After last week's murder of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, President Trump met briefly with some hospitalized survivors of the shooting, then on Wednesday he hosted more survivors and their families for a "listening session." At the White House event, Trump had a card with five bullet points, reportedly written for him by communications director Hope Hicks, the last of which read "I hear you."
The note card has earned Trump punch lines about feigned empathy, but some of the participants found it off-putting. "Everything I said was directly from the heart, and he had to write down 'I hear you,'" student Sam Zeif tells The New York Times. He was slightly more cutting on MSNBC: "I know I was heard because I saw it on Trump's little card — 'I hear you' — but I don't think I was felt by him."
Stoneman Douglas student shooting survivor Sam Zeif was asked if he felt like he was heard at the White House. He answered, "I know I was heard because I saw it on Trump's little card." https://t.co/jHtRqgyAk5 #parkland pic.twitter.com/WC2HsQCu2X
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) February 22, 2018
Samantha Fuentes, shot in both legs during the Parkland attack and left with shrapnel behind her right eye, also graded Trump low on the empathy scale. When Trump called her hospital room, she told the Times, "he said he heard that I was a big fan of his, and then he said, 'I'm a big fan of yours too.' I'm pretty sure he made that up. ... Talking to the president, I've never been so unimpressed by a person in my life. He didn't make me feel better in the slightest."
Other people had more positive reactions. Andrew Pollack, whose daughter, Meadow, was killed in the attack, said that Trump "showed us nothing but love" in a private meeting before the listening session. "The guy really cared, you know? He flew us in, he had a bus waiting for us, he made time for us," he said, going so far as to keep a photo of Meadow and sign his son's MAGA hat. Peter Weber
On Tuesday, Canada's Senate gave final approval to a bill that will legalize marijuana nationwide. The 52-29 vote makes Canada the second nation in the world to legalize and regulate cannabis, after Uruguay, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed the news.
It's been too easy for our kids to get marijuana - and for criminals to reap the profits. Today, we change that. Our plan to legalize & regulate marijuana just passed the Senate. #PromiseKept
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 20, 2018
Trudeau's government had wanted the legislation to take effect by July 1, but it will now aim for September after determining that provincial and territorial governments — each province will set up its own marijuana marketplace — will need eight to 12 weeks to prepare. The law, which also needs royal assent, will allow each adult to possess up to 30 grams of pot and grow up to four plants, and the minimum age to purchase marijuana will be 18 or 19, decided by each province. That's younger than the minimum age in the nine U.S. states that have legalized weed, but the Trudeau government said setting the limit at 21 would encourage the creation of a black market. Canada's Conservatives oppose legalization. Peter Weber
The U.S. is officially withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo jointly announced Tuesday.
Haley first threatened to leave the council in a U.N. speech last June, slamming its inclusion of human rights abusers such as Venezuela as council members and condemning what she said was anti-Israel bias. Haley cited that warning in her announcement Tuesday, saying the human rights group was "not worthy of its name," per NBC News.
"Human rights abusers continue to serve on and be elected to the council," Haley said. She also criticized the council's five resolutions against Israel this year, "more than the number passed against North Korea, Iran, and Syria combined."
The move comes just a day after the council's high commissioner bashed the U.S. for "forcibly" separating children and parents at the border, calling on the U.S. to end this "abuse." Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the new "zero tolerance" immigration policy last month.
The deputy chief of staff for operations at the White House will step down next month after serving under four Republican administrations as a top aide, CNN reported Tuesday.
Officials announced the departure of Joe Hagin, who took the reigns in planning the logistics of the summit between President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un that took place earlier this month, on Tuesday, explaining that he plans to work in the private sector. In a statement, Trump said he would "miss him in the office and even more on the road. I am thankful for his remarkable service to our great country."
Hagin worked as an aide under former Presidents George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan, reports Reuters. He is one of the highest-ranking members of the White House staff. Hagin's departure is the latest in a Trump White House with a record-breaking turnover rate.
Hagin reportedly wanted to resign several months ago, but was persuaded to stay aboard by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Commenting on his departure, Kelly praised Hagin's "selfless devotion to this nation and the institution of the presidency." Summer Meza
The government didn't really lose 1,500 migrant children after they left federal custody.
