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Federal Judge Blocks Trump Order On Santuary City DeFunding

 

By SUDHIN THANAWALA

Video by MSNBC

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge on Tuesday blocked any attempt by the Trump administration to withhold funding from “sanctuary cities” that do not cooperate with U.S. immigration officials, saying the president has no authority to attach new conditions to federal spending.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick issued the preliminary injunction in two lawsuits — one brought by the city of San Francisco, the other by Santa Clara County — against an executive order targeting communities that protect immigrants from deportation.

The injunction will stay in place while the lawsuits work their way through court.

The judge rejected the administration’s argument that the executive order applies only to a relatively small pot of money and said President Donald Trump cannot set new conditions on spending approved by Congress.

Even if the president could do so, those conditions would have to be clearly related to the funds at issue and not coercive, as the executive order appears to be, Orrick said.

“Federal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the president disapproves,” the judge said.

It was the third major setback for the administration on immigration policy.

FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2017 file photo, Moina Shaiq holds a sign at a rally outside of City Hall in San Francisco. On Tuesday, April 25, 2017, a federal judge blocked a Trump administration order to withhold funding from communities that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities, saying the president has no authority to attach new conditions to federal spending. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)© The Associated Press FILE – In this Jan. 25, 2017 file photo, Moina Shaiq holds a sign at a rally outside of City Hall in San Francisco. On Tuesday, April 25, 2017, a federal judge blocked a Trump administration order to withhold funding from…  

The Justice Department had no immediate comment.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said the president was “forced to back down.”

“This is why we have courts — to halt the overreach of a president and an attorney general who either don’t understand the Constitution or chose to ignore it,” he said in a statement.

A Justice Department attorney, Chad Readler, had defended the president’s executive order as an attempt to use his “bully pulpit” to “encourage communities and states to comply with the law.”

And he said the order applied to only three Justice Department and Homeland Security grants that would affect less than $1 million for Santa Clara County and possibly no money for San Francisco.

But the judge disagreed, saying the order was written broadly to “reach all federal grants” and potentially jeopardizes hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to San Francisco and Santa Clara.

He cited comments by the president and Attorney General Jeff Sessions as evidence that the order was intended to target a wide array of federal funding. And he said the president himself had called it a “weapon” to use against recalcitrant cities.

The government hasn’t cut off any money yet or declared any communities to be sanctuary cities. But the Justice Department sent letters last week warning communities to prove they are in compliance. California was informed it could lose $18.2 million.

“Sanctuary cities” is a loosely defined term for jurisdictions that don’t comply with immigration authorities.

The Trump administration argued that the executive order applied narrowly to cities that forbid officials to report people’s immigration status to federal authorities. Orrick said it could also be construed to apply to cities that refuse to hold jail inmates for immigration authorities.

The Trump administration says that sanctuary cities allow dangerous criminals back on the street and that the order is needed to keep the country safe. San Francisco and other sanctuary cities say turning local police into immigration officers erodes the trust that is needed to get people to report crime.

The order has also led to lawsuits by Seattle; two Massachusetts cities, Lawrence and Chelsea; and a third San Francisco Bay Area government, the city of Richmond. The San Francisco and Santa Clara County lawsuits were the first to get a hearing before a judge.

On Tuesday, mayors from several cities threatened with the loss of federal grants emerged from a meeting with Sessions saying they remain confused about how to prove their police are in compliance with immigration policies.

The sanctuary city order was among a flurry of immigration measures Trump has signed since taking office in January, including a ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries and a directive calling for a wall on the Mexican border.

A federal appeals court blocked the travel ban. The administration then revised it, but the new version also is stalled in court.                    AP

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North Korea Stages Big Artillery Drill As U.S. Submarine Docks In South Korea

 

By Ju-min Park

SEOUL, April 25 (Reuters) – North Korea conducted a big live-fire exercise on Tuesday to mark the foundation of its military and a U.S. submarine docked in South Korea in a show of force amid growing concern over the North’s nuclear and missile programs.

The port call by the USS Michigan, which is designed to carry ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, came as a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group steamed towards Korean waters in an effort to deter North Korea from a sixth nuclear test or more missile launches in defiance of U.N. sanctions.

Instead of a nuclear blast or a big missile test, North Korea marked Tuesday’s 85th anniversary of the founding of its military by deploying a large number of long-range artillery units on its east coast for a live-fire drill, South Korea’s military said.

South Korea’s Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff said it was monitoring the situation and “firmly maintaining readiness.”

South Korea’s navy said it was conducting its own live-fire exercise with U.S. destroyers in waters west of the Korean peninsula and would soon join the approaching U.S. carrier group.

