Trump administration asks Supreme Court to revive travel ban

Trump administration asks Supreme Court to revive travel ban

June 2, 2017

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s administration on Thursday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to revive his plan to temporarily ban travelers from six Muslim-majority nations after it was blocked by lower courts that found it was discriminatory.

In deciding whether to allow the ban to go into effect, the nine justices are set to weigh whether Trump’s harsh election campaign rhetoric can be used as evidence that the order was intended to discriminate against Muslims.

The administration filed emergency applications with the nine high court justices seeking to block two different lower court rulings that went against Trump’s March 6 order barring entry for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days while the U.S. government implements stricter visa screening.

The move comes after the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on May 25 upheld a Maryland judge’s ruling blocking the order.

The administration also filed a separate appeal in that case.

“We have asked the Supreme Court to hear this important case and are confident that President Trump’s executive order is well within his lawful authority to keep the nation safe and protect our communities from terrorism,” Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement.

The American Civil Liberties Union, one of the legal groups challenging the ban, tweeted in response: “We’ve beat this hateful ban and are ready to do it again.”

At least five votes are needed on the nine-justice court in order to grant a stay. The court has a 5-4 conservative majority, with Justice Anthony Kennedy – a conservative who sometimes sides with the court’s four liberals – the frequent swing vote. Another of the court’s conservatives, Neil Gorsuch, was appointed by Trump this year.

If the government’s emergency requests are granted, the ban would go into effect immediately.

The court first has to act on whether to grant the emergency applications, which could happen within a fortnight. Then, the justices will decide whether to hear the government’s full appeal. The Supreme Court is not required to hear the case but is likely to due to its importance and the fact that the request is being made by the U.S. government.

The Justice Department has asked the court to expedite the case so that the justices could hear it at the beginning of their next term, which starts in October. That means, if the court allows the ban to go into effect, the final decision would be issued long after the 90 days has elapsed.

In the court filings, Acting Solicitor General Jeff Wall highlighted the unprecedented nature of courts second-guessing the president on national security and immigration.

“This order has been the subject of passionate political debate. But whatever one’s views, the precedent set by this case for the judiciary’s proper role in reviewing the president’s national-security and immigration authority will transcend this debate, this Order, and this constitutional moment,” he wrote.

In its 10-3 ruling, the appeals court in Virginia said the challengers, including refugee groups and others represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, were likely to succeed on their claim that the order violated the U.S. Constitution’s bar against favoring or disfavoring a particular religion.

The government had argued that the court should not take into account Trump’s comments during the 2016 U.S. presidential race since he made them before he took office on Jan. 20. But the appeals court rejected that view, saying they shed light on the motivations behind Trump’s order.

During the campaign, Trump campaign called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

His administration has argued that the travel ban is needed to prevent terrorism in the United States.

Federal courts in both Maryland and Hawaii issued rulings suspending key parts of the ban. The appeals court in Virginia upheld the Maryland ruling. A San Francisco-based appeals court is currently considering the Hawaii case.

The administration is asking the Supreme Court to throw out the injunction imposed in both cases.

The March ban was Trump’s second effort to implement travel restrictions on people from several Muslim-majority countries through an executive order. The first, issued on Jan. 27, led to chaos and protests at airports and in major U.S. cities before it was blocked by courts.

The second order was intended to overcome the legal issues posed by the original ban, but it was blocked by judges before it could go into effect on March 16.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Sue Horton, Christian Schmollinger, Shr Navaratnam and Michael Perry)

Actress Julianne Moore urges Americans to mark gun violence awareness day

Actress Julianne Moore urges Americans to mark gun violence awareness day

June 2, 2017

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Actress Julianne Moore is urging Americans to wear orange on Friday to mark National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

Moore got involved in campaigning for an end to gun violence after the 2012 shootings of 20 children at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook elementary school, and she is now chair of the Everytown Creative Council.

“When our federal government failed to act I was really shocked and that’s when I realized that I was not being a responsible parent or a citizen by not becoming involved in an issue I cared deeply about,” Moore said on Thursday.

New York’s Empire State Building will be lit up in orange on Friday to mark gun violence awareness.

(Reporting by Reuters Television; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

President Trump Pulls U.S. Out of Paris Climate Agreement

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

June 1, 2017

OAN Newsroom

President Trump promises to negotiate a better deal after pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord.

