Merkel ‘Explains’ Refugee Convention to Trump in Phone Call

Donald Trump’s executive order to halt travel from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia – has provoked a wave of concern and condemnation from international leaders and politicians.

A spokesman for Angela Merkel said the German chancellor regretted Trump’s decision to ban citizens of certain countries from entering the US, adding that she had “explained” the obligations of the refugee convention to the new president in a phone call on Saturday.

“The chancellor regrets the US government’s entry ban against refugees and the citizens of certain countries,” Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.

“She is convinced that the necessary, decisive battle against terrorism does not justify a general suspicion against people of a certain origin or a certain religion.

“The … refugee convention requires the international community to take in war refugees on humanitarian grounds. All signatory states are obligated to do. The German government explained this policy in their call yesterday.”

Seibert said the German government would examine what consequences the ban would have for German citizens with dual citizenship, and would “represent their interests, if necessary, before our American partners”.

A summary of the phone call between Merkel and Trump, jointly issued to the press on Saturday, had made no mention of the travel ban, emphasising merely the “fundamental significance” of Nato and the intention to “further deepen the already excellent bilateral relations in the coming years”.

The French president, François Hollande, said on Saturday that “when [Trump] rejects the arrival of refugees, while Europe has done its duty, we should respond to him”.

Hollande said that in an unstable and uncertain world, “withdrawal into oneself is a dead-end response”, adding that defending democratic principles required compliance with “the principles on which it is founded, in particular the acceptance of refugees”.

In a tweet, Italy’s prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni, said his country was committed to the values that bind Europe: “Open society; plural identity; no discrimination.”

However, the leader of Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League party expressed admiration for Trump’s entry ban.

“What Trump’s doing on the other side of the ocean, I’d like it done here, too,” said Matteo Salvini. Referring to the hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers and economic migrants brought to Italy in the last few years after being rescued in the Mediterranean, Salvini said there was “an invasion under way which needs to be blocked”.

Ireland’s foreign affairs minister, Charlie Flanagan, said that while US immigration policy was a matter for the US government, “it is clear that the most recent decisions could have far-reaching implications – both on humanitarian grounds and on relations between the US and the global Muslim community”.

The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, tweeted:

Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Sarif, said Trump’s decision would be recorded in history as “a great gift to extremists and their supporters … Collective discrimination aids terrorist recruitment by deepening faultlines exploited by extremist demagogues to swell their ranks.”

Margot Wallström, the Swedish foreign affairs minister, said she was “deeply concerned” by a decision that “creates mistrust between people”.

Australia’s foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, said the government would continue to work closely with the Trump administration to implement “strong border policies”. She said: “We share a common view on many issues so we will continue to work very closely with the Trump administration,” adding: “The very best days of the Australia-US relationship lie ahead.”

(h/t The Guardian)

Trump Was Unfamiliar With the Scope of the President’s Job When Meeting Obama

President-elect Donald Trump celebrated his status as a Washington outsider during his campaign for the presidency, but his lack of familiarity with the US government appears to be coming into view as he transitions to the White House.

During Trump’s private meeting with President Barack Obama on Thursday, Trump “seemed surprised” by the scope of the president’s responsibilities, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

Trump’s aides were also apparently unaware that the entire staff of the president working in the White House’s West Wing would need to be replaced, according to The Journal.

Obama reportedly will spend more time counseling Trump about the presidency than most presidents do with their successors.

Trump and Obama were highly critical of each other during the campaign season but appear to have struck a conciliatory tone since Trump’s election, at least publicly.

(h/t Business Insider)

Trump Wants ‘Special Session’ to Repeal Obamacare, but Congress Is in Session

Donald Trump on Tuesday vowed to immediately repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s signature health care law if he’s elected president next week.

“When we win on Nov. 8 and elect a Republican Congress, we will be able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare. We have to do it,” Trump said Tuesday afternoon in an address on the Affordable Care Act in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

“I will ask Congress to convene a special session so we can repeal and replace,” he continued. “And it will be such an honor for me, for you and for everybody in this country because Obamacare has to be replaced. And we will do it, and we will do it very, very quickly. It is a catastrophe.”

(h/t Politico)

Reality

But should Trump win, Congress would already be in session by the time he took the oath of office; lawmakers return to work on Jan. 3, while the presidential inauguration is Jan. 20. Those dates were enshrined into the Constitution with the 20th Amendment.

Trump Says He Wants To Cut ‘70 To 80 Percent’ of Regulations

It can be notoriously difficult to pin down Donald Trump on the finer points of policy. But on Monday morning, the Republican presidential nominee put forth a surprisingly specific proposal: He is going to cut “70 to 80 percent” of federal regulations if he wins the White House.

