North American News


12,000 assassination tweets: Trump’s social media presence is a new challenge for the Secret Service

secret service

photo/ mashable.

4th Feb 2017

In the 12 days since Donald Trump took the oath of office, a steady stream of social media posts have called for the new president’s assassination.

The posts are pretty basic and many are jokes or sarcastic or hyperbolic — but there are a lot of them. In a Dataminr search of Twitter posts since Inauguration Day containing the phrase “assassinate Trump” more than 12,000 tweets came up.

The U.S. Secret Service, however, or even Twitter and Facebook themselves, doesn’t seem to be jumping onto many of these posts. When we asked several users about their recent “assassinate Trump” posts, all of them said they hadn’t been contacted by anyone about their post and they all remain up.

But there have been reports of agents knocking on the doors of social media users. A Kentucky woman who tweeted, “If someone was cruel enough to assassinate MLK, maybe someone will be kind enough to assassinate Trump,” is currently being investigated by the Secret Service, according to the Associated Press.

An Ohio man tweeted several messages about killing Trump on election night, according to NBC News. The Secret Service questioned him the next day and he was charged with making threats to the then president-elect.

“It’s the people who have a true and genuine intent to do harm that the Secret Service is worried about.”

Former U.S. Secret Service special agent Tim Franklin, who is now a criminology and criminal justice professor of counterterrorism and cybercrimes at Arizona State University, said in a phone call Tuesday that “it’s the people who have a true and genuine intent to do harm that the Secret Service is worried about.”

That’s why one-off posts and people with no record of threatening messages tend to get passed over. He said the Secret Service is looking out for trends and consistent behavior, like the person who repeats their intent to kill the president over time. If someone has made threats in the past they are more likely to get investigated when they post another “Kill Trump” post.

“They’re not going to to beat down the door of everybody who makes a negative Twitter comment,” Franklin said, which may be a relief to anyone who tweeted an off-hand and not entirely serious death wish for the new president.

But for users who use certain language and specific details about the president, his location and how the assassination will happen, the Secret Service will likely take notice.

The U.S. Secret Service could not be reached for official comment about how they handle social media posts threatening to assassinate the sitting president.

On the platform side, Facebook and Twitter have policies in place to take down threatening posts. As Twitter said in an email statement, “The Twitter Rules prohibit threats of violence, and we will suspend accounts violating that policy.” Facebook similarly said under their “credible threats policy” they remove posts showing intent to kill the president.

Yet thousands of posts that use the words “kill” and “assassinate” remain up — most of them targeting the president no less. The platforms can’t seem to keep up with the influx of death threats and don’t seem to be upholding their own policies as strictly as they would like.

Back when Trump was a presidential candidate, the Secret Service was full-on monitoring and investigating threats against him and Hillary Clinton. Now that Trump is president, his office is even more protected; threats against him and his vice president Mike Pence can result in fines or imprisonment for up to five years.

Franklin, the former Secret Service agent, said because Trump heavily uses social media to talk about controversial executive actions and ideas, he is being targeted on Twitter more than Barack Obama or George W. Bush were during their presidencies, at least in these first days. But that’s not to say Obama and Bush didn’t get their fair share of online hate.

Franklin says for law enforcement it’s not about the person or politics of the president, but about protecting the office. “We focus on the protection aspect and let others worry about politics,” he said.

Nevertheless, as Franklin notes, “It’s an American right to be able to express those opinions.” But maybe slow down on those violent rallying cries, and certainly don’t let your rhetoric cross over into talk about inflicting bodily harm, killing or even kidnapping — there’s a line, and if you cross it, be ready for a knock at your door.

 

 

 

source: http://mashable.com/2017/02/02/threatening-posts-secret-service/#O3uL_gsLU5q0

Banning people is wrong, but killing them is even worse

iraq bombs sjw

2nd Feb 2017

Which is more morally reprehensible: (1) Introducing a ban on refugees and immigrants from a small number of countries for a temporary period or (2) Killing people and destroying their countries through illegal regime change wars?

A bit of a no-brainer, eh? It has to be the second answer, surely.

Well, you’d think so, but for some it seems, the first option is far worse than the latter.

How else to explain that large sections of the Western liberal-left seem to be more incensed by Donald Trump’s ban on visitors from some Muslim countries (unjust though it is) than they were by the war which destroyed Libya, a country that had the highest living standards in Africa.

In their anti-Trump crusade, some ‘progressives’ appear perfectly happy to link arms and sing ‘Kumbaya’ with the serial warmongers who unleashed the carnage which caused the refugee crisis in the first place?

