Monthly Archives: July 2019

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Claiming “victory” in two high-profile hearings on Wednesday with former U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives vowed to push forward with their investigations of President Donald Trump.

    Court action could come as soon as Thursday or Friday, with the Democrats’ determination pointing to many more months of digging by lawmakers into Trump, his presidency and private business interests. But the outlook for impeachment proceedings seemed as remote as ever even as Trump seeks re-election in 2020.

    Shortly after Mueller testified to two House committees on his investigation of Trump and Russian meddling in U.S. politics, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said his panel would go to court in the next two days.

    He said the committee would move to enforce a subpoena against former White House counsel Don McGahn and ask the court for grand jury material related to Mueller’s probe. McGahn, who was a star witness in Mueller’s 448-page final report, has refused to testify to Nadler’s committee.

    “The excuses – I won’t call them reasons – the excuses that the White House gives for McGahn not testifying … are the same excuses for all the other fact witnesses. And if we can break that, we’ll break the logjam,” Nadler said at a news conference with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other committee chiefs.

    Democrats had hoped Mueller’s televised testimony to the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees would stir public opinion and jump-start their investigation of the Republican president.

    Although Mueller refused to stray from his report and challenged some conclusions that Democrats drew from its contents, they insisted his testimony underscored evidence that Trump repeatedly sought to obstruct the Russia probe.

    “This is a great victory for the truth and for the possibility of justice in the country, because America finally got to see what Special Counsel Mueller was talking about,” Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin told reporters.

    His view differed sharply from that of Trump, who told reporters after Mueller’s seven hours of testimony that “this was a very big day for the Republican Party. And you could say this was a great day for me, but I don’t even like to say that.”

    “The Democrats had nothing,” Trump said, repeating his attacks on the Russia probe as a hoax and witch hunt.

    ‘HOLDING PRESIDENT ACCOUNTABLE’

    Mueller’s report on his 22-month investigation, released in mid-April, found insufficient evidence to allege that the Trump campaign conspired with Moscow in its effort to help Trump get elected in 2016, although campaign officials met with Russians.

    The report provided no view on whether Trump tried to obstruct Mueller’s inquiry. Both issues dominated the Wednesday hearings, in which Mueller emphasized he had not exonerated Trump of obstruction of justice, as the president has claimed, but sometimes struggled to keep up with lawmakers’ questions and gave occasionally halting answers.

    There was little sign Mueller’s testimony would lead to a groundswell of enthusiasm among Democrats for starting impeachment proceedings against the president, although House Democrat Lori Trahan joined about 90 others who say it is time to begin an impeachment inquiry.

    Pelosi, who opposes moving forward on impeachment for now, said Democrats wanted to assemble the strongest case possible, focusing her remarks on Trump’s personal finances and his business connections.

    “One of those connections could be to the Russians and that’s what we want to find out,” she said.

    Congress is slated to leave Washington at the end of the week for a long summer break, returning in September.

    A House Democratic lawsuit has long been expected against McGahn, whom Democrats view as a central figure in their probe into whether Trump tried to obstruct Mueller’s inquiry. McGahn testified to Mueller that Trump instructed him to have the special counsel removed and to deny having been told to do so.

    Testimony from McGahn to that effect at an open hearing could give Democrats the evidence they need for an impeachment inquiry. McGahn declined to testify earlier this year, after the White House directed him not to cooperate with the committee.

    “The president’s chant of ‘no obstruction’ is nonsense. His chant that he’s been ‘totally exonerated’ is a simple lie,” said Nadler, one of a half-dozen Democratic committee heads steering investigations of the president.

    Democratic Representative Ted Deutch said Democrats would “accelerate the investigation and take whatever action is necessary to hold the president accountable.”

    Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Peter Cooney

    SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Carin, a 39-year-old subsistence farmer from Honduras, crossed the U.S.-Mexico border with her two sons late last year. They had fled after her political organizing led to threats of violence, she said, and intended to claim asylum.

    They were released on one condition: that they show up to immigration court when called.

    Carin said she made sure to check the mailbox regularly at the apartment in Colorado where they were living. In February, the first official letter arrived.

    It was not a court-hearing notice. It was a deportation order.

    “I said, ‘Oh my God’ and just cried and cried and then my sons were crying because we were all so scared,” Carin said. She asked that her family’s surname not be used for fear of damaging their asylum claim.

    Clerical errors and lack of notice are common in the U.S. immigration court system, say immigration lawyers and former judges. Clerks are juggling a backlog of more than 900,000 cases and rely on numerous people to log information based on quick interviews at the border.

    For migrants, such problems can bring dire consequences: A missed hearing can lead to an “in absentia” deportation order, issued by a judge when a migrant fails to appear.

    Especially vulnerable are recently arrived families like Carin’s who are listed on the fast-track deportation docket, known colloquially as the “rocket docket.” The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency targeted about 2,000 people on this docket for arrest and deportation in recent operations, although only 18 family members were actually taken into custody.

    Carin said she learned only after hiring a lawyer that her case file had errors. Court documents, which were reviewed by Reuters, indicated that she had been served with the court-hearing notice a day before the notice was even issued – an impossibility. Regardless, she said, she never received any notice.

    The U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, which adjudicates immigration cases, declined to comment.

    President Donald Trump’s administration has said that immigrants are abusing the asylum process to enter the U.S. and then skip court proceedings, allowing many to live indefinitely in the country.

    “The overwhelming majority of claims are rejected by the courts, but by that time, the alien has usually long since disappeared into our country,” Trump said in a speech last November. “They don’t care because they’re in the country and nobody knows where they are.”

    Striving to speed up the cases and deportations of recently arrived families, most of them from Central America, the administration created the family-unit “rocket docket” last year in 10 U.S. immigration courts.

    Of the about 64,000 cases filed on the docket, about 17,000 have been completed. Of those completed, more than 13,000 resulted in an in absentia removal order, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Joseph Edlow told lawmakers on Thursday.

    Federal officials repeatedly have said that people with removal orders have had their chance at a day in court. But migrant attorneys and advocates say that is not always true.

    For instance, two families were brought to the ICE family detention center in Dilley, Texas, last week after being arrested by immigration agents, according to Katy Murdza, advocacy manager at the Dilley Pro Bono Project, which provides legal services to detained families. Both families said they did not receive notice of their court hearings and neither knew they had removal orders, Murdza said.

    In the Hamptons on Long Island in New York, a Central American mother who crossed the border in December returned to her relatives’ house last week to learn that ICE agents had come looking for her, her lawyer, Ben Simpson said.

    After calling the immigration court, she found out she had been ordered removed in April because she hadn’t attended her hearing. But she had never received notice, Simpson said, adding that the woman had an appointment to check in with ICE later this month in New York City and had planned to attend. ICE did not respond to a request for comment.

    Immigration attorneys have been scrambling to reopen cases in which notice was not properly served. As a result of the publicity around the recent ICE operations, migrant advocates said more people know now to check if they have a removal order and to find legal help. That could potentially add to delays the government was trying to avoid.

    “There are so many points along the way where there can be typos, so many opportunities for human error, especially when you add the lack of language competency at the border,” said Rebecca Jamil, who was an immigration judge in San Francisco from 2016 to 2018. She said in her experience, the vast majority of people who missed a hearing did show up when given a second chance.

    “People are not coming here to hide,” she said.

    PROBLEMS UNDER OBAMA

    In 2014, the administration of President Barack Obama also expedited cases to deal with an influx of families from Central America seeking asylum.

    In a 2018 study, two immigration advocacy groups – the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project and Catholic Legal Immigration Network – said they successfully challenged the in absentia orders of 44 of their 46 clients on the docket.

    Among the reasons for the challenges: lack of notice and incorrect information provided by the government, as well as immigrants’ language barriers, severe trauma or disabilities, the groups wrote. This month, the organizations updated a guide for lawyers so that more can challenge the deportation orders in court.

    The Trump administration ended the Obama-era case prioritization in January 2017, saying it did not produce significant results. Then officials brought back their own version in November.

    The Obama-era family docket required the first hearings to be scheduled within a month of the charging document being filed. The same is true of current family-unit cases, according to guidance sent to immigration judges last year and seen by Reuters.

    But now judges are under greater pressure tmsnrt.rs/2y9HUTB to move cases along quickly, and have less discretion to give people more time to receive a hearing notice, find an attorney or file a complicated asylum application.

    Meanwhile, the acting director of ICE, Matthew Albence, told reporters on Tuesday that agents would continue to pursue not just the 2,000 people targeted in recent weeks, but any family with a removal order issued after the surge of migrants in 2014.

    There are “tens of thousands” of such families, he said.

    Carin’s attorney Laura Maggio has filed a motion to reopen her case based on the erroneous dates in the government’s documentation, which stalls her deportation. Carin carries a copy of that motion, along with all of the other paperwork she has received, everywhere she goes.

    For now, Carin’s priority is making sure her sons Bryan, 13, and Alan, 12, stay in school.

    “I tell them that Donald Trump didn’t create the United States, God did. And God gave us the support to get this far, and he has the final word on what happens to us next,” she said.

    Reporting by Kristina Cooke in San Francisco and Mica Rosenberg in New York. Additional reporting by Reade Levinson. Editing by Julie Marquis and Marla Dickerson

      SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea test-fired two new short-range ballistic missiles on Thursday, South Korean officials said, its first missile test since its leader, Kim Jong Un, and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to revive denuclearisation talks last month.

      South Korea, which supports efforts by North Korea and the United States to end years of hostility, urged the North to stop acts that are unhelpful to easing tension, saying the tests posed a military threat on the Korean peninsula.

      The South’s National Security Council said it believed the missiles were a new type of ballistic missile but it would make a final assessment with the United States.

        (Reuters) – A federal judge in San Francisco on Wednesday blocked the Trump administration from enforcing a new rule that aimed to bar almost all asylum applications at the U.S.-Mexico border.

        U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in the Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction blocking the rule, which would require asylum-seekers to first pursue safe haven in a third country they had traveled through on their way to the United States.

        The decision makes inconsequential a ruling by Washington D.C. District Judge Timothy Kelly earlier in the day that declined to block the rule in a different lawsuit brought by immigration advocacy groups, lawyers said.

        The Trump administration had been quick to celebrate that decision, saying it would discourage abuse of the asylum process.

        Following the action by the San Francisco court, the rule will now be suspended pending further proceedings.

        “Today’s ruling is an important victory for incredibly vulnerable individuals and families,” said Melissa Crow, an attorney from the Southern Poverty Law Center – one of the groups challenging the ban – in a statement.

        The Trump administration has sought to curtail the increasing numbers of mostly Central American migrants arriving at the U.S. -Mexico border after fleeing violence and poverty in countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. It has characterized the vast majority of their asylum claims as bogus.

        After the White House announced the rule on July 16, the American Civil Liberties Union and other rights groups sued in California on the grounds it violates U.S. law that welcomes those who come to the United States fleeing persecution at home.

        Immigration is shaping up to be a focus of the presidential campaign again in 2020. In the 2016 election, voters rewarded then-candidate Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, sending him to the White House after he promised to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.

        DANGERS IN MEXICO

        Opponents of the new rule contend the United States cannot force migrants to first apply for asylum in another country, such as Mexico or Guatemala, unless Washington first has a “safe third country” agreement with that government. Both Mexico and Guatemala have resisted Trump administration efforts to reach such a deal.

        In an hour-long hearing in California, Tigar said he was struck by the dangers faced by people passing through Mexico, which was significant because the Trump administration argued that country was a safe haven.

        “The administrative record about the dangers faced by persons transiting through Mexico and the inadequacy of the asylum system there … is stunning,” Tigar said from bench.

        Tigar in November struck down a different asylum ban that attempted to block all migrants crossing illegally from asking for refuge in the United States.

        The Trump administration has issued a rapid-fire series of anti-immigration edicts recently.

        Last week, the administration issued another rule to expedite deportations for immigrants who have crossed illegally within the last two years and are caught anywhere in the United States. The rule eliminated a level of judicial review and expanded a program typically applied only along the southern border with Mexico.

        Democrats have blasted the policies as cruel, faulting the Trump administration for warehousing migrants in crowded detention facilities along the border and separating immigrant children from the adults they have traveled with.

        Reporting by Kristina Cooke in San Francisco, Mica Rosenberg and Daniel Trotta in New York, and Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Sonya Hepinstall

         

          SAN JUAN (Reuters) – People danced on the streets of San Juan’s old city on Wednesday after Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced he would quit over offensive chat messages that sparked massive protests on the Caribbean island.

          After 12 days of sometimes violent demonstrations, the first-term governor said he would step down on Aug. 2, having failed to soothe critics’ concerns by vowing not to seek re-election and giving up the leadership of his political party.

          “I feel that to continue in this position would make it difficult for the success that I have achieved to endure,” Rosselló said, listing accomplishments in office that ranged from creating new industries to promoting equal pay for women.

            NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes fell on Friday following a report that the Federal Reserve plans to cut interest rates by only a quarter-percentage point at the end of the month.

            The benchmark S&P 500 erased earlier marginal gains after a Wall Street Journal report on the Fed’s plans. According to the report, while the U.S. central bank is not prepared to make a bigger 50-basis-point cut, it may make further rate cuts in the future given concerns about a decline in global economic growth and uncertainty about trade.

            On Thursday, stocks had risen as comments from New York Fed President John Williams increased hopes of a bigger rate cut. Later that day, however, a New York Fed representative said Williams’ comments were not intended to telegraph any hints about upcoming Fed policy actions.

            “It appears that the Fed has communicated its message,” said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama. “They’re basically trying to clarify their policy.”

            Futures market odds of a 50-basis-point cut at the Fed’s July meeting soared to 71% late Thursday immediately after Williams’ speech but fell to 22.5% on Friday, according to CME Group’s Fedwatch tool.

            The expiration of options on Friday likely amplified the market reaction to the report, said Dennis Dick, head of markets structure at Bright Trading LLC in Las Vegas.

            “It’s been one of those days where you get a lot of chop,” he said. “This is often on the third Friday of the month. The traders are expecting this.”

            The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 68.77 points, or 0.25%, to 27,154.2, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 18.5 points, or 0.62%, to 2,976.61 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 60.75 points, or 0.74%, to 8,146.49.

            For the week, the Dow lost 0.64%, the S&P fell 1.23% and the Nasdaq shed 1.19%.

            Earlier on Friday, U.S. stocks had edged higher as strong results from Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) momentarily buoyed technology stocks. Microsoft shares ended marginally higher, up 0.1%, but the S&P 500 technology index .SPLRCT fell 0.55%.

            Second-quarter profits at S&P 500 companies are now estimated to rise 1%, according to Refinitiv IBES data, in a reversal from earlier expectations of a small drop.

            Boeing Co (BA.N) shares gained 4.5%, despite the planemaker’s disclosure that it would take a $4.9 billion after-tax hit from the grounding of its 737 MAX, indicating that investors had expected more severe repercussions.

            Kansas City Southern (KSU.N) shares rose 4.6% after the railroad operator posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit. Its shares helped the Dow Jones Transport index .DJT gain 0.6%.

            Shares of American Express Co (AXP.N) slipped 2.8% after the credit card issuer warned of higher operating costs this year as it spends heavily on rewards programs to attract customers.

            Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.29-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.51-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

            The S&P 500 posted 45 new 52-week highs and five new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 75 new highs and 84 new lows.

            Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.25 billion shares, compared to the 6.59 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

            Reporting by Evan Sully and April Joyner; Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak in New York and Medha Singh and Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Tom Brown

              BUFFALO, N.Y.  — Dueling political protests are happening in Buffalo’s Elmwood Village this weekend.

              “We need to impeach the president,” said former congressional candidate Nate McMurray.

              “We want to show support for the president,” said political activist Rus Thompson.

              On the left, McMurray is calling his protest “America is better than Trump” and it comes on the heels of comments made on Twitter by President Trump, targeting four women of color in congress.

              “To tell someone who was born in this country to go back to their country, I mean this is someone who was born in America. If that’s not a red flag, what is?” said Nate McMurray.

              On the right, political activist Rus Thompson is countering the anti-Trump protest.

              “America, love it or leave it. If you don’t like this country then leave,” he said. “Everyone kept saying it Trump gets elected, I’m leaving and they’re still here. If you don’t like the country then why are you still here?” he said.

              Buffalo Police say there will be extra patrols on hand for this weekend’s rallies, which start Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at Elmwood and Bidwell.

              Last week, demonstrators in Buffalo shut down part of Delaware Avenue for hours, protesting refugee camps on the southern border.

              Police say those protesters did not have a permit. The City of Buffalo requires a permit when protesters plan to use a loud speaker or shut down a road. So far, police say the anti-trumpets have a permit. Thompson tells me his pro-Trump rally doesn’t need one, because his group isn’t planning on doing any of those things.

              “I don’t think the support to get rid of the president or impeach the president is as big as they hoped it would be,” Thompson said. “Bring your American flags and show support for the president.”

              “I am going to take full advantage of our rights as Americans to say what I think,” McMurray said. “America is a place where everybody, regardless of race religion or origin has a place to be.”

              The biggest message from organizers on both sides is to keep the protests peaceful. Both sides say there will be no tolerance for violence.

              THE AGUSTIN “PUCHO” OLIVENCIA COMMUNITY CENTER IS PROUD TO ANNOUNCE:

              50TH ANNIVERSARY ANNUAL GREASE POLE FESTIVAL

              “EL PALO ENCEBAO”

              JULY 19TH, 2019 – JULY 21ST, 2019

              LOCATION: OLIVENCIA COMMUNITY CENTER FESTIVAL GROUNDS

              ADDRESS: 261 SWAN STREET, BUFFALO, NY 14204

              Buffalo’s longest-running ethnic festival. 

              We will be celebrating 3 days of traditional music, ethnic food, and dancing. It will be a celebration of community and culture, with activities for the entire family. 

