U.S. Politics

At least five killed at Quebec mosque, two suspects arrested

An ambulance is parked at the scene of a fatal shooting at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City.

An ambulance is parked at the scene of a fatal shooting at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City. | MATHIEU BELANGER/REUTERS)


A shooting at a Quebec City mosque left at least five dead and more wounded during evening prayers on Sunday, according to local reports.

Two were arrested after police and paramedics swarmed the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec in the suburban community of Sainte-Foy following reports of gunfire at the Canadian mosque around 8:30 p.m., according to the Montreal Gazette.

Quebec authorities did not immediately confirm the number of deaths or those wounded.

La Presse reports police began investigating the shooting as a terrorist attack.

A witness told Reuters that three gunmen opened fire on about 40 worshippers inside the mosque during prayer.

The mosque’s leader Mohamed Yanqui learned of the attack through frantic phone calls.

“Why is this happening here? This is barbaric,” Yangui told reporters.

Last year in June, mosque officials said a pig’s head was left at their cultural center’s doorstep.

The mosque turned to Facebook to detail the moments after the attack, showing flashing emergency lights and medics crowding around a victim amid piles of snow. A woman can be heard crying.


Police survey the scene after deadly shooting. Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard termed the act “barbaric violence” and expressed solidarity with victims’ families | (FRANCIS VACHON/AP)

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard casted the shooting as “barbaric.”

Earlier on Sunday, the provincial leader distanced himself from a controversial refugee ban that sparked mass protests in the United States and prompted U.S. Customs and Border Protections to deport travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

“No matter our origins, the color of our skin, our beliefs or who we love, Quebec will always be home,” he wrote.

In similar remarks, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed solidarity with members of the mosque.

“Tonight, Canadians mourn victims of the cowardly attack in a mosque of Quebec. My thoughts are with the victims and their families,” Trudeau said.

The attack prompted Canadian authorities to increase patrols outside mosques in Quebec and Montreal as police began investigating the assault as a terrorist attack.

In New York, the NYPD also dispatched additional officers to mosques in response to the attack.

Nicole Hensley

This is a developing story and will be updated. 

U.S. Politics


Brian Snyder/REUTERS


Muslim Ban Protests Grow… Airports Across The Country Swarmed… Huge Rallies In NYC, Boston, At D.C. Trump Hotel, Outside Capitol And White House… 16 Attorneys General Condemn Policy…CUSTOMS CHAOS: Border Patrol Defies Court Order… Denying Green Card Holders Access To Lawyers… Agents ‘Absolutely’ In Contempt… Report: Bannon Overruled Homeland Security To Block Green Card Holders…

U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: January 29, 2017

Stephanie Keith/Getty Images


1. Judge limits enforcement of Trump immigration order
A federal judge on Saturday evening issued an emergency stay temporarily and partially preventing the enforcement of President Trump’s executive order banning visitors from seven Mideast nations. The ruling specifically applies to people, like two Iraqi men detained at the airport in New York City, who have valid visas and were arriving or in transit to the United States when the order was issued. Similar rulings were later handed down in Massachusetts, Virginia, and Washington state. The Department of Homeland Security indicated it will comply with the orders. Both Iraqi men in New York have been released.

Source: CNN, The Hill

2. Trump order sparks nationwide airport protests
Thousands of protesters flooded American airports Saturday evening in response to President Trump’s Friday executive order that temporarily bans U.S. entry of people from seven majority-Muslim nations and suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. The airport venues were chosen in response to the detention of two Iraqi men at the airport in New York City. As their court case was in progress, protests occurred in cities including New York, Portland, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle, Newark, Los Angeles, Denver, Atlanta, Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Source: ABC News, NPR

3. Trump order faces broad backlash from religious, political leaders
President Trump came under widespread criticism Friday and Saturdayfor his executive order on immigration and refugee admissions. “Christ calls us to care for everyone, regardless of who they are and where they come from,” said Jenny Yang of World Relief, an evangelical organization, in comments that reflect the uproar from a diversity of religious leaders. In Washington, Democrats quickly castigated the order, and Republican critics soon weighed in too. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) called the order “ridiculous” and a potential threat to “many innocent, vulnerable people,” while Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) tweeted that it is “not lawful to ban immigrants on basis of nationality” and that the order “appears to be more about politics than safety.” Despite the criticism and legal challenge, Trump said Saturdayafternoon his order is “working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over.”

Source: The Washington Post, The Atlantic

4. Trump order draws ire from ally nations
Some of the United States’ closest allies registered their alarm Saturdayover President Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees. The Christian commitment to “loving your neighbor … unites the West,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and German Minister for Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel in a joint press conference. “Welcoming refugees who flee war and oppression is part of our duty,” Ayrault continued. A representative of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she believes the war on terror “does not justify putting people of a specific background or faith under general suspicion,” while British Prime Minister Theresa May refused to offer an opinion. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that Canada will welcome “those fleeing persecution, terror & war” regardless of their faith.

