Browsing articles from "January, 2017"

French-Canadian Student Charged With Murdering 6 In Quebec City Mosque

Jan 31, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on French-Canadian Student Charged With Murdering 6 In Quebec City Mosque

Flowers at a makeshift memorial near the Islamic Cultural Center in Quebec City Monday.

Alice Chiche/AFP/Getty Images


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Flowers at a makeshift memorial near the Islamic Cultural Center in Quebec City Monday.

Alice Chiche/AFP/Getty Images

Canadian authorities say a 27-year-old man was solely responsible for the armed attack on a Quebec City mosque on Sunday.

The man, who has been identified as Alexandre Bissonnette, faces 11 charges: six counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder. In a brief appearance in court he did not enter a plea.

The Associated Press, citing local hospital officials, reports five shooting victims remain in critical condition and 12 others suffered minor injuries.

Local authorities initially were looking for two suspects, but another man arrested at the mosque was determined to be just a witness to the shooting, which occurred Sunday evening.

The police have not discussed a possible motive for the attack. The New York Times reports that Bissonnette has a history of anti-Islam comments online and had expressed support for the far-right French political party, the National Front.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Province Premier Philippe Couillard quickly called the shootings an act of terrorism.

Mass shootings are rare in Canada. Adding to the shock and outrage is the fact that Quebec City, a metropolitan area of about 806,000 people, saw just two killings in all of 2015. Nevertheless, Canadian Muslim activists report that the mosque has seen an uptick in threats and vandalism.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said that President Trump had called Trudeau to express his condolences. In a telegram, Russian President Vladimir Putin did the same.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said her city would signal its solidarity with Quebec City by turning off the lights on the Eiffel Tower Monday.

Acting Attorney General Out After Refusing To Defend Trump Refugee Ban

Jan 31, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Acting Attorney General Out After Refusing To Defend Trump Refugee Ban

The president replaced Sally Yates late Monday after she told Justice Department lawyers not to defend his executive order. The top federal prosecutor in suburban Virginia was elevated in her place.

Fortress America: What We Can — And Can’t — Learn From History

Jan 31, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Fortress America: What We Can — And Can’t — Learn From History

Barely a week after assuming office, President Donald Trump set off a worldwide firestorm when he decided to temporarily ban migrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from all over the world from entering the United States.

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Barely a week after assuming office, President Donald Trump set off a worldwide firestorm when he decided to temporarily ban migrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from all over the world from entering the United States.

Alex Brandon/AP

President Donald Trump’s decision to temporarily ban immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from across the globe has set off a firestorm of protest. In airports and city streets across the U.S. and beyond, people turned out by the thousands over the weekend to protest the action.

In tense times, we often turn to history to understand events such as these. While we can and should learn from the past to inform our present, scholars say this process can be fraught with psychological peril. We’re often inclined to draw lessons from history that suit our preconceived notions.

Hidden Brain

In recent days, many people have reached for the story of the SS St. Louis. It’s a story you may be familiar with: In 1939, a ship full of Jewish refugees was turned away when it reached the shores of Cuba and then the United States.

This week we speak with historian Deborah Lipstadt, a professor of religion at Emory University. She researches the Holocaust and the global response to Jewish refugees. Lipstadt gives us a vivid portrait of the voyage and its aftermath — and cautions about making simple parallels to crises today.

Hidden Brain is hosted by Shankar Vedantam and produced by Maggie Penman, Jennifer Schmidt, Rhaina Cohen, and Renee Klahr. Our intern is Chloe Connelly, and our supervising producer is Tara Boyle. You can follow us on Twitter @hiddenbrain, and listen for Hidden Brain stories each week on your local public radio station.

