Hawaii becomes the first state to file a lawsuit against Trump’s new travel ban

On Monday, President Trump signed a new executive order banning immigrants hailing from six Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for 90 days; refugees will not be permitted to enter for 120 days. On Tuesday evening, attorneys for the state of Hawaii responded with a 40-page request for a temporary restraining order against the new ban, saying, in part, that “the Executive Order means that thousands of individuals across the United States and in Hawai‘i who have immediate family members living in the affected countries will now be unable to receive visits from those persons or to be reunited with them in the United States.”

In terms of its language and execution, this new attempt to expel immigrants is somewhat more temperate than the one before it, no doubt as part of an attempt to dissuade naysayers. Trump’s first ban caused national chaos when introduced on January 27, and the order was eventually shot down by the judiciary system. Regardless, activist groups have already vowed to retaliate: Immediately after the new ban was released, the International Rescue Committee commented that the new ban “heartlessly targets the most vulnerable, harming refugees and helping extremists.”

In addition to its agenda of forced exclusion, the administration’s efforts against immigration and proposed border wall require that the budget of the Coast Guard be cut by 14 percent, while the TSA and FSA budgets will each be reduced by 11 percent, which, ironically, leaves the country even more vulnerable.

According to The Guardian, Trump’s new order is scheduled to go into effect on March 16. The Hawaiia lawsuit proposes that a hearing regarding the order take place on March 15. Other states have yet to follow Hawaii’s lead.

  • Published in Now

Trump signs new immigration order

President Donald Trump has signed a new executive order placing a 90-day ban on people from six mainly Muslim nations.

Iraq - which was covered in the previous seven-nation order - has been removed from the new one after agreeing additional visa vetting measures.

The directive, which includes a 120-day ban on all refugees, takes effect on 16 March.

The previous order, which was blocked by a federal court, sparked confusion at airports and mass protests.

What is different about the new order?

Citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, the other six countries on the original list, will once more be subject to a 90-day travel ban.

Iraq was taken off the banned list in the first order - which was issued on 27 January - because its government has boosted visa screening and data sharing, White House officials said.

The new directive says refugees already approved by the State Department can enter the US. It also lifts an indefinite ban on all Syrian refugees.

  http://ichef-1.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/ABBD/production/_94956934_d25b9109-348e-45b4-ad8e-4bc4885e3739.jpgIraqis, such as former US army translator Hameed Darwish, will no longer be subject to a travel ban, according to reports / Reuters

Green Card holders (legal permanent residents of the US) from the named countries will not be affected.

The new order does not give priority to religious minorities, unlike the previous directive.

Critics of the Trump administration had argued that this was an unlawful policy showing preference to Christian refugees.

Green Card holders (legal permanent residents of the US) from the named countries will not be affected.

The new order does not give priority to religious minorities, unlike the previous directive.

Critics of the Trump administration had argued that this was an unlawful policy showing preference to Christian refugees.

http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/640x360/p04w094q.jpgRex Tillerson: "President Trump is exercising his rightful authority to keep our people safe"

What does the administration say?

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly held a joint news conference on Monday morning to discuss the new directive.

America's top US diplomat said the order was meant to "eliminate vulnerabilities that radical Islamic terrorists can and will exploit for destructive ends".

Mr Sessions said that, according to the FBI, more than 300 people who entered the US as refugees are under investigation for potential terrorism-related offences.

The top US prosecutor said three of the countries were state sponsors of terrorism.

The other three, Mr Sessions said, had lost control of territory to militants such as the Islamic State group or al-Qaeda.

Mr Kelly added that unregulated and unvetted travel was putting national security at risk.

He said the US cannot tolerate "malevolent actors using our immigration system to take American lives".

None of the cabinet secretaries took any questions after the press conference.

Analysis - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

Donald Trump has, at last, unveiled his new immigration order, and it looks like government lawyers - and not just White House political operatives like Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller - have had their input.

Gone are the most controversial measures of the old order, such as preference for Christian refugees and the suspension of existing visas and green cards.

The details of the action's implementation are outlined with greater clarity this time, with more than a week before the new rules kick in.