Source: The Hill, Reuters

5. Iran, Iraq respond to Trump order
Two of the seven majority-Muslim countries subject to President Trump’s temporary travel ban have announced their responses. After initial rumors that Iraq might react with a denial of entry to U.S. citizens, Baghdad backed down Sunday, saying it understands why Trump issued the executive order but asked that America’s “special relationship” with Iraq, where the U.S. has been at war since 2003, be taken into consideration. Meanwhile, Iran intends to move forward with a reciprocal ban, the Iranian Foreign Affairs Ministry said Saturday. Tehran labeled Trump’s rule “an open affront against the Muslim world and the Iranian nation in particular.”

Source: The Associated Press, CNN

6. Trump-Putin call addresses national security, not U.S. sanctions
President Trump’s much-anticipated phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin Saturday afternoon mostly focused on national security issues and did not, as some expected, address the easing of U.S. sanctions against Russia which Trump has indicated he will consider. Both sides described the conversation as constructive, with a White House statement characterizing it as covering “a range in topics from mutual cooperation in defeating ISIS to efforts in working together to achieve more peace throughout the world including Syria.” Moscow’s statement added more detail, saying the presidents discussed terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, nuclear proliferation, North and South Korea, and Ukraine.

Source: BBC News, Fox News

7. Trump, Abe confirm ‘the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance’
President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke by phone Saturday morning, a conversation Abe characterized as a mutual confirmation of “the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance for areas such as the economy and national security.” Abe said after the call that he and Trump plan to meet in person for bilateral discussions on Feb. 10 “to have a candid exchange of views on the economy and security issues as a whole.” On Monday, Trump signed an executive order pulling the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal Abe supported as central to Japanese economic growth. Trump also spoke with leaders of Germany and France on Saturday.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Reuters

8. 1 U.S. commando killed, 3 wounded in ground operation in Yemen
One American was killed and three wounded in a firefight Saturdayagainst al Qaeda militants in Yemen. Local reports say the raid killed about 30 people, including 10 women and three children. The U.S. commandoes arrived by helicopter in the Yakla district of al-Bayda province to target a leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Abdulraoof al-Dhahab, who was among those killed. Though the United States has long provided support for Saudi Arabia’s coalition intervention in Yemen, including drone strikes, this is believed to be the first U.S. ground operation in Yemen’s civil war.

Source: The New York Times, Reuters

9. 25 rescued alive after Malaysian boat accident
Most passengers and crew were successfully rescued after a Malaysian tourist boat sank Saturday off the coast of Borneo island, local officials reported Sunday. Though 25 people, mostly Chinese tourists, have been found alive, the search continues for six more people, including one crew member. The boat was sailing toward Pulau Mengalum, an island known for its beaches and diving spots, when it was reported missing. “According to the skipper, the boat was ‘broken’ after being hit by waves and sank,” said a statement from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

Source: Yahoo News, Agence France-Presse

10. Federer beats Nadal for 18th major title in Australian Open
Swiss tennis champion Roger Federer won the Australian Open title over Spaniard Rafael Nadal Sunday in five sets scoring 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, and 6-3. This is Federer’s 18th Grand Slam title, the most by any man in the open era of men’s tennis. “Tennis is a tough sport, there are no draws in tennis, but I would have been happy to share one with Rafa tonight,” Federer said of the matchup with his longtime rival. Federer’s win comes one day after Serena Williams won her 23rd major at the Australian Open, giving her highest Grand Slam count of any woman in the open era.

Source: Yahoo Sports, Sports Illustrated

U.S. Politics

Donald Trump, the refugee ban, and the triumph of cruelty

Image result for syrian refugees

Syrian Kurdish refugees on the Turkish border, September 29, 2014.Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images


Trump’s immigration crackdown is an exercise in government cruelty.

On Friday, Donald Trump made the most plainly indefensible promise of his presidential campaign a reality. He suspended all refugee admissions to the US for 120 days, even as millions of displaced people from Syria, Iraq, Myanmar, and elsewhere are risking their lives to flee murderous governments and hellish warzones.

He barred all entry to the US for natives of seven Muslim countries, a ban so wide in scope that it prevents as many as 500,000 green-card holders from either leaving America, or coming back if they’re now abroad. These are people who have made America their permanent home, now subjected to travel restrictions of a kind last experienced in America by Japanese-Americans during World War II.

To try to make sense of what was happening, I found myself turning to the writing of another refugee, who, fleeing war and near-certain death, made her way to America some seven decades ago. Judith Shklar was born to a Jewish family in Riga, Latvia, in 1928. In 1939, with the twin threats of Nazi and Soviet invasion mounting, the family made its way to Sweden. After the Nazi occupation of Norway raised fears that Sweden could meet the same fate, they fled again to the Soviet Union, trekked from Moscow to Vladivostok, and eventually made it to Seattle.

