the national economy: $160 billion to $788 billion.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also has something to say about this. Looking at data on mass layoff events — incidents in which at least 50 unemployment claims are filed against a company in the span of five weeks — only a tiny portion are attributed by employers to government regulations. In 2010 and 2011, employers categorized 0.2 percent of layoff events this way. In 2012, it was 0.3 percent. This covers all layoffs — environmental rules, specifically, are presumably responsible for an even smaller share of job cuts.

But the economic impact of a regulation is not a simple thing to calculate. We are, after all, talking about impacts that affect the nation (and regions of it) in complex, and often indirect, ways. A butterfly flaps its wings in Washington and some jobs are lost in Peoria while others are gained in Seattle. And the jobs gained are not necessarily accessible to the people who lost out. There’s evidence from academic research that, while environmental regulation benefits the economy overall, people in specific sectors and locations really do suffer. Ultimately what’s at issue is less about whether environmental regulation is good for the nation and more about whether it’s good for, say, Oklahoma.

 

More from FiveThirtyEight

  • As the Republican health care plan takes shape, it is becoming clear that it, like the law it aims to replace, will have both winners and losers.
  • Trump wants to enact harsh penalties on people who hurt or kill police officers. But even some former officers don’t think the policy will make much difference.
  • In his final years in office, Obama worked to reduce deportations. Now Trump wants to reverse that — and then some.
  • At the height of the confirmation battle over Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Americans were faxing their senators as much as 300 times an hour.
  • It’s Mars Month at FiveThirtyEight! No, this has nothing to do with Trump. But check it out anyway.

Google is suing Uber for allegedly stealing a key self-driving car technology

uber-being-sued

VOX TOPICS

Google just filed a lawsuit against Uber that will have huge implications for the future of self-driving car technology.

Google has been working on self-driving cars since 2009, and for a long time the company practically had the field to itself. But in the past couple of years, the market has gotten a lot more crowded.

One of the newcomers was Otto, founded by Google veterans in January 2016 to create technology for self-driving trucks. By August, the company had developed its own self-driving technology and had sold itself to Uber, expected to be one of Google’s major self-driving car competitors, for an eye-popping $680 million.

If Otto had developed self-driving technology from scratch in less than a year, that would have been a remarkable technological feat. But in a new lawsuit, Google’s self-driving car division, recently renamed Waymo, charges that the Otto team directly copied technical details of Waymo’s technology, likely violating Waymo’s intellectual property rights in the process.

The stakes are couldn’t be higher for Uber. Last summer, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick admitted that self-driving technology was an existential threat to the company. “We’ve got to do some catch-up,” he said.

At the same time, Uber’s industry-leading ride-hailing network is likely to make it one of the most formidable threats to Waymo ambitions in the self-driving car market. So it was almost inevitable that these two technology giants would eventually face off against each other in the marketplace. Now Waymo has an opportunity to hobble its would-be competitor in the courts before either company even reaches the market.

Waymo says a former employee stole the designs for a key technology

In a Thursday post on the company blog, Waymo describes how it discovered that Otto may have stolen Waymo’s technology. “One of our suppliers specializing in lidar components sent us an attachment (apparently inadvertently) of machine drawings of what was purported to be Uber’s lidar circuit board ,“ Waymo writes. The plans bore striking similarities to Waymo’s own design.

Waymo says it then conducted a forensic analysis of former employees’ hard drives and discovered that one of Otto’s co-founders, Anthony Levandowski, had downloaded 9.7 gigabytes of confidential Waymo data to an external hard drive before he left the company. Included with this data were the design files for Waymo’s proprietary lidar system.

Lidar is a powerful sensor that has emerged as a key component in self-driving car technology. It uses a sequence of laser pulses to build a 3D, 360-degree map of the environment around a vehicle. Lidar technology is commercially available, but Waymo says it has developed its own advanced version that is less expensive and better suited to self-driving applications than off-the-shelf technology.