Christian Leaders Question Trump’s Promise To Favor Christian Refugees

Jan 31, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Christian Leaders Question Trump’s Promise To Favor Christian Refugees

Refugee Agencies Race Against Time To Beat Trump Immigration Ban

Southern Baptists Split With Donald Trump On Refugee Resettlement

The Hopes (Security) And Fears (Bears) Of Syrian Refugees In New Jersey

Of Courts And Confusion: Here's The Reaction To Trump's Immigration Freeze

President Trump is promising to give priority to Christians fleeing persecution — yet some of the strongest criticism of his executive order is coming from Christian leaders themselves.

Some say the temporary ban on admitting refugees challenges the Christian ethic of welcoming the stranger. Others worry that favoring Christians over other immigrants could actually backfire.

Trump Refugee Ban Clashes With Faith-Based Groups' Religious Missions

Among the Christian groups criticizing President Trump’s executive order are some who have been generally friendly to him. Eight evangelical leaders, including Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, who prayed at his inauguration, sent Trump a letter Sunday asking him to reconsider his suspension of refugee resettlement.

Another clergyman who prayed at Trump’s inauguration, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, told reporters Sunday that the executive order “at first blush causes us some apprehension.”

“But we’re looking forward to studying it, and we look forward to hearing the experts who work for us in the next couple of days to say, ‘Here’s what it says. Here’s the trouble it’s going to cause, and here’s what we need to do about it,’ ” he said.

Dolan is a longtime Trump friend. Other Catholic leaders were much harsher in their assessment of the executive order.

That criticism from the Christian world is notable because President Trump said he’ll give special attention to Christian refugees. The executive order itself doesn’t mention Christians by name, saying only that members of religious minorities will be given priority treatment.

But in an interview last week with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Trump specifically said he sees Christians as a priority because “they’ve been horribly treated.”

“If you were a Christian in Syria, it was impossible, at least very, very tough, to get in the United States. If you were a Muslim, you could come in. But if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible,” Trump said.

In fact, more than 99 percent of the Syrian refugees entering the United States in 2016 were Muslim, though refugee experts say that does not necessarily mean Christian refugees were discriminated against. Only a small percentage of the Syrians fleeing the country were Christian; they may also have been underrepresented in the refugee camps overseen by the U.N. refugee agency, which is largely responsible for determining who qualify as refugees.

The prospect of a Syrian Christian gaining admission to the United States, however, will actually be worse under Trump’s executive order, at least in the short term. The directive bars all refugees from Syria, including Christians, indefinitely.

As for refugee law generally, it is not as though someone can qualify for refugee status simply by being a Christian.

“The core of being a refugee is having a reasonable fear of persecution,” says Paul Rosenzweig, a law professor at George Washington University and an official in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush.

“If you cannot demonstrate that, then you’re not entitled to get any status at all,” he says.

It’s a case-by-case determination. A Christian who wants to come to the United States but cannot demonstrate that he or she faces persecution back home will not get special treatment.

Christians have been persecuted widely in the Middle East, especially in areas under the control of ISIS. But even those organizations most supportive of beleaguered Christians have mixed feelings about prioritizing them over others facing persecution.

David Curry, president of Open Doors USA, worries that putting Christians in a favored category could actually make things worse for them.

“What I think might exacerbate the challenge is that if this is seen as a religious test to get into America, [extremists will] use that as an excuse to attack Christians even further,” he says.

Curry’s organization advocates giving priority simply to those people most in need of refuge, whether Christians or minority Muslims or Yazidis.

Andrew Doran, senior policy adviser for the organization In Defense of Christians, thinks the priority should be on preserving Christian communities in the Middle East; he’d like to see more of an effort to protect them where they now live.

“It’s very important for these Syrians to be safe, protected, and the best way to do this is for a U.S.-led international coalition to establish protected zones,” he says.

As recently as last week, President Trump was saying he’d support the establishment of safe zones in Syria. That proposal was in an earlier draft of his executive order. But it was omitted in the final version.

Protests Against Immigration And Refugee Executive Orders Continue At Aiports

Jan 30, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Protests Against Immigration And Refugee Executive Orders Continue At Aiports



MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We’ve been reporting on the protests that have sprung up around the country against President Trump’s executive order curtailing refugee resettlement and barring entry to the U.S. for citizens of certain countries. NPR’s Kirk Siegler is at a protest at Los Angeles International Airport. Kirk, welcome. Thanks so much for joining us.

KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Glad to be here, Michel.

MARTIN: So can you tell us what the scene is like there?

SIEGLER: Well, it’s been steadily growing throughout the afternoon. In fact, protesters arrived here several hours before the scheduled time when this was to begin. They’ve now streamed out outside of the arrivals hall where they had been chanting and cheering at folks coming into the country. Now they’re all standing out on the side. You can hear probably in the background people chanting no fear, immigrants are welcome here.

It’s a very peaceful protest. And there are a lot of folks – it’s interesting – talking in the crowd, milling around the crowd. A lot of folks say that they just felt compelled to come out, and they, you know, haven’t always been engaged in protest before – until now. One woman I spoke with her name is D’nai Kingsley. She’s Korean-American, and she told me why she came out here, so let’s hear a little bit of that tape now.

D’NAI KINGSLEY: I never really consider myself an activist, but these sorts of things that are happening right now – we have to stand up. And if we don’t stand up, then it normalizes.

SIEGLER: There are folks, Michel, out here chanting and holding signs saying immigrants are welcome, keep refugees safe, and so it’s quite a dynamic scene now here in LAX.

MARTIN: Do you know if there are any people detained at that airport because of the executive order that was signed on Friday? And if so how many?

SIEGLER: We don’t know the number. We do know that there have been people in here – and I’m told unofficially that there are still people inside behind the wall behind us here. There have been a number of folks coming in from Iran and Europe. There were reports of some being held. These are permanent residents with U.S. green cards.

I’d say it’s a very fluid and sort of chaotic situation almost in the sense that there’s really no information or no official information that we can really get at this time, at least from my vantage point. It’s just clear that the protesters are here demanding that those – assuming there are people behind us – still being detained in the Customs and Border Patrol with Customs and Border Patrol officials they want them out.

MARTIN: Elsewhere at airports around the country, immigration lawyers have come out to make themselves known to family members and to support and offer counsel to those who may be detained. Are you seeing that at LAX?

SIEGLER: I am, Michel. There are attorneys everywhere here holding signs saying please come talk to me, talk to me with help. I just spoke with one not too long ago who told me that they were just, you know, trying to mill around this crowd and find family members of loved ones behind the barrier there who they believe were trapped back there. And some people have lost contact with them.

One woman, in fact, told me that she was so frustrated that the information that she’s getting is actually coming from the Los Angeles Police Department and airport police officials here about how many people may be detained back there. And they’re not getting anything from the Customs and Border Patrol officials who are actually in charge and the Department of Homeland Security.

MARTIN: That’s NPR’s Kirk Siegler at the international terminal of Los Angeles International Airport. That’s where protesters have gathered to register their objections to the Trump administration’s executive orders regarding immigration and refugee resettlement Thanks, Kirk.

SIEGLER: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Former Attorney General Calls Vetting Immigrants A ‘Delicate Process’

Jan 30, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Former Attorney General Calls Vetting Immigrants A ‘Delicate Process’



MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We wanted to get additional legal perspective on the big news stories of this weekend, so we reached out to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. He led the Justice Department during the administration of George W. Bush. He’s also a former White House counsel in that administration and a former Texas Supreme Court judge. He’s now dean of the law school at Belmont University School of Law in Nashville. He happened to be traveling in Utah, and we reached him there. Judge Gonzales, thanks so much for speaking with us.

ALBERTO GONZALES: Always a pleasure.

MARTIN: So I wanted to first get your take on President Trump’s reorganization of the National Security Council. The president’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is now to be a regular member of the Principals Committee. How unusual is that to have somebody from the political side on equal footing with secretaries of Defense, State, Homeland Security and Treasury?