It's still an open question as to what, if anything, this order will do to prevent violent attacks on US soil, given that past high-profile incidents have not involved individuals from any of the six named countries.

Mr Trump promised bold action on border security, however - the kind of move that would unnerve traditional politicians and anger civil liberties advocates.

Given the early reaction from groups like the ACLU and Democratic leaders, the story is unfolding as expected.

Although Mr Trump's campaign-rally talk of sweeping Muslim bans are a thing of the past, his supporters will likely revel in the uproar and consider this latest move a campaign promise kept.

Why the delayed implementation? 

http://ichef-1.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/5D9D/production/_94956932_6f869c7f-3533-4dbd-ab73-8b501467c88c.jpgThis Syrian family were reunited at Chicago's O'Hare airport in February / Getty Images

The new order is set to take effect on 16 March.

White House officials hope the 10 days' notice will help to avoid some of the chaotic scenes at US airports that occurred on 27 January when the first executive order was announced without warning.

Travellers with valid visas who were in the air at the time found themselves detained by border officials on arrival.

Mr Trump had defended the lack of notice, tweeting that "if the ban were announced with a one week notice, the 'bad' would rush into our country during that week".

Will the new executive order face legal challenges?

Yes. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman - the state's highest ranking law enforcement officer - issued a statement on Monday saying his office is ready to take the Trump administration to court.

"While the White House may have made changes to the ban, the intent to discriminate against Muslims remains clear," he said.

"My office is closely reviewing the new executive order, and I stand ready to litigate - again - in order to protect New York's families, institutions, and economy."

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), an Arab-American grassroots civil rights organisation, immediately called for donations to fight impending legal battles ahead.

"The ban is about xenophobia and Islamophobia," the group said in a statement to the BBC.

  • Published in World

Facebook Launches A New Tool That Combats Fake News

During the presidential campaign trail late last year, substantial amounts of misleading information in the form of fake news spread about President Donald Trump and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Facebook and Google. Google responded by banning fake news outlets from the AdSense display ad network and by tweaking the Google News algorithm to filter out fake news. And Facebook has just launched a tool that flags fakes news in the News Feed, according to a tweet posted by Gizmodo investigative reporter Anna Merlan.

A screenshot of a tweet written by Anna Merlan in regards to the new Facebook fake news tool

A screenshot of a tweet written by Anna Merlan in regards to the new Facebook fake news tool

In the screenshot above, you will notice a headline that says “Trump’s Unsecured Android Device Source Of Recent White House Leaks.” This fake news article was spread by a website called TheSeattleTribune.com. While this domain might sound legitimate and the homepage does not show any signs of the website being a fake news source, it has an inapparent disclaimer that says “The Seattle Tribune is a news and entertainment satire web publication. The Seattle Tribune may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways. All news articles contained within The Seattle Tribune are fictional and presumably satirical news – with the exception of our ‘list style’ articles that include relevant sources.” However, the article about President Trump's "unsecured Android device" was viewed nearly 200,000 times and TheSeattleTimes.com financially benefitted from duping people into thinking it was real news.

Fortunately, Facebook’s new tool appears to be showing that the article was “Disputed by Snopes.com and PolitiFact” so that users should not be fooled into thinking that it is true going forward. Snopes is a website that clears up misinformation that spreads on the Internet and PolitiFact fact-checks political claims by officials. All of the non-partisan fact-checkers that Facebook appointed to help with the prevention of misinformation are required to sign a "Code of Principles" by the Poynter non-profit school for journalism.

Back in December 2016, Facebook said that it would bury fake news articles and label them as hoaxes in the News Feed. Facebook also made it easier to report a hoax if you see one in the News Feed by clicking on the upper right-hand corner of a post and tapping on “It’s a fake news story.” After a story is flagged as disputed, it will be reviewed by the third-party fact-checkers. And if it has been proven to be a fake news story, then the post cannot be turned into an ad or promoted. 

During the presidential campaign trail late last year, substantial amounts of misleading information in the form of fake news spread about President Donald Trump and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Facebook and Google. Google responded by banning fake news outlets from the AdSense display ad network and by tweaking the Google News algorithm to filter out fake news. And Facebook has just launched a tool that flags fakes news in the News Feed, according to a tweet posted by Gizmodo investigative reporter Anna Merlan.