Trump, lagging badly in the polls, made his anti-regulatory vow while speaking at a farmers’ roundtable in Boynton Beach, a town in the must-win state of Florida. The real estate mogul did not explain how his administration would determine which rules to axe, or how they would go about accomplishing such an unprecedented rollback through executive fiat.

“We want clean air, we want clean water,” Trump said. “But we have and you have situations and regulations, which we’re gonna cut ― we will probably cut 70 to 80 percent of the regulations, OK?”

The Republican nominee told farmers that the regulatory oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency, a favorite target of his, was simply too much to bear. The federal agency that enforces clean air and water laws has been a “total disaster,” and regulations on the whole “have been a total catastrophe,” he said.

Trump clarified, however, that he likes fresh air as much as the next person. “Look, we all believe in environment,” he said. “I mean, my primary thing with the environment ― immaculate air, beautiful clean air, and crystal clean water. That’s it. Once you go beyond that, you start to lose all of us, OK?”

Facing an increasingly narrow path through the electoral college, Trump has been banging the anti-regulation drum hard in recent days, starting with his “contract with the American voter.” In that agenda, Trump says that he will require that two regulations be repealed for every new one that goes into effect, offering no rationale for that seemingly arbitrary ratio.

A President Trump might be surprised by how difficult it would be to repeal 70 to 80 percent of federal regulations. A president could undo certain regulations that are established through executive action, and effectively weaken others by choosing not to enforce them much. But businesses mostly face regulations that have been established by Congress, through laws like the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. Congress would therefore have to undo such laws.

Trump has gone so far as to claim that the nation’s coal barons are practically starving, thanks to regulations.

“I have friends that own the mines. I mean, they can’t live,” Trump said at a Pennsylvania campaign event in August. “The restrictions environmentally are so unbelievable where inspectors come two and three times a day, and they can’t afford it any longer and they’re closing all the mines. … It’s not going to happen anymore, folks. We’re going to use our heads.”

(h/t Huffington Post)

Reality

The Code of Federal Regulations is the published list all of the general and permanent rules and regulations by the executive departments and agencies of the federal government of the United States. In it is the 50 categories that represent broad areas subject to federal regulation, which consists of a lot more than “clean air.”

Just to name a few examples of the regulatory agencies that are designed to keep you safe as a homeowner, motorist, student, employee, employer, and a consumer of fruits, vegetables, meat, drugs, alcohol, utilities, banking, and shipping include:

  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): regulates and promotes air transportation safety, including airports and pilot licensing.
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC): ensures free and fair competition and protects consumers from unfair or deceptive practices.
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA): administers federal food purity laws, drug testing and safety, and cosmetics.
  • National Labor Relations Board (NLRB): prevents or corrects unfair labor practices by either employers or unions.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): develops and enforces federal standards and regulations ensuring working conditions.

 

 

Trump Suggests Curtailing First Amendment

During an interview with CBS Miami, Donald Trump said he’d like to change the nature of the First Amendment in order to make it easier to file libel lawsuits against the media.

Trump spoke with Jim DeFede on Sunday, and he was asked about whether he feels that “too much protection” is given to the free press. Trump affirmed his belief on this issue, stating that America should lean towards the United Kingdom’s system for libel because it gives people who sue media agencies “a good chance of winning.”

“Our press is allowed to say whatever they want and get away with it. And I think we should go to a system where if they do something wrong… I’m a big believer tremendous believer of the freedom of the press. Nobody believes it stronger than me but if they make terrible, terrible mistakes and those mistakes are made on purpose to injure people. I’m not just talking about me I’m talking anybody else then yes, I think you should have the ability to sue them.”

Under English law, defamatory statements are assumed to be false, and the burden of proof lies with the defendant to show that their statement is true. While Trump talked about this system, Trump said that the American press is never compelled to apologize, and that “they can say anything they want about you or me and there doesn’t have to be any apology.”

Trump’s relationship with the media has been complicated to say the very least. Throughout his campaign, Trump blacklisted news agencies for months, ranted about “dishonest” journalists numerous times, and has threatened to expand libel laws as president.

Recently, the litigious Trump has threatened to sue The New York Times for publishing his old tax information. He has also made similar legal threats to sue the women accusing him of sexual abuse, along with media outlets giving them coverage.

(h/t Mediaite)

Media

CBS Miami

Trump Denounces Bombing Suspect’s Hospitalization and Right to an Attorney

Speaking to supporters in Florida Monday, Donald Trump denounced that the alleged NYC bomber would be given hospitalization and legal counsel in accordance with his constitutional rights.

“Now we will give him amazing hospitalization. He will be taken care of by some of the best doctors in the world. He will be given a fully modern and updated hospital room,” Trump said.

The suspect, Ahmad Khan Rahami, an Afghan-born naturalized citizen, was injured in a shootout with the police Monday morning before being apprehended. The FBI said he was “directly linked” to the homemade bombs that appeared over the weekend in New York and New Jersey.