GONZALES: You know, I really can’t speak to what it was like in previous administrations that they’ve gone by. I can tell you that Karl Rove was never in any meeting in the situation room. I would say it was really different to what we did in the Bush administration. I will say that as a general matter, you know, the president is entitled to seek advice from wherever he chooses.

But this is – relates to issues of the highest intelligence importance and involving our national security. And you want to have your advisers there who have some level of expertise and experience in that arena. I don’t know what Steve’s experience is in the area. And so I would certainly say would be unusual vis a vis my own experience in working in the Bush administration.

MARTIN: Did President Bush have a philosophy about this? I mean, he was known to be very close to Karl Rove. Was there a particular reason he didn’t have somebody from the political side involved in these discussions? Was in part to avoid the appearance of political involvement in affairs of national security?

GONZALES: I think it was more a function of you were only at meetings or events where you were needed. For President Bush, his decision relating to national security – we’re going to be governed by politics. We’re not going to be governed by polls. He was going to do what he thought was best for this country based upon the advice given to him by the national security experts. Obviously, I’m not part of the Trump administration, so I don’t know what is motivating this particular change. All I can say is it’s certainly different than the way we operated in the Bush administration.

MARTIN: Let’s talk about the executive order on refugee resettlement and the new limits on immigration. States attorneys general are having a very strong reaction to the president’s executive order. In fact, a group of 16 of them are battling whatever legal assistance they can provide. You can see that there are demonstrations popping up at airports around the country. Can I get your reaction to this?

GONZALES: Well, you know, I haven’t seen the order. Obviously, there’s been a lot of reporting about it. There’s also been some, I think – I’ve seen some reporting that, perhaps, the order wasn’t properly vetted. I hope it’s not the case that the lawyers of the Department of Justice, particularly the office of legal counsel that they – I hope that they were involved because that’s a role that is delegated to them by the attorney general who is charged by statute to advise the executive branch. So I don’t know how the executive order came to be – who signed off on it, but, obviously, it’s generated a great deal of confusion and opposition.

MARTIN: Anything else that I didn’t have the wit to ask you?

GONZALES: You know, I think with respect to these orders, we need to remember this is a very important balancing act for the country and that we are a nation of immigrants. We are a compassionate people. We have historically had open arms with respect to refugees and people in trouble.

On the other hand, we live now in a very dangerous world, and we need to make sure that only people that have good intentions are coming into our country. And if we don’t have a process in place to ensure that, then that argues for beefing up those inspections. And that’s a very delicate balance for our country, and I’m assuming that President Trump is trying to achieve that balance and, perhaps, that balance wasn’t properly reached in this particular instance. So we’ll have to wait and see how it all progresses.

MARTIN: That’s Alberto Gonzales. He was attorney general in the administration of George W. Bush. He’s currently serving as dean of the law school at Belmont University School of Law in Nashville. His latest book is “True Faith And Allegiance.” And we reached him in Utah. Judge Gonzales, thanks so much for speaking with us.

GONZALES: Thank you again.

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Syrian Family Forced To Return To Middle East After Arriving In Philadelphia

Jan 30, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Syrian Family Forced To Return To Middle East After Arriving In Philadelphia



MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We have another story now about how one family has been affected by President Trump’s executive order. Sarah Assali and her father were expecting to meet Syrian uncles, aunts and cousins at the Philadelphia International Airport on Saturday. But on their way, they got a call from U.S. Customs and Border Protection telling them to stay home. Their family members who are Syrian Christians were heading back to the Middle East. Sarah Assali joins us on the line now from outside of Philadelphia. Sarah, thanks so much for speaking with us.

SARAH ASSALI: No problem. Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: I know it’s been a tough day.

ASSALI: It definitely has.

MARTIN: I understand that your family’s been working to bring your aunts, uncles and cousins over for 14 years now. Why did they want to leave?

ASSALI: Well, my dad originally came, you know, for a better future, for his children, for his family, and he just wanted to bring his brothers and sisters over to have the same opportunities that he had to attend better schools, have, you know, more opportunities.

MARTIN: What happened when they arrived?