A screenshot of a tweet written by Anna Merlan in regards to the new Facebook fake news tool

Anna Merlan

A screenshot of a tweet written by Anna Merlan in regards to the new Facebook fake news tool

In the screenshot above, you will notice a headline that says “Trump’s Unsecured Android Device Source Of Recent White House Leaks.” This fake news article was spread by a website called TheSeattleTribune.com. While this domain might sound legitimate and the homepage does not show any signs of the website being a fake news source, it has an inapparent disclaimer that says “The Seattle Tribune is a news and entertainment satire web publication. The Seattle Tribune may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways. All news articles contained within The Seattle Tribune are fictional and presumably satirical news – with the exception of our ‘list style’ articles that include relevant sources.” However, the article about President Trump's "unsecured Android device" was viewed nearly 200,000 times and TheSeattleTimes.com financially benefitted from duping people into thinking it was real news.

Fortunately, Facebook’s new tool appears to be showing that the article was “Disputed by Snopes.com and PolitiFact” so that users should not be fooled into thinking that it is true going forward. Snopes is a website that clears up misinformation that spreads on the Internet and PolitiFact fact-checks political claims by officials. All of the non-partisan fact-checkers that Facebook appointed to help with the prevention of misinformation are required to sign a "Code of Principles" by the Poynter non-profit school for journalism.

Back in December 2016, Facebook said that it would bury fake news articles and label them as hoaxes in the News Feed. Facebook also made it easier to report a hoax if you see one in the News Feed by clicking on the upper right-hand corner of a post and tapping on “It’s a fake news story.” After a story is flagged as disputed, it will be reviewed by the third-party fact-checkers. And if it has been proven to be a fake news story, then the post cannot be turned into an ad or promoted. Here is a video that Facebook posted in December about the new reporting tool.

Facebook is also compiling a list of website domains that have been notorious for posting fake news so that it is automatically flagged.

As the words "fake news" became more mainstream over the last few months, President Donald Trump started using them on a regular basis to describe some of the larger news outlets such as CNN and The New York Times.

Screenshot from President Donald Trump's Twitter account

Donald Trump via Twitter

Screenshot from President Donald Trump's Twitter account

Former President Barack Obama also acknowledged that the spread of fake news on Facebook became a major problem during Hillary Clinton's campaign trail. “The way campaigns have unfolded, we just start accepting crazy stuff as normal. And people, if they just repeat attacks enough and outright lies over and over again, as long as it's on Facebook and people can see it, as long as it's on social media, people start believing it. And it creates this dust cloud of nonsense,” said Obama during a Hillary for America rally in Ann Arbor last year.

One of the biggest victims of fake news was a pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C. called Comet Ping Pong. A fake news article claiming Hillary Clinton and her aides were involved in human trafficking at the Comet Ping Pong location in Washington, D.C. quickly spread on social media. So a 28-year-old from North Carolina fired his rifle inside the pizzeria and attempted to search for child slaves. Later he surrendered to the police after discovering there weren’t any child slaves there. This incident has been labeled as "PizzaGate."

Initially, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was skeptical that the spread of fake news on the social network could have influenced the election. During an interview at the Techonomy conference in November 2016, Zuckerberg said that it was a "pretty crazy idea." But about a month later, he published a Facebook status that said: "While we don't write the news stories you read and share, we also recognize we're more than just a distributor of news. We're a new kind of platform for public discourse -- and that means we have a new kind of responsibility to enable people to have the most meaningful conversations, and to build a space where people can be informed."

Facebook's Fake Advertisement Problem

Interestingly, Forbes staff writer Matt Drange recently pointed out that Facebook is also vulnerable to fake advertisements. Facebook ads are being created that appear to be directing users to a trustworthy website, but it redirects them somewhere else when the ad is clicked on using a bait-and-switch approach also known as “domain spoofing” and “clickjacking.” This can be done in the Facebook ad platform where users are able to manually enter the URL displayed in each ad. Google faces a similar problem with its AdWords platform and the Internet giant ended up having to remove 1.7 billion ads in 2016 alone — which is more than double the previous year.