Upon arrival in America, they were “immediately arrested and detained as illegal aliens,” Shklar’s biographer Andreas Hess writes. A rabbi happened to find them in a detainment camp, along with mostly Chinese immigrants, and was able to convince authorities that these “decent” Jews did not belong with the likes of the Chinese. The family was released, ultimately settling in Montreal.

Shklar would return to America as an adult, as a professor at Harvard and one of the most influential political theorists of the late 20th century. Some political philosophers like to theorize about what goods governments should try to promote, the things that are best in life like freedom and happiness and dignity that should be maximized. Shklar devoted her life to considering the bads government should avoid and fight. She sought to identify a summum malum, an ultimate evil, “which all of us know and would avoid if only we could.” And she identified that ultimate evil as cruelty.

That, I think, is what is uniquely repulsive about Trump’s travel restrictions and refugee ban. It’s not just that they’re dumb, or wrong-headed, or unjustified. They’re cruel.

The refugee ban is America at its cruelest

Cruelty, to Shklar, was “the deliberate infliction of physical, and secondarily emotional, pain upon a weaker person or group by stronger ones in order to achieve some end, tangible or intangible, of the latter.”

Cruelty, she was careful to note, is not the same as sadism. Public cruelty, the cruelty of governments and the men and women who run them, has an end; it is meant to achieve something, whether that be racial purity and national rebirth, or a classless industrialized society, or more modest goals, like satisfying nativist urges to preserve the racial and religious character of the nation, or at least not let it change too much. And this kind of goal-oriented cruelty is enabled by the unique and vast ability of governments to instill fear in those over which they wield power.

It is easier to be cruel as a public official, because it is easier to see one’s victims as an abstraction. “When one begins with cruelty, an enormous gap between private and public life seems to open up,” Shklar wrote in her essay “Putting Cruelty First.” “It begins with the exposure of the feebleness and pettiness of the reasons offered for public enormities, and goes on to a sense that governments are unreal and remote from the actualities about which they appear to talk.”

The reasons for Trump’s ban on refugees could not be more feeble, and could not be more petty. It serves no actual security purpose. You have a better chance of getting killed by a train, or by your own clothes catching on fire, than by an immigrant terrorist attack. The odds of a refugee killing you in a terrorist strike are about 1 in 3.6 billion. That’s about four hundred times less likely than being hit by lightning twice. If you look back at significant terrorist attacks in the US like San Bernardino or the Pulse nightclub shooting or 9/11, exactly none of them would have been prevented by this policy.

And yet security is the weak reed upon which backers of this policy are justifying the enormous cruelty they’re inflicting upon their victims, victims who include 500,000 permanent residents of America and millions more who will be left to die in war zones or to face oppression from their home governments, or to drown in the sea as they fail to flee in makeshift rafts and boats. “Our number one responsibility is to protect the homeland. … This is why we passed bipartisan legislation in the wake of the Paris attacks to pause the intake of refugees,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement praising the refugee ban.

Maybe Ryan and Trump really are this deluded, and really do think in the face of all evidence to the contrary that this measure will somehow make America safer. Maybe they’re motivated by simple bigotry against Muslims.

But the seductive quality of public cruelty is that it needn’t matter. You don’t need to be motivated by sadism or bigotry or some other base, inhuman impulse. The sheer distance from your victims makes it possible to inflict horrors you never would’ve imagined yourself capable of committing face-to-face.

This action tears at the best principle we have to defend against immense cruelty: equality

Protestors Rally At JFK Airport Against Muslim Immigration Ban

Protesters at Kennedy airport.Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The potential of public cruelty is deeply disturbing, and creates real fear about what governments are capable of. But Shklar was no anarchist. She was a liberal, in the sense of thinking that individuals need protection both from the state and by the state. And the latter is possible because liberal democracies can enact safeguards that prevent, or at least minimize, the expression of cruelty by public officials.

The most crucial of these safeguards, she wrote, was the guarantee of equality, of equal treatment. In unequal societies, where one group or set of individuals is privileged in power above others, that power differential creates the social distance necessary for the powerful to treat the less powerful with cruelty.

“If such social distances create the climate for cruelty, then a greater equality might be a remedy,” she wrote. “Even Machiavelli had known that one cannot rule one’s equals with cruelty, but only one’s inferior subjects.” Her egalitarianism stemmed from “a fear of the consequences of inequality and especially of the dazzling effect of power. It is an obvious result of putting cruelty first.”

