Headlines: October 31, 2018
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President Trump has announced that he plans to end “birthright citizenship” in the US by executive order. He made the surprise announcement during an interview with Axios that was released on Tuesday. Birthright citizenship means that anyone born in the US, regardless of their parents’ immigration status, is a US citizen. Here is the interview exchange with Trump made public on Tuesday. Contrary to the President’s claim, the US is not the only country in the world to have birthright citizenship. There are at least 30 other countries with similar policies. According to the media outlet, “This would be the most dramatic move yet in Trump’s hard-line immigration campaign.” There are sure to be major legal challenges to such an executive order and most legal experts consider it unconstitutional as birthright citizenship is enshrined in the 14th amendment.
Following his announcement, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham offered his support for the President’s idea, tweeting, “I will be introducing legislation to deal with the issue of birthright citizenship for children of illegal immigrants — in a prospective manner — as I have always contended it has become a magnet for illegal immigration in modern times.” According to The Hill, “If Graham is going to propose legislation to amend the Constitution, his bill would need to win over not only two-thirds majorities in Congress, but also be ratified by three-quarters of the states.”
Trump and First Lady Melania Trump paid tribute on Tuesday to the 11 victims of the synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They stopped at the Tree of Life Synagogue and lit candles for each of the shooting victims before heading to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to check on survivors who were recovering. Outside the Synagogue more than a 1,000 protesters gathered chanting things like “Words Matter,” and, “Trump, Go Home.” The Presidential motorcade passed a sign saying, “It’s your fault.” According to AP, “As Trump’s motorcade wound through downtown Pittsburgh, some onlookers saluted the president with upraised middle fingers and others with downturned thumbs.” Last week’s Synagogue shooting was “the worst single attack on American Jews in the history of the country.”
Many are blaming Trump for unleashing dormant anti Semitism and other forms of racial hatred among his base. Trump has been slow to denounce Nazism and hate crimes and even said of the extremist right wing attendees of last year’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that there were, “very fine people,” among the torch-wielding racists who chanted “Jews will not replace us.” Just minutes before he committed the massacre, the gunman posted a note to the right wing social media outlet Gab that HIAS, the Jewish nonprofit that resettles refugees in the United States, “likes to bring invaders that kill our people.” He added, “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.” The timing of his actions are likely linked to Trump’s whipping up of anti-immigrant hysteria against the “caravan” of refugees heading to the US from Central America.
In news related to the refugee caravan, Trump has said that he wants to put all the asylum seekers into detention upon arrival to the US. He told Fox News that the government would be building tent cities. There are currently about 3,500 people participating in the caravan. Trump has said he plans to deploy about 5,200 US military troops to the border in preparation for their arrival, hoping to whip up the anti-immigrant sentiment among his base ahead of next week’s seminal midterm elections. On Tuesday General Terrence O’Shaughnessy who is overseeing the deployment said that there could be even more troops sent.
What Trump is trying not to draw attention to ahead of the election is that wealth inequality in the US is higher than ever. On Tuesday Inequality.org, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies, released a new report entitled, “Billionaire Bonanza 2018: ‘Inherited Wealth Dynasties in the 21st-Century U.S.'” The report “analyzes the grand fortunes of the wealthiest individuals and families, comparing their wealth to the absence of wealth at and near the nation’s economic bottom.” Among the report’s findings is that, “Three dynastic wealth families—the Waltons, the Kochs, and the Mars—have seen their wealth increase nearly 6,000 percent since 1982. Meanwhile, median household wealth over the same period went down by 3 percent. These three wealth dynasties own a combined fortune of $348.7 billion. That’s more than four million times the median wealth of U.S. families.”
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has been tasked with investigating election-related wrongdoing, may be the target of a smear campaign to discredit him. According to NBC, “Multiple reporters were contacted over the past few weeks by a woman who said she had been offered money to say she had been harassed by Mueller.” Mr. Mueller has asked the FBI to investigate the potential scam. Among the reporters was Ed Krassenstein for the Hill. While he dug into the possibility that the allegations were false, he reportedly received threatening messages including a text that said, “You’re in over your head…. Drop this,” which included his and another editor’s home addresses.
A new report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has concluded that humans have decimated wildlife populations at unprecedented rates. The report’s authors write, “While climate change is a growing threat, the main drivers of biodiversity decline continue to be the overexploitation of species, agriculture and land conversion. Indeed, a recent assessment found that only a quarter of land on Earth is substantively free of the impacts of human activities.” The earth’s biodiversity is essential to the future of human survival. A spokesperson for WWF told the Washington Post, “The numbers are astonishingly bad. It’s death by a thousand cuts.”
A 63-year old white woman named Deborah Cantwell has been arrested in Indiana for sending a racist and threatening letter to the family of a black child moving into her neighborhood. She allegedly wrote, “We moved here to a WHITE TOWN, ALL WHITE NEIGHBORHOOD — FOR HEALTH REASONS AMONG OTHER THINGS. THIS IS OUR FOREVER HOME, WE CANNOT AFFORD TO MOVE — BESIDES THIS IS MY DREAM HOME AND WE HAVE BEEN HERE FOR A VERY LONG TIME.” Cantwell also apparently added, “just the sight of the child reminds me of all the things I live in this town to forget.” She also used the N-word to refer to the child. Cantwell has admitted to police that she wrote the note and also toilet papered the home of the family moving in.
US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has been referred to the Justice Department by the Inspector General for investigation into whether he used his office for personal gain. According to the Washington Post, “The Interior Department’s inspector general said in a letter to lawmakers in July that the office was investigating a Montana real estate deal involving a foundation set up by Zinke and a development group backed by the chairman of oil service company Halliburton Co.” Zinke is the latest in a long line of Trump Administration officials that has been under scrutiny for using government office to try to benefit themselves.