Facebook spokesman Tom Channick told Drange that the ability to edit the URL is “not always misleading or malicious.” As an example of the URL changing feature being beneficial, Channick said a nonprofit that is running a donation campaign through a third-party site would likely want to display the organization website URL in the ad instead.

When Will I See The Facebook Post Disputes?

Facebook posts that have been flagged as disputes are not appearing for everyone yet. It seems like Facebook is rolling out the feature over time. Most likely, every Facebook user should see this feature appear in the coming weeks.

What are your thoughts about Facebook's new fake news tool? Do you think this is a good way to prevent the spread of misinformation?

  • Published in World

Ukranian businessman with links to Donald Trump and Russia dies in unexplained circumstances

Alex Oronov, who had family ties to President's lawyer, reportedly organised meeting aimed at helping give Russian President control of Crimea.

A Ukranian-born millionaire businessman with links to Donald Trump has reportedly died in unexplained circumstances.

Alex Oronov, a 69-year-old naturalised American citizen who ran an agricultural business in his native Ukraine, died on 2 March, according to a Facebook post by Ukranian politician Andrii Artemenko.

Mr Oronov is reported to have set up a secret meeting between Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen – to whom he had family ties - and Russian officials where a “peace plan” is said to have been hatched to give Russian President Vladimir Putin control of the Crimea. 

  • Read more Kissinger 'advises Donald Trump to accept' Crimea as part of Russia

Mr Cohen is understood to have an extensive network of personal and business relationships in the Ukranian-American community – and his associates included Mr Oronov, a partner in the ethanol business the lawyer’s brother, Bryan, set up in Ukraine.

The “peace plan” meeting brought together Mr Artemenko, Mr Cohen and Felix Sater, an American-Russian long-time business associate of Mr Trump who is reported to have ties to the Russian mafia.

Details of this meeting are believed to have ended up on the desk of Michael Flynn, Mr Trump’s former security adviser who was forced to resign last month over his alleged secret dealings with Russian officials.

The New York Times – which Mr Trump has repeatedly accused of producing “fake news” - reported the meeting between Mr Artemenko, Mr Cohen and Mr Slater.

In his lengthy Facebook post, Mr Artemenko describes himself as a pawn in a diplomatic game and said the stress created by the article and the negative attention that followed the article was too much for Mr Oronov.

The post, written in Russian, translates loosely: “Yes, I’m guilty... Alex Oronov, my partner, my friend, my mentor, Alex was a family member of Michael Cohen. And he organised all kinds of stuff, including an introduction and a meeting for me with Michael Cohen.”

It adds: “Unfortunately, his heart could not endure it. He died... Friend, your death will not have been in vain, nor will the deaths of tens of thousands of Ukranians and Russians, Alex Oronov, during this wild, undeclared war! Rest in peace and forgive me if you can, as difficult as that may be!”

The Ukrainian MP points the finger of blame at “overexertion, the nerves, from injustice, from suspicion, from sorrow of misunderstanding”.

The remembrance website legacy.com has a listing for Alex Oronov of New York, with dates that match those of the businessman.

One friend and business associate has so far left a tribute on the site, which reads: “Alex had a huge heart and he did a lot for those who were part of his family and part of his company.”

Conspiracy theorists have pointed to a number of recent deaths of Russian diplomats in the past four months.

Russia’s permanent ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, died last month in New York after suddenly becoming ill on his way to work the day before his 65th birthday.

It was initially reported he had suffered a heart attack but an autopsy proved inconclusive.

The Russian Consul in Athens, Andrei Malanin, 55, was found dead on the floor of his apartment in Greece in January. Greek police said there was no evidence of a break-in and he was believed to have died of natural causes.

Russia’s Ambassador to India, Alexander Kadakin, 67, was reported to have died of heart failure in January after a “brief illness” according to Indian media.

Russian diplomat Sergei Krivov, 63, was found unconscious having suffered severe head injuries at the Russian consulate in New York on US election day.

According to BuzzFeed, Mr Krivov was initially said to have fallen to his death following a suspected heart attack, but a subsequent report from medical examiners was inconclusive.