For example, Waymo says that though commercially available lidar systems use separate lenses for sending out laser signals and receiving a return signal, it figured out how to use the same lens for both. Not only does that reduce the number of components in Waymo’s lidar, it also greatly simplifies manufacturing because it eliminates the need for each pair of lenses to be painstakingly aligned.

Waymo charges that Otto not only copied Waymo’s lidar technology for its own self-driving truck technology but also passed along the design to Uber’s year-old effort to build self-driving cars, an effort Waymo characterized in its lawsuit as floundering. Indeed, Waymo says that Levandowski met with Uber executives on January 14, 2016, two weeks before he resigned from Waymo and before he officially launched Otto.

California is unusual for its refusal to enforce noncompete laws, and as I wrote earlier this month, this quirk of California law may explain Silicon Valley’s unusual entrepreneurial culture. This means that if Otto’s co-founders had contented themselves with using the information they carried in their heads — re-implementing key Waymo technologies from scratch using knowledge they developed while at Waymo — they likely would have been on safe legal ground.

But the law is less forgiving when an employee takes detailed technical plans to precisely replicate a former employee’s technology. Waymo is suing Uber for violating trade secret laws, and those laws are absolutely enforceable in California.

On top of that, Waymo has patented several key aspects of its lidar design, and it charges Uber with infringing those patents.

I’ve emailed Uber for comment and will update if I get a response.

Eye-Popping Trump Statement On Immigration Raids: “It’s A Military Operation”

ICE-Immigration-policy

THE DAILY BANTER

 

First, if Trump’s goons were actually rounding up large amounts of “gang members,” “drug lords,” and “really bad dudes,” we would know about it. How? Because Trump would make sure the names, faces and crimes of all these “bad hombres” were plastered everywhere so we would love him for protecting us from…Those People.

But Trump hasn’t been blasting the details about all these desperadoes on Twitter because they’re a fiction made up to scare white people. No doubt a few of those being deported are not model citizens but the overwhelming majority are just regular people living their lives until Trump decided to make America White Again. If Trump talked about how he was gleefully deporting a mother of three or a man who spends his days cleaning bed pans for the terminally ill, he would look like the cruel and sadistic bigot he actually is. Better to pretend they’re all criminals. It’s what his racist followers want to hear anyway.

Second, what the hell is he talking about? A military operation? To deport undocumented immigrants? A charitable reading of this is that he meant to say that the operation was being run with military precision. Considering Trump has the verbal acuity of a toddler with severe ADHD, this is not outside the realm of possibility.

On the other hand, Generalissimo Trump likes to envision himself as a strong leader, eager to use America’s military power to enforce his will. He “joked” about sending American troops into Mexico to deal with the drug cartels. He “joked” about using American troops to steal Iraq’s oil. He said maybe he would send the “Feds” in to end crime in Chicago. He’s repeatedly askedabout using nuclear weapons.

It takes little to no imagination to picture Trump demanding the use of the National Guard or the Army to tear apart Latino neighborhoods and families, especially if Congress refuses to approve the massive budget increase required for his “deportation force.” It’s exactly the kind of heavy-handed abuse that appeals the most to Trump and his hate-filled supporters. His use of the phrase “military operation” feels less like a poorly worded statement and more like a statement of intent.

Trump’s slips of the tongue, aside from being a constant source of national humiliation, are terrifyingly revelatory. They show us a man motivated by visions of domination and violence. He delights in his cruelty the way a child enjoys pulling the wings off of flies and now he has the power of the federal government at his disposal. Trump is just getting started and if we don’t fight him every step of the way, it won’t be long before deportation really does become a military operation.

There are 620 days left to the 2018 elections.

– This article kills fascists

Sanders: ‘If you don’t have the guts to face your constituents,’ you shouldn’t be in Congress

THE HILL

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday blasted the GOP lawmakers who have refused to hold in-person town hall events due to a flurry of recent protests.

“If you don’t have the guts to face your constituents, then you shouldn’t be in the United States Congress,” Sanders said during an interview with CNN.