Trump continued: “And he’ll probably even have room service, knowing the way our country is. And on top of all of that, he will be represented by an outstanding lawyer. His case will go through the various court systems for years and in the end, people will forget and his punishment will not be what it once would have been. What a sad situation.”

He argued for the need for “speedy, but fair trials,” as well as a “very harsh punishment.”

He also said that authorities must use “whatever lawful methods are available to obtain information from the apprehended suspect to get information before it’s no longer timely.” (Previously on the campaign trail, Trump has spoken of his enthusiasm for waterboarding and other methods of torture.)

Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Monday evening, New York’s Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo responded to Trump by saying, “Welcome to America. We have a system of jurisprudence. You’re innocent until proven guilty. You have a right to counsel. And you have the right to hospitalization if you’re ill.”

Cuomo added, “Let’s not lose ourselves in an effort to protect ourselves. We want to protect America. What is America? It’s the rights that we’ve established.”

He said, “I fear sometimes with this rhetoric that people are suggesting we lose what’s special about us in a way to protect ourselves. And that doesn’t work. It’s not who we are. Let’s preserve the system. Let’s be fair about it. Let’s keep our heads.”

(h/t Mediaite)

Media

Slate

Trump Surrogate Rudy Giuliani on War Crimes: ‘Anything’s Legal’ During War

Donald Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani on Sunday claimed that “anything’s legal” during war, including the theft of private property.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Giuliani said that the United States should have seized oil fields in Iraq following the 2003 invasion, to prevent the resource from falling into the hands of terrorists.

It is a position that Trump has argued for years, but it has only garnered serious attention since the former reality TV star became the Republican nominee for president.

Asked why such a move would not amount to theft, Giuliani scoffed. “Of course it’s legal,” he said. “It’s a war. Until the war is over, anything’s legal.”

This is patently false. The seizure of private property in war has been prohibited under international law for more than a century.

That Giuliani, a lawyer and former U.S. attorney, would dismiss decades of international law was unexpected, but it was in keeping with Giuliani’s recent adoption of many of Trump’s most unsubstantiated claims.

The tenor and tone of Giuliani’s media appearances on behalf of Trump have caused a number of his former colleagues to worry publicly that the former mayor of New York is throwing away his legacy.

Giuliani went on to claim that Trump never meant that the United States should have literally removed Iraq’s chief natural resource from the country, only that American troops should have remained in Iraq to ensure it was divided up evenly. “Leave a force back there and take [the oil] and make sure it’s distributed in a proper way,” he told Stephanopoulos.

“If that oil wasn’t there, we wouldn’t have the Islamic State,” Giuliani continued. “That oil is what makes the Islamic State so rich. Had we held that oil, made sure that it was equitably distributed within Iraq, we [could] have some say, some control over the distribution of it.”

For Trump, however, the notion of taking Iraq’s oil has always held an appeal as a sort of plunder. Speaking to Stephanopoulos in 2011, Trump explained: “In the old days, you know when you had a war, to the victor belong the spoils. You go in. You win the war and you take it. … You’re not stealing anything. … We’re taking back $1.5 trillion to reimburse ourselves.”

On the presidential campaign trail, Trump has moderated his statements, leaving out the part about Iraq reimbursing the United States for the cost of our blundered invasion of their country.

(h/t Huffington Post)

Reality

Specifically, the Annex to the Hague Convention of 1907 on the Laws and Customs of War, which says that “private property … must be respected (and) cannot be confiscated.” It also says that “pillage is formally forbidden.”

In addition, the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War provides that “any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”

For example, when Saddam Hussein (the former authoritarian leader of Iraq who Trump admires) invaded Kuwait in 1990, one of the justifications for international intervention was because Hussein seized and held Kuwaiti oil fields.

Media

Trump Says He’d Try U.S. Citizens in Guantanamo Bay Military Tribunals

Donald Trump said in an interview Thursday that he would support trying US citizens suspected of terrorism in military tribunals — a controversial proposal that would likely be challenged as unconstitutional.

The Republican presidential nominee told the Miami Herald that he doesn’t “at all” like the idea of trying terrorist suspects in the civilian court system, even though US citizens are constitutionally entitled to due process. He added that he would be “fine” with trying US citizens in military tribunals at Guantánamo Bay, the US naval base that is also home to a military prison housing captured terror suspects.

“Well, I know that they want to try them in our regular court systems, and I don’t like that at all. I don’t like that at all,” he told the Herald. “I would say they could be tried (in military commissions), that would be fine.”

President George W. Bush authorized the trial of non-citizens who engage or support acts of terrorism after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but a US citizen has never been tried in military courts under that order.