Mr Krivov is believed to have been responsible for the security of the consul from American intelligence, although he was initially said to have been “a security guard”.

The Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was assassinated in Ankara by a policeman at a photography exhibition on 19 December and another diplomat, Peter Polshikov, was shot dead in his Moscow apartment on the same day.

Former KGB chief Oleg Erovinkin, who was suspected of helping British spy Christopher Steele draft a dossier on Donald Trump, was found dead in the back of his car last Boxing Day.  

Mr Erovinkin was also an aide to former deputy prime minister Igor Sechin, who now heads up state-owned oil company Rosneft and is said to have been named in the dossier.

His death was initially reported as a suspected murder – but officials later claimed he had died of a heart attack.

  • Published in World

Ileana-Washington: Sad Spokesman of “Dissidents”

The republican congress member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen looked upset last Wednesday because of the legislators who visited Cuba and ignored her “dissidents.”

Thus informed Nora Gámez Torres, New Herald journalist who reports from Miami on the Caribbean nation.

What’s the source of her annoyance? They held meetings with Cuban parliamentarians, but not with the “dissidents.”

The latter have been hurt dearly after the cut of government budget in favor of those groups.

Even the messages from the official representation of Washington in Havana, acknowledge the lack of character they exhibit.

This week, Gámez Torres notified, speaking before the House of Representatives, Ileana challenged those who visited Cuba “frequently”, to go on parades with the so-called Ladies in White.

Who are those famed ladies?

As it has been broadly demonstrated, a group of women who, for money, parade the streets of Havana.

Will they have the courage to accompany them? Ileana insisted, or they just want a quick trip to make Cuba attractive?”

According to Gámez Torres, the comment of the Floridian legislator is a concealed critic to senators Patrick Leahy, Tom Udall, and Michael Bennet, as well as the representative Jim McGovern, who were welcomed in Havana by high-ranking officials.

Meanwhile, she added, Cuba forbade the entrance to its territory to the secretary-general of OAS, Luis Almagro.

Why? Because of the scandalous political adulation towards the United States.

Now Washington had ordered him to grant an award made in U.S.A. in the Cuban capital, a poor pantomime that was rejected.

In this scenario Mrs. Lehtinen denounced the supposed increase of repression in Cuba.

According to the legislator, the victims were, first of all, women and to endorse her version she quoted as source the Freedom House, a NGO that, almost openly handles the CIA.

The tiny congress member for Miami also encouraged Trump to “fulfill his duty” and revise the politics toward Cuba.

A couple of months ago White House spokesmen warned that such process was under close examination.

When recently the multimillionaire president spoke before the two chambers of the Capitol, he didn't mention the matter.

Ileana considers that the president’s statements as well as those of his collaborators hint that the administration is readying “to assume a harder stance” towards its Caribbean neighbor.

Although, experts add, so far the possible changes remain unclear.

That is, it’s a very complex question that takes time, patience, and wisdom.

Meanwhile, Cuba remains calm, without underestimating, not for a minute, the extremely complex circumstances that surround it.

  • Published in Now

Jeff Sessions, Trump's new attorney general dogged by controversy

President Donald Trump's choice of Senator Jeff Sessions as his attorney general was initially dogged by allegations of past racism.

The controversy has now moved on to meetings Mr Sessions had with the Russian ambassador during Mr Trump's election campaign.

Mr Sessions was one of Mr Trump's earliest supporters in his White House bid. As a key loyalist, he was a senior adviser to the New York tycoon on politics, national security and policy.

He was also a vice-chairman on the Trump presidential transition team.

'Lying under oath'

Mr Trump's campaign was dogged by allegations that some of his team had met with Russian officials and that Moscow had interfered in the election on his behalf.

Mr Sessions was revealed by the Washington Post to have met Ambassador Sergei Kislyak twice, despite telling his January confirmation hearing that he had had no contacts with the Russians during the campaign.

Democrats have accused him of "lying under oath" and say he must resign.

Russia: The scandal Trump can't shake

They have also called on him to step aside from an investigation by the FBI - which he oversees as attorney general - into the alleged Russian interference.

kislyakMr Sessions met Mr Kislyak twice during the campaign / AP 

Mr Sessions insists he "never met any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign". Mr Kislyak was one of 25 foreign ambassadors he met as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee last year.