You don’t need to imagine absolute monarchs or the totalitarians of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union to see what this means. As University of Michigan political scientist Robert Mickey has written, a whole region of the United States — the former Confederacy — was under authoritarian rule from the 1890s until the slow collapse of Jim Crow in the 1940s-80s. And just as in any other authoritarian regime, the American authoritarian states fostered inequalities that enabled mass cruelty. Today we look back in naive horror and ask how lynchings could’ve been announced in advance in newspapers as though they were parades, how law enforcement could’ve looked the other way or even participated, how witnesses could keep body parts of murdered black men as souvenirs from the festivities. This is how. Social inequality, social distance, breeds cruelty.

And we should not shy away from the role of President Trump and this order in particular in fostering and promoting that kind of social inequality. Even when Trump tries to limit the effects of his order, the social ramifications of the president mandating discrimination on the basis of national origin will make the consequences worse than he intended.

Already, refugees in transit — a group explicitly exempted per Trump’s executive order — have been detained at American airports. At John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, a lawyer for detained Iraqi refugees (refugees let in for working with the US government in Iraq during our occupation, whose lives there were endangered for helping America) asked who he needed to talk to to stop this. “Call Mr. Trump,” a border agent replied.

“US Border patrol is deciding reentry for green card holders on a case by case basis – questions abt political views, chking facebook, etc,” tweeted immigration lawyer Mana Yegani. This, too, is far afield from anything the executive order allows. But it is exactly what one should expect to happen when law enforcement officials are told by the president to discriminate. A declaration from on high that inequality based on national origin will be policy leads to social inequality and distance that empowers micro-level government officials to act with arbitrary cruelty.

Cruelty can be resisted. America has done it before.

Vietnamese refugees in 1975.
Crewmen of the amphibious cargo ship USS Durham take Vietnamese refugees aboard a small craft, April 1975. | Naval Photographic Center

The shocking nature of Trump’s actions, and their violation of American ideals of equality and equal treatment, can tempt one into comforting patriotic denunciations: that this is un-American, goes against our history, goes against everything our country stands for.

The truth is that this is very American, very in keeping with the worst that America has to offer. We are the country that passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, as whites in California decided they were sick of competing with the Chinese laborers who merely years earlier had connected the nation by rail. We are the country that passed the Immigration Act of 1924, which fully banned Arab and Asian immigration, and all but banned that of Africans, Italians, and Jews. We are the country that turned away the St. Louis in 1939, sending a boat of nearly 1,000 people, almost all German Jews, back to Europe, where 254 of the passengers died in the Holocaust. We are the country that detained Judith Shklar’s family until ultimately deciding that Jews were somewhat better than Chinese people and letting them go.

The fact of the matter is that immigration, and waves of refugees especially, always sparks a nativist backlash in the United States. As Slate’s Jamelle Bouie has noted, Cuban-Americans arriving on the Mariel boatlift in 1980 and Haitians fleeing chaos in 1990s were met with fear too.

But we needn’t give into fear, and in those two cases, we did not. We were improving on our worst impulses. We let many Cubans and Haitians in nonetheless — not enough as we should have, but many. In 1999, we didn’t just bomb Serbia to help besieged Kosovars — we airlifted thousands of them to America too.

The largest, most admirable action the US has taken in this regard came in the 1970s, after the failure of the American war in Vietnam. The US had killed hundreds of thousands of people, an estimated 150-500,000 in Cambodian airstrikes alone. It was one of the most horrifying and indefensible incidents in the history of American foreign policy. And the Ford and Carter administrations, to their considerable credit, wound up letting more than 800,000 Southeast Asians come to America, including many Vietnamese fleeing the Communist government, and thousands more Cambodians fleeing all-out genocide by the Khmer Rouge.

This was a controversial action. Even many American liberals opposed letting in so many. “Senator George McGovern, a prominent critic of US participation in the war, believed the refugees represented some of the most corrupt and even bloodthirsty officials of the discredited South Vietnamese government,” historian Robert Schulzinger writes. “Democratic Representatives Jack Brooks, John Conyers, and Barbara Jordan objected to the open-ended admission of Asian refugees who might take work away from the black working class … Most Americans wanted nothing so much as to forget the Vietnam War, and Vietnamese refugees were a constant reminder.”

But Ford and Carter let them come anyway, not just because it was the decent thing that any moral human would do, but because it was a particular obligation of the United States government after it unleashed war and chaos upon the region. We broke these people’s homes. The least we could do is give them a new one.

Now, thirteen years after the US invaded Iraq and plunged the entire region into chaos and bloodshed, after ISIS grew out of that anarchy to menace the people of Iraq and Syria, after American efforts to prevent the disintegration of Syria failed, President Trump apparently feels no similar sense of obligation. For all his false insistence that he opposed the war in Iraq, he sees no American duty to help its victims pick up the pieces over a decade later.

Gerald Ford — hardly a great man, but a decent one — looked at a region America had destroyed and offered mercy. Donald Trump looks upon another region we destroyed and offers nothing. Nothing, that is, but cruelty.

