Headlines: November 26, 2018
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US authorities clamped down on the border with Mexico near San Diego on Sunday with tear gas. Central American refugees who have made the long trek up to Mexico in a caravan were marching peacefully in protest of new US asylum rules as they waited when some attempted to run past a Mexican police blockade toward the border. Officers with the Customs and Border Protection Agency lobbed tear gas canisters at them and shut down the border for several hours. According to AP, “Children screamed and coughed. Fumes were carried by the wind toward people who were hundreds of feet away.” One Honduran woman holding her 3-year old daughter said, “We ran, but when you run the gas asphyxiates you more.”
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen issued a statement saying, “DHS will not tolerate this type of lawlessness and will not hesitate to shut down ports of entry for security and public safety reasons.” On Saturday the Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump made a deal with Mexico’s new incoming president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to keep migrants seeking asylum to the US in Mexico awaiting their status. According to the Post, “The agreement would break with long-standing asylum rules and place a formidable barrier in the path of Central American migrants attempting to reach the United States and escape poverty and violence. By reaching the accord, the Trump administration has also overcome Mexico’s historic reticence to deepen cooperation with the United States on an issue widely seen here as America’s problem.” But hours after publication, NBC News reported that spokespeople for Mr. Obrador vehemently denied such a deal had been made.
In news on climate change, the Trump administration has buried a report that its own federal agencies released over the Thanksgiving break. The National Climate Assessment, which runs more than 1,600 pages long, is authorized by Congress and includes conclusions from more than a dozen government agencies every four years. According to the New York Timesthe latest report, “is notable not only for the precision of its calculations and bluntness of its conclusions, but also because its findings are directly at odds with President Trump’s agenda of environmental deregulation, which he asserts will spur economic growth.” Environmental advocates plan to use the document in court to point out how the federal government has declared the horrifying impact of the problem and then set about dismantling protections against that problem.
In an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders who sits on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee said, “This is a very alarming report, and we’ve got to wake up and address these issues.”
Some Republicans have split from President Trump over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi operatives. The CIA’s report concluded that the Crown Prince of the staunch US ally and weapons buyer had ordered the killing but Trump openly declared the weapons deals as more important to US interests than journalists’ lives. Late last week he went further denying the CIA report’s assessment. Now, some GOP Senators are taking issue with Trump’s logic. Senator Mike Lee said on NBC’s Meet the Press, “I disagree with the president’s assessment. It’s inconsistent with the intelligence I’ve seen.” Senator Joni Ernst told CNN, “we … are a very strong nation when it comes to human rights, when it comes to the rule of law. And if there are indicators that the prince was involved in this murder then we need to absolutely consider further action.” And Sen. Ben Sasse told Fox News, “Making the realist case is a different thing than being so weak that we failed to tell the truth.” According to Reuters, “Other Republican senators, including Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul and Bob Corker, have been unsparing in their assessments of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Khashoggi’s killing.”
The Washington Post on Sunday published an analysis of data on global terrorism and concluded that, “Over the past decade, attackers motivated by right-wing political ideologies have committed dozens of shootings, bombings and other acts of violence, far more than any other category of domestic extremist.” Meanwhile, the data show, “a decades-long drop-off in violence by left-wing groups.” The paper spoke with experts who conclude that, “right-wing violence sprouted alongside white anxiety about Obama’s presidency and has accelerated in the Trump era.”
In international news, Associated Press is reporting that the world’s first “gene-edited” babies have been born in China. A Chinese researcher named He Jiankui, “altered embryos for seven couples during fertility treatments, with one pregnancy resulting thus far. He said his goal was not to cure or prevent an inherited disease, but to try to bestow a trait that few people naturally have — an ability to resist possible future infection with HIV, the AIDS virus.” The resulting pregnancy has led to the birth of twin baby girls this month. Such gene alteration is banned in the US as too unsafe and many scientists denounced this latest development as akin to human experimentation.
In Syria a gas attack on Saturday has left more than a hundred people injured in Aleppo. The Syrian government has blamed insurgent rebels for the attack but rebel groups say they do not possess the chemical weapons required. Russia, which is Syria’s strongest ally, used warplanes to bomb Idlib Province on Sunday saying it was in retaliation for the gas attack.
European leaders have signed onto a potential Brexit deal on Sunday presented by British Prime Minister Theresa May. EU officials said it was the best possible deal that Britain would get in its exit from the European Union and they warned the British parliament not to vote it down. May said, “In any negotiation, you do not get everything you want. I think the British people understand that.”
And Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg has said he refuses to testify at a global gathering of a number of nations on Tuesday that want to address the proliferation of fake news through social media. Instead Mr. Zuckerberg plans to send his surrogate, Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice president of policy solutions. According to the Washington Post, “It’s uncommon for seven countries to band together and seek to question a chief executive, reflecting the heightened threat of regulation and other punishments now facing Facebook and its peers in Silicon Valley.” The British Parliament on Monday also took the unusual step of seizing confidential documents obtained by an app-developer from Facebook. British lawmakers plan to use the documents in the international gathering and may make them public.