Trump’s executive order has caused a furious liberal backlash which Obama’s backing of jihadist death squads in Syria never did. It has led to widespread protests in the US and UK. Over 1.7 million people have signed a petition calling for the State visit of the American president to the UK to be called off. In the House of Commons on Monday, Trump was called a fascist and likened to Hitler and Mussolini, while outside Downing Street angry demonstrators shouted ‘Donald Trump has got to go!’ Parliamentary sketch writer Quentin Letts said the eyes of politician Yvette Cooper were “bulging so much she could have gone to a fancy dress party as Marty Feldman.”

“If the Olympic Games ever goes in for synchronized crossness, we’ll be dead certs for a medal position,” Letts observed.

If you can’t remember this level of ‘synchronized crossness’ during Barack Obama’s bombing of Libya, then it’s not surprising. Similar protests did not occur. There was no talk of a Hollywood strike. Yvette Cooper’s eyes did not bulge; she supported the refugee-making bombing of Libya as she did the refugee-making Iraq war.

You don’t have to be a Trump supporter to acknowledge that ‘Barack O’Bomber’ and his predecessors in the White House have got off very lightly. Deportations? The ‘liberal’ Obama deported more than 2.5 million undocumented migrants between 2009-2015 and a record 438,421 people in 2013.

To the best of my knowledge, Owen Jones organized no protests.

Trump’s executive order didn’t just appear out of thin air, the list of ‘countries of concern’ was, as Seth Frantzman has pointed out, already compiled by the Obama administration. “The media should also be truthful with the public and instead of claiming Trump singled out seven countries, it should not that the US Congress and Obama’s Department of Homeland Security had singled out these countries,” Frantzan says.

The hypocrisy doesn’t end there.

We’ve heard a lot these last few days about how Trump’s ban is an “assault on American values” (Obama himself has said ‘American values’ are at stake) conjuring up an image of the pre-Trump USA whose doors were opened wide for migrants and refugees from all over the world

The truth is that for a long time it’s been pretty tough to get into the US if you’re in possession of the ‘wrong’ kind of passport, and sometimes even if you have the ‘right’ one.

“Americans seem to think it’s alright to subject everyone else to the pointless rigmarole of passing through their Homeland Security but when they travel they expect to be allowed through other countries’ immigration without fuss,” writes Peter Hill in the Daily Express.

We all know someone who’s been turned back at US immigration as they failed one entry requirement or another, and has been sent straight back home on the next flight. The son of Hungarian friends of ours always dreamed of going to the US, and hoped to work there, but he was turned back on arrival as the authorities didn’t believe he had enough money to support himself.

Fair enough, it’s the US authorities’ call; America is a sovereign country, and they set their own rules of entry. This tough approach at the borders didn’t just start on Friday when Dr. Evil aka Donald Trump formally became president.

That said, there are legitimate grounds to object to what the new president has ordered.

Even though he wasn’t responsible for the regime change wars which caused the migrant crisis, and has promised a less meddlesome foreign policy, Trump should at least acknowledge that the US has a moral obligation to take in refugees from countries that the US, under previous administrations, has set out to destabilize.

We can also question why some countries are affected by the temporary ban, and others not. If national security is the issue, why wasn’t Saudi Arabia, the home country of 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers, on the list? I’m not suggesting Saudi nationals should be banned from the US, only pointing out the omission.

But unfair as it undoubtedly is, the reaction to Trump’s executive order has been overblown, if we compare it to the non-reaction to far worse things US governments have done. As Bertolt Brecht might have said if he was still around: What’s refusing a visa to a Libyan, compared to bombing him? The Nuremberg judgment of 1946 rightly held that to initiate a war of aggression was the “supreme international crime,” but that seems to have been forgotten today.

Such is the ‘Sorosification’ of the Western liberal-left that to impose controls on immigration is now regarded as a more heinous crime than launching brutal, imperialist wars of aggression, which are a prime cause of the significant level of migration from the Middle East. At the same time, the people who create and propagandize for destructive wars for economic gain against countries of the global south, are regarded as less reprehensible than those who advocate visa restrictions, especially if they come out and condemn visa restrictions.

Liberals, for instance, fawned over the former Secretary of State Madeline Albright when she said she “stands ready” to “register as Muslim” in “solidarity” against Trump. The very same Madeline Albright once declared that the death of half a million (predominantly Muslim) children in Iraq due to sanctions was a price that was “worth it.”

Will Albright be met with large-scale protests next time she comes to the UK for defending infanticide in Iraq? Don’t hold your breath. She’s against ‘The Donald’ so must be a good ‘un.

Serial warmonger John McCain has also come out to blast Trump’s executive order. He’s the man who, when asked what he was going to do about Iran if elected president, sang “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” to the Beach Boys tune Barbara Ann.

How many Muslims would have been killed if McCain had bombed Iran? But hey, he opposes Trump’s visa ban, so he must be a pretty cool dude. Let’s invite the wannabe bomber of Teheran on the next ’Solidarity with Muslims’ protest, shall we?

