News Round-Up: January 27, 2020

(via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

Instagram: I love the wisdom and illustrations of artist Henry J. Garrett like the one above. Make sure to follow him on the gram of Insta here.

Miami Herald: Former New York mayor and 2020 presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg broke with most of the Democrats vying for the party’s nomination to unequivocally back statehood for Puerto Rico in a policy plan released Monday.

Reuters: The U.S. Supreme Court gave the go-ahead on Monday for the Trump administration to implement a rule denying legal permanent residency to certain immigrants deemed likely to require government assistance in the future. Opponents of the policy view it as a “wealth test” that would disproportionately keep out non-white immigrants.

CNN: Apparently, a blending tank door at Rodney Strong Vineyards popped open and spilled 97,112 gallons of red wine into the Russian River. #alcoholabuse

Politico: Andrew Yang is the seventh candidate to qualify for the next Democratic debate joining Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer and Elizabeth Warren.

NY Times: In a recent interview, SNL cast member Bowen Yang revealed that when his parents found out he might be gay, they sent him to conversion therapy – an experience Yang describes as ‘crazy.’

Out Music: The latest from international pop star Ricky Martin, “Tiburones,” was filmed in Puerto Rico. No translation needed, really. Both the song and the video are about deciding to change plans or directions so all involved can move forward together. Sounds simple enough, yes?

Supreme Court Declines To Block Trump’s Asylum Ban

Donald Trump’s week just got that much worse as the Supreme Court has refused to reinstate Donald Trump’s asylum ban while a government appeal is pending.

From The New York Times:

The court was closely divided, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the four-member liberal wing in turning down the administration’s request for a stay of a trial judge’s order blocking the program.

The court’s brief order gave no reasons for its action. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh said they would have granted the stay.

In a proclamation issued on Nov. 9, President Trump barred migrants from applying for asylum unless they made the request at a legal checkpoint. Only those applying at a port of entry would be eligible, Mr. Trump said, invoking what he said were his national security powers to protect the nation’s borders.

Lower courts blocked the initiative, ruling that a federal law plainly allowed asylum applications from people who had entered the country unlawfully.

“Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States,” the relevant federal statute says, may apply for asylum — “whether or not at a designated port of arrival.”

In related news, NPR is reporting that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent surgery Friday for early stage lung cancer.

Doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital in New York performed a lobectomy, removing one of the five lobes of the lung.

Short of complications in recovery, doctors say prospects look good for a full recovery for Ginsburg, 85. She hopes to be back on the court for the start of the next argument session in early January.

Trump’s Political Stunt Sending Troops To Mexican Border Cost $72 Million

Donald Trump’s midterm election campaign stunt of sending nearly 6,000 troops to the Mexican border in order to whip up more anti-immigrant frenzy will apparently cost the American taxpayer $72 million.

For nothing.

From Think Progress:

In the lead-up to the election, Trump insisted that the caravan of migrants traveling to the United States from Central America constituted some sort of “invasion.” Though the group of refugees fleeing violence and persecution bear all the attributes of a humanitarian crisis, Trump repeatedly insisted without evidence that the caravan was full of violent criminals and even terrorists.

To double down on his bluff, Trump deployed 5,000 active duty military personnel to the border weeks before the midterm elections, though that figure ended up topping out at about 5,900 troops.The exact purpose of their deployment remains a mystery, one to which Democrats in Congress are demanding answers.

This “misuse of active duty personnel” was widely panned as a political stunt designed to gin up fears to try to influence and energize Republican voters who are typically susceptible to this kind of fear mongering.

About half the troops are in Southern Texas, far from the Tijuana border into California where the caravan is set to arrive. Furthermore, the law prevents active duty personnel from arresting, detaining, deporting, or otherwise policing any of the migrants on US soil, so they’re only providing auxiliary support to the border agents who can.

As soon as the election was over, coverage of the caravan — particularly on Fox News and Fox Business — nearly vanished. Two weeks later, the caravan is still lingering in southern Mexico, and has even shrunk in size as some of its members have sought asylum in Mexico rather than continue to the U.S. border.