U.S. Politics

GOP splits on Trump immigration order


“The worldwide refugee ban set forth in the executive order is overly broad and implementing it will be immediately problematic,” Sen. Susan Collins said. | AP Photo


Several lawmakers criticize the order as overly broad even as Speaker Paul Ryan and committee leaders defend it.

Congressional Republicans splintered Saturday over President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily barring immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations, with several GOP lawmakers chastising it as overly broad even as Speaker Paul Ryan and committee leaders defended it as a necessary measure for national security.

Yet most Republicans, especially those on Capitol Hill, have kept silent, declining to publicly comment on a hugely controversial move based on a concept from Trump that many party leaders had harshly criticized when he first raised it during the presidential campaign.

“President Trump and his administration are right to be concerned about national security, but it’s unacceptable when even legal permanent residents are being detained or turned away at airports and ports of entry,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said in a Medium post Saturday night. “Enhancing long term national security requires that we have a clear-eyed view of radical Islamic terrorism without ascribing radical Islamic terrorist views to all Muslims.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) also laid out her disagreements with Trump’s directive, noting that it could block immigration of Iraqi nationals who worked for the U.S. military as interpreters and bodyguards during the Iraq War. They can qualify for a so-called “special immigrant visa” that is set aside for Iraqi and Afghan citizens who aided the U.S., and one of the men detained at John F. Kennedy airport late Friday had obtained that visa after working as an interpreter for the U.S. military for a decade.

“The worldwide refugee ban set forth in the executive order is overly broad and implementing it will be immediately problematic,” Collins said in a statement to the Sun Journal.

But Ryan (R-Wis.), once a harsh critic of any ban on Muslim immigration, came out in defense of the president’s order. Senior GOP congressional aides said that Trump’s action was not targeted specifically at Muslims and therefore did not mean the White House was imposing a religious test on refugees.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would not comment on Trump’s order. McConnell plans to make his position known during a Sunday morning TV interview.

Democrats across the country reacted with fury over Trump’s declaration, and they vowed to fight the order legally and politically.

Trump’s executive order, issued on Friday night, calls for a temporary halt to the admission of people from seven Muslim-majority countries; a temporary ban on all refugees; and an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.

There is also a directive that religious minorities from those Muslim-majority countries, which by implication means Christians in many cases, get priority among refugees eventually admitted to the United States.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who clashed with Trump during the campaign, said the order could hurt U.S. standing with Muslims worldwide.

According to Sasse, “while not technically a Muslim ban, the order is too broad. There are two ways to lose our generational battle against jihadism by losing touch with reality. The first is to keep pretending that jihadi terrorism has no connection to Islam or to certain countries. That’s been a disaster. And here’s the second way to fail: If we send a signal to the Middle East that the U.S. sees all Muslims as jihadis, the terrorists win by telling kids that America is banning Muslims and this is America versus one religion.”

Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, one of the few remaining GOP moderates in the House, was upset about a Syrian refugee family turned away by U.S. immigration authorities at Philadelphia’s airport.

In a statement, Dent said, “A Syrian Christian family who, according to family members in my district, held valid visas and were not refugees, yet were detained at the Philadelphia International Airport and then forced to leave the country as a result of the Executive Order. This family now faces the uncertain prospect of being sent back to Syria.”

Dent called the episode “unacceptable and I urge the administration to halt enforcement of the order until a more thoughtful and deliberate policy can be instated.”

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), a frequent critic of executive power, objected to Trump’s action in a series of statements on Twitter.

“The president’s denial of entry to lawful permanent residents of the United States (green card holders) is particularly troubling,” Amash said. “We must do much more to properly vet refugees, but a blanket ban represents an extreme approach not consistent with our nation’s values.”



U.S. Politics

Latina journalist Maria Hinojosa shuts down Trump adviser on “illegals”

Latina journalist Maria Hinojosa shuts down Trump adviser on

Getty Images


Latina journalist Maria Hinojosa schooled Donald Trump adviser Steve Cortes on Saturday morning regarding the use of the term “illegals” on MSNBC’s AM Joy.

After Cortes said it is “more unfair for legal immigrants to allow for illegals to hop in front of them and cheat the system,” Hinojosa retorted: “illegals is not a noun … what you can do is say an immigrant living illegally or an immigrant living without papers or without documents in this country. But what you cannot do is to label the person illegal.”

Hinojosa said she didn’t learn that “from some radical Latino or Latina studies professor when I was a college student. I learned it from Elie Wiesel, who survived the Holocaust, who said, ‘you know what? The first thing they did was that they declared the Jews to be an illegal people.'”

Hinojosa concluded by asking Cortes to consider the families “living in fear” of a Trump presidency, as the candidate has repeatedly pledged to ramp up deportations of undocumented immigrants inside the U.S., as well as build a wall on the border with Mexico.