North Korea was defiant, saying its military was prepared “to bring to closure the history of U.S. scheming and nuclear blackmail.”

“There is no limit to the strike power of the People’s Army armed with our style of cutting-edge military equipment, including various precision and miniaturized nuclear weapons and submarine-launched ballistic missiles,” the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in a front-page editorial.

North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threat is perhaps the most serious security challenge confronting U.S. President Donald Trump. He has vowed to prevent North Korea from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear missile and has said all options are on the table, including a military strike.

Trump sent the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group for exercises off the Korean peninsula as a warning to Pyongyang, but U.S. officials say sanctions, not military strikes, are the preferred option.

On Monday, Trump called North Korea a global threat and “a problem that we have to finally solve” and said the U.N. Security Council must be prepared to impose new sanctions.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will chair a ministerial meeting of the Security Council on Friday to discuss tougher sanctions, which U.S. officials say could include an oil embargo, banning North Korea’s airline, intercepting cargo ships and punishing Chinese and other foreign banks doing business with Pyongyang.

On Wednesday, Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Joint Chiefs chairman General Joseph Dunford, are to hold a rare briefing on North Korea at the White House for the entire U.S. Senate.

The USS Michigan, an Ohio-class nuclear-powered submarine, arrives at a naval base in Busan

The USS Michigan, an Ohio-class nuclear powered submarine, arrives at a naval base in Busan

SENATOR IMPRESSED BY TRUMP RESOLVE

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said he and fellow Republican John McCain had dinner with Trump on Monday and discussed North Korea. Graham told Fox News he was impressed by Trump’s resolve.

“He’s not going to let this nut-job in North Korea develop a missile with a nuclear weapon on top to hit America,” Graham said, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“He (Trump) doesn’t want a war any more than I do. But he’s not going to let them get a missile. That’s where they’re headed and China needs to up their game to stop this before it’s too late.”

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said North Korea had become a “front and center front-burner issue” and Tillerson would be “very vocal” on Friday about his concerns that countries were not doing enough to implement sanctions.

“We need to move more quickly and with greater determination to convince North Korea either to pursue denuclearisation or to apply enough pressure that it stops those activities,” Toner told a telephone news briefing.

Japan’s envoy on North Korea, Kenji Kanasugi, said he and his U.S. and South Korean counterparts agreed in talks in Tokyo on Tuesday that China should take a concrete role to resolve the crisis and could use an oil embargo as a tool.

The U.S. envoy for North Korea policy, Joseph Yun, said China had “a very, very important role to play” and South Korea’s envoy, Kim Hong-kyun, said they had also discussed how to get Russia’s help.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 27, the Kremlin said. It did not elaborate.

China, North Korea’s sole major ally which nevertheless objects to its weapons development, has repeatedly called for calm, and its envoy for Korean affairs, Wu Dawei, was in Tokyo on Tuesday.

“We hope that all parties, including Japan, can work with China to promote an early peaceful resolution of the issue,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

North Korea’s foreign ministry said the meetings called by U.S. officials reflected U.S. pressure that could “ignite a full-out war” and showed that Pyongyang’s decision to become a nuclear power was correct.

The official China Daily newspaper said it was time to step back from harsh rhetoric.

“Judging from their recent words and deeds, policymakers in Pyongyang have seriously misread the U.N. sanctions, which are aimed at its nuclear/missile provocations, not its system or leadership,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

“They are at once perilously overestimating their own strength and underestimating the hazards they are brewing for themselves.”      (REUTERS)

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Officer Says ‘Minimal But Necessary Force’ Used On United Airlines Passenger

 

By Chris Kenning
FILE - In this Thursday, April 13, 2017, file photo, attorney Thomas Demetrio speaks at a news conference in Chicago. The woman who sobbed after an American Airlines flight attendant took her stroller now has a lawyer, Demetrio, who also represents the Kentucky doctor who was dragged from a United Express flight earlier in the month. American says the woman on the flight on April 21, was supposed to leave her doublewide stroller to be stored in the cargo bay, not take it into the cabin.© (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford, File) FILE – In this Thursday, April 13, 2017, file photo, attorney Thomas Demetrio speaks at a news conference in Chicago. The woman who sobbed after an American Airlines flight attendant took her stroller n…

 

One of the police officers who forcibly removed a passenger from a United Airlines (UAL.N) flight said “minimal but necessary force” was used in the incident that became a public relations disaster for the carrier, according to a report released by the city.

