Trump’s cruel deportations

Kenneth Roth writes: Twenty-year-old Alexis G. was deported in June to Mexico, a country he barely knows. He told Human Rights Watch researchers who interviewed him at a migrant reception center, “My parents brought me [to the United States], and I grew up in [there]. If I were to sing an anthem right now, it would be ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ I don’t know the Mexican anthem.” He is one of millions of people deeply integrated into American life whom President Donald Trump has turned into “priority targets” for deportation, even though they cannot be removed without devastating their American families, businesses, and communities. With Trump due to name a new secretary of Homeland Security to replace John Kelly, these cruel policies should face renewed scrutiny during his successor’s confirmation hearings.

Alexis, whose wife Maryjo was born in the US, had temporary protection from deportation under President Barack Obama’s program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, but he said he couldn’t afford the $500 fee to renew it when it expired in 2016. After a scuffle involving his brothers at a small-town carnival in June, Alexis was arrested, handed over to immigration agents, and quickly deported. He told Human Rights Watch, “You feel like you don’t belong anywhere, you’re stuck in the middle… It hurts. Do I not count?”

Alexis isn’t a rapist or a killer, but President Donald Trump speaks as if he, along with the rest of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, is a threat to public safety. The vast majority of undocumented immigrants—an estimated 92.5 percent—have no criminal records, and studies have shown a correlation between higher levels of immigration and safer neighborhoods. Yet Trump and his supporters continue to argue that most unauthorized immigrants are actual or potential criminals. [Continue reading…]

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Trump reveals the most when he says the least

The New York Times reports: President Trump is rarely reluctant to express his opinion, but he is often seized by caution when addressing the violence and vitriol of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and alt-right activists, some of whom are his supporters.

After days of genially bombastic interactions with the news media on North Korea and the shortcomings of congressional Republicans, Mr. Trump on Saturday condemned the bloody protests in Charlottesville, Va., in what critics in both parties saw as muted, equivocal terms.

During a brief and uncomfortable address to reporters at his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., he called for an end to the violence. But he was the only national political figure to spread blame for the “hatred, bigotry and violence” that resulted in the death of one person to “many sides.”

For the most part, Republican leaders and other allies have kept quiet over several months about Mr. Trump’s outbursts and angry Twitter posts. But recently they have stopped averting their gazes and on Saturday a handful criticized his reaction to Charlottesville as insufficient.

“Mr. President — we must call evil by its name,” tweeted Senator Cory Gardner, Republican from Colorado, who oversees the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign arm of the Senate Republicans.

“These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism,” he added, a description several of his colleagues used.

Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and the father of the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, did not dispute Mr. Trump’s comments directly, but he called the behavior of white nationalists in Charlottesville “evil.”

Democrats have suggested that Mr. Trump is simply unwilling to alienate the segment of his white electoral base that embraces bigotry. [Continue reading…]

Cheri Jacobus writes: President Trump is not known for holding back his rage and venom when he’s angered or feels threatened, or for struggling to “counter punch.” Typically, the easily triggered leader of the free world, his finger seemingly perpetually poised in hover position over the nuclear button, uses a cannon when a BB gun will do. But, curiously, he seems to lose his voice and his nerve when it comes to taking on Russian President Vladmir Putin for intervening in U.S. elections, or the white nationalists and Nazis — domestic terrorists — who marched with torches in Charlottesville, Va.

Notice whom Trump tiptoes around to understand to whom he feels beholden.

It’s becoming increasingly harder to deny that Trump’s actions and words make it appear as if he’s reluctant to cross a benefactor or those who comprise a disturbingly influential portion of what we must, if we are to be intellectually honest, accept and admit is his base.

His tepid, tardy response to the shameful group of Americans (and it hurts to call them Americans) was stunning, coming on the heels of his knee-jerk “fire and fury” threat to North Korea’s Kim Jong Un after yet another missile test — and his equally reckless, violent follow-up threats about military action.

The gentler, vaguer “diplomatic” language used by Trump on alt-right white nationalists proudly using the Nazi salute and sporting swastikas is chilling. He didn’t name them or even blame them, in fact said “hatred, bigotry and violence” had been going on “for a long, long time” and came from “many sides.”