In 2013, the Associated Press dropped the term “illegal immigrants” from its style guide, noting that they were trying to move away from “labeling people, instead of behavior,” and that “while labels may be more facile, they are not accurate.”

Tom McKay

U.S. Politics

Will Trump’s Refugee Ban Have Public Support?

Protesters gather at JFK International Airport to demonstrate against President Donald Trump’s executive order on Saturday in New York. BRYAN R. SMITH / AFP / GETTY IMAGES


Polls reveal support for a reduction in numbers, but not an outright ban.

Donald Trump signed a wide-ranging executive order on Friday that resets the United States’ immigration and refugee programs. The policy bars immigrants from seven heavily Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days, including people with green cards. It bans all refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days, and indefinitely bans Syrian refugees. And it cuts the number of refugees the U.S. will accept overall in 2017. (For a more detailed rundown, read here.)

The scope of Trump’s executive order is such that we’re largely in uncharted waters. Past polls are only so useful, as most of them did not ask about actions as broad as the ones Trump undertook. This isn’t like same-sex marriage, or other more straightforward yes-no issues that have been polled for years. I’d be suspect of anyone claiming it’s clear which way public support will go on Trump’s actions — at least until we get more polling.

Slight differences in framing and question wording can also have big effects on how well immigration, refugee and terrorism policies poll. Whether Trump’s executive order is viewed in humanitarian terms or (as the Trump administration has tried to frame it) in the context of counterterrorism could go a long way towards determining how much the public supports it.

In the meantime, here’s what we do know:

1. In the context of terrorism, at least a plurality of Americans are OK with immigration bans.

The Trump administration has argued that this is not a ban on Muslims. Rather, they’ll likely argue, as the order itself does, that the policies are meant “to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States.” It’s not at all clear these policies will actually improve national security, but the American people have been more supportive of immigration restrictions in the name of counterterrorism. In a Quinnipiac University poll conducted in January, 48 percent of voters supported “suspending immigration from ‘terror prone’ regions, even if it means turning away refugees from those regions.” Forty-two percent were opposed. And a December Politico/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll found 50 percent of Americans were in favor of “banning future immigration from regions where there are active terrorist groups.”

2. But a majority of Americans oppose a religion-based immigration ban.

Just 41 percent of Americans supported a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country who are not U.S. citizens, according to an August 2016 ABC News/Washington Post poll. A slight majority (52 percent) were opposed. A July CBS News/New York Times survey, which asked a similar question, found only 35 percent of voters thought the U.S. should temporarily ban Muslim immigration.

It’s possible, however, that these polls understate support for Trump’s plan. The surveys by ABC News and CBS News were conducted by live interviewers and called cell phones — generally the most accurate way to conduct a poll. But given that banning Muslim immigrants could be seen as a politically incorrect position, some Americans may feel uncomfortable voicing support for a ban to a stranger in a telephone poll. Morning Consult and YouGov, which conduct surveys over the internet, found a small plurality of Americans support temporarily banning Muslims from entering the U.S.

How long these policies are left in place could also play a role in how the public responds to them. Trump’s immigration and refugee restrictions, at the moment, are only temporary. But his executive order opens the door to more bans in the future, which could prove more unpopular. In the December Politico poll, just 18 percent were in favor of “banning future immigration of people who are Muslim.” The longer Trump’s immigration restrictions remain in place, the more pushback he might encounter.

3. Americans seem OK with lowering the number of refugees accepted by the U.S., but outright bans are not likely to be popular.

Americans think the U.S. accepts too many refugees, whether Syrian refugees specifically or all refugees. In July 2016, when the U.S.’s goal was to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees in per year, an Associated Press/GfK Knowledge Networks poll found that 53 percent of Americans thought the U.S. should allow fewer Syrian refugees to enter the country. Only 11 percent thought we should accept more, and 33 percent thought that level was about right.

But the same Marist poll showed a full Syrian refugee ban was less popular. More Americans (49 percent) thought we should continue our current policy for Syrian refugees than institute a temporary ban (43 percent). And according to a CBS News survey from October, 61 percent of respondents said the “U.S. should allow refugees from Syria into the United States as long as they go through a security clearance process.”

A September 2015 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, meanwhile, gave respondents four choices: whether to take in more Syrian refugees, fewer refugees, maintain the 10,000-refugee policy, or take in no Syrian refugees at all. Only 24 percent of respondents selected no refugees. However, this number increased to 38 percent in a December, 2015 version of the poll after the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California. While a total ban on Syrian refugees is unlikely to be popular, therefore, opinion about it could ebb and flow based on the extent to which Trump is able to tie his policy to terrorism concerns.

There’s very little data on how Americans would feel about an overall ban on refugees. The April 2016 Marist College poll found that a majority (53 percent) of the public thought we should allow fewer refugees into the country, although a 50 percent plurality in the poll also said the U.S. had a moral obligation to take in refugees. As is the case with Syrian refugees, however, an outright ban would probably be much less popular than a reduction in numbers.