In 2015, a report called Body Count, the Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, revealed that at least 1.3 million people had lost their lives in the US-led ‘war on terror’ in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.’ As I wrote at the time: As awful as that sounds, the total of 1.3 million deaths does not take into account casualties in other war zones, such as Yemen – and the authors stress that the figure is a “conservative estimate.”

The vast majority of these deaths will have been Muslims. What a pity their deaths, and the deaths of countless others in US-led regime change ops and “liberal interventions,” did not lead to the same level of ‘synchronized crossness’ that Trump’s executive order has.

 

source: https://www.rt.com/op-edge/375894-banning-people-regime-change-muslims/

Imam: Man lied about mom dying abroad after Trump’s travel ban

2nd Feb 2017

A man who claimed his mom died abroad after she was denied entry to the United States under President Trump’s travel ban has lied about the details surrounding her death, according to a mosque leader close to the family.

Mike Hager told a news station WJBK on Tuesday that his sick mother died in Iraq on Saturday after being barred from entering the U.S., but Imam Husham Al-Hussainy denied the story, claiming the woman died five days before the ban was enacted.

Trump has denied admission to citizens from seven majority Muslim countries, including Iraq, for 90 days, while Syrians are banned indefinitely.

Hager, who lives in Michigan, said that he was able to enter the country because he has American citizenship, but that his mother and other family members were refused.

Hager had previously contacted Al-Hussainy, who leads the Karbalaa Islamic Educational Center in Dearborn. He told the Imam that his mom was suffering from kidney disease, and he planned a trip to Iraq to see her.

“The 22nd of January, his mom died,” Al-Hussainy said. “She did die but that was a couple weeks ago – before the ban.”

Al-Hussainy spoke out about the woman’s death after questions were raised about Hager’s claims.

“Since I lost my mom, [I’ve] been on heavy medication – I can’t even sleep. I did not make anything up,” Hager wrote in a text to WJBK.

 

 

source: http://nypost.com/2017/02/01/imam-man-lied-about-mom-dying-abroad-after-trumps-travel-ban/

Gun-Controlled Chicago: More Than 300 Shot in First 30 Days of 2017

gunfree

1st Feb 2017

The surge in shootings that marked the early weeks of the new year continued, resulting in more than 300 people shot in the first 30 days of 2017.

The Chicago Tribune reports the number of shooting victims January 1 through January 30 is 302; this includes fatal and non-fatal shootings. The number of homicides alone is 54, which means the city has averaged 1.8 killings a day every day this year.

On January 23, Breitbart News reported that shootings and murders for January 1 through January 22, 2017, were up markedly over the number of shootings and murders for the same period in 2016. According to the Tribune, “At least 228 people were shot in Chicago [January 1 through January 22, 2017].” That was an increase of 16 victims above the number shot during the same period in 2016. There were “at least 42 homicides,” marking a “23.5 percent … [increase from] the 34 homicides from the same period in 2016.”

This news follows the grim report that gun-controlled Chicago had nearly 4,400 shootings and almost 800 murders.

During a January 25 interview with ABC News, President Trump described gun-controlled Chicago as a “war zone.” He also took to Twitter to make clear he is sending in the feds if city leaders fail to rein in the “carnage”:

 

Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL-4) and other Democrats derided Trump’s observations, rather than seeing the violence as a reason to support arming law-abiding citizens for self-defense.

 

source: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/01/31/gun-controlled-chicago-more-than-300-shot-first-30-days-2017/

Rare ‘amnesia cluster’ baffles doctors in Massachusetts

memoryMIB

30th Jan 2017

SOMETHING very odd is happening in the US state of Massachusetts, where more than a dozen people have suddenly and inexplicably lost their memories.

Researchers at the Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) say they are baffled by an “amnesia cluster” of 14 people.

The patients, aged between 19 and 52, were treated for “striking anterograde amnesia” — an “unusual” form of the syndrome — between 2012 and 2016.

People with this type of amnesia have trouble forming new memories and they often cannot recall events from the immediate past, such as something that has just happened to them, Live Science reported.

Doctors have so far been unable to work out what triggered the syndrome but the 14 patients have certain commonalities which could provide clues.

In their January 27 report, Dr Jed Barash, Dr Nick Sommerville and Dr Alfred DeMaria Jr note that each of them had either tested positive for drugs or had a history of substance abuse.

In nine of the cases, the patients were unconscious when they were brought to the hospital and experienced amnesia when they came to.

The other five individuals had been brought to hospital emergency after family or friends noticed they were experiencing severe memory loss.

Twelve of the patients had a history of using opioid drugs, including prescription painkillers or heroin. Many had also used other drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and amphetamines.

Despite the obvious health risks associated with these substances, they were not typically linked to the onset of anterograde amnesia, the report said.

Significantly, brain scans of all 14 patients revealed an unusual finding: MRI tests showed significantly reduced blood flow to a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is important for memory formation.