He made the announcement from the White House Thursday.

The President said the agreement allows other countries to gain financial advantage over the United States, so pulling out will help the U.S. compete on a global level.

He said starting now all implementation of the non-binding accord will stop, which will in turn bring money and jobs back to the U.S..

The President worked with EPA Director Scott Pruitt to come to the decision.

President Trump has long said the Obama-era deal adds more regulations that hurt american businesses.


Pilots after Pence plane incident thought careers over: transcript

Pilots after Pence plane incident thought careers over: transcript

June 1, 2017

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The pilot and first officer of the plane carrying U.S. Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence that skidded off a runway in October 2016 thought the incident would end their careers, according to documents released on Thursday.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board published transcripts of the cockpit voice recorders from the incident in which the Boeing 737-700 operated by Eastern Air Lines Group ran off the runway at LaGuardia Airport in New York.

There were 37 passengers on the plane, including Pence, his wife, Karen, daughter Charlotte and 11 crew. The plane was coming from Fort Dodge, Iowa, where Pence, who was elected vice president in November’s election, had participated in a campaign event.

The plane was stopped by a crushable type of concrete runway, stopping the aircraft’s movement. No one was injured.

“My career just ended,” one of the pilots said. The other responded: “Mine too.”

One added after landing: “Unfortunately I should have gone straight ahead and we would have been fine, when I made the turn is when I screwed up.” The other pilot responded: “I was fighting you because I was trying to stay on the centerline.”

The pilot said in a statement that the first officer made a maneuver he was not expecting “and I instinctively applied maximum manual braking.”

Eastern Air Lines did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The transcript showed a Secret Service agent entered the cockpit and praised the pilots: “Nice job… you stopped it at least.”

In November, the NTSB reported the plane “floated” above the runway without touching down and landed about 3,000 feet (915 meters) beyond the runway threshold – far more than normal.

The Eastern flight crew did not report any mechanical problems and the flight crews of the four airplanes that landed immediately beforehand did not report any problems with braking on the runway.

Eastern Air Lines is based in Florida and privately held.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Recent immigrants to the U.S. are better educated: report

Recent immigrants to the U.S. are better educated: report

June 1, 2017

By Chris Kenning

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Nearly half the recent immigrants to the United States have college degrees, reflecting a steady increase in educational attainment fueled largely by growing numbers of people from Asia, a study released on Thursday showed.

Rising immigration from countries such as India, China and the Philippines helped increase the share of arrivals with a bachelor’s degree to 48 percent between 2011 and 2015 from 27 percent in the five years through 1990, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data by the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington-based nonpartisan think tank.

The findings followed comments by President Donald Trump in March that the United States had “lower-skilled immigration” and should switch to a “merit-based” system to attract people who could support themselves rather than strain public resources. Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in Congress to cut back on legal immigration.

The rise in immigrant education levels followed higher investment in education globally, changing attitudes about education and gender, and reduced poverty, said the institute’s senior policy analyst Jeanne Batalova.

Also contributing were recent declines in the number of unauthorized immigrants who are less likely to have degrees, she said. According to the Pew Research Center, a subsidiary of the Pew Charitable Trusts, the number of unauthorized immigrants in 2015 fell below 2009 levels.

Batalova said the increasing “human capital” of better-educated immigrants contrasts with political rhetoric casting them as a burden.

“For a very long time, the perception of immigrants was they had low education, were low-skilled and they came to the U.S. to take advantage of opportunity and benefits,” she said.

“Our study sheds light on the fact that the debates and the public understanding of immigration often lags behind the realities.”

The recent rise in education levels drove up the proportion of all adult immigrants in the United States with college degrees to 30 percent in 2015, from 20 percent in 1990, the study said.

Of those with degrees who arrived between 2010 and 2014, 44 percent were on temporary visas such as H1B visas, used by employers to bring in specialized foreign workers, and 34 percent were permanent residents, holding U.S. green cards. Unauthorized residents accounted for 18 percent, mostly those who overstayed visas, Batalova said.

Among immigrants from Asian countries, 62 percent of recent arrivals were college educated, compared with 40 percent from Africa and 23 percent from Latin America. Among immigrants from India, that proportion reached 86 percent, the study found.