Video recorded by other passengers showed David Dao, a 69-year-old doctor, being dragged down the aisle with blood on his face after refusing to give up his seat on a flight from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky on April 9.

Dao suffered a concussion and a broken nose, lost two front teeth and is likely to sue the airline, according to his lawyer, Thomas Demetrio. Initially, United did not apologize to Dao and described him as “disruptive and belligerent.” Some social media users in the United States, Vietnam and China called for a boycott. The carrier has since apologized several times.

Demetrio called the aviation police’s version of events outlined in the report as “utter nonsense. Consider the source,” said the lawyer’s spokeswoman, Helen Lucaitis.

In the first published version of events from the three officers involved, aviation police officer Mauricio Rodriguez said Dao became combative after he and two other officers tried to persuade the doctor to leave the plane.

A video screengrab shows passenger David Dao being dragged off a United Airlines flight at Chicago O'Hare International Airport in this video filmed by @JayseDavid© REUTERS A video screengrab shows passenger David Dao being dragged off a United Airlines flight at Chicago O’Hare International Airport in this video filmed by @JayseDavid  

Rodriguez was the first officer to arrive on the scene. Dao told the officers, “I’m not leaving this flight that I paid money for. I don’t care if I get arrested,” according to the report, released by the city on Monday,

Officer James Long described how he arrived later and tried to pull Dao from his seat after further negotiations failed. At that point Dao “started swinging his arms up and down with a closed fist.”

Long said he lost control of Dao as he swung, causing Dao to fall and hit his mouth on an arm rest. Long then “assisted the subject by using minimal but necessary force” to get him off the aircraft, Rodriguez said.

Dao later ran back on the plane and held onto a pole, stating “Just kill me. I want to go home,” Rodriguez said. Dao was then persuaded to leave so his injuries could be treated, Rodriguez said.

Officer Steven Smith, the third officer involved, gave a similar description of the incident in the report.

All three officers remain on paid leave while the incident is investigated. Aviation department policy calls for its officers to not board planes to handle customer service issues, according to officials.

“Only force reasonably necessary to defend a human life, effect an arrest or control a person shall be used by Aviation Security personnel,” according to the aviation department’s use of force policy.

United said on Friday it had asked a U.S. Senate panel for an extra week to answer questions about the incident.

United Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz has said he was “personally committed to putting proof behind our promise” in the carrier’s commitment to reforms.                 (REUTERS)

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BART Takeover Robbery: 40 to 60 Teens Swarm Train, Rob Weekend Riders

 

By Demian Bulwa

A recent string of robberies on BART trains took a frightening turn when dozens of juveniles swarmed an Oakland station over the weekend and commandeered a train car, forcing passengers to hand over bags and cell phones and leaving at least two with head injuries, witnesses told the transit agency.

The incident — the first of its kind in recent memory — occurred around 9:30 p.m. Saturday at Coliseum Station.

According to a police officials, witnesses said 40 to 60 juveniles flooded the station, jumped the fare gates and rushed to the second-story train platform. Some of the robbers apparently held open the doors of a Dublin-bound train car while others streamed inside, confronting and robbing and in some cases beating riders.

The juveniles “committed multiple strong-arm robberies of bags and cell phones,” said a police summary prepared after the incident. “At least two victims suffered head/facial injuries requiring medical attention.”

Alicia Trost, a BART spokeswoman, said Monday that seven robberies had occurred — with victims losing a purse, a duffel bag and five phones. Six people were robbed inside the train car, with a seventh confronted on the platform, she said.

The attack was quick, police reported, and the teenagers were able to retreat from the station and vanish into the surrounding East Oakland neighborhood before BART officers could respond. The train that was hit was held for about 15 minutes as authorities investigated the crime and tended to the injured.

“We are in the process of pulling all surveillance video and we will share with Oakland police, Oakland Unified School District and Oakland Housing Authority to see if they can help identify the minors,” Trost said. “We have had success with sharing images of juveniles with this group and identifying and making arrests in the past.”

The images cannot be shared publicly, she said, because the suspects appear to be minors.

BART is also checking with Oakland police to see if any other incidents Saturday night — such as a big house party being broken up — might shed light on the identity of the suspects.

A series of robberies on BART trains in recent weeks has prompted the agency to increase patrols — though this was apparently the first takeover-style heist.

The incident is likely to present a challenge for BART, which hired a new police chief last week. The agency has struggled to contain fare evaders, and is in the midst of installing surveillance cameras in train cars after The Chronicle reported that most of the existing cameras were decoys.