The former presidential candidate said the wave of angry of American voters greeting GOP lawmakers is a consequence of unpopular positions articulated by President Trump, including a call to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“And if you need police at the meetings, that’s fine, have police at the meetings, have security at the meetings. But don’t use that as an excuse to run away from your constituents after you support repealing the Affordable Care Act, throwing 20 million people off of health insurance, doing away with preexisting conditions,” he said.

“If you are going to do all those things, answer the questions that your constituents have.”

GOP members of Congress, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell(Ky.) Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.), Bill Cassidy (La.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz(Utah), have been bombarded with protesters at home-town events over the week-long Presidents’ Day recess.

Trump claimed this week that many of the demonstrations were “planned out” by activists.

“The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!” he tweeted on Tuesday.

NIKITA VLADIMIROV

Trump Lays The Groundwork For Feds Invading Chicago With Latest Tweet

Trump Lays The Groundwork For Feds Invading Chicago With Latest Tweet

attribution: None

POLITICUS USA

If Trump is serious about reducing violence, he should consider tightening the nation’s gun laws.

Just a month after Donald Trump proposed sending the feds to fix Chicago’s “horrible carnage,” he took to Twitter again to slam the Windy City, saying they “need help.”

“Seven people shot and killed yesterday in Chicago,” Trump said in his tweet. “Chicago needs help!”

Tweet:

Once again, it seems that Trump is making a knee-jerk response to media reporting and capitalizing on violence that has plagued Chicago in recent years. His tweet comes on the same day that The Chicago Tribune reported that homicides in the city are already outpacing last year’s numbers.

Trump’s post is only the latest sign that he remains fixated with violence in Chicago. Last month he shot this tweet out suggesting that he’s open to sending “feds” into the city:

While Chicago has become a nice talking point for Republicans, including Trump, who like to blame the city’s tight gun laws for the increasing violence, it is loose gun laws in neighboring Indiana – Mike Pence’s state – that drive violence in the Windy City.

If Trump is really serious about reducing violence in big cities (and small towns) across the United States, he should consider doing something that study after study shows is most effective: tighten gun laws.

Until then, his promise to save Chicago is nothing but bluster.

ICE Agents Take Undocumented Mom With Brain Tumor From Hospital To Detention Center

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents say 24-hour care is available to Sara Beltran-Hernandez | JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES

THE HUFFINGTON POST

The woman’s legal team criticized her treatment, but ICE says she has 24-hour care in custody.

An undocumented woman from El Salvador awaiting brain surgery to remove a tumor was taken from a Texas hospital and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents Wednesday night, her legal team says.

Sara Beltran-Hernandez, 26, had been in immigration detention since November 2015 because she did not have proper documentation when she tried to migrate to New York City, according to the New York Daily News.

The mother of two had been held at Prairieland Detention Center in Alvarado, Texas, since Jan. 26, 2017, while her family members in New York tried to petition for her asylum. But she collapsed at the facility this month after experiencing severe headaches, nosebleeds and memory loss.

She was taken to Texas Health Huguley Hospital in Fort Worth on Feb. 11, where doctors diagnosed her with a brain tumor that required surgery.

Around 8 p.m. on Wednesday, a physician told ICE agents that Beltran-Hernandez was “stable.” She was subsequently discharged from the hospital and returned to ICE custody at Prairieland Detention Center. ICE is keeping her under observation and says that she has round-the-clock care available.

“Ms. Beltran will continue to have access to 24 hour emergency medical care and to any required specialized treatment at an outside facility,” ICE told The Huffington Post.

Beltran-Hernandez’s legal team criticized her treatment.

“They had her tied up from hands and ankles,” said Melissa Zuniga, a paralegal on the case, in a statement. “She was brought in a wheelchair and is not being given treatment even though her nose continues to bleed and she has told them her head is exploding.”

Beltran-Hernandez had been on a surgery waitlist as of this past weekend. But after her relatives had a distressing phone call with her Wednesday night, everything was put on hold, according to the Daily News.

