Arrests of undocumented immigrants have increased 37.6 percent since President Trump signed an executive order on immigration enforcement, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement Wednesday. Since the order was signed 100 days ago, ICE reported that it "has arrested more than 41,000 individuals who are either known or suspected of being in the country illegally." In the same period of time in 2016, just over 30,000 arrests were made.
ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan said the jump reflects its "clear direction to focus on threats to public safety and national security, which has resulted in a substantial increase in the arrest of convicted criminal aliens." ICE reported that "nearly 75 percent of those arrested" are "convicted criminals." Becca Stanek
Tuesday is the first day of spring, but you wouldn't know it in the Washington, D.C. region, where residents are awaiting what could be "one of the biggest snowfalls in almost two years," WTOP-FM writes. The winter weather will do more than just dampen moods, though — it could potentially bog down lawmakers' efforts to pass a spending bill and result in the government shutting down, Politico Playbook writes.
Congress is once again facing a looming Friday night deadline to complete its $1.2 trillion spending bill, which would keep the government open through the end of September. There continues to be heated debate over funding President Trump's border wall and as of Tuesday morning, the legislation has still not been released. When it is, it will need to clear both the House and Senate.
That's where the snowstorm comes into play. "So many aides come in from the suburbs that if the region gets between 3 and 6 inches, a snow day is completely plausible," writes Politico Playbook. "Of course, Congress could pass a short-term spending bill to push the funding deadline to sometime next week, but at this point, they don’t seem interested in doing that."
At the time of publication, the National Weather Service has a winter storm warning in effect through Wednesday evening. Snow is expected to begin Tuesday afternoon, and continue overnight. Jeva Lange
Facebook's big Cambridge Analytica problem began when former Cambridge Analytica research director Christopher Wylie came forward with evidence that his company had harvested the private data of 50 million Americans on Facebook without authorization. Cambridge Analytica said in a statement that it deleted "all Facebook data and their derivatives" and did not use any of that data in its work for President Trump's campaign, but Wylie told CNN's Don Lemon on Monday night that the company's denial doesn't make sense. Cambridge Analytica's entire business model, including algorithms and data sets, was derived from the Facebook mining, he said.
Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix was meeting with Corey Lewandowski, soon to be Trump's campaign manager, in the spring of 2015, before Trump announced his candidacy and while Cambridge Analytica was still working for Ted Cruz's campaign, Wylie said. And in 2014, "we were testing all kinds of messages and all kinds of imagery — that included images of walls, people scaling walls, we tested 'drain the swamp,' testing ideas of the 'deep state,'" he added. "And a lot of these narratives, which at the time would have seemed crazy for a mainstream candidate to run on, those were the things that we were finding that there were pockets of Americans who this really appealed to. And Steve Bannon knew that, because we were doing the research on it. And I was surprised when I saw the Trump campaign and it started, you know, talking about building walls or draining the swamp."
Wylie says Cambridge Analytica had tested Trump campaign slogans since 2014: "I was surprised when I saw the Trump campaign and it started, you know, talking about building walls or draining the swamp. And I’m remembering in my head, wait, we tested this." https://t.co/3u8JNn3DlO pic.twitter.com/7ftRpIiivI
— CNN (@CNN) March 20, 2018
In the final part, Wylie expresses regret over the "morally egregious" data weapon he helped set up. You can watch the entire segment below. Peter Weber
A female FedEx employee was injured early Tuesday when a package at the FedEx facility in Schertz, Texas, exploded. SanantonioFIRE says the package was destined for Austin, and the FBI tells CBS News that it is "more than possible" that the explosion is linked to the four explosions in Austin this month. Two people were killed and four injured in those blasts.
Of the 75 people working at the facility, only one complained of injury described as a non life threatening percussion type injury.
All inbound and outbound packages are in limbo, and transport vehicles are in gridlock. At this hour, ATF and FBI assets are beginning to arrive.
— sanantonioFIRE (@saFIREorg) March 20, 2018
The latest of the explosions was Sunday night, when two men in their early 20s hit a tripwire, setting off an explosive device anchored to a metal yard sign near the head of a hiking trail in southwest Austin, according to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. "We are clearly dealing with what we believe to be a serial bomber at this point," Austin police Chief Brian Manley said Monday, before the Schertz explosion.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) March 20, 2018
The previous three package bombs were believed to have been hand delivered to their targets, not sent through the mail or a package service. There is a $115,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the bomber or bombers. Peter Weber
On Sunday, the White House asked congressional Democrats to accept two and a half years of legal protections for DREAMers, or young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, in return for $25 billion for President Trump's border wall, Politico reports. Democrats countered with $25 billion for the wall and border security in return for permanent protection for 1.8 million DREAMers, not just through September 2020, and the White House balked. The omnibus spending package that must pass this week might be Trump's last best chance to get funding for his border wall this year, or ever if Democrats take control of Congress — and on Monday, three organizations supported by conservative megadonors Charles and David Koch urged Trump to take the offer.