Humans have two hippocampi, one on either side of their brain, and the patients in the report had reduced blood flow to both hippocampi. Sudden amnesia that’s tied to reduced blood flow to both hippocampi is rare, researchers said.

A handful of similar cases have been reported in the past, but these were stand-alones rather than clusters and were tied to exposure to a toxic substance, such as carbon monoxide, the report said.

Investigations are ongoing, with doctors being asked to be on the lookout for more cases to determine whether this new cluster “represents an emerging syndrome related to substance use or other causes” such as exposure to a toxic substance, the report said.

 

 

source: http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-problems/rare-amnesia-cluster-baffles-doctors-in-massachusetts-us/news-story/e270943d4e4dd279eb39079ce84703a6

Feds Blame “Lapse in Vetting” for Admitting Syrian Refugees with Terrorist Ties into U.S.

immigration

30th Jan 2017

Dozens of Syrian refugees already living in the Unites States may have ties to terrorism and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is downplaying it, claiming federal agents missed “possible derogatory information” about the immigrants due to “a lapse in vetting.” Among those who slipped through the cracks is a man who failed a polygraph test after applying to work at a U.S. military installation and another who communicated with an Islamic State leader.

Information about this scandalous security lapse comes from federal agents with firsthand knowledge of the situation. They spoke to a mainstream newspaper on condition of anonymity, as many Judicial Watch sources who expose delicate information do, out of fear. This is the type of case the government works hard to keep quiet and consequences could be serious for those who blow the whistle. The news article reveals that federal agents are now “reinvestigating the backgrounds” of the dozens of Syrian refugees because somehow DHS discovered that the lapse in vetting allowed refugees with “potentially negative information in their files to enter the country.” The newspaper attributes the information to “U.S law enforcement officials” who were not authorized to discuss the matter.

Coincidentally, on the day this story broke a national newswire service reported that President Donald Trump drafted an executive order to stop accepting Syrian refugees. The president also plans to suspend issuing visas for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Under President Barrack Obama’s lax immigration policies, large numbers of terrorists from some of these nations entered the U.S., including members of ISIS and other radical Islamic groups. They include individuals who have engaged in or attempted to engage in acts of terrorism, conspired or attempted to conspire to provide material support to a terrorist organization or engaged in criminal conduct inspired by terrorist ideology. Some have been convicted and sentenced in American courts.

Additionally, the Obama administration was very generous in granting citizens of Muslim nations special amnesty protections and residency benefits in the U.S. During a five-year period, Obama’s DHS issued around 680,000 green cards to foreigners from Muslim countries, according to the agency’s figures.

Somalia, Yemen, Syria and Libya were among the nations. In 2015 Judicial Watch reported on a special “humanitarian” amnesty program offered to illegal aliens from Yemen, an Islamic Middle Eastern country well known as an Al Qaeda breeding ground. Yemen is the headquarters of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the State Department has revealed that AQAP militants carried out hundreds of attacks including suicide bombers, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), ambushes, kidnappings and targeted assassinations.

Circling back to Syrian refugees, as Obama let thousands settle in the U.S. his own intelligence and immigration officials admitted that individuals with ties to terrorist groups used the program to try to infiltrate the country and that there is no way to properly screen them. In 2015 the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) confirmed that individuals with ties to terrorist groups in Syria tried to gain entry to the U.S. through the refugee program and that the program is “vulnerable to exploitation from extremist groups seeking to send operatives to the West.”

Before that the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Matthew Emrich, admitted during a congressional hearing that there’s no way to adequately screen Syrian refugees because the Syrian government doesn’t have an intelligence database to run checks against. Additionally, FBI Assistant Director Michael Steinbach conceded that the U.S. government has no system to properly screen Syrian refugees.

 

 

source:http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2017/01/feds-blame-lapse-vetting-admitting-syrian-refugees-terrorist-ties-u-s/?