The report defined immigrants as naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, refugees and asylum seekers, those on student, work or other temporary visas, as well as those residing in the United States without authorization.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum and Andrew Hay)

Signs of the time: Fake U.S. immigration control posters found in Washington

Signs of the time: Fake U.S. immigration control posters found in Washington

June 1, 2017

By Ian Simpson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Residents of at least one Washington D.C. neighborhood woke up on Thursday to find the area plastered with posters urging them to turn in illegal immigrants, but federal authorities denied putting up the signs and denounced them as inciting fear.

The bogus posters bearing the seal of the Department of Homeland Security warned about criminal offenses related to harboring or helping people in the country illegally, and gave phone numbers to report information about them to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“If you see something, say something,” said the flyer, titled “Sanctuary City Neighborhood Public Notice” and written on the ICE letterhead.

Washington is among dozens of so-called sanctuary cities that offer safe haven to illegal immigrants, and local police are under orders not to cooperate with federal authorities seeking to deport residents. An attempt by the administration of President Donald Trump to cut off federal funds to sanctuary cities has been blocked by a court.

Mayor Muriel Bowser said on Twitter that the posters were aimed at scaring residents of the heavily Democratic city and that she had ordered police and the Public Works Department to remove them.

“Tear it down! DC is a sanctuary city,” she said.

Carissa Cutrell, an ICE spokeswoman, said the agency had not put up the posters and called them dangerous and irresponsible.

“Any person who actively incites panic or fear of law enforcement is doing a disservice to the community, endangering public safety and the very people they claim to support and represent,” she said in an email.

Cutrell said she had no information about who might have put up the posters or whether the number of telephone calls to her agency had increased.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington and by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

NYPD must face lawsuit over ‘sound cannons’ at protests: judge

NYPD must face lawsuit over ‘sound cannons’ at protests: judge

June 1, 2017

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The New York City Police Department failed to persuade a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit claiming it used excessive force by employing military-grade sound cannons, which can emit ear-piercing noise, to disperse protesters.

In a decision on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet in Manhattan said people who claimed to suffer hearing loss, migraines, ringing in the ears and other injuries at a Dec. 5, 2014, protest over the death of an unarmed black man at the hands of police could seek damages.

The plaintiffs – including photojournalists, activists, a photographer and a graduate student – were protesting a grand jury decision not to indict a white policeman whose chokehold led to the death of Eric Garner in July 2014.

Armed with videos of the protest, they objected to the NYPD’s use from 10 feet away of a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), which can be used to disperse crowds through volumes that can top 120 decibels, louder than sandblasters and power saws.

“The protest involved large numbers of people and so it is understandable that the officers would want to increase the volume of their message to reach the largest number,” Sweet wrote.

“However, the allegations and video make the protest appear broadly in control, even when glass bottles were thrown from the crowd toward the police,” making it “reasonably plausible” that the LRAD was unnecessary, he said.

Sweet also said the plaintiffs could pursue claims over the alleged improper training of officers, and for assault and battery.

He rejected claims over alleged free speech violations and illegal seizures, and dismissed all claims against former NYPD Commissioner William Bratton.

“The Long Range Acoustic Device is an effective and safe communication tool,” Nick Paolucci, a spokesman for the city’s law department, said in a statement. “We are reviewing the decision and evaluating our next steps.”

Gideon Oliver, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement he hopes the NYPD will change its policies to reflect how LRADs are “potentially deadly crowd control tools, requiring training and supervision to use safely.”

According to the plaintiffs, the NYPD began employing LRADs during the 2004 Republican National Convention, but waited a decade before using them regularly at protests.

LRADs are made by San Diego-based LRAD Corp, which is not a defendant in the lawsuit.

The case is Edrei et al v. City of New York et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-01652.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Bill Trott)

Most of 46 million recalled Takata inflators in U.S. not fixed: U.S. senator

Most of 46 million recalled Takata inflators in U.S. not fixed: U.S. senator

June 1, 2017

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – More than 65 percent of 46.2 million recalled Takata Corp <7312.T> airbag inflators in the United States have not been repaired, a U.S. senator said on Thursday, urging automakers to speed up the pace of repairs.

Senator Bill Nelson of Florida said only 15.8 million inflators out of 46.2 million inflators recalled to date have been repaired through mid-May, though nationwide recalls began in 2015. He was citing answers submitted from a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) independent monitor.