4. To repeat ourselves, there’s a lot we don’t know.

Again, there are so many ways to look at these numbers. Will Americans react more to the fact that the U.S. is temporarily banning all refugees or to the halts on immigration from predominantly Muslim countries? It’s just not clear how it will play out politically. American opinions on immigration, counterterrorism and refugees are complicated and interact with one another, and different opinions can be activated at different times. Furthermore, some aspects of the policy — such as banning U.S. green card holders from re-entering the United States (or only allowing them to re-enter on a case-by-case basis) — have not been polled at all. For the time being, it’s probably safe to say that the policy is neither as unpopular as its detractors might hope for, nor as popular as its supporters might assume. But that could change as the public learns more about it in the days and weeks ahead.

Harry Enten is a senior political writer and analyst for FiveThirtyEight.

U.S. Politics


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U.S. Politics

Sunday Talk: The Truth Is Out There



We’re just over one week into the imperial presidency of @realDonaldTrump, and—to be quite honest—I’m already tired of all the whining.

Despite occupying the most powerful office in the world (with all of the responsibilities that entails), Trump remains focused on (read: obsessedwith) his popularity—or, more to the point, the lack thereof.

Facts notwithstanding, Trump and his ministers of propaganda continue to insist that his inauguration was the most well-attended/watched in Americanhistory.

Fortunately, the so-called “liberalmedia” has been noting that this claim, like the one about widespreadvoterfraud, simply isn’ttrue.

Thisnegative coverage has left PresidentTrump feeling so demoralized that he’s now bringing his own cheerleaders with him everywhere he goes.




 Morning lineup:

Meet the Press: White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus; Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA); Roundtable: Former RNC Chair Michael Steele, Thomas Friedman (New York Times), Kimberly Strassel (Wall Street Journal) & Presidential Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Face The Nation: White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus; Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN); U.K. Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch; Roundtable: Jamelle Bouie (Slate), Molly Ball (The Atlantic), Peter Baker (New York Times) & Radio Host Hugh Hewitt.

This Week: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY); Former Defense Secretary/CIA Director Robert Gates; Roundtable: Republican Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, Dan Balz (Washington Post), Audie Cornish (NPR) & LZ Granderson (ESPN).

Fox News Sunday: Counselor to the President Kellyanne Comway; Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (R-IL); Roundtable: Republican Strategist Karl Rove, Julie Pace (Associated Press), Bush White House Press Secretary Dana Perino & Charles Lane (Washington Post).

State of the Union: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio (D); Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH); Roundtable: Republican Strategist Ana Navarro, Former South Carolina State Rep. Bakari Sellers (D), Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) & Author J.D. Vance.

Evening lineup:

60 Minutes will feature: an interview with a Hungarian designer of a secret bike motor who thinks the motors have been used to cheat in pro cycling as far back as 1998 (preview); a report on a man convicted of shooting his brother with a rifle now under recall who claims that he never pulled the trigger (preview).

Late night shows:

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Monday: Actress Leslie Mann; Comedian Lewis Black; Actor Dan Levy.

Tuesday: Singer-Songwriter Josh Groban; Chef Rachael Ray; Rock Band Japandroids.

Wednesday: Comedian Ricky Gervais; Actress Christina Ricci; Singer-Songwriter Jain.

Thursday: TV Personality Dr. Phil McGraw; Singer-Songwriter Michael Bolton; Singer Maren Morris.

Friday: Actress Priyanka Chopra; Actor Thomas Sadoski.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

Monday–Thursday: Guests TBA.


Celebrity Jon Voight accused celebrities like Shia LaBeouf and Miley Cyrus of “teaching treason.”

Veteran actor and ardent President Trump supporter Jon Voight said Tuesday that celebrities like Shia LaBeouf and Miley Cyrus are teaching “treason” to younger generations.

The Oscar-winning actor told TMZ that Saturday’s women’s marches and protests around the world, in which Mr. LaBeouf and Ms. Cyrus were active participants, did nothing but teach young people to rebel against the government and “denigrate” the new president.

“It’s been very serious and very destructive, this marching against the government and against the president,” Mr. Voight, 78, said.

When you see the young people, like Shia LaBeouf and Miley Cyrus, and they have a lot of followers, a lot of young people, what are they teaching? They’re teaching treason,” he continued. “They’re teaching going up against the government, not accepting the will of the people on this presidency.”

“It’s a very sad day, really, when I see this,” he added.