Trump’s Executive Order on Refugees — Separating Fact from Hysteria

trump america
29th Jan 2017
The hysterical rhetoric about President Trump’s executive order on refugees is out of control. Let’s slow down and take a look at the facts. To read the online commentary, one would think that President Trump just fundamentally corrupted the American character. You would think that the executive order on refugees he signed yesterday betrayed America’s Founding ideals. You might even think he banned people from an entire faith from American shores. Just look at the rhetoric.
Here’s Chuck Schumer:
chuck schu
If you thought only Senator Schumer saw tears in Lady Liberty’s eyes, think again.
Here’s Nancy Pelosi: CNN, doing its best Huffington Post impersonation, ran a headline declaring “Trump bans 134,000,000 from the U.S.”
The Huffington Post, outdoing itself, just put the Statue of Liberty upside down on its front page.
So, what did Trump do? Did he implement his promised Muslim ban? No, far from it. He backed down dramatically from his campaign promises and instead signed an executive order dominated mainly by moderate refugee restrictions and temporary provisions aimed directly at limiting immigration from jihadist conflict zones. Let’s analyze the key provisions, separate the fact from the hysteria, and introduce just a bit of historical perspective.
First, the order temporarily halts refugee admissions for 120 days to improve the vetting process, then caps refugee admissions at 50,000 per year.
Outrageous, right?
Not so fast.
Before 2016, when Obama dramatically ramped up refugee admissions, Trump’s 50,000 stands roughly in between a typical year of refugee admissions in George W. Bush’s two terms and a typical year in Obama’s two terms. The chart below, from the Migration Policy Institute, is instructive: In 2002, the United States admitted only 27,131 refugees.
refugee intake
It admitted fewer than 50,000 in 2003, 2006, and 2007. As for President Obama, he was slightly more generous than President Bush, but his refugee cap from 2013 to 2015 was a mere 70,000, and in 2011 and 2012 he admitted barely more than 50,000 refugees himself. The bottom line is that Trump is improving security screening and intends to admit refugees at close to the average rate of the 15 years before Obama’s dramatic expansion in 2016.
Obama’s expansion was a departure from recent norms, not Trump’s contraction. Second, the order imposes a temporary, 90-day ban on people entering the U.S. from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. These are countries either torn apart by jihadist violence or under the control of hostile, jihadist governments.
The ban is in place while the Department of Homeland Security determines the “information needed from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat.” It could, however, be extended or expanded depending on whether countries are capable of providing the requested information.
The ban, however, contains an important exception: “Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.” In other words, the secretaries can make exceptions — a provision that would, one hopes, fully allow interpreters and other proven allies to enter the U.S. during the 90-day period.
To the extent this ban applies to new immigrant and non-immigrant entry, this temporary halt (with exceptions) is wise. We know that terrorists are trying to infiltrate the ranks of refugees and other visitors. We know that immigrants from Somalia, for example, have launched jihadist attacks here at home and have sought to leave the U.S. to join ISIS. Indeed, given the terrible recent track record of completed and attempted terror attacks by Muslim immigrants, it’s clear that our current approach is inadequate to control the threat.
Unless we want to simply accept Muslim immigrant terror as a fact of American life, a short-term ban on entry from problematic countries combined with a systematic review of our security procedures is both reasonable and prudent. However, there are reports that the ban is being applied even to green-card holders. This is madness. The plain language of the order doesn’t apply to legal permanent residents of the U.S., and green-card holders have been through round after round of vetting and security checks.
The administration should intervene, immediately, to stop misapplication. If, however, the Trump administration continues to apply the order to legal permanent residents, it should indeed be condemned. Third, Trump’s order also puts an indefinite hold on admission of Syrian refugees to the United States “until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest.” This is perhaps the least consequential aspect of his order — and is largely a return to the Obama administration’s practices from 2011 to 2014.
For all the Democrats’ wailing and gnashing of teeth, until 2016 the Obama administration had already largely slammed the door on Syrian-refugee admissions. The Syrian Civil War touched off in 2011. Here are the Syrian-refugee admissions to the U.S. until Obama decided to admit more than 13,000 in 2016:
Fiscal Year 2011: 29
Fiscal Year 2012: 31
Fiscal Year 2013: 36 Fiscal
Year 2014: 105 Fiscal
Year 2015: 1,682
To recap: While the Syrian Civil War was raging, ISIS was rising, and refugees were swamping Syria’s neighbors and surging into Europe, the Obama administration let in less than a trickle of refugees. Only in the closing days of his administration did President Obama reverse course — in numbers insufficient to make a dent in the overall crisis, by the way — and now the Democrats have the audacity to tweet out pictures of bleeding Syrian children? It’s particularly gross to see this display when the Obama administration’s deliberate decision to leave a yawning power vacuum — in part through its Iraq withdrawal and in part through its dithering throughout the Syrian Civil War — exacerbated the refugee crisis in the first place.
There was a genocide on Obama’s watch, and his tiny trickle of Syrian refugees hardly makes up for the grotesque negligence of abandoning Iraq and his years-long mishandling of the emerging Syrian crisis.
When we know our enemy is seeking to strike America and its allies through the refugee population, when we know they’ve succeeded in Europe, and when the administration has doubts about our ability to adequately vet the refugees we admit into this nation, a pause is again not just prudent but arguably necessary. It is important that we provide sufficient aid and protection to keep refugees safe and healthy in place, but it is not necessary to bring Syrians to the United States to fulfill our vital moral obligations.
Fourth, there is a puzzling amount of outrage over Trump’s directive to “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” In other words, once refugee admissions resume, members of minority religions may well go to the front of the line. In some countries, this means Christians and Yazidis. In others, it can well mean Muslims.
Sadly, during the Obama administration it seems that Christians and other minorities may well have ended up in the back of the line. For example, when Obama dramatically expanded Syrian refugee admissions in 2016, few Christians made the cut: The Obama administration has resettled 13,210 Syrian refugees into the United States since the beginning of 2016 — an increase of 675 percent over the same 10-month period in 2015. Of those, 13,100 (99.1 percent) are Muslims — 12,966 Sunnis, 24 Shi’a, and 110 other Muslims — and 77 (0.5 percent) are Christians.
Another 24 (0.18 percent) are Yazidis. As a point of reference, in 2015 Christians represented roughly 10 percent of Syria’s population. Perhaps there’s an innocent explanation for the disparity. Perhaps not. But one thing is clear — federal asylum and refugee law already require a religious test.
As my colleague Andy McCarthy has repeatedly pointed out, an alien seeking asylum “must establish that . . . religion [among other things] . . . was or will be at least one central reason for persecuting the applicant.” Similarly, the term “refugee” means “(A) any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality . . . and who is unable or unwilling to return to . . . that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of . . . religion [among other things] . . . [.]” But don’t tell CNN’s chief national security correspondent, who last night tweeted this: False. False. False. Religious considerations are by law part of refugee policy. And it is entirely reasonable to give preference (though not exclusivity) to members of minority religions.
Finally, you can read the entire executive order from start to finish, reread it, then read it again, and you will not find a Muslim ban. It’s not there. Nowhere.
At its most draconian, it temporarily halts entry from jihadist regions. In other words, Trump’s executive order is a dramatic climb-down from his worst campaign rhetoric. You can read the entire executive order from start to finish, reread it, then read it again, and you will not find a Muslim ban. It’s not there.
Nowhere. To be sure, however, the ban is deeply problematic as applied to legal residents of the U.S. and to interpreters and other allies seeking refuge in the United States after demonstrated (and courageous) service to the United States. Twitter timelines are coming alive with stories of Iraqi interpreters who’ve saved American lives.
Few have bled more in alliance with America than Iraq’s Kurds, but the order itself provides for the necessary case-by-case exemptions to the temporary blanket bans. It is vital that General John Kelly, the newly confirmed secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, move expeditiously to protect those who’ve laid down their lives in the war against ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban.
Given his own wartime experience, I believe and hope that he will. Trump’s order was not signed in a vacuum. Look at the Heritage Foundation’s interactive timeline of Islamist terror plots since 9/11. Note the dramatic increase in planned and executed attacks since 2015. Now is not the time for complacency. Now is the time to take a fresh look at our border-control and immigration policies. Trump’s order isn’t a betrayal of American values. Applied correctly and competently, it can represent a promising fresh start and a prelude to new policies that protect our nation while still maintaining American compassion and preserving American friendships.