San Francisco Chronicle

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Arkansas Executes Jones; Plans 2nd Lethal Injection In A Single Night

 

ANDREW DeMILLO and KELLY P. KISSEL

FILE - This combination of undated file photos provided by the Arkansas Department of Correction shows death-row inmates Jack Jones, left, and Marcel Williams. The two Arkansas inmates scheduled to be put to death Monday, April 24, 2017, in what could be the nation's first double execution in more than 16 years have asked an appeals court to halt their lethal injections because of poor health. (Arkansas Department of Correction via AP, File)© The Associated Press FILE – This combination of undated file photos provided by the Arkansas Department of Correction shows death-row inmates Jack Jones, left, and Marcel Williams. The two Arkansas inmates scheduled to be put to death…  

UPDATE: The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an execution stay for inmate Marcel Williams, which will allow Arkansas to put to death two inmates in a single night.

Justices rejected Williams’ request for a stay Monday night. Williams is scheduled for execution at about 8:15 p.m.

Williams had argued that his obesity could make it difficult for officials to place an IV, and also that his previous lawyers were ineffectual at trial and during earlier appeals.

Arkansas earlier executed inmate Jack Jones Monday night. The two executions would be the first time since 2000 that a state has conducted a double execution.

EARLIER: VARNER, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas executed inmate Jack Jones Monday night and prepared for another lethal injection in what would be the nation’s first double-execution since 2000.

Jones was pronounced dead at 7:20 Monday night, 14 minutes after the procedure began at the state’s Cummins Unit in southeast Arkansas. There were no apparent complications, and Jones’ chest stopped moving two minutes after officials checked for consciousness.

Jones, who’d argued that his health conditions could lead to a painful death, gave a lengthy last statement. His final words were: “I’m sorry.”

“I hope over time you can learn who I really am and I am not a monster,” he said in the roughly 2-minute statement.

Barring any last-minute stays, inmate Marcel Williams will be executed later Monday.

Jones was sent to death row for the 1995 rape and killing of Mary Phillips. He was also convicted of attempting to kill Phillips’ 11-year-old daughter and was convicted in another rape and killing in Florida.

Jones said earlier this month that he was ready for execution. He used a wheelchair and he’d had a leg amputated in prison because of diabetes.

The state conducted its first execution last week after a nearly 12-year hiatus. Initially, Gov. Asa Hutchinson scheduled four double executions over an 11-day period in April. The eight executions would have been the most by a state in such a compressed period since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. The state said the executions needed to be carried out before its supply of midazolam, one lethal injection drug, expires on April 30.

The first three executions were canceled because of court decisions, then inmate Ledell Lee was executed last week.

Williams, set for execution at 8:15 p.m., has appeals pending with the U.S. Supreme Court. Williams’ “morbid obesity makes it likely that either the IV line cannot be placed or that it will be placed in error, thus causing substantial damage (like a collapsed lung),” his attorneys wrote in a court filing asking justices to block the execution.

Both men were served last meals on Monday afternoon, Arkansas Department of Correction spokesman Solomon Graves said. Jones had fried chicken, potato logs with tartar sauce, beef jerky bites, three candy bars, a chocolate milkshake and fruit punch. Williams had fried chicken, banana pudding, nachos, two sodas and potato logs with ketchup, Graves said.

Before Lee’s execution Thursday, Arkansas hadn’t put an inmate to death since 2005. In several of the 31 states where executions are legal, drug shortages have often forced delays as manufacturers prohibit their use in executions. Arkansas believes that secrecy it grants to suppliers can solve that problem, though it still has difficulty obtaining the drugs. Courts have also forced rewrites of Arkansas’ lethal injection protocols, causing further delays. Jones and Williams committed their crimes more than two decades ago.

In recent pleadings before state and federal courts, the inmates said the three drugs Arkansas uses to execute prisoners — midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride — could be ineffective because of their poor health.

Jones, 52, lost a leg to diabetes and was on insulin. Williams, 46, weighs 400 pounds, is diabetic and has concerns that the execution team might not be able to find a suitable vein to support an intravenous line.

The poor health of both men, their lawyers claimed, could make it difficult for them to respond during a consciousness check following a megadose of midazolam. The state shouldn’t risk giving them drugs to stop their lungs and hearts if they aren’t unconscious, they have told courts.

In a response filed with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, lawyers for the state said the inmates had filed an “avalanche” of lawsuits to obtain stays. The men’s attorneys countered that the state forced their hands.

“If there was an ‘avalanche’ of litigation, as the state complains, that’s because the state created an avalanche of execution dates,” Julie Vandiver wrote.

The last state to put more than one inmate to death on the same day was Texas, which executed two killers in August 2000. Oklahoma planned a double execution in 2014 but scrapped plans for the second one after the execution of Clayton Lockett went awry.

