Supreme Court Allows Trump’s Latest Travel Ban to Take Effect
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the latest iteration of President Trump’s travel ban can go into effect, even as legal challenges continue in lower courts. The court’s order means that the Trump administration can fully enforce its new restrictions on travel from eight countries, six of them predominantly Muslim. The ruling will bar most citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea from entering the United States, along with some Venezuelans. The latest version was issued in September, shortly before the Supreme Court was set to hear oral arguments on the previous iteration of the travel ban. Last month, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to allow Trump’s latest travel ban to take effect, following an appeals court ruling that blocked part of it from being enacted.
Trump Administration Withdraws U.S. from Global Migration Compact
The travel ban came as the Trump administration said it has withdrawn the U.S. from the United Nations Global Compact on Migration. Over the weekend, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said that President Trump will no longer commit to the deal, in which countries pledge to uphold the rights of refugees, help migrants resettle, and ensure they have access to jobs and education.
Trump Orders Largest Rollback of Federal Land Protection in History
President Donald Trump traveled to Utah Monday, where he announced plans for the largest rollback of federal land protection in U.S. history. The plan calls for shrinking the 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument by 80 percent and splitting it into two separate areas. Trump would also slash the state’s 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by 50 percent. The national monuments were designated under the century-old Antiquities Act, a law meant to protect sacred sites, artifacts and historical objects. Trump criticized the law on Monday.
President Donald Trump: “Your timeless bond with the outdoors should not be replaced with the whims of regulators thousands and thousands of miles away. They don’t know your land. And truly, they don’t care for your land like you do. But from now on, that won’t matter. I’ve come to Utah to take a very historic action to reverse federal overreach and restore the rights of this land to your citizens.”
Trump’s move drew outrage among environmentalists, thousands of whom marched Monday through the streets of Salt Lake City, where riot police held them back from a meeting between President Trump and leaders of the Mormon Church. The protests came as five Native American tribes filed suit against President Trump, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and several other officials in a bid to halt the rollback.
Protesters Target Republican Congressional Offices over Tax Bill
On Capitol Hill Monday, scores of protesters flooded the hallways outside the offices of Republican lawmakers who voted in favor of a massive rewrite of the U.S. tax code. Police arrested at least 11 as they sat in nonviolently and refused to leave, chanting, “Tax the rich, not the poor and sick.” The protests came as the House approved a measure to send their version of the tax cut bill to a conference committee to reconcile differences with a version that passed the Senate on Saturday.
Trump and RNC Back Roy Moore Senate Bid Despite Sex Abuse Accusations
The Republican National Committee has recommitted money and resources to Alabama’s special election on December 12, after President Trump tweeted his support for Senate candidate Roy Moore. At least nine women have accused Moore of sexually harassing or assaulting them when they were teenagers—one as young as 14. Despite the charges, Trump tweeted Monday, “Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama. We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more. No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet!” The Republican Party’s support came as a woman in Florida produced evidence she says proves Moore lied during a campaign rally last month, when he said he did not know any of his women accusers. Registered Republican Debbie Wesson Gibson says she had a consensual relationship with Moore when she was 17 and he was 34. In an interview, Gibson showed The Washington Post a handwritten note she says Moore handed her at her high school graduation in 1981.
Roy Moore: “Let me state once again, I do not know any of these women, did not date any of these women, have not engaged in any sexual misconduct with anyone.”
Debbie Wesson Gibson: “I felt like this was the first thing that I’ve seen that I know personally for a fact to be a lie from his mouth. And he’s spewing the lie from the pulpit of a church.”
Roy Moore: “It’s simply dirty politics.”
Debbie Wesson Gibson: “He did not perpetrate sexual misconduct toward me, nor have I ever claimed that, but I now know for sure that he is a liar.”
The Moore campaign said Trump told Moore in a phone call from Air Force One on Monday, “Go get ’em Roy.”
Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold to Return Sex Harassment Settlement Fee to Taxpayers
On Capitol Hill, Texas Republican Congressmember Blake Farenthold said he will return $84,000 to taxpayers after news emerged that he used a congressional fund to settle a sexual harassment claim filed by his former communications director, Lauren Greene. Greene says she’s been forced to resort to babysitting and other odd jobs to make ends meet, after Farenthold “blackballed” her from politics when she accused him of sexual harassment, gender discrimination and creating a hostile work environment.
Texas Rep. Joe Barton to Retire from Congress over Affairs
Meanwhile, another Texas Republican, 68-year-old Joe Barton, said Monday he’s retiring from Congress, over a naked selfie that appeared on social media and amid revelations of extramarital affairs.
Michigan Rep. John Conyers Expected to Remain in Congress Despite Sex Abuse Claims
In Detroit, Congressmember John Conyers is expected to announce today he will not resign from the House of Representatives but will not run for re-election. Multiple women accused Conyers of sexually harassing or groping them—charges he denies. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats have called on Conyers to step down. Conyers’s grandnephew, Michigan state Senator Ian Conyers, is expected to announce he’ll run for John Conyers’ seat in 2018.
Netflix to Resume “House of Cards” Without Kevin Spacey
Netflix says it will resume production of of its popular “House of Cards” series without former lead actor Kevin Spacey, after more than a dozen men accused Spacey of sexually harassing or assaulting them. Robin Wright will star in a shortened eight-episode final season of the show.