About 8.8 million owners had received recall notices, Nelson said, but they were told no replacement parts were currently available.

The affected Takata inflators can explode with excessive force, unleashing metal shrapnel inside cars and trucks. They have been blamed for at least 16 deaths and more than 180 injuries worldwide.

Inflator recalls began around 2008 and involve around 100 million inflators around the world used in vehicles made by 19 automakers, including Honda Motor Co <7267.T>, Ford Motor Co , Volkswagen AG and Tesla Inc .

Takata spokesman Jared Levy said the company “has dramatically increased the production of airbag replacement kits.” Takata has shipped over 26 million replacement kits, two-thirds of which include inflators manufactured by other suppliers, Levy said.

Last month, four automakers involved in the recalls agreed to a $553 million settlement covering owners of nearly 16 million vehicles with Takata airbag inflators, and agreed to take new steps to encourage owners to get recall repairs made.

Toyota Motor Corp’s <7203.T> share of the settlement costs is $278.5 million, followed by BMW AG at $131 million, Mazda Motor Co <7261.T> at $76 million and Subaru Corp <7270.T> at $68 million.

Nelson noted the administration of President Donald Trump still had not nominated a candidate to lead NHTSA.

“We’re in desperate need of a leader who will commit to resolving this Takata mess,” Nelson said in a statement.

In February, Takata pleaded guilty to U.S. charges of criminal wrongdoing and to pay $1 billion to resolve a federal investigation into its inflators.

The majority of the air bag-related fatalities and injuries have occurred in the United States, and most of them in Honda vehicles.

Automakers have recalled 46 million Takata air bag inflators in 29 million U.S. vehicles. By 2019, automakers will recall 64 million to 69 million U.S. inflators in 42 million total vehicles, NHTSA said in December.

Takata has been searching for more than a year for a financial sponsor to pay the replacement costs for its inflators which are at the center of the auto industry’s biggest recall.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum and Marguerita Choy)

Fearing Trump’s next move, liberals urge Supreme Court conservative Kennedy to stay

Fearing Trump’s next move, liberals urge Supreme Court conservative Kennedy to stay

June 1, 2017

By Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Liberal activists are urging U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative with whom they often disagree, to put off any thought of retirement, fearing President Donald Trump would replace him with a jurist further to the right.

The liberal Democrats’ keep-Kennedy campaign, being pursued publicly and privately, reflects how powerless they have become against the Republican president when it comes to high court vacancies since the Senate in April reduced the vote tally needed to confirm a Supreme Court nomination to 51 from 60.

It also shows how big the stakes are for both sides in any decision that Kennedy, who turns 81 in July, makes about his future on the court. If he were to retire, Trump would have a historic opportunity to recast the court in a more conservative posture, possibly for decades to come.

Some former Kennedy clerks have said he is thinking about retirement. He has declined to comment on his plans, despite requests from many media outlets including Reuters.

Right now, Kennedy “is the most important man in America. He is the vote that swings the court on the most important cases that reach it,” said Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, a left-leaning think tank.

Nominated by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1987 to a lifetime court seat, Kennedy has been a crucial swing vote on the nine-member court for more than a decade.

On most issues, such as campaign finance and religious rights, he has voted with fellow conservatives. He also voted with the minority to strike down the 2010 Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. But on gay rights and abortion, he has sided with the court’s four liberals.

If he stays in his post, the court’s long-standing ideological balance will be preserved. If he quits, Trump could replace him with someone who tilts further right, giving conservatives a solid five-vote majority.

Wydra and other liberals are lionizing Kennedy and his legacy in the media. Some are reaching out to former Kennedy clerks and others who know him, asking them to urge him not to retire, said Michele Jawando, a legal advocate at the Center for American Progress think tank in Washington.

One former Kennedy clerk confirmed being asked to urge him to stay on and said other clerks had asked him to do so. Other clerks said they had not been approached by liberal activists.


Since he took office in January, Trump’s only significant domestic policy achievement has been winning Senate confirmation of his nominee to the high court, Neil Gorsuch, a former Kennedy clerk.

Gorsuch replaced a fellow conservative, Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016. The Gorsuch confirmation did not shift the court’s ideological balance, but it did trigger a change in the Senate rules for considering Supreme Court nominees.