Most constitutional experts and several senior Republican senators — including Sen. John McCain — strongly opposed proposals to try Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers and a naturalized US citizen, in military court.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether Trump was concerned about infringing US citizens’ right to due process under the Constitution.

Trump has repeatedly called for toughening the US approach to terrorism, and has suggested he would continue to capture and detain terror suspects at Guantánamo, though he would not commit to imprisoning terror suspects there as prison.

“I want to make sure that if we have radical Islamic terrorists, we have a very safe place to keep them,” Trump told the Herald.

Trump has also called for waterboarding terrorism suspects and “worse” forms of torture, calls that have alarmed civil liberties advocates, international lawyers, and US military officials.

While Trump again criticized President Barack Obama’s policies in combating terrorism, Obama has also drawn fire from civil liberties advocates for authorizing the drone killings of US citizens engaged in terror activities against the US without trial.

(h/t CNN)

Reality

The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution each contain a due process clause. Due process deals with the administration of justice and thus the due process clause acts as a safeguard from arbitrary denial of life, liberty, or property by the Government outside the sanction of law. Due process ensures the rights and equality of all citizens.

Trump: Muslim Soldier Was a Hero, But His Father ‘Has No Right’ to Criticize Me

Donald Trump praised a Muslim U.S. soldier killed in Iraq but in the same breath continued to criticize the man’s father, who spoke out against Trump at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

After a day of backlash over the GOP presidential nominee’s comments regarding the family of Humayun Khan, Trump released a statement late Saturday night honoring him.

“Captain Humayun Khan was a hero to our country and we should honor all who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our country safe. The real problem here are the radical Islamic terrorist who killed him, and the efforts of these radicals to enter our country and do us further harm,” Trump said.

“While I feel deeply for the loss of his son, Mr. Khan who has never met me, has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution, (which is false) and say many other inaccurate things. If I become President, I will make America safe again.”

Khan’s father, Khizr Khan, a lawyer who immigrated from Pakistan, addressed the Democratic convention last week, asking what Trump had sacrificed and whether he had ever read the Constitution.

Trump lashed out at Khan and his wife, Ghazala, who stood at his side on the stage, on Saturday.

The GOP nominee said he had “made a lot of sacrifices” through his work and raised questions about Khan’s speech and why his wife hadn’t spoken, suggesting that she “wasn’t allowed” because of her Muslim faith. Ghazala Khan later said she was too upset to take the microphone.

The comments immediately sparked backlash from both Republicans and Democrats.

In his Saturday statement, Trump bashed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for her Middle East foreign policy record and the attack on U.S. personnel in Benghazi and warned against radical Islamism and immigration from certain countries.

“Given the state of the world today, we have to know everything about those looking to enter our country, and given the state of chaos in some of these countries, that is impossible,” he said.

(h/t The Hill)

Reality

This is yet another example of Donald Trump’s ignorance of the United States Constitution. There are no set of rights just for Donald Trump and another set of rights for everyone else. Khazir Kahn and his wife have the exact same rights of equal protection and free speech Trump does.

Trump Surrogate Newt Gingrich Wants “Religious Test” For American Muslims

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and current Trump advisor and surrogate has suggested testing all US Muslims to see if they believe in Sharia, and deporting those who do.

Gingrich said in an interview on “Hannity” on Fox News:

Let me be as blunt and direct as I can be. Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in Shari‘a, they should be deported. Shari‘a is incompatible with Western civilization. Modern Muslims who have given up Shari‘a, glad to have them as citizens. Perfectly happy to have them next door.

The former Republican presidential contender’s comments were in response to the attack in Nice, France that left at least 84 people dead.

Gingrich later tried to backtrack those comments saying:

“This is not about targeting a particular religion or targeting people who practice in a particular way,” he added. “This is about looking at particular characteristics that we have learned painfully, time after time, involve killing people, involve attacks on our civilization.”

*cough *cough bullshit *cough *cough

(h/t BBC)

Reality

The idea to target a single religion for a litmus test to see how “patriotic” their members run counter to every idea that the founding fathers envisioned for this country. It is without a doubt the most un-American suggestion one can have. So it comes to no surprise that Fox News is definitely on board.

The very first amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America explains in its Establishment Clause that there will be freedom from governmental interference of worship.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Many in the West believe Shari‘a to be a brutal system of retributive justice, but really it is a broad term for the set of ethical principles inscribed in the Quran that means different things to different adherents. As TIME reported in the wake of Orlando, “Demonizing every Muslim by equating Shari‘a and terrorism is akin to describing every Christian as a radical fundamentalist; the Bible can also be interpreted as requiring brutal punishments for archaic offenses.”

Fun Fact: In 1997, Newt Gingrich was the first Speaker of the House to ever be disciplined for an ethics violation and was forced to resign as Speaker in 1998 because of his failed leadership.

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