Arkansas executed four men in an eight-day period in 1960. The only quicker pace included quadruple executions in 1926 and 1930.

Williams was sent to death row for the 1994 rape and killing of 22-year-old Stacy Errickson, whom he kidnapped from a gas station in central Arkansas.

Authorities said Williams abducted and raped two other women in the days before he was arrested in Errickson’s death. Williams admitted responsibility to the state Parole Board last month.

“I wish I could take it back, but I can’t,” Williams told the board.

Jones was given the death penalty for the 1995 rape and killing of Mary Phillips. He strangled her with the cord to a coffee pot.

In a letter earlier this month, Jones said he was ready to be killed by the state.

“I forgive my executioners; somebody has to do it,” wrote Jones.

The letter, which his attorney read aloud at his clemency hearing, went on to say: “I shall not ask to be forgiven, for I haven’t the right.”

Including Jones, eight people have been executed in the United States this year, four in Texas, two in Arkansas and one each in Missouri and Virginia. Last year, 20 people were executed, down from 98 in 1999 and the lowest number since 14 in 1991, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.                       AP

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Marine Le Pen Steps Down As Leader Of France’s National Front Party

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen announced Monday she is temporarily stepping down as head of her National Front party with less than two weeks ago before the country chooses its leader in a runoff vote.

The move appears to be a way for Le Pen to embrace a wide range of potential voters ahead of the vote pitting her against Emmanuel Macron, the independent centrist who came in first in Sunday’s first round, The Associated Press reported.

LEFTIST PROTESTERS SPARK VIOLENCE AFTER ELECTION RESULTS ROLL IN

“Tonight, I am no longer the president of the National Front. I am the presidential candidate,” she said on French public television news.

Greg Palkot details the close race in the French presidential campaign© FoxNews.com Greg Palkot details the close race in the French presidential campaign

 

Le Pen has said in the past that she is not a candidate of her party, and made that point when she rolled out her platform in February, saying the measures she was espousing were not her party’s, but her own.

She also has tried to distance herself numerous times from a string of controversial comments by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the party before being kicked out in 2015.

Le Pen has worked to bring in voters from the left and right for several years, cleaning up her party’s racist, anti-Semitic image to do so.

(FOX News)

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I Failed In ‘Aspirational’ Goal To Unite Americans, Obama Tells Young Leaders

 

Amber Phillips, Juliet Eilperin
President Barack Obama visits with youth leaders Monday at the University of Chicago to promote community organizing, his first formal public appearance since leaving office.© Scott Olson/Getty Images President Barack Obama visits with youth leaders Monday at the University of Chicago to promote community organizing, his first formal public appearance since leaving office.
CHICAGO — In his first public appearance since leaving the White House in January, President Barack Obama told young leaders here Monday that “special interests dominate the debates in Washington” and that he had failed to realize his “aspirational” goal of uniting Americans in red and blue states.

“That was an aspirational comment,” the former president said of his famous 2004 Democratic National Convention speech, prompting laughter from the audience at the University of Chicago. He added that when talking to individual Americans from different political backgrounds, you learn that “there’s a lot more that people have in common” than it would appear. “But, obviously, it’s not true when it comes to our politics and our civic life.”

Obama, who has kept a relatively low public profile since the end of his second term, did not mention President Trump during his opening remarks at the event. But he said he was determined to galvanize younger Americans to do more politically because they were the ones best positioned to bridge the current political divide.

“The single most important thing I can do … is prepare the next generation of leadership to take up the baton,” said Obama, who sat onstage, wearing a black suit, white button-down shirt and no tie, with half a dozen activists in their teens and 20s.

All of the panel members were Democrats except for one Republican, University of Chicago undergraduate Max M. Freedman. Asked by Obama whether he has a hard time being heard on a college campus as a Republican, Freedman replied, “You can expect some level of ostracization from certain people.”

“There’s a significant empathy gap, not just here, but everywhere… We’ve cloistered ourselves,” Freedman said. “Civic engagement, at some point, will require a level of civility.”

During his time in office, Obama relished holding town halls with young people while traveling overseas. Monday’s event had a similar feel, as he asked the socially active members of the panel why they got involved in politics. Ramuel Figueroa, an undergraduate at Roosevelt University who had served in the military before starting college, said activists need to “connect personal problems to policy issues” to get people invested in elections.

“If you’re working two jobs and can’t afford day care, it’s not because you’re lazy,” Figueroa said. Of activists he said, “You need to demonstrate some connection.”  (The Washington Post)

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