New York Called For Face Recognition Cameras At Bridges, Tunnels

facial

28th Jan 2017

The state of New York has privately asked surveillance companies to pitch a vast camera system that would scan and identify people who drive in and out of New York City, according to a December memo obtained by Vocativ.

The call for private companies to submit plans is part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s major infrastructure package, which he introduced in October. Though much of the related proposals would be indisputably welcome to most New Yorkers — renovating airports and improving public transportation — a little-noticed detail included installing cameras to “test emerging facial recognition software and equipment.”

“This is a highly advanced system they’re asking for,” said Clare Garvie, an associate at Georgetown University’s Center for Privacy and Technology, and who specializes in police use of face recognition technologies. “This is going to be terabytes — if not petabytes — of data, and multiple cameras running 24 hours a day. In order to be face recognition compliant they probably have to be pretty high definition.”

Cuomo’s office didn’t respond to multiple requests for clarification in the ensuing weeks after his announcement. But a memo from the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s Bridges and Tunnels division, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, shows that on December 12, the MTA put out a call to an unknown group of private vendors of surveillance equipment. The proposed system would both scan drivers as they approached or crossed most of the city’s bridges and tunnels at high speeds, and would also capture and pair those photos with the license plates of their cars.

“The biggest risk that comes with a system like this is its ability to track people, by location, by their face,” Garvie said. “So what needs to be put in place is a prohibition on the use of these cameras and the technology as a location tracking tool.”

The proposed system would be massive, the memo reads:

The Authority is interested in implementing a Facial Detection System, in a free-flow highway environment, where vehicle movement is unimpeded at highway speeds as well as bumper-to-bumper traffic, and license plate images are taken and matched to occupants of the vehicles (via license plate number) with Facial Detection and Recognition methods from a gantry-based or road-side monitoring location.

All seven of the MTA’s bridges and both its tunnels are named in the proposal.