They held a private conversation in Mr Sessions's office in September and had spoken earlier in the summer, along with several other ambassadors, the Post said.

The KKK joke

The latest controversy follows that of alleged racist remarks by Mr Sessions in the past, which proved a roadblock in his political career and put him under fresh scrutiny for the attorney general post.

A Senate committee denied Mr Sessions a federal judgeship in 1989 after lawmakers heard testimony that he had used a racial slur.

Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump during a national security meetingMr Sessions was an early supporter of Mr Trump / AP

He had also joked about the Ku Klux Klan, saying he thought they were OK until he heard they smoked marijuana.

The Alabama senator told the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation testimony that allegations he had once supported the KKK were "damnably false".

Mr Sessions was also accused of calling a black assistant US attorney "boy" and telling him to be careful about how he spoke to "white folks".

He denied to the committee ever having called the lawyer "boy" and insisted he had merely advised him to be cautious about what he said to "folks".

Mr Sessions also rejected claims he had labelled the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People "un-American".

Democrats were outraged when Senator Elizabeth Warren, who opposed Mr Sessions' appointment as attorney general, was silenced by Republicans while trying to read a letter by Coretta Scott King that criticised him.

Writing in 1986, the civil rights activist alleged that he had "used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters".

Mr Sessions' supporters deny he is a racist, pointing to his votes to extend the Voting Rights Act and to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Rosa Parks.

Immigration 'hoax'

Mr Sessions has spent much of his career fighting immigration battles, ranging from amnesty bills on creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants to visa programmes for foreign workers.

Mr Sessions supports limiting legal immigration, arguing that it protects American jobs.

He also backs Mr Trump's plan to build a wall along the US-Mexican border.

In a 2005 Washington Post op-ed, he argued that, "legal immigration is the primary source of low-wage immigration into the United States".

The government, he argued, should be focused on "slowing the pace of new arrivals so that wages can rise, welfare rolls can shrink and the forces of assimilation can knit us all more closely together".

His strident views on immigration were laid out last year in his 25-page manifesto, "Immigration Handbook for the New Republican Majority". In the report, he argues immigration was responsible for job losses and welfare dependency.

He called claims by technology entrepreneurs that immigrant workers with elite skills were part of the innovation process a "hoax".

What's his background?

Born Jefferson Beauregard "Jeff" Sessions III, he became Alabama's attorney general before he joined the Senate in 1996.

He sat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Judiciary Committee and the Budget Committee.

The lawmaker, who helped Mr Trump craft his foreign policy plan, was one of the few Republicans to come to his defence after he proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US.

A year book showing a photo of Jeff Sessions in his graduating Wilcox County High SchoolMr Sessions shown during his graduating year at Wilcox County High School / AP

When asked if he supported a temporary ban in his hearing, Mr Sessions said he did "not support the idea that Muslims as a religious group should be denied admission to the United States".

He has backed Mr Trump's amended proposal, now an executive order, banning individuals from countries with a history of terrorism, which is now being challenged in court.

Gay marriage opposition

Like many Republicans, Mr Sessions has opposed the LGBT-rights movement, and in particular the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

In 2000 and 2009 he voted against legislation which would expand the definition of a hate crime to include offences based on sexual orientation.

In 2015 after the Supreme Court voted to allow same-sex marriage across the US, he dubbed the decision an "effort to secularise, by force and intimidation".

But Mr Sessions testified in Tuesday's hearing he would follow the law of the land on gay rights.

As Alabama's attorney general in 1996, he fought vigorously to prevent an LGBT-rights conference from meeting at the University of Alabama.

He promised to prosecute school administrators under a state law passed in 1992 that made it illegal for public universities to fund a group that promotes "actions prohibited by the sodomy and sexual misconduct laws".

When the university pledged to allow the conference to meet, he sought a court order to prevent it, but ultimately the 1992 order was overturned by a federal judge.

What about Guantanamo?

Mr Sessions has challenged calls to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, and he has also questioned whether terrorism suspects have the right to be tried in civilian courts.