And, in other entertainment news…

Old video emerged of Kellyanne Conway doing stand-up comedy. (Warning: Not funny)

Long before she was one of Donald Trump’s top spin masters, Kellyanne Conway was a burgeoning pollster and pundit – and, as a recently unearthed video shows, a one-time fumbling stand-up comedian. In a video first posted by a user to C-SPAN, Conway (then Kellyanne Fitzpatrick) delivers a cringeworthy 11-minute set packed with a special brand of dad humor for deeply embedded Washington insiders.

The clip is dated November 26th, 1998 and Conway’s set is part of an event called, “D.C.’s Funniest Celebrity Charity Event.” Conway, apparently in a cast, opens with a few “break a leg” jokes, including a “Top Five” list for how her injury occurred: “Number four: Having just two of his own, Chris Matthews needed someone else’s foot to stick in his mouth.”

At the end of her set, Conway grabs a feather boa and makes a handful of passing remarks about the investigation into Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky before launching into her grand finale: An original a cappella lounge song with the clunky hook, “I’ve got the pundit blues.”

Try the veal.

– Trix

U.S. Politics

Ex-KGB Chief Who Leaked Incriminating Trump Info Found Dead In The Back Of A Car In Russia

Ex-KGB Chief Who Leaked Incriminating Trump Info Found Dead In The Back Of A Car In Russia

Getty Images (Drew Angerer)/Twitter


Trump and his allies expect us to dismiss the 35-page dossier that details Donald Trump and his team’s ties to the Russian government, but a lot of crazy stuff keeps happening that makes it impossible.

When it was just former MI6 agent and author of the report Christopher Steele, who is in hiding to protect himself from both Trump and Putin’s goons, saying that President Asterisk’s closet is overflowing with skeletons (and Russian hooker urine) it was one thing, but the existence of audio and even video of Trump engaging in incriminating acts was confirmed by at least four sources, including one in the American intelligence community. Israeli intelligence officials have also been warned about sharing intel with Trump’s administration for fear that it will be leaked to Vladimir Putin. And then there’s the little matter of what happened to a gentleman who helped Steele compile his incriminating yet not entirely verified report…

Oleg Erovinkin was a former general in the KGB and the FSB. He is suspected of feeding information to Steele, and he was found dead in his car on Boxing Day. Russian state-run media initially reported that foul play was involved when “Erovinkin’s body was “found in a black Lexus… [and] a large-scale investigation has been commenced in the area. Erovinkin’s body was sent to the FSB morgue.” Since then, the cause of death has been downgraded to “heart attack.” The Telegraph reports:

Erovinkin was a key aide to Igor Sechin, a former deputy prime minister and now head of Rosneft, the state-owned oil company, who is repeatedly named in the dossier.

Erovinkin has been described as a key liaison between Sechin and Russian president Vladimir Putin. Mr Steele writes in an intelligence report dated July 19, 2016, he has a source close to Sechin, who had disclosed alleged links between Mr Trump’s supporters and Moscow.

The death of Erovinkin has prompted speculation it is linked to Mr Steele’s explosive dossier, which was made public earlier this month. Mr Trump has dismissed the dossier as “fake news” and no evidence has emerged to support its lurid claims.

The Russian state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Erovinkin’s body was “found in a black Lexus… [and] a large-scale investigation has been commenced in the area. Erovinkin’s body was sent to the FSB morgue”.

No cause of death has been confirmed and the FSB continues to investigate. Media reports suggested his death was a result of foul play.

It was later claimed he died of a heart attack.  Christo Grozev, an expert on Russia-related security threats, believes Erovinkin is the key source to whom Mr Steele refers in his dossier.

“Insiders have described Erovinkin to me alternately as ‘Sechin’s treasurer’ and ‘the go-between between Putin and Sechin’. One thing that everyone seems to agree  – both in public and private sources – is that Erovinkin was Sechin’s closest associate,” Grozev says. “I have no doubt that at the time Erovinkin died, Mr Putin had Mr Steele’s Trump dossier on his desk. He would – arguably – have known whether the alleged… story is based on fact or fiction.”

 “Whichever is true, he would have had a motive to seek  – and find the mole,” he adds. “He would have had to conclude that Erovinkin was at least a person of interest.”

At this point, it will be difficult for our own intelligence agencies to get to the bottom of this situation. Recently, for example, Trump decided to retain James Comey — yes, the guy who interfered in the election on his behalf — as the head of the FBI. The Donald also has the power to fire Comey if the ongoing investigation is not positive for Trump. At around the same time as the announcement, the Bureau cleared Michael Flynn of any wrongdoing in his numerous, suspicious calls to the Russian ambassador.

Our country is in a bad place and we need more information to correctly determine what is going on with any of this — information the current administration and his despotic allies will go to any lengths to hide.

Was Erovinkin murdered because of his knowledge of information that could greatly hurt Trump and his BFF Putin? Maybe, maybe not. Putin is exactly the sort of person who has been known to leave a trail of dead journalists in his wake for reporting too much. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that he had a former KGB agent murdered for knowing too much.

John Prager