It was reminiscent of candidate Trump in Feburary 2016 finding it difficult to denounce former KKK leader David Duke for telling his followers it would be “treason to your heritage” to vote for anyone but Trump. He told CNN’s Jake Tapper he simply didn’t know enough about Duke and the KKK to condemn them.

In Charlottesville, Duke said on camera that the white supremacists were marching on behalf of President Trump, and that they viewed this as fulfilling the promises of Trump’s candidacy.

Trump gave him legitimacy by placing the KKK, Nazis and other white supremacists on par with, well, everyone else.

He’s “normalizing” them. [Continue reading…]


Trump’s unwillingness to single out white supremacists for explicit condemnation does nothing less than signal to them that he remains a fascist-friendly president — and have no doubt, these are self-declared fascists.

This is how Vanguard America articulates its vision of “American Fascism” in its “Vanguard Manifesto”:

A Nation For Our People – An America based on the immutable truths of Blood and Soil. A multicultural nation is no nation at all, but a collection of smaller ethnic nations ruled over by an overbearing tyrannical state. Our America is to be a nation exclusively for the White American peoples who out of the barren hills, empty plains, and vast mountains forged the most powerful nation to ever have existed. Vanguard America stands indomitably opposed to the tyranny of globalism and capitalism, a system under which nations are stripped of their heritage and their people are turned into nothing more than units of cheap, expendable labor. Vanguard America, and our nationalist allies across the Western world, see a world of nations ruled by their own people, for their own people.

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When does a fringe movement stop being fringe?

Vann R. Newkirk II writes: Suddenly, the “far right” doesn’t seem so far. On Friday night, hundreds of protesters descended on a statue of Confederate hero Robert E. Lee in Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia. Carrying tiki torches, waving Confederate battle flags, and sometimes armed with clubs and shields and flanked by self-styled militiamen with heavier arms, the protesters, described by many as “white nationalists,” brawled with counter-protesters in Charlottesville streets, a situation that led Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to declare a state of emergency Saturday.

Still, the fallout, the latest in a year-long series of growing protests centered around that statue in Emancipation Park, sprawled into Saturday afternoon. A car plowed through a group of counter-protesters, who’d taken the streets to celebrate their perceived victory against the white-supremacist protesters. So far, reports indicate at least one person has died, and many more are injured. Officials have not yet said if they think the incident was deliberate.

Even before that most deadly incident, politicians responded to the crisis in Charlottesville. House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Twitter that “the views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant,” and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted that “the hate and bigotry witnessed in Charlottesville does not reflect American values.” In a statement Saturday morning, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe stated that he was “disgusted by the hatred, bigotry, and violence these protesters have brought to our state.” President Donald Trump has tweeted multiple times about the protests, and in a statement after the deadly car incident condemned violence “on many sides.”

These reactions, after a year of burgeoning demonstrations in the park, are remarkable both in their alarm and their vagueness.

Trump’s statements call out “many sides” for their contribution to violence. McAuliffe’s statement, especially, reads as if there’s something alien or novel about violent white pro-Confederate protest in Virginia—which, it can be said with confidence, is simply not true. Few notable statements from public officials put a name to the general “bigotry” that most leaders cited.

Journalists have also struggled with categorizing what’s happening in Charlottesville. Ever since the alt-right leader Richard Spencer first led groups of protesters in Emancipation Park against the prospective removal of the Lee statue, outlets have adopted his “white nationalist” label—one often used by members of his particular portion of the alt-right movement as a way to avoid the negative connotations of “white supremacist”—as a descriptor for the protests.

But the protesters, which now boast the endorsement of Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and the participation of Klansmen and Neo-Nazis—some armed and chanting “Jews will not replace us”—appear to be exactly the kind of mob that the term “white supremacist” evokes in its most commonly used connotation. [Continue reading…]

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These are your people, President Trump

Colbert I. King writes: President Trump’s mealy-mouthed mutterings on the terrorism let loose in Charlottesville on Saturday are worthy of the hypocrite and instigator of hate that he has proved himself to be. Trump knows what was at work on those streets and who was behind it. As well he should. They are some of the same forces that helped to put him in the White House.

On hand giving the clan of white nationalists a verbal boost was former Ku Klux Klan leader and preeminent white nationalist David Duke. Just as the bigoted Duke was on hand on election night exclaiming on social media that Trump’s victory was “one of the most exciting nights of my life.” Duke tweeted at the time, “Make no mistake about it, our people have played a HUGE role in electing Trump.”

And Duke’s people — Trump’s people, also — were out in force in Charlottesville with their hate-filled minds, their guns, and a weaponized automobile. [Continue reading…]

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Trump refuses to condemn white supremacist terrorism

The Washington Post reports: President Trump on Saturday condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the spate of violence unfolding in Charlottesville and called for “a swift restoration of law and order” — but avoided placing blame on any particular party for the hate-fueled upheaval.

Trump spoke after hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members clashed with counterprotesters in the streets and three cars later collided in a pedestrian mall packed with people, killing one person and injuring at least 10 others.

In his remarks, at his private golf club here, N.J., Trump spoke out against “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”

“It’s been going on for a long time in our country, not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time,” Trump said, adding that he wanted to study the episode to learn what is wrong with the country.

He ignored shouted questions from reporters about what he thought of the white nationalists at the event who said they supported him and were inspired by his campaign. [Continue reading…]

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Fewer immigrants mean more jobs? Not so, economists say

The New York Times reports: When the federal government banned the use of farmworkers from Mexico in 1964, California’s tomato growers did not enlist Americans to harvest the fragile crop. They replaced the lost workers with tomato-picking machines.

The Trump administration on Wednesday embraced a proposal to sharply reduce legal immigration, which it said would preserve jobs and lead to higher wages — the same argument advanced by the Kennedy and Johnson administrations half a century ago.

But economists say the tomato story and a host of related evidence show that there is no clear connection between less immigration and more jobs for Americans. Rather, the prevailing view among economists is that immigration increases economic growth, improving the lives of the immigrants and the lives of the people who are already here.

“The average American worker is more likely to lose than to gain from immigration restrictions,” said Giovanni Peri, an economist at the University of California, Davis. [Continue reading…]

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If the U.S. followed Canada and Australia’s example, it would allow in more, not fewer, immigrants

Alex Nowrasteh writes: President Trump stated that he wanted to create a merit or skills-based immigration system like in Canada or Australia, but the Cotton-Perdue bill would not come close to achieving that goal. The immigration systems in Canada and Australia do emphasize skilled immigrants over family members but their immigration systems allow in far more immigrants, as a percentage of the population in both countries, than the United States. It is important to control for the population of the destination country when comparing the relative openness of different immigration systems.

New immigrants to Canada who arrived in 2013 were equal to 0.74 percent of that country’s population. New immigrants to Australia in 2013 were equal to a whopping 1.1 percent of their population. By contrast, immigrants to the United States in the same year equaled just 0.31 percent of our population. The only OECD countries that allow in fewer immigrants relative to their populations than the United States are Portugal, Korea, Mexico, and Japan. Seventeen other OECD countries allow in more immigrants than the United States as a percentage of their populations. [Continue reading…]

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Trump, GOP senators introduce bill to slash legal immigration levels

The Washington Post reports: President Trump on Wednesday endorsed a new bill in the Senate aimed at slashing legal immigration levels over a decade, a goal Trump endorsed on the campaign trail that would represent a profound change to U.S. immigration policies that have been in place for half a century.

Trump appeared with Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.) and David Perdue (Ga.) at the White House to unveil a modified version of a bill the senators first introduced in April to cut immigration by half from the current level of more than 1 million foreigners each year who receive green cards granting them permanent legal residence in the United States.

The outlines of the legislation reflect the aims Trump touted on the campaign trail, when he argued that the rapid growth of legal immigration levels over five decades had harmed job opportunities for American workers. [Continue reading…]

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Hungary’s PM claims EU and George Soros are trying to ‘Muslimize’ Europe

The Associated Press reports: European Union leaders and Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros are seeking a “new, mixed, Muslimized Europe,” Hungary’s anti-migration prime minister said Saturday.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said during a visit to Romania that Hungary’s border fences, supported by other Central European countries, will block the EU-Soros effort to increase Muslim migration into Europe.

While Hungary opposed taking in migrants “who could change the country’s cultural identity,” Orban said under his leadership, Hungary would remain a place where “Western European Christians will always be able to find security.”

Orban, who will seek a fourth term in April 2018, said Hungary’s opposition parties were no match for his government.

“In the upcoming campaign, first of all we have to confront external powers,” Orban said at a cultural festival in Baile Tusnad, Romania. “We have to stand our ground against the Soros mafia network and the Brussels bureaucrats. And, during the next nine months, we will have to fight against the media they operate.”

Soros has become a key target of Orban and his government. [Continue reading…]

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Swedish Nazis trained in Russia before bombing a center for asylum seekers

BuzzFeed reports: By the time Anna Ahlberg arrived at the shelter, the only evidence that remained of the blast was a pool of blood that had melted through the snow in the parking lot.

The makeshift shelter was a rundown concrete motel on a lonely road off the highway running into Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city. It housed people who had come to Sweden seeking asylum, but had been ordered to leave the country. Ahlberg, the director of the local migration agency, rushed to the scene about an hour after the explosion went off on the afternoon of January 5. By the time she arrived, the only person injured had been taken away in an ambulance. He was a janitor who’d been peppered with shrapnel and had both legs broken in the blast.

Ahlberg spent a long hour sitting in the back of a police car waiting for a bomb squad to clear the building before they’d allow her inside to reassure the roughly 60 asylum seekers on lockdown. She clung to the hope that the explosion was caused by a firework, or by a propane canister that one of the residents had been using to fuel a camp stove in their room.

“I didn’t want to think that it was meant to harm any person, that it was just an accident or bad luck,” Ahlberg told BuzzFeed News during an interview in Gothenburg in March.

But Ahlberg’s worst fears were confirmed a week later when investigators revealed that the people behind the blast were members of Sweden’s largest Nazi organization, the Nordic Resistance Movement.

They had found DNA samples on fragments of a bomb and the bicycle it had been strapped to that matched a 23-year-old named Viktor Melin. Melin was the leader of the group’s Gothenburg cell, and prosecutors ultimately brought charges against him and two other members, 20-year-old Anton Thulin and 50-year-old Jimmy Jonasson. The explosive matched devices used in two other attacks that winter: one that exploded in November outside the gathering spot of a left-wing organization without injuring anyone, and another that was discovered before it could go off at a residence for refugees in late January.

This was not the first time Ahlberg had seen one of her facilities vandalized. Two others in her jurisdiction had been damaged just before they were due to open in 2015. Scores of facilities were torched that year, part of the backlash that met the 160,000 asylum seekers who came to Sweden at the height of the EU refugee crisis. But the incident in the parking lot was the first time Ahlberg had heard of a bombing — and someone was nearly killed.

As the case headed to trial six months later, prosecutors dropped a bombshell. The perpetrators weren’t simply inspired by events at home, according to court filings reviewed by BuzzFeed News. Prosecutors presented evidence that two of the men had traveled to Russia, where they trained with paramilitaries who had fought alongside Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine.

The evidence prosecutors laid out to the judge could have far-reaching consequences throughout Europe. They showed how a largely forgotten war hundreds of miles away that has claimed thousands of lives had emboldened fringe nationalists deep inside the EU and built networks into Russia.

Security analysts worry that the Ukraine conflict fueled a transformation of right-wing extremist groups across the West. [Continue reading…]

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The country’s first Somali-American legislator and her politics of inclusivity

Pacific Standard reports: Two days before the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump stepped out of his personal jet and into a hangar at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport to promise a crowd of more than 9,000 supporters that, if elected, he would halt arrivals of Somali refugees. Minnesota has the largest Somali population in America—estimated to be around 46,000—as well as comparatively large populations of Ethiopians, Liberians, and Nigerians. “You’ve suffered enough in Minnesota,” Trump told the audience, referring to Somali immigrants as a “disaster.”

Two days later, on November 8th, a majority-white district in Minneapolis elected Ilhan Omar to the Minnesota House of Representatives, making her the country’s first Somali-American legislator. Omar’s win—in a district that includes both a portion of University of Minnesota and an immigrant neighborhood known as Little Mogadishu—represented a clear rejection of Trump’s rhetoric. And even while the incoming administration planned to reverse years of progressive policymaking, the rise of an optimistic immigrant politician served as a reminder that our country’s unique promise to newcomers was still alive.

At Omar’s election-night celebration, her husband, Ahmed Hirsi, saluted the diversity of Omar’s campaign. “Look around,” Hirsi said, waving his arms to the corners of a ballroom filled with hijab-wearing Millennials and balding brown and white heads. “This is what this country’s all about. This is America. Folks from different backgrounds, different faiths, different cultures, coming together for one good cause. So, for those who believe that Somalis are a disaster, I say you are delusional. That is not, let me tell you, that is not what this country is about.” Wearing an ivory hijab pinned with a glittering brooch, the 34-year-old Omar beamed from the front row, one of her three children perched on her lap. [Continue reading…]

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Knuckleheads in Trump administration don’t want to let foreign entrepreneurs start new businesses in U.S.