During his confirmation hearing, Mr Sessions said he accepted the law "absolutely" prohibits waterboarding.

He also said Guantanamo Bay was a "safe place" that fits the purpose of keeping prisoners "marvellously well".

Gun crime

The National Rifle Association (NRA) applauded Mr Sessions' appointment as America's top prosecutor, saying he would "make America a safer place by prosecuting violent criminals while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners".

Mr Sessions is rated A+ by the group, indicating that he has a pro-gun voting record.

He has previously voted against background checks at gun shows, and in favour of banning lawsuits against gun manufacturers, and allowing firearms in checked baggage on trains.

In a statement at his confirmation hearing he promised a crackdown on gun violence, saying: "If I am confirmed, we will systematically prosecute criminals who use guns in committing crimes."

Many in the law enforcement community have voiced support for Mr Sessions, believing he will be a strong advocate for the police.

  • Published in World

Trump Seeks to Cause Fear and Terror, Undocumented Immigrant Says

Donald Trump's speech seeks to cause fear and terror in communities around the country, undocumented immigrant Astrid Silva, who was chosen to deliver the Democratic response in Spanish to the US president's speech, said today.

Silva, a Nevada activist, recalled that she came to the United States at the age of four and this is the only home she has ever known, so she was proud to represent the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are an integral part of the nation.

For the young woman, the president's speech before the two chambers of Congress was divisive, and serves as a reminder 'that the plans and vision of President Trump and the Republicans go completely against our values as Democrats, as Americans and as human beings.'

'The United States is not a country guided by hatred, fear and division, as he makes it look like. Our country is guided by respect, hard work, sacrifice, opportunities, and hope,' said Silva, who is at risk of deportation under measures of the current Government.

To say of the activist, 'in this country there is no place for discrimination, racial prejudice or persecution, but this is what the administration of President Trump has brought about for Latinos and immigrants.'

'During his first few weeks as president, Trump signed executive orders that put our entire community in danger. He took actions that specifically aim to harm the immigrant community and refugees,' she said.

According to Silva, the president is spending resources to transform working families into targets for deportation, he wants to spend billions of dollars to build an unnecessary wall, and he is seeking ways to deny entry to our Muslims brothers and sisters.

'President Trump and the Republicans can use calmer rhetoric and appear moderate, but we know that the wind blows words away. Actions are what matter,' she said.

  • Published in World

Trump's Cabinet Welcomes Another Billionaire: Wilbur Ross

Ross is the latest confirmation of Trump's cabinet picks, estimated to have a collective worth of US$13 billion.

The senate confirmed billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as secretary of commerce in a 72 to 27 vote less contentious than some other cabinet approvals.

RELATED: Trump Blasts 'Fake News,' Bad Trade Deals in CPAC Speech

Ross, chosen by U.S. President Donald Trump to help implement the president-elect's trade agenda, earned his fortune in part by running businesses that have offshored thousands of U.S. jobs, according to Labor Department data attained by Reuters.

In his confirmation hearing, the 79-year-old singled out the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, as a priority.

"NAFTA is logically is the first thing for us to deal with," Ross said at the hearing. "We ought to solidify relationships in the best way we can in our territory before we go off to other jurisdictions. That should be, and hopefully will be if I'm confirmed, a very early topic in this administration."

Trump has repeatedly made protectionist threats and threatened to kill NAFTA – signed by Mexico, the United States and Canada in the early '90s and called one of the worst trade deals ever by Trump.

As a high-stakes investor a decade ago, Ross specialized in turning around troubled manufacturing companies at a time when the U.S. economy was losing more than 100,000 jobs yearly due to global trade.

Supporters say Ross saved thousands of U.S. jobs by rescuing firms from failure. Data attained by Reuters through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that rescue effort came at a price: textile, finance and auto-parts companies controlled by the private-equity titan eliminated about 2,700 U.S. positions since 2004 because they shipped production to other countries, according to a Labor Department program that assists workers who lose their jobs due to global trade.

The figures, which have not previously been disclosed, amount to a small fraction of the U.S. economy, which sees employment fluctuate by the tens of thousands of jobs each month.

  • Published in World
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