New York City is home to more than 2,000 bridges and tunnels, which are owned by various agencies, including the New York City and state’s Departments of Transportation and Amtrak. It’s unclear as of this writing if those “crossing points” are similarly considering surveillance technology, though Vocativ has filed FOIA requests to each of them. Cuomo’s office didn’t respond to multiple inquiries. It’s similarly unclear how many, or even if any, private surveillance companies responded to the MTA’s proposal. A followup memo on Dec. 23 extended the deadline for submissions until Jan. 3, indicating the MTA wasn’t satisfied with the initial round of proposals.

New York City wouldn’t be the first in the U.S. to have a network of facial recognition cameras for law enforcement. In 2013, for instance, the Los Angeles Police Department admitted it had deployed 16 cameras equipped with face recognition software, designed to search for particular suspects. But the most prominent known system is in Moscow, which attempted to pair hundreds of thousands of CCTV cameras with advanced facial recognition software by NTech Labs — the company behind the infamous FaceFind software, which can let Russians stalk people whose picture they snap by using the program to find their social media accounts.

Moscow’s system has been beset with problems, though, especially because CCTV cameras are designed to move with subjects, reducing image quality, and because they’re normally mounted above people’s heads.

“The findings from phase one of the pilot are that it’s remarkably inaccurate,” Garvie said. “This is the most advanced system we’re aware of, but it’s having a very hard time in real-world conditions of people walking.”

That indicates that an effective system like the one the MTA has called for might still be years away.

“The New York crossings project is talking about people driving at highway speeds, so I think we can expect very, very low accuracy rates,” Garvie said.

 

source: http://www.vocativ.com/396745/memo-new-york-called-for-face-recognition-cameras-at-bridges-tunnels/

Clinton Email, Benghazi Scandals Far from Over

what difference

27th Jan 2017

The Clinton email and Benghazi scandals aren’t over. Not by a long shot.

Just last week, Judicial Watch’s attorneys asked a federal court for additional discovery. In addition to document requests, the new Revised Discovery Proposal asks for depositions from Clinton, Clinton aide Cheryl Mills and eight other State Department officials to explore “evidence of wrongdoing or bad faith with respect to State Department’s response” to our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request as well as some earlier FOIA requests.

The Jan. 10 filing is the latest move in our July 2014 FOIA lawsuit seeking records related to the drafting and use of the Benghazi talking points (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01242)). This lawsuit forced the Clinton email issue into the public eye in early 2015.

In March 2016, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth granted “limited discovery” to Judicial Watch, ruling that “where there is evidence of government wrong-doing and bad faith, as here, limited discovery is appropriate, even though it is exceedingly rare in FOIA cases.” In May 2016, we filed an initial Proposed Order for Discovery seeking written and oral information. (In December Judge Lamberth requested both parties to file new proposed orders in light of information discovered in various venues since last May.)

You won’t be surprised to learn that the thoroughly corrupt Obama State Department opposed our proposal.

In last week’s filing, we informed the court that despite repeated conferences with the State Department, they had been “unable to reach agreement on a discovery proposal” and that “Defendant [State Department] is unwilling to agree to any discovery at all in this action.” Judicial Watch’s new discovery proposal focuses on “two main areas:”

These areas are:

1) Evidence of wrongdoing or bad faith with respect to State Department’s response to Plaintiff’s FOIA request for records related to the talking points provided to U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice following the September 11, 2012 Benghazi, Libya attack.

2) Potential remedies that may ensure a sufficient search for responsive records is undertaken.

Our Revised Discovery Proposal seeks both documents and depositions. The documents requested include:

  • All documents that concern or relate to the processing of any and all searches of the Office of the Secretary for emails relating to the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attack and its aftermath
  • All communications that concern or relate to the processing of all searches referenced in the document request immediately above, including directions or guidance about how and where to conduct the searches
  • All records that concern or relate to the State Department’s policies, practices, procedures and/or actions (or lack thereof) to secure, inventory, and/or account for all records
  • Plaintiff requests copies of the attached records [previously obtained by Judicial Watch] with the Exemption 5 redactions removed

In addition to basic documents, we think testimony is essential, including a deposition of Hillary Clinton to learn:

[the] identification of individuals (whether State Department officials, other government officials, or third-parties, including but not limited to Sidney Blumenthal) with whom Secretary Clinton may have communicated by email.

We are asking to depose former Clinton aides, including Cheryl Mills, chief of staff; Jacob Sullivan, Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Policy Planning; Heather Samuelson, head of the White House Liaison Office; Lauren Jiloty, Special Assistant; and Monica Hanley, confidential assistant.

Also on the list is Clarence Finney, currently Deputy Director of the State Department’s Executive Secretariat Staff; Sheryl L. Walter, who was director of the Office of Information Program and Services; and Gene Smilansky, a department lawyer.

In one of their last gasps of obstruction of justice, the Obama State Department continues to oppose court-ordered efforts to gather the facts from Secretary Hillary Clinton and her top aides about how their email practices violated the American people’s right to know what really happened in Benghazi.