To get Gorsuch confirmed, Republicans exercised the “nuclear option,” ending Democrats’ ability to use a procedural maneuver called a filibuster to block a final vote on a Supreme Court nominee. As a result, Republicans, with a 52-48 Senate majority, can now confirm any future nominee without Democratic support.

In another handicap, liberal groups said they lacked the money to sway public opinion via TV and online ads, unlike conservative groups that had $10 million to back Gorsuch.

In view of those disadvantages, People for the American Way, another liberal group, issued a report earlier this month outlining the impact of a Kennedy retirement, describing it as a “disaster for the rights of all Americans.”

Liberals want in part to protect the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion. As a candidate, Trump said he would appoint court justices who would vote to overturn the decision.

Perhaps seeking to reassure Kennedy that his legacy is in safe hands, Trump has consistently praised the justice. At Gorsuch’s swearing-in in April, Trump called Kennedy a “great man of outstanding accomplishment.”

Trump and other Republicans have said they have heard rumors that Kennedy might retire, but have not publicly urged him to.

The president has vowed to pick his next nominee the same way he chose Gorsuch, from a list of contenders he made public before the election.

Among contenders viewed as possible Kennedy replacements are federal appeals court judges Raymond Kethledge and Thomas Hardiman, conservative lawyer and former Solicitor General Paul Clement and Brett Kavanaugh, a judge on the federal appeals court in Washington, according to a person with knowledge of the nomination process.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley in Washington and Andrew Chung in New York; Additional reporting by Julia Edwards Ainsley in Washington; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Peter Cooney)

White House unveils list of ex-lobbyists granted ethics waivers

White House unveils list of ex-lobbyists granted ethics waivers

June 1, 2017

The White House on Wednesday disclosed a group of former lobbyists working in President Donald Trump’s administration who have been issued ethics waivers, following a request from the U.S. government’s ethics agency.

The list of at least 11 waivers include White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, according to a chart issued on the White House website. (

Conway is permitted to “participate in communications and meetings involving former clients which are political, advocacy, trade or non-profit organizations,” while Priebus, a former Republican National Committee chairman, is allowed to have communications and meetings with the RNC, the document says.

Shortly after taking office in January, Trump signed an executive order barring lobbyists who joined the administration from working on issues related to their prior work. But the administration has the power to grant waivers to particular hires, exempting them from that restriction.

Also on the list is Michael Catanzaro, a special assistant to the president and a former oil and gas lobbyist, who is cleared to weigh in on energy policy.

Daniel Epstein, associate counsel to the president, “may provide legal advice to the White House Office or any agency of the executive branch and to take positions adverse to Cause of Action Institute.”

Shahira Knight, a special assistant to the president who formerly worked for Fidelity, a financial services company, “may participate in broad policy matters and particular matters of general applicability relating to tax, retirement and financial services issues.”

Andrew Olmem, a special assistant to Trump who worked as an attorney to the Senate Banking Committee during the financial crisis, is cleared to join meetings with former clients involving Puerto Rico’s fiscal issues, along with a wide range of activities involving financial regulation.

Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), had promised in a letter on Friday that the White House would comply with a request from the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) to provide information on which former lobbyists are working in the administration.

Mulvaney said in the letter that the administration was not seeking to impede efforts by OGE to obtain that information, despite earlier protests from Walter Shaub, the agency’s director.

Shaub, an appointee under President Barack Obama in the final year of a five-year term, had requested in April copies of waivers the Trump administration granted to former lobbyists now appointed to positions in the government. Those requests were sent to agencies across the administration, seeking waivers that would allow former lobbyists to work on issues they had been involved with as paid advocates.

But OMB requested a stay of that request, prompting a fierce response from Shaub. He called the request “highly unusual” and said his agency has the authority to take “corrective action proceedings” against agencies that refuse its requests.

In his Friday response, Mulvaney said the requested stay was not an attempt to stifle OGE efforts but rather to provide more time to “ensure sufficient consideration was given to legal questions.”

“OMB has never sought to impede OGE,” he wrote.

Mulvaney closed the letter by saying the OMB did not grant any lobbyist waivers itself.

(Reporting by Eric Walsh and Pete Schroeder; Editing by Michael Perry)