The New York Times reports: The Trump administration said it would delay, and probably eliminate down the line, a federal rule that would have let foreign entrepreneurs come to the United States to start companies.

The decision, announced by the federal government on Monday ahead of its official publication on Tuesday, was quickly slammed by business leaders and organizations, especially from the technology sector, which has benefited heavily from start-ups founded by immigrants.

“Today’s announcement is extremely disappointing and represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the critical role immigrant entrepreneurs play in growing the next generation of American companies,” Bobby Franklin, the president and chief executive of the National Venture Capital Association, a trade association for start-up investors, said in a statement.

He added that even as other countries are going all out to attract entrepreneurs, “the Trump administration is signaling its intent to do the exact opposite.”

The policy being delayed by the Department of Homeland Security, known as the International Entrepreneur Rule, was to go into effect next week, after being approved by President Obama in January during his final days in office.

The rule was enacted to give foreign entrepreneurs who received significant financial backing for new business ventures the ability to come temporarily to the United States to build their companies. Silicon Valley leaders had praised the rule as a kind of “start-up visa.” [Continue reading…]

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America’s cultural divide runs deep

The Washington Post reports: The political divide between rural and urban America is more cultural than it is economic, rooted in rural residents’ deep misgivings about the nation’s rapidly changing demographics, their sense that Christianity is under siege and their perception that the federal government caters most to the needs of people in big cities, according to a wide-ranging poll that examines cultural attitudes across the United States.

The Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation survey of nearly 1,700 Americans — including more than 1,000 adults living in rural areas and small towns — finds deep-seated kinship in rural America, coupled with a stark sense of estrangement from people who live in urban areas. Nearly 7 in 10 rural residents say their values differ from those of people who live in big cities, including about 4 in 10 who say their values are “very different.”

That divide is felt more extensively in rural America than in cities: About half of urban residents say their values differ from rural people, with less than 20 percent of urbanites saying rural values are “very different.”

Alongside a strong rural social identity, the survey shows that disagreements between rural and urban America ultimately center on fairness: Who wins and loses in the new American economy, who deserves the most help in society and whether the federal government shows preferential treatment to certain types of people. President Trump’s contentious, anti-immigrant rhetoric, for example, touched on many of the frustrations felt most acutely by rural Americans.

The Post-Kaiser survey focused on rural and small-town areas that are home to nearly one-quarter of the U.S. population. [Continue reading…]

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America is awash in the wrong kinds of stories

Virginia Postrel writes: One of the rare feel-good stories of our current political moment is also terribly sad. On a train in Portland, Oregon, three very different men tried to protect two young women, one wearing a hijab, from a ranting white supremacist who turned out to be carrying a knife. The action cost two their lives, while the third is still in the hospital.

“America is about a Republican, a Democrat, and an autistic poet putting their lives on the line to protect young women from a different faith and culture simply because it is the right thing to do. You want diversity and tolerance? We just saw it,” writes Michael Cannon in an especially good appreciation, concluding “America is already great — and so long as we continue to produce men such as Rick Best, Taliesin Namkai-Meche, and Micah Fletcher, it always will be.”

Cultures are held together by stories. We define who we are — as individuals, families, organizations, and nations — by the stories we tell about ourselves. These stories express hopes, fears, and values. They create coherence out of complexity by emphasizing some things and ignoring others. Their moral worth lies not in their absolute truth or falsehood — all narratives simplify reality — but in the aspirations they express and the cultural character they shape. [Continue reading…]

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The murderous consequences of xenophobia

Decca Aitkenhead writes: Every night, for almost a year, Brendan Cox and his wife sat up discussing the rise of the far right. He was conducting a major study of populist extremism across the western world and, once the children were in bed, the pair would talk through its implications and analyse the threat.

The contrast between the couple and the darkly angry ideology could scarcely have been more acute. His wife was a young, smiley, idealistic new Labour MP whom he had met when they both worked for Oxfam. They loved camping and mountain climbing, lived on a houseboat on the Thames and spent weekends at their cottage on the Welsh border, without electricity or water, where they’d celebrate the summer solstice each year with a party for 100 friends. Their son, Cuillin, now six, was named after a mountain range on the Isle of Skye; their four-year-old daughter, Lejla, after friends Cox had made while volunteering for a children’s charity in Bosnia. Liberal and internationalist, they worried about xenophobic hate – but their concern was political, not personal.

Brendan Cox spent the morning of 16 June 2016 working on the research project as normal, for an international campaign organisation called Purpose, and was on his way to lunch with his colleague when his phone rang. It was his wife’s parliamentary assistant. “Jo has been attacked. Get to Leeds as fast as you can.” Racing to the station, he called her constituency office and was told she’d been shot and stabbed. He was alone on a train, hurtling north, when the call came from Jo’s sister: “I’m so sorry, Brendan. She’s not made it.”

“Do you mean Jo’s died?”

“I don’t know what to say … but yes.”

As Cox broke down in tears, a man sitting across the aisle fetched him tissues and water. “If there’s anything I can do …” he offered kindly. Cox wiped his eyes, thanked the man and thought: “Is this what you are meant to do when your wife has just been murdered?”

The horror awaiting him in Yorkshire defied all comprehension. Thomas Mair, a 52-year-old Nazi sympathiser incensed by Jo’s support for refugees, had calmly approached the MP outside her constituency surgery in the Yorkshire village of Birstall, shot her with a sawn-off shotgun, pulled her to the ground and stabbed her repeatedly with a dagger. A 77-year-old pensioner who tried to stop him was stabbed. Cox’s last words were to her two assistants were: “Get away, let him hurt me, don’t let him hurt you!” Mair’s last words, after shooting her twice more, were: “Britain first. Britain will always come first.” [Continue reading…]

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Federal appeals court rules Trump’s Muslim ban ‘drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination’

The New York Times reports: Describing President Trump’s revised travel ban as intolerant and discriminatory, a federal appeals court on Thursday rejected government efforts to limit travel to the United States from six predominantly Muslim nations. Attorney General Jeff Sessions quickly vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The decision was the first from a federal appeals court on the revised travel ban, which was an effort to make good on a campaign centerpiece of the president’s national security agenda. It echoed earlier skepticism by lower federal courts about the legal underpinnings for Mr. Trump’s executive order, which sought to halt travelers for up to 90 days while the government imposed stricter vetting processes.

The revised order, issued on March 6, “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination,” the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., concluded in its 205-page ruling.

The White House derided the court decision as a danger to the nation’s security. And Mr. Sessions, in pledging to appeal to the nation’s highest court, said the government “will continue to vigorously defend the power and duty of the executive branch to protect the people of this country from danger.” [Continue reading…]

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The French elections showed the strength of the European far-right — and its limits

Zack Beauchamp writes: To understand what France’s election means, and what it tells us about the rise of far-right movements around Europe, you need to understand two fundamental truths about the results.

The first is that it’s a historic victory for the far-right Marine Le Pen and her Front National party. Le Pen was one of two candidates who qualified for the second round, soundly beating the standard-bearers both of France’s traditional establishment parties — the center-right Republicans and center-left Socialists. The once-reviled Front has clearly entered the mainstream of French politics.

At the same time, the election seemed to demonstrate the very clear limits of Le Pen’s popularity — and, potentially, European far-right politics more broadly.

Le Pen came in second in Sunday’s election, with 21.7 percent of the vote. The plurality winner, upstart centrist Emmanuel Macron, won with 23.9 percent. He’s her polar opposite in virtually every respect. She wants to restrict immigration to France and pull France out of the EU; he supports keeping the borders open and proudly waved the EU flag at his final campaign rally. And when these two face each other one-on-one in a runoff in two weeks, he’s very likely to win — every poll that’s been taken so far has him up by massive margins:


The tolerant center, in France, appears likely to hold.

What we’re seeing in France mirrors what’s happening in much of Europe. After the twin shocks of Brexit and Trump, the far-right has seen a series of setbacks. From elections in Austria and the Netherlands to polls in all-important Germany, the far-right is performing far less well than many have expected.

What these numbers suggest is that the far-right has a political ceiling: That while its supporters may be hard-core, the majority of Europeans still recoil from its vision — at least for now. [Continue reading…]

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