The Trump administration must now decide whether to reverse course on this desperate, last minute obstruction.

 

 

source:http://www.newsmax.com/TomFitton/emails/2017/01/24/id/770156/

President Trump signs order to withdraw from Trans-Pacific Partnership

yaas

24th Jan 2017

President Trump began recasting America’s role in the global economy Monday, canceling an agreement for a sweeping trade deal with Asia that he once called a “potential disaster.”

Trump signed the executive order formally ending the United States’ participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the Oval Office after discussing American manufacturing with business leaders in the Roosevelt Room. The order was largely symbolic — the deal was already essentially dead in Congress — but served to signal that Trump’s tough talk on trade during the campaign will carry over to his new administration.

Trump did not directly address the North American Free Trade Agreement on Monday as he had promised during the election. However, he repeated his threat to punish U.S. companies that build factories overseas and ship products back home — a charge he has primarily leveled at automakers with operations in Mexico. And his hard-line opening stance could portend a contentious renegotiation of the 22-year-old deal with Mexico and Canada that Trump’s senior advisers have called a top priority for the new administration.

“This abrupt action so early in the Trump administration puts the world on notice that all of America’s traditional economic and political alliances are now open to reassessment and renegotiation,” said Eswar Prasad, trade policy professor at Cornell University. “This could have an adverse long-run impact on the ability of the U.S. to maintain its influence and leadership in world economic and political affairs.”

The TPP was one of former president Barack Obama’s signature efforts, part of a broader strategy to increase American clout in Asia and provide a check on China’s economic and military ambitions. Several of the executives Trump met with Monday initially had supported the agreement, while the chief architect of the administration’s trade policy, Commerce secretary nominee Wilbur Ross, was also once a booster for the deal.

But ending TPP was one of the clarion calls of Trump’s campaign, part of a global backlash against the drive toward greater internationalization that has defined the world economy since the end of World War II. British Prime Minister Theresa May, who is in the midst of navigating her country’s own break from established trading partners, is slated to visit with Trump later this week. A White House spokesman said meetings with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto are in the works.

“What we want is fair trade,” Trump said during his meeting with executives. “And we’re gonna treat countries fairly, but they have to treat us fairly.”

Trump starts unveiling trade agenda while Cabinet nominees continue confirmation process

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President Trump started his first full week in office Jan. 23 by signing an executive order ending U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde/Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Since the election, TPP has become politically toxic in both parties. On Monday, five Democratic senators introduced legislation that would require the president to notify each of the 11 other countries involved in the deal of the United States’ withdrawal. It would also block any so-called “fast track” approval of the agreement in the future. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka hailed the president’s executive order and called for additional action.

“They are just the first in a series of necessary policy changes required to build a fair and just global economy,” he said in a statement.

On Monday, Trump highlighted his proposal for a border tax as a centerpiece of the administration’s trade policy. Dow Chemical Chief Executive Andrew Liveris, who was among the business leaders who met with Trump on Monday morning, said the border tax was discussed extensively. He said the executives were asked to return in 30 days with a plan to shore up the manufacturing industry.

“I would take the president at his word here,” Liveris said. “He’s not going to do anything to harm competitiveness. He’s going to actually make us all more competitive.”

Still, it remains unclear exactly how a border tax would be implemented. Testifying before the Senate finance committee last week, Trump’s nominee to lead the Treasury Department said any border tax would be targeted at specific businesses. However, the president does not have the power to levy taxes, and international trade experts have warned singling out companies could violate existing treaties.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan has proposed allowing businesses that export goods to deduct many of their expenses, while those that import would not receive the same benefit. But in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump dismissed the plan, known as border adjustment, as “too complicated.”

Economists have warned that many of Trump’s proposals — including suggestions that he would impose blanket double-digit tariffs on goods from Mexico and China — could backfire on the American economy by causing prices to rise or igniting a trade war. And business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had lobbied extensively for passage of TPP, touting the deal as an engine of job growth and an important check on China’s growing ambitions.

“TPP withdrawal will slow U.S. [economic] growth, cost American jobs, & weaken U.S. standing in Asia/world,” said Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said in a tweet early Monday. “China could well be principal beneficiary.”

But other industry groups argued that Trump’s approach would better leverage America’s status as the world’s largest economy. Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said his group is hoping that opening up NAFTA could provide more leeway to combat currency manipulation in countries outside the agreement. His group, which represents both industry and unions, is also seeking more stringent rules of origin that dictate how much production must occur with member countries to qualify for free trade status.

“The details are going to matter a lot,” Paul said. “Renegotiating NAFTA obviously entails some risks and some rewards.”

 

source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/01/23/president-trump-signs-order-to-withdraw-from-transpacific-partnership/?utm_term=.1a3656fb8df3