              For more information on the Festival, becoming a Sponsor, or Volunteer, please contact us at 716-852-1648, or lmmauras@gmail.com, or visit us on Facebook at Puchos Social Club or at www.puchoolivencia.com.

               

               

               

              El gobernador solicitó a los manifestantes que reclaman su renuncia que “desistan de este tipo de estrategia o de práctica”.

              El gobernador Ricardo Rosselló Nevares reiteró esta mañana que no renunciará al cargo, pese a que los manifestantes han insistido que no cesarán las protestas hasta que se marche.

              “Yo voy a continuar en mi trabajo. Es mi responsabilidad, y siento que es una gran responsabilidad del pueblo de Puerto Rico que me permitió trabajar como gobernador, es continuar trabajando y presentar resultados”, sentenció durante una conferencia de prensa en La Fortaleza.

              Acompañado de varios secretarios de su gabinete, Rosselló Nevares solicitó esta mañana a los manifestantes que reclaman su renuncia que “desistan de este tipo de estrategia o de práctica” de atacar a los agentes de la Policía, provocar incendios en el Viejo San Juan o vandalizar los antiguos edificios de la ciudad, porque “ciertamente nos afecta”.

              El funcionario recordó que la ciudad amurallada tiene líneas de gas soterradas, que pudiesen provocar una gran tragedia en la zona.

              “Aquí en San Juan, particularmente, en el Viejo San Juan el que se establezca este tipo de pirotecnia e incendio, puede poner en riesgo la vida de los que están aquí”, afirmó Rosselló Nevares.

              El ejecutivo agradeció a los manifestantes que mantuvieron el orden y a los policías que trabajaron arduamente por mantener el control.

              Por su parte, el secretario de Seguridad Pública, Elmer Román, indicó que las autoridades federales investigarán los sucesos registrados anoche.

              “Eso está en contra de lo que significa ser puertorriqueño”, subrayó.

              Aunque ha divulgado comunicados de prensa y expresiones a algunos medios, este es el primer mensaje del gobernador a Puerto Rico tras la divulgación de 889 páginas de un chat de él y su círculo íntimo en el que intercambian insultos, comentarios sexistas y homofóbicos, y posibles actos ilegales como amenazas y divulgación de aspectos confidenciales.

              Tras las críticas que hizo la comunidad sorda por no haber intérpretes en las conferencias de prensa más importantes relacionadas a las controversias que se han desatado con el lío de Telegram, la Administración de Rehabilitación Vocacional proveyó a dos expertas en lenguajes de señas para el mensaje especial de hoy.

              Las intérpretes se identificaron como Carmen Ramos y Sonia Cotto.

               

               

              Boricuas en Nueva York se manifiestan y piden renuncia de Rosselló

              Un grupo de boricuas se manifestó esta tarde en Union Square, Nueva York, para pedirle la renuncia al gobernador Ricardo Rosselló.

              La actividad se da a la par de la marcha que se realizó en Puerto Rico donde miles de personas le pidieron al primer ejecutivo su dimisión.

              El pedido se da luego que se develara una conversación que tuvo Rosselló con sus asesores más cercanos y donde realizan expresiones machistas, sexistas, homofóbicas y clasistas.

              “[AHORA] Boricuas protestan en Manhattan, Nueva York, por la renuncia de Ricardo Rosselló. ‘¿Dónde está Ricky? ¡Ricky no está aquí! ¡Ricky está vendiendo lo que queda del país!’, exclaman los manifestantes”, reportó la periodista Coral Murphy.

              También, publicó videos y fotos donde se puede ver a los presentes cantando bomba y plena, así cargando pancartas con mensajes de repudio contra Rosselló.

              NASCAR driver Daniel Suarez, aka Danny Swervez from Car 3 met with fans and children from around Western New York at Fisher-Price Toy Store for a meet and greet yesterday, July 15.

              Kids from the Belle Center and Western New York were excited to meet Daniel Suarez who signed Toy race cars and took pictures in front of the official Pace Car from Watkins Glen International.

              Daniel Suarez then went to 1 Bills Drive to honor Bills Fan Pancho Billa who lost his battle with cancer. He then went on to touring the team’s facility and promoting the upcoming Go Bowling at the Glen racing event.

              Suarez was taken around the indoor practice facility; the new lift room and the team’s locker room and even got to try on a football helmet, comparing it to his racing one. He also went out to New Era Field and threw around a football on the stadium’s new turf.

              Later in the day he went to Roswell Park Cancer institute and met wit Cancer Patients at the facility.

              The event was sponsored by: Fisher Price Toy Store , Watkins Glen, NASCAR, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and The Buffalo Bills.

               

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