It may be four times that.
McClatchy reviewed U.S. government data and found that during the Trump presidency, the government appears to have lost track of nearly 6,000 unaccompanied immigrant minors. The widely reported smaller number referred only to a three-month span last fall.
Yet contrary to assumptions that sparked outrage last month, an untraceable child could be better off. The Office of Refugee Resettlement couldn't get ahold of 1,475 resettled immigrant children 30 days after their release after placing a single phone call, per policy. But those families often have a good reason for not picking up, New York Civil Liberties Union lawyer Paige Austin told WNYC's On the Media last month: Families may wish to cut ties with the government in an effort to protect other undocumented immigrants they may be living with. Ninety percent of resettled children end up with a family member, per ORR data, and those people may or may not have legal status.
The number of actually lost children gets trickier to solidify, seeing as some families did answer and confirmed a child was gone, McClatchy says. And the numbers are only from 2017. Things could fluctuate further now that children and parents are being separated at the border, leaving more children unaccompanied and more immigrants afraid of authorities. Read more at McClatchy. Kathryn Krawczyk
Lawmakers will likely clash over how to handle the Trump administration's zero tolerance immigration policy that separates immigrant families at the border, debating two immigration bills that contain other contingencies, Politico reported Tuesday.
President Trump will meet with GOP leaders to offer his input on two bills. The more conservative bill written by Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R) would require the Department of Homeland Security to house detained immigrant families together, but the White House said it would be "tough" to get it through the House. A second, more moderate compromise bill that would give Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients a path to citizenship while putting $25 billion toward border security and the border wall is also under consideration.
Congressional Democrats unanimously supported a bill authored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Monday that sought to outlaw nearly every case of family separations. But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he wasn't interested in a GOP-led bill that would keep families together while detained, telling reporters that he wants to keep the onus on President Trump to end the controversial separations. "There are so many obstacles to legislation and when the president can do it with his own pen, it makes no sense," said Schumer. "Unacceptable additions have bogged down every piece of legislation we've done." Republicans have also called for Trump to take executive action to speed things along.
The multiple competing bills, including another introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), all include different provisions that offer varying compromises to end the policy that separates families. Sources told Politico that despite the president's mild support for some aspects of each bill, it's unclear exactly how he will choose to move forward, further fracturing the Republican Party as they seek to unite for quick-acting legislation. Read more at Politico. Summer Meza
It's bear season once more at Alaska's Katmai National Park, and the 24-hour cameras are back up and running in multiple locations. For those who are uninitiated to the most riveting thing you'll watch all summer, the park's cameras give viewers the opportunity to get up close and personal with the state's majestic brown bears — from the comfort of your safe, fortified, bear-proof home, of course.
While there are several locations to choose from, Brooks Falls is always a good bet for spotting bears in the river feasting on salmon that are swimming upstream to spawn:
There is also an underwater bear cam, which has the potential to give you a dramatic close-up of some ursine choppers. Watch that one below. Jeva Lange
Modern Family showrunner Steve Levitan is leaving Fox Studio in response to Fox News' coverage of the Trump administration's policy of separating immigrant parents from their children at the border, CNN reports.
Levitan expressed his anger with Fox News late Monday night, responding to Laura Ingraham calling the child detention centers "essentially summer camps." "Let me officially join Seth MacFarlane in saying I'm disgusted to work at a company that has anything whatsoever to do with Fox News," tweeted Levitan. "This bulls--t is the opposite of what #ModernFamily stands for." He added in a subsequent tweet: "I have no problem with fact-based conservatism (such as [The Wall Street Journal]), but [Fox News'] 23-hour-a-day support of the NRA, conspiracy theories, and Trump's lies gets harder to swallow every day as I drive onto that lot to make a show about inclusion."
Levitan's remarks followed calls by Judd Apatow and Seth MacFarlane to speak out against the company. "I haven't worked with Fox since 2002," Apatow had tweeted. "That family promotes evil ideas and greed and corruption. We all choose who to work with. I understand why that is easier for some than others but many powerful people are powerful enough to speak up to their bosses at a moment like this." Jeva Lange