ASSALI: According to my family, they were taken from the gate of the airplane and taken to a holding cell eventually and told that – they were handed tickets, and their luggage was waiting for them there. And they were told you have to either go back or we’re going to invalidate your visas, and you won’t be able to return for five years. At that point, they did – were not offered a translator, and their English was very weak. They asked to make phone calls, but they were denied telephone use to reach out to us.

At that point, my uncle had essentially begged the officials to please call my father to let him know not to wait outside. And that was all the information we got. My dad got a phone call from a restricted number, and all they said was don’t bother coming. We’re not letting your family out. They’re being sent back. They told us the information was confidential and that our family could call us and reach us when they’re in Syria and let us know.

MARTIN: And have they reached Syria yet? Where are they now? Do you know?

ASSALI: They just got to Damascus about two hours ago.

MARTIN: How are they? How are their spirits?

ASSALI: They actually had no idea that this much of an uproar had happened over this executive order. So, at first, I think all of us felt very hopeless, but now that they know that, you know, a lot of things are in the works, there’s protests going on and that the American people do support them, I think they’re a lot more hopeful.

MARTIN: How are you doing?

ASSALI: I’m OK. It’s – I haven’t processed it all yet.

MARTIN: How is your dad?

ASSALI: He’s upset. He’s angry. He’s frustrated, but he just wants his family to come here.

MARTIN: I understand that he’s even bought – he even bought a second home in Allentown for them to help them get settled. That’s quite a commitment. And I also understand that…

ASSALI: Yeah, they…

MARTIN: …That your family members in Syria had also liquidated their assets, so they’ve basically already sold everything that they own there in preparation for the move. Do I have that right?

ASSALI: Yeah. They sold their cars, so they could afford plane tickets to come here. They got, you know – they sold all of their gold and any valuables that they had. They didn’t expect to have to go back. I mean, luckily, they did have a home to go back to still. But they don’t have anything else.

MARTIN: Before we let you go, is there anything else that you would wish people to know about this that, perhaps, they might not know if they’re not as close to it as you are?

ASSALI: I guess my advice would be just to read – read everything, learn as much as you can before you jump to any – jump, you know, conclusions or judgments on any of the situations, you know, whether it be the situation in Syria or anywhere else worldwide because a lot of these policies are very emotionally driven. And they are not based on reality, and a lot of people who are making these judgments – it’s not – it’s all emotional.

So I would suggest everyone, you know, to go out and read and learn and try to come up with the most well-rounded response to what’s happening in the world.

MARTIN: Well, I understand that you’re a medical student. You’re in the middle of – what? – your rotations, I understand. So we wish you the best with that, and good luck with that.

ASSALI: Thank you.

MARTIN: And I hope you’ll be able to concentrate. That’s Sarah…

ASSALI: Thank you.

MARTIN: …Assali. She’s a medical student. Her family members were sent back to Syria by President Trump’s executive orders.

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

6 Dead In Shooting At Quebec City Mosque

Jan 30, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on 6 Dead In Shooting At Quebec City Mosque

Police officers respond to a shooting in a mosque at the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City on Sunday.

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Police officers respond to a shooting in a mosque at the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City on Sunday.

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Police in Quebec City have arrested two suspects following a shooting at a mosque there, which killed six and wounded eight.

According to police, two gunmen opened fire in Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre around 8 p.m., where about 40 people were gathered for evening prayers.

In an early-morning press conference a Quebec City police spokeswoman gave no further details about the suspects, saying the investigation had just begun.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Province premier Philippe Couillard both described the attack as an act of terrorism.

The Associated Press reported Trudeau’s remarks:

“We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a centre of worship and refuge,” Trudeau said in a statement. “It is heart-wrenching to see such senseless violence. Diversity is our strength, and religious tolerance is a value that we, as Canadians, hold dear.

“Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country,” he added. “Canadian law enforcement agencies will protect the rights of all Canadians, and will make every effort to apprehend the perpetrators of this act and all acts of intolerance.”

