Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 22, 2017

Trump condemns rising anti-Semitism after latest threats, DHS releases new immigration rules, and more


Trump calls rising anti-Semitism 'horrible' and 'painful'

President Trump on Tuesday spoke out for the first time against rising threats and vandalism against Jewish community centers and other facilities, saying the wave of anti-Semitism was "horrible" and "painful," and "a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil." Trump had been under rising pressure to address the anti-Semitic threats, which have been recorded against 54 JCCs in 27 states and one Canadian province since early January. He made his comments after a visit to the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. Civil rights activists and other critics said Trump's comments were too little, too late. The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect called the president's remarks a "pathetic asterisk of condescension" after his extended silence on the topic.


DHS releases new immigration rules, expanding deportation risk

The Department of Homeland Security released documents on Tuesday explaining how to implement President Trump's executive orders on immigration. The documents eliminate Obama-era guidelines that prioritized recent border crossers, undocumented immigrants convicted of serious crimes, and those who pose a potentially serious threat to national security. Trump will call for the deportation of any immigrant convicted, charged, or suspected of a crime, including traffic infractions, but the administration said it did not intend to conduct mass deportations. "All of those present in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention, and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States," a DHS fact sheet said.


Court upholds Maryland assault-rifle ban

A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld Maryland's ban on assault-rifle-style guns. The state's Firearm Safety Act of 2013 was passed in response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, by a gunman who used this type of rifle. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled 10-4 that gun owners do not have a constitutional right to own such weapons. "Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war," Judge Robert King wrote. Judge William Traxler wrote in a dissenting opinion that upholding the ban, which also limits magazine capacity to 10 rounds, was an attempt to "eviscerate the constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms."


New EPA administrator vows to end what he calls agency's overreach

Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, met with agency employees Tuesday on his first full day on the job, and told them that he planned to end what he saw as the agency's overreach under former President Barack Obama. "The only authority that any agency has in the executive branch is the authority given to it by Congress," he said. "We need to respect that." As Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt sued Obama's EPA more than a dozen times. Environmentalists and Democratic senators opposed Pruitt's nomination, saying his views were incompatible with the EPA's mission. President Trump reportedly is preparing an executive order undoing Obama-era initiatives, such as the Clean Power Plan restricting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.


Malaysia seeks North Korean diplomat for questioning in Kim Jong Nam's murder

Malaysian police on Wednesday said they wanted to question a North Korean diplomat and an employee of the North Korean state-owned airline Air Koryo in the investigation of the killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Kim Jong Nam, who had criticized his family's autocratic, dynastic rule, died after two women smeared him with chemicals at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb. 13 as he prepared to fly to Macau, where he lived under China's protection. The diplomat Malaysian police want to question, embassy second secretary Hyon Kwang Song, is one of eight North Koreans sought for questioning. South Korea says Pyongyang had Kim Jong Nam assassinated, a charge Pyongyang angrily denies.


Judge blocks Texas from cutting off Planned Parenthood's Medicaid funding

A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked Texas from cutting off Medicaid money to Planned Parenthood over secretly recorded videos released by anti-abortion activists in 2015. The activists claimed that the videos showed Planned Parenthood officials trying to illegally profit from the sale of fetal tissue, but U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks of Austin said that Texas health authorities had not presented "even a scintilla of evidence" to justify punishing Planned Parenthood and denying Medicaid patients the right to go to the group's 34 health centers in Texas. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the state would appeal the court's temporary injunction.


Embattled provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos resigns from Breitbart News

Editor and provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos resigned from Breitbart News on Tuesday in the continuing fallout over newly circulated videos in which he made comments interpreted as an endorsement of pedophilia. Yiannopoulos thrived at Breitbart, helping to increase the site's popularity with the alt-right with comments that offended women, Muslims, blacks, and others. "Breitbart News has stood by me when others caved," he said in a statement announcing his resignation. A day earlier, he lost a speaking slot at the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference and a lucrative book deal over his remarks condoning sexual relations between older men and boys as young as 13.


Riots break out in Stockholm neighborhood with large immigrant population

A small-scale riot erupted in a predominantly immigrant suburb of Stockholm, the Swedish capital, this week, two days after President Trump angered Swedish authorities by suggesting that immigrants were behind a recent surge of violence in the country. Swedish authorities said there had been no recent attacks, and no uptick in crime traced to immigrants since the country received a record 160,000-plus migrants seeking asylum in 2015. The riots broke out late Monday after police arrested a drug suspect. Rioters damaged storefronts and burned about 10 cars. Authorities noted that order was quickly restored, and said the clash was an isolated incident.


Wells Fargo fires four senior managers over fraudulent accounts

Wells Fargo fired four senior managers, including its consumer credit solutions head, on Tuesday over a scandal in which employees created accounts for customers without their knowledge. The executives were dismissed based on findings in the bank board's ongoing investigation. None of the fired executives will receive a 2016 bonus, and all will forfeit their vested and unvested options. Regulators in September hit Wells Fargo with a $185 million fine over the case, in which employees possibly opened more than two million fraudulent accounts. Government investigations are ongoing.


Lakers name Magic Johnson as head of basketball operations

The Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday promoted Hall of Famer Earvin "Magic" Johnson to be its new president of basketball operations, firing both longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss in the process. Lakers president and co-owner Jeanie Buss, Jim Buss' sister, said the shakeup was necessary to bring the team, now flailing with the NBA's third-worst record at 19-39, back to a level of competitiveness "our fans rightly deserve." The drastic changes came just two days before the league's trade deadline, heaping extra pressure onto Johnson, who helped the Lakers win five titles in the 1980s as a player, and recently rejoined the team as an advisor.


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