Brent Gardner at Americans for Prosperity called the Democrats' proposal "an offer all parties should immediately accept," and Daniel Garza at the LIBRE Initiative said "Congress and the White House should seize this chance." Nathan Nascimento, an executive vice president at the Freedom Partners chamber of commerce, said that "if a deal was on the table that offered both security at the border and permanent status for DREAMers, that's a deal that Republicans, Democrats, and President Trump should support. We cannot continue to allow politics to stand in the way of finding a solution to this problem."
Trump did not seem to be interested late Monday, however.
The Democrats do not want to help DACA. Would be so easy to make a deal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2018
Trump ended the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program last fall, setting March 5 as the end of the temporary protection for DREAMers, but federal courts have stayed his order for now. Peter Weber
The big news on Facebook is that "free will is an illusion," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show, pointing to the weekend's news about Trump campaign "behavioral microtargeting" contractor Cambridge Analytica. "That's a classy name, Cambridge Analytica — not to be confused with their competitor, Oxford Thinkemups," he joked. It just came out that when the data firm was run by Stephen Bannon, it built detailed psychographic profiles of U.S. voters by harvesting the personal information of 50 million Facebook users without authorization. "Now, I consider myself both a 'neurotic introvert' and a 'fan of the occult,'" Colbert joked, "which is why I often summon Satan, but then I'm too shy to talk to him."
Facebook discovered this breach in 2015 but didn't warn users. "Really?" Colbert asked. "The one time I actually would have wanted a Facebook alert? Perhaps that could have replaced one of the four messages I get a day about my ex-roommate's college girlfriend's one-woman show."
Cambridge Analytica is defending itself on Twitter by "saying advertising can't change your behavior — literally on the same page that says 'Data-driven behavior change,'" Colbert noted skepically. But things got arguably worse when Britain's Channel 4 recorded secret footage of Cambridge Analytica executives bragging about tipping elections through stoking fear, plus a little bribery and entrapment, specifically mentioning Ukrainian women. "Well, we don't have to worry about them blackmailing our leaders," Colbert said, "as long as no one in Washington is attracted to Eastern European women — oh my God."
Colbert also congratulated "friend of the show" Vladimir Putin for "making up a realistic sounding number," 76 percent, in his re-election victory. "This is Putin's highest margin of victory yet — it's really impressive, though I'm starting to think he might have had help from the Russians," Colbert joked. "As much as I'm happy for him, my condolences to Putin's opponents, Viktor Strawmanski and Nerve Gas Patient No. 5421. Too soon?" Watch below. Peter Weber
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) signed legislation Monday banning abortion in the state after 15 weeks of gestation, joined in the closed-door signing ceremony by lawmakers who pushed through the legislation and other abortion opponents. If it survives court challenge, it will be the nation's strictest abortion law. About an hour after the signing, Mississippi's lone abortion clinic sued to block the law, arguing that it violates Supreme Court precedence by banning abortion before a fetus could survive outside of the uterus. The legislation exempts pregnancies where a fetus has health problems making it "incompatible with life" and in cases where a woman's life or "major bodily function" is threatened, but not for pregnancies from rape or incest. Peter Weber
Sudan, the last male northern white rhino in existence, died on Monday, Kenya's Ol Pejeta Conservancy announced early Tuesday. He was 45 and "being treated for age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds," the conservancy said. "He was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal. The veterinary team from the Dvůr Králové Zoo, Ol Pejeta, and Kenya Wildlife Service made the decision to euthanize him."
It is with great sadness that Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Dvůr Králové Zoo announce that Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, age 45, died at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya on March 19th, 2018 (yesterday). #SudanForever #TheLoneBachelorGone #Only2Left pic.twitter.com/1ncvmjZTy1
— Ol Pejeta (@OlPejeta) March 20, 2018
There are now only two northern white rhinos left in the world: Sudan's daughters, Najin and Fatu. The only hope for keeping the subspecies going now involves creating new in vitro fertilization techniques using eggs from Najin and Fatu, stored northern white rhino sperm, and surrogate female southern white rhinos, the conservancy said. Sudan "was a great ambassador for his species and will be remembered for the work he did to raise awareness globally of the plight facing not only rhinos, but also the many thousands of other species facing extinction as a result of unsustainable human activity," Ol Pejeta CEO Richard Vinge said. "One day, his demise will hopefully be seen as a seminal moment for conservationists worldwide."
On a happier note, the small Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in India's Assam state reported Monday that its population of one-horned rhinos has risen to 102 from 93 during its last census in 2012. "Our efforts at conserving the rhino have paid off," forestry officer Pradipta Baruah told The Associated Press. All five rhino species in the world are under threat from poachers; rhino horns are sold on the black market, especially in countries where the horn is believed to increase male potency. Peter Weber