Though the majority of the caravan was not set to arrive until December, the military operation is set to end December 15. Some troops are already coming home, with everyone expected to be home by Christmas.

In related news, a federal judge based in San Francisco temporarily blocked the government late Monday night from denying asylum to those crossing over the southern border between ports of entry.

From CNN:

Judge Jon S. Tigar of the US District Court for the Northern District of California said that a policy announced November 9 barring asylum for immigrants who enter outside a legal check point ‘”irreconcilably conflicts” with immigration law and the “expressed intent of Congress.”

“Whatever the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” Tigar wrote, adding that asylum seekers would be put at “increased risk of violence and other harms at the border” if the administration’s rule is allowed to go into effect.

But What About ‘The Invasion???”

Donald Trump

Remember when Donald Trump was furiously telling everyone he could about the ‘dangerous’ caravan of migrants heading towards the United States from Central America?

Remember it was a terrible ‘invasion’ about to happen?

Well, now that the midterm elections are over, and the Trumpster has pushed all those xenophobic buttons he could for his followers, we’re not hearing so much any more, are we?

CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted today that he’s spoken to senior administration officials who admit the entire episode was ‘a paper tiger’ and ‘a total joke.’

NBC News also reports that military officials acknowledge the stunt was a racist, ‘political ploy.’

NY Times: No Power, Hot Food Or Thanksgiving For US Troops At Mexican Border

The New York Times has published a devastating depiction of the 5,600 US troops sent to the US/Mexican border.

Even though the migrant caravan isn’t expected to reach the border for weeks, and the Border Patrol & National Guard were more than equipped to handle the situation, the soldiers were deployed as part of Donald Trump’s explosive midterm election campaign promises.

But it turns out reality isn’t nearly as winning as a stump speech at a campaign rally.

There’s little electricity, no hot food, showers were only recently constructed, and most of the soldiers will miss not only Veterans Day with their families, but most probably Thanksgiving as well.

All so Donald Trump could whip up his followers.

From The New York Times:

The military’s morale issue is almost as worrisome. The deployment orders last until Dec. 15, meaning the troops will be on the border over Thanksgiving. They will have little to do beyond providing logistical support, unless Mr. Trump declares martial law. The troops will not be enforcing United States immigration law — that would run afoul of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, unless a special exception is made.

“When you give a soldier a real mission, you have less of a morale problem, even if it’s Christmas or Thanksgiving,” said Representative Anthony G. Brown, Democrat of Maryland and a former Army helicopter pilot who served in the Iraq war. “But when you send a soldier on a dubious mission, with no military value, over Thanksgiving, it doesn’t help morale at all.”

As it was at the bases in those early war zones, electricity at Base Camp Donna is scarce except to power lights and communications gear. In the last several days, the soldiers installed a small shower tent. Men and women have set hours for bathing. Permitted shower length: seven minutes.

There is no mess hall, just the brown, prepackaged M.R.E.’s. Military police officers patrol the perimeter at night, armed with handguns. The tents sleep 20 soldiers and have no electricity or air-conditioning. Phone charging is relegated to a few generators that power the spotlights around the living area.

Military experts estimate the deployment could cost as much as $200 million.

Kellyanne Conway Gloats Over Immigrant Ban: “Get Used To It”

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway caused a stir on Twitter today as she crowed about the response to President Trump’s executive order banning immigrants from 7 Muslim-majority nations.

“Get used to it. @POTUS is a man of action and impact. Promises made, promises kept. Shock to the system. And he’s just getting started.”

Backlash to the executive order has already begun as the Iranian foreign ministry that says Iran will resort to “counteraction” to Trump’s executive order.

“Iran, to defend the dignity of the great Iranian nation, will implement the principle of reciprocity until the removal of the insulting restriction against Iranian nationals,” the statement reads. “It will apply corresponding legal, consular and political actions.”

Canadian Prime Minister welcomed refugees, including those now blocked from the US:

And then, there’s the rest of the Twitterverse: