US judge temporarily blocks Trump’s travel ban nationwide
SEATTLE (AP) — A U.S. judge on Friday imposed a nationwide hold on President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, siding with two states that had challenged the executive order that has launched legal battles across the country.
U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle ruled that Washington state and Minnesota had standing to challenge Trump’s order, which government lawyers disputed, and said they showed their case was likely to succeed. About 60,000 people from the affected countries had their visas cancelled.
“The state has met its burden in demonstrating immediate and irreparable injury,” Robart said. “This TRO (temporary restraining order) is granted on a nationwide basis …”
It wasn’t immediately clear what happens next for people who had waited years to receive visas to come to America, however an internal email circulated among Homeland Security officials told employees to comply with the ruling immediately.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer released a statement late Friday saying they “will file an emergency stay of this outrageous order and defend the executive order of the President, which we believe is lawful and appropriate.” Soon after, the White House sent out a new statement that removed the word “outrageous.”
Pentagon chief: US has no plans to increase Mideast forces
TOKYO (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Saturday the U.S. cannot afford to ignore destabilizing moves by Iran, but has no plans to respond by increasing American military forces in the Middle East.
Mattis spoke at a joint news conference in Tokyo with his Japanese counterpart, Tomomi Inada. Mattis held a series of high-level meetings in Seoul and Tokyo this week on his first overseas trip as Pentagon chief. He was returning to Washington Saturday.
Asked about U.S. concern about China’s militarization of artificial islands in the South China Sea, Mattis was critical of China’s moves but said U.S. military action was not appropriate.
In an opening statement at his news conference, Mattis also explicitly stated that the Trump administration will stick to the previous U.S. stance that the U.S.-Japan security treaty applies to defending Japan’s continued administration of the Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, which are contested by China.
In response, China’s Foreign Ministry reasserted its claim of sovereignty over the tiny, uninhabited islands and called on the U.S. to cease “making wrong remarks” over the issue.
Trump launches his attack on banks’ financial restraints
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump launched his long-promised attack Friday on banking rules that were rushed into law after the nation’s economic crisis, signing new orders after meeting with business and investment chiefs and pledging further action to free big banks from restrictions. Wall Street cheered him on, but Trump risks disillusioning his working-class voters.
He directed his Treasury secretary to review the devilishly complex 2010 Dodd-Frank financial oversight law, which was signed by President Barack Obama to overhaul regulations after the financial and housing crisis of the past decade. It aimed to restrain banks’ from misdeeds that many blamed for the crisis.
The new president also signed a memorandum instructing the Labor Department to delay an Obama-era rule that requires financial professionals who charge commissions to put their clients’ best interests first when giving advice on retirement investments.
While the order on Dodd-Frank, named after its Democratic sponsors, won’t have an immediate impact, Trump’s intent is clear. The law has been a disaster in restricting banks’ activities, he said earlier this week. “We’re going to be doing a big number on Dodd-Frank.”
During a meeting with business leaders, including JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon on Friday, he said, “Frankly I have so many people, friends of mine that have nice businesses that can’t borrow money. They just can’t get any money because the banks just won’t let ’em borrow because of the rules and regulations of Dodd-Frank.”
Trump executive order on voter fraud quietly stalled
NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump’s heated rush to launch what he said would be a “major investigation” into voter fraud has cooled, leaving White House staff uncertain when it will come to pass or what shape it will take.
An executive action commissioning the probe is still planned but could be several weeks away, two senior administration officials said Friday. Although Trump instructed staff to jump on the project last week, he has not discussed the issue in recent days, according to two other people in close touch with the president. All demanded anonymity to discuss private conservations.
Asked about the status of the effort, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said: “I do not have an update at this time.”
The indefinite delay comes as some of Trump’s advisers counseled him to abandon the idea, arguing it was a distraction from more pressing issues. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in last November’s election. Trump won the Electoral College vote but lost the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes to Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The episode is a striking example of the new president’s mercurial streak and his willingness to impulsively seize on ideas with little planning and sometimes later reverse course when encountering obstacles or criticism.
Soldiers thwart attack on Louvre, tourists held in lockdown
PARIS (AP) — Paris was plunged into panic — again — when soldiers guarding the Louvre Museum shot an attacker who lunged at them with two machetes on Friday and shouted “Allahu Akbar!” as the historic landmark went into lockdown.
The threat appeared to quickly recede after the assailant was subdued, but it cast a new shadow over the city just as tourism was beginning to rebound after a string of deadly attacks. Coming just hours before Paris finalized its bid for the 2024 Olympics, it also renewed questions about security in the City of Light.
The soldiers’ quick action put an end to what French President Francois Hollande said was “no doubt” a terrorist attack at one of Paris’ most iconic tourist attractions.
French prosecutor Francois Molins said the assailant was believed to be a 29-year-old Egyptian who had been living in the United Arab Emirates, though his identity has not yet been formally confirmed.
“Everything shows that the assailant was very determined”, Molins told a news conference, adding that the attacker, who was shot four times, was in a life-threatening condition in a hospital.
Never remember: City laughs along at massacre that wasn’t
A White House adviser’s commentary about a massacre in Kentucky that never happened has sparked seemingly endless snickering online, with jabs like “never remember” and “I survived the Bowling Green massacre.”
Kellyanne Conway mentioned the fictional massacre in an MSNBC interview Thursday as the reason for a temporary travel ban for Iraqis in 2011, saying it also proved why the Trump administration’s ban was necessary. It thrust this college town back into the national spotlight, nearly three years after a sinkhole that swallowed several classic Corvettes at a museum in Bowling Green garnered worldwide attention.
Even Big Red, the beloved, furry Western Kentucky University mascot, wasn’t immune: One social media post shows him sprawled on the ground with the inscription “Never forget.”
“The jokes are flying for sure,” said Guy Jordan, who teaches at Western Kentucky. “My sense of things is that we are today a city of people walking around looking at their phones and giggling softly to ourselves.”
Jordan quipped the only massacres in Bowling Green have been some of Western’s football victories.
Trump hits Iran with new sanctions for missile test
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration ordered sanctions against more than two dozen people and companies from the Persian Gulf to China Friday in retaliation for Iran’s recent ballistic missile test, increasing pressure on Tehran without directly undercutting a landmark nuclear deal with the country.
Those targeted by the Treasury Department include Iranian, Lebanese, Emirati and Chinese individuals and firms involved in procuring ballistic missile technology for Iran. They are now prohibited from doing any business in the United States or with American citizens. The overall impact is likely to be minimal on Iran’s economy, though some of the people and companies have relationships with Iran’s hard-line Revolutionary Guard military forces.
“The days of turning a blind eye to Iran’s hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over,” Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, said in a statement.
Although White House spokesman Sean Spicer acknowledged that much of the legwork had occurred under President Barack Obama, he told reporters the Trump administration “acted swiftly and decisively” after Iran’s recent missile test and Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen firing on a Saudi naval vessel.
It is Trump’s first package of penalties against Iran, reflecting his insistence on a tougher stance toward Tehran. Throughout his election campaign, Trump accused the Obama administration of being weak on Iran, and he vowed to crack down if elected.
‘El Chapo’ lawyers say jail conditions are too strict in NYC
NEW YORK (AP) — He’s locked up 23 hours a day. His wife can’t visit him. He can’t call anyone, except his lawyers. He even was denied water, his lawyers say.
The strict jail conditions for notorious Mexican drug lord and escape artist Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman were outlined on Friday by defense attorneys in a failed bid to get a judge to loosen them.
Guzman smiled at his common-law wife, Emma Coronel, as he was led into the Brooklyn courtroom under heavy guard by deputy U.S. marshals at his second court appearance since being brought to the United States on Jan. 19.
“This was so far the only way she has been able to see him,” defense attorney Michelle Gelernt said afterward with a silent Coronel at her side.
Guzman, 59, has pleaded not guilty to charges of running a massive drug trafficking operation that laundered billions of dollars and oversaw murders and kidnappings. He’s being held at a high-security federal jail in Manhattan, with U.S. officials mindful of how he twice escaped from prison in Mexico, the second time via a mile-long tunnel dug to the shower in his cell.
Iraqi ‘speechless’ after 7-year-wait to get into US
NEW YORK (AP) — Munther Alaskry first bonded with American Marines over a shared love of Metallica. He later cleared roads of bombs for U.S. troops and translated for them, helping the military navigate his war-torn country.
The 37-year-old Iraqi engineer spent nearly a decade working for the U.S. government in his home country and received death threats for doing so.
On Friday, a bespectacled Alaskry, his wife and children stepped onto American soil to begin new lives. His arrival ended an anxiety-filled week in which he was initially banned from the United States because of President Donald Trump’s immigration order.
His life, he said, had suddenly turned into a feel-good film.
“I don’t believe this is real,” he said. “We always watch American movies, and this is just like my life is in one now. I’m speechless.”
Discarded IS receipts offer glimpse into former Mosul life
MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — Receipts from taxi rides, ledgers listing internet usage for the privileged few and random logbooks documenting an ever tighter economy are just some of the documents that Islamic State militants left behind when they fled eastern Mosul in the face of advancing Iraqi forces.
The discarded papers and bundles of receipts, found on a recent visit to a home used as a base for the militants in the city, offer an unusual glimpse into the Islamic State group’s daily life and economy.
In the months leading up to the Mosul offensive, IS fighters were increasingly pushed underground by punishing U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.
The bookkeeping reveals how IS bases had become increasingly like bunkers, but also how easily the fighters were able to move within their so-called caliphate just a year ago, when it spanned across western Iraq and a third of Syria.
Most of the receipts were from early 2016, when IS had only just lost control of the city of Ramadi in western Anbar province, but still controlled about a quarter of Iraq’s territory. Slips of paper document taxi rides back and forth to IS-held towns across the Iraq-Syria border.