New York Ballet Chief Peter Martins Ousted over Sex Harassment Claim
Elsewhere, the School of American Ballet has removed its longtime teacher Peter Martins, while the school and the New York City Ballet conduct a joint investigation into a sexual harassment claim against him.
Former WNYC Host John Hockenberry Accused of Sexual Abuse, Bullying
In New York City, John Hockenberry, the recently retired host of public radio station WNYC’s “The Takeaway,” has been accused of sexual harassment, unwanted touching and bullying by several female colleagues.
Vice Media Fires Three Employees over “Verbal and Sexual Harassment”
Vice Media has fired three of its employees over what the company called “verbal and sexual harassment” and other unspecified behavior.
California Lobbyist Accuses Lawmaker Matt Dababneh of Sexual Assault
And in Sacramento, California, lobbyist Pamela Lopez has named Democratic Assemblymember Matt Dababneh of Los Angeles as the lawmaker who sexually assaulted her, forcing her into a Las Vegas hotel bathroom last year and masturbating in front of her. Dababneh has denied the allegation. This is Pamela Lopez, speaking from her office on Monday.
Pamela Lopez: “This is a moment of collective action. Many women have stepped forward and said, 'Me, too. I've been sexually harassed, or I’ve been sexually assaulted, in my workplace.’ And it’s taken courage for them to do that.”
Honduras: Police Refuse to Enforce Curfew as Election Protests Rage
In Honduras, police in the capital Tegucigalpa refused to impose an overnight curfew ordered by the government, after days of protests over allegations of fraud in the country’s disputed presidential election. Electoral officials say they will not declare a winner in the November 26 election in order to allow the filing of challenges and appeals. Protests erupted last week when the government-controlled electoral commission stopped tallying votes from the November 26 election after the count showed opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla ahead by more than 5 percentage points. Early on Monday, the government-controlled electoral commission found that incumbent U.S.-backed President Juan Orlando Hernández was now ahead of opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla by a margin of about 1.5 percent, after a recount of suspicious votes from just over 1,000 polling stations. Nasralla and his supporters have charged the commission with vote-rigging.
Yemen: Rebel Video Shows Body of Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh
In Yemen, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was confirmed dead Monday, after a video posted online by Houthi rebels showed Saleh’s lifeless body dumped in the back of a pickup truck. Saleh was killed as pitched battles continued to rage in the capital, Sana’a, between Houthis and forces allied with Saleh’s political movement. The killing could escalate Yemen’s civil war, which has brought 7 million people to the brink of famine and fanned a massive cholera epidemic.
North Korea Says U.S. War Games Put Peninsula on “Brink of Nuclear War”
North Korea warned Monday that U.S. actions were bringing the Korean Peninsula “to the brink of nuclear war.” The warning came as the U.S. and South Korea held massive war games, mobilizing warships, thousands of troops and some 200 U.S. planes—many of them capable of deploying nuclear bombs. Earlier this year, North Korea said it would freeze its nuclear weapons program in exchange for an end to U.S. and South Korean war games, an overture rejected by the Trump administration.
Trump Administration to Allow More Cluster Bombs
The Trump administration has waived a ban on older cluster bombs, paving the way for the U.S. to expand its use of the weapons, which are banned under a treaty signed by over 100 nations. The weapons scatter so-called bomblets over a wide area, exploding into shrapnel that tears through flesh. Some of the bombs fail to explode, effectively becoming land mines that later maim and kill civilians—especially children.
Trump’s Lawyer Claims the “President Cannot Obstruct Justice”
President Trump said Monday he feels “badly” for General Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser, after Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in a plea deal that could see him testify against Trump’s inner circle. Trump’s comment came as his personal lawyer, John Dowd, argued Trump could not be found guilty of obstruction of justice—one of the possible outcomes of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. In an interview with the website Axios, Dowd said, “[The] President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case.”
Trump Adviser K. T. McFarland Falsely Said She was Unaware of Russia Contacts
Meanwhile, The New York Times is reporting that a high-ranking member of Trump’s transition team falsely told lawmakers that she was unaware of contacts between Michael Flynn and Russia’s ambassador. The Times cited newly discovered emails that show the adviser, K. T. McFarland, discussed a December 29 phone call between Flynn and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that was intercepted by U.S. intelligence.
India: Toxic Smog Returns to New Delhi
In India, toxic smog has once again enveloped New Delhi, triggering pollution alerts and threatening the lives of residents with breathing disorders. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi measured fine-grain particulate levels at 448 on a 500-part scale—nine times the upper safe limit.
California Wildfire Explodes North of Los Angeles, Threatening Homes
In Southern California, a growing wildfire is threatening homes in the foothills north of Los Angeles. Ventura County officials have ordered residents of about 1,000 homes to evacuate as firefighters battle a 10,000-acre blaze.
German Pilots Ground Flights to Protect Afghan Asylum Seekers
And a new report finds German airline pilots are increasingly grounding flights in solidarity with Afghan refugees whose applications for asylum have been refused. Germany’s government said Monday that pilots have refused to fly at least 222 flights carrying Afghans out of Germany—in some cases delaying their deportations long enough for them to successfully appeal their asylum claims.
Courtesy of Democracy Now
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