Beltran-Hernandez is due to be released and sent back to the hospital in Texas “soon,” a legal representative told The Huffington Post | JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES

During that call, Beltran-Hernandez’s lawyers say she couldn’t remember their names, even though they’ve worked with her on her asylum case for the past 13 months.

“It was clear that she had deteriorated in that time,” Zuniga told ABC News. “She sounded groggy and she wasn’t remembering things. We became even more concerned.”

The Department of Homeland Security had issued a statement late Tuesday saying that ICE officials had contacted the Beltran-Hernandez family’s attorneys to explain the proper procedure to get in touch with her.

“Requests by family members to visit ICE detainees who have been hospitalized are permitted but must be approved in advance with ICE and the appropriate consulate,” the agency wrote in the statement.

Shortly after she spoke to her family, Beltran-Hernandez was out of the hospital and back in the detention center.

Beltran-Hernandez’s legal team, accompanied by medical professionals, flew to Dallas Thursday morning to help “provide Sara with options regarding her mother and stepfather’s travel to her bedside in Texas” from New York City, Zuniga said.

Her mother and stepfather “both need special humanitarian parole for them to travel without fear of ICE detention,” Zuniga said.

ICE told HuffPost on Thursday that Beltran-Hernandez “was able to speak to her family and to her attorney of record by phone. She also met with her attorney of record and consular representative in person today.”

Zuniga said Thursday morning that Beltran-Hernandez was to be released and sent back to the hospital in Fort Worth “soon.”

Beltran-Hernandez’s medical records still have not been made available, Zuniga said. She urged the Salvadorian government and U.S. government to discuss the matter as soon as possible.

The legal team is concerned that Beltran-Hernandez’s children in El Salvador “may become immediate targets because Sara’s asylum claims have not become public record for all to see.” She’d like them to see their mother before her surgery, if possible, in case she dies, Zuniga added.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Jenna Amatulli

Law professors file misconduct complaint against Kellyanne Conway

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway speaks Thursday during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland’s National Harbor. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

THE WASHINGTON POST

A group of law professors from around the country has filed a professional misconduct complaint against White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, a graduate of George Washington University Law School who was admitted to the D.C. Bar in 1995.

The letter, filed with the office that handles misconduct by members of the D.C. Bar, said Conway should be sanctioned for violating government ethics rules and “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation,” the letter says.

The 15 professors, who specialize in legal ethics, cite several incidents, including a television interview in which Conway made the “false statement that President Barack Obama had ‘banned’ Iraqi refugees from coming into the United States for six months following the ‘Bowling Green Massacre,’ ” and the use of her position to endorse Ivanka Trump products.

“We do not file this complaint lightly,” the professors said in their filing. “We believe that, at one time, Ms. Conway, understood her ethical responsibilities as a lawyer and abided by them. But she is currently acting in a way that brings shame upon the legal profession.”

The professors teach at law schools such as Georgetown University Law Center, Yale Law School, Fordham University and Duke University.

[Read the professors’ letter of complaint against Conway]

Continued here>>>

The Department Of Justice Just Announced It Will Start Using Private Prisons Again

josefkubes/iStock

MOTHER JONES

The Obama DOJ vowed to stop using them last summer.

Last summer, the Obama Department of Justice announced it would no longer use private prisons. Shortly after the DOJ announcement, the Department of Homeland Security also said it would reevaluate its use of private prisons. The stocks of companies like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA, now CoreCivic) and GEO Group promptly tanked. But then in November this thing no one thought would happen actually happened, and suddenly the private prison industry turned that frown upside down.

If the presidency of Donald Trump was an unexpected gift to the private prison industry, and Jeff Sessions confirmation as attorney general was a bow on the box, then today is Christmas morning for for-proft corrections companies:

Shane Bauer spent four months in a private prison working as a guard, and his article detailing that experience in the pages of Mother Jones should be read by anyone who has ever wondered what hell might actually look like.