“Why is this happening here? This is barbaric,” the mosque’s president, Mohamed Yangui said to reporters, according to the AP.

Yangui was not inside the mosque when the shooting occurred but said he received frantic calls from many who were inside at the time of the gunfire.

Says Reuters:

Incidents of Islamophobia have increased in Quebec in recent years. The face-covering, or niqab, became a big issue in the 2015 Canadian federal election, especially in Quebec, where the vast majority of the population supported a ban on it at citizenship ceremonies.

In 2013, police investigated after a mosque in the Saguenay region of the province was splattered with what was believed to be pig blood. In the neighboring province of Ontario, a mosque was set on fire in 2015, a day after an attack by gunmen and suicide bombers in Paris.

Last June, during the holy month of Ramadan, as the CBC reported, someone also left a pig’s head at Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre, where Sunday night’s attack took place.

“Tonight, Canadians grieve for those killed in a cowardly attack on a mosque in Quebec City,” Trudeau said. “My thoughts are with victims their families.”

A Look Back On Trump’s Executive Orders This Week

Jan 29, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on A Look Back On Trump’s Executive Orders This Week



MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We’ll start with a look at a very busy week in Washington punctuated by President Trump’s executive directives on everything from the Affordable Care Act and abortion to a promised border wall with Mexico to calls to restart two controversial pipeline programs. And then there is that ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries signed yesterday.

We’re going to drill down on that story today because there has been tremendous reaction to it both here and abroad. To talk about all this, we’ve called NPR’s Scott Horsley, who covers the White House. Scott, welcome back.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good to be with you.

MARTIN: Also on the line with us is NPR’s Aarti Shahani from San Francisco. Aarti, welcome to you, too.

AARTI SHAHANI, BYLINE: Hi.

MARTIN: And I’m going to start with you because you’ve been getting reaction all day on this story. What are you hearing at the borders and from people trying to get into the country?

SHAHANI: What I’m hearing is there is confusion. People have been stranded, detained at airports across the U.S. We don’t know exactly how many, but we do know it’s not just refugees coming here for the first time. Green card holders, too, people with what is termed lawful permanent residency have also been pulled aside, have their status in question, if – from the designated predominantly Muslim countries.

NPR has also obtained an internal email circulating over at USCIS, the immigration agency that processes immigrant applications. The guidance says officers can keep interviewing people but cannot approve any application. That could affect people, you know, originally from those countries who are preparing to take the U.S. citizenship oath.

MARTIN: Now, I understand you’ve spoken with somebody who had a difficult time getting into the country.

SHAHANI: That’s right. I interviewed a woman named Nisrin Elamin. She’s a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at Stanford University. She’s had a green card for five years. She’s originally from Sudan, and she was doing dissertation research there. She heard about the executive order and made a pretty last-minute decision to come back to the U.S. to avoid problems. She landed at JFK last night around 10 p.m. She still got pulled aside. Elamin said the officer dealing with her just seemed to be making it up as he went along.

NISRIN ELAMIN: The officer who was questioning me told me that they had just gotten word about this executive order 20 minutes before we arrived. So they were so confused about what to do, and they were waiting on Washington to give them more direction on what to do. And when I asked him – you know, I told him I’m a permanent resident – could I be sent back? And he said he didn’t know. So he told me to just – he said it’s probably going to be a long night so just kind of sit tight.

SHAHANI: Elamin was held until about 3 a.m. Homeland Security decided to stamp her in after asking her a bunch of questions about her take on radicalism and Sharia law, asking her for her Facebook account and handcuffing her. She says one of the officers told her it would not be a good idea for her to travel abroad again, even though she has a green card.

MARTIN: I understand that there are some legal challenges already in the works.

SHAHANI: Yes. The ACLU with other advocates filed a habeas petition, saying that the executive order violates the Constitution and laws passed by Congress. The position focuses on two men from Iraq, one of whom helped the U.S. military in Iraq. ACLU attorney – ACLU attorney here, Cecillia Wang, describes him.

CECILLIA WANG: One of our clients, Mr. Darweesh, served as an interpreter and worked for the United States Army’s 101st Airborne Division and has been targeted by threats because of his connections with our U.S. Army in Iraq.

SHAHANI: Now, Hameed Darweesh’s wife and child were admitted while he was detained. Wang says that decision was arbitrary. They were all coming in from the same country, same visa. This afternoon, by the way, he was released into the U.S. But the other man, Heider Al-Shawi is still in custody.

MARTIN: Well, let’s go to Scott Horsley now. Scott, we don’t have time to address all of the executive actions that we’ve talked about over the course of the week, so let’s just focus on this again. Remind us again exactly what yesterday’s executive action on immigration said.

HORSLEY: Well, Michel, it closes the door to all refugees for four months. It closes the door to refugees from Syria indefinitely. It cuts, by more than half, the total number of refugees the United States is expected to take in this year, giving priority to Christian refugees from the Middle East. And it puts a 90-day hold on all visitors from the seven countries with predominantly Muslim populations – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan.

In signing this order at the Pentagon yesterday, President Trump described it as a way of keeping would-be terrorists out of the United States. But critics say it’s a step towards that Muslim ban that the president talked about during the campaign, and they say it’s a violation of America’s commitment to religious freedom and the Constitution.

MARTIN: Well, Scott, stick with that idea for a moment there. You just heard reports that then – we’ve been hearing reports all day from critics who say that this is heavy-handed, that it’s inhumane and that this is a backdoor ban on Muslims. Has the White House offered any reaction to this?

HORSLEY: Yes. The White House has been pushing back on the idea that this is a backdoor Muslim ban. A White House official noted there are a lot of Muslim countries that are not on that list of seven. And certainly, that’s true. For example, Saudi Arabia, which was home to most of the 9/11 hijackers, is not on the list. Pakistan, which is home to one of the San Bernardino shooters, is not on the list. The countries that are on the list were actually put together – this list dates from the Obama administration.

And its original purpose was that people who were from those countries and – or who had traveled to those countries were required to get some extra scrutiny before they came into the United States. The critics of this new policy say there’s a big difference between asking for that kind of individualized scrutiny and a blanket 90-day ban that President Trump has now ordered.

MARTIN: And what about all these reports about chaos and confusion at the borders? What are you hearing? What is the White House saying in response to that?

HORSLEY: Well, it’s not terribly surprising. There was confusion about this. Let me just walk you through the timeline here. President Trump signed the executive order yesterday afternoon about 4:30 p.m., Washington-time. But the White House didn’t actually release the text of the order for more than two hours, And even then, those of us who were working at the White House had trouble getting clarity from the White House press office about which countries were actually going to be shut off by that 90-day travel ban.

Now, the White House insists it was communicating for, quote, “many weeks” with relevant officials at the State Department and the Homeland Security Department, although that might be an exaggeration since President Trump was sworn in just over one week ago. But a White House official said today, quote, “everyone who needed to know about this order was informed.”

MARTIN: Scott, just very briefly if I could – apologies for interrupting…

HORSLEY: Sure.

MARTIN: …Any other reaction from lawmakers for and against? One assumes that there is.

HORSLEY: Yes. There has been some praise for this order. The GOP chairman of the House Judiciary Committee called it a sensible pause on the entry of refugees. But a lot of Democrats have been critical. And Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska also went on record tonight saying this order is overly broad.

MARTIN: That’s NPR’s Scott Horsley. He covers the White House. And NPR’s Aarti Shahani joins us from San Francisco. Thank you both so much for speaking with us.

HORSLEY: You’re welcome.

SHAHANI: Thank you.

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Doomsday Clock Closest To Midnight Since 1954

Jan 29, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Doomsday Clock Closest To Midnight Since 1954



MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We try to present the sweet with the bitter, which is another way of saying the news is not all doom and gloom. But we’re going to really lay into the doom part for the next few minutes because on Thursday, the world ticked half a step closer to Armageddon – that at least according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and the Doomsday Clock. Every year since 1947, a board of scientists has considered the year’s developments in politics, energy, weapons, diplomacy and climate science. They determine how imminent the end of civilization appears to be with the end visualized as midnight on a clock. For the last two years, the clock has been set at three minutes to midnight. But this week, the clock moved to two and a half minutes to midnight.

Here to talk about that decision and all that goes into it is Lawrence Krauss. He’s a theoretical physicist at Arizona State University. He’s a prolific science writer, who often weighs in on public policy issues. And he is chairman of the board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which decides the Doomsday Clock. And he’s with us now. Thank you so much for joining us.

LAWRENCE KRAUSS: It’s great to be with you virtually.

MARTIN: So what are the factors that went into deciding to move the clock this year?

KRAUSS: Well, as usual, we look at many different factors from the likelihood of nuclear war, the tensions around the world through climate change and even looking at new emerging technologies. When it comes to nuclear weapons, in the last year, there’s been a lot of saber-rattling, in particular a lot of irresponsible statements from the new president of the United States, but equally vitriolic statements, in some sense, by the president of Russia as well.

There is the fact that we haven’t moved towards reduction of nuclear weapons and there, in fact, has been discussion of the possible increase in nuclear weapons, at a time when, in fact, we signed a treaty many years ago called the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which not only required other nations not to obtain nuclear weapons but the nuclear nations to try and disarm. And we’re essentially violating that treaty.

MARTIN: When was the last time the Doomsday Clock was this close to midnight?

KRAUSS: It’s been 64 years. The last time the clock was closer than this was in 1953 when the then-Soviet Union exploded its huge hydrogen bomb for the first time. And that really began the modern arms race. And so in the lifetime of many of the people listening to you and me today, the clock has never been closer. And that certainly is a cause for concern.

MARTIN: Now, we should mention that the clock has moved further from midnight. In 2010, for example, it moved from five to six minutes. But that’s what leads me to ask you – you know, if you ask many Americans of a certain age, especially people who live through it, the closest that they remember the world coming to nuclear catastrophe was in 1962 during the Cuban missile…

KRAUSS: Yeah.

MARTIN: …Crisis. But that year, the clock stood at seven minutes to midnight. The year after that it moved to 12 minutes to midnight. So why are we so much closer to midnight in the Doomsday Clock than in a year when school kids were doing duck-and-cover drills in class?

KRAUSS: (Laughter) Let me just say, first of all, we try not to respond to individual events. We try and take a global view. And so the Cuban Missile Crisis, the group at that time felt that their concerns about nuclear weapons were existing before that and they didn’t want to move it in response to a crisis that had passed.

But what’s important with the clock is not so much its absolute position as much as which direction it’s going. And so if we’re going to step back from the brink, be it nuclear weapons or climate change, it won’t happen unless the public tries to push leaders in the right direction.

MARTIN: Well, you know, that really leads me to my final question. Are you concerned at all that moving the clock so soon after the election of Donald Trump will cause many Americans who already have a very polarized view of politics to view this as yet another partisan attack, at least to his supporters to view this as part of a partisan attack? Are you at all concerned about that?

KRAUSS: Well, yeah, I’m concerned. But the important thing is the clock has always been moved in January. We try, as I say, to make our statements in response to the developments of the world over that year. And like it or not, the statements that he has made, in particular about expanding our nuclear weapons systems of potentially having a new arms race, potentially using nuclear weapons and encouraging other countries from Japan to South Korea to get their own nuclear weapons, are very disturbing.

MARTIN: Professor Krauss, thank you so much for joining us.

KRAUSS: It’s been a pleasure as always. Thanks.

MARTIN: That was Lawrence Krauss. He is a theoretical physicist and chairman of the board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which sets the Doomsday Clock. He is also a science writer and author. His latest book “The Greatest Story Ever Told – So Far” comes out this March.

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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