August 23, 2019

The Justice Department's daily briefing to all immigration court employees Monday contained a link to an article on a white nationalist site that "directly attacks sitting immigration judges with racial and ethnically tinged slurs," according to a letter sent Thursday by the National Association of Immigration Judges union. The linked post, from the website VDARE, detailed the Justice Department's efforts to strip immigration judges of their right to be represented by a union, BuzzFeed News reports.

Immigration judges are part of the Justice Department, and their union has pushed to make the immigration courts independent, The Associated Press reports. The judges say the DOJ push to strip them of union representation is an attempt to silence criticism.

The NAIJ supports VDARE's free speech rights, but "the publication and dissemination of a white supremacist, Anti-Semitic website ... is antithetical to the goals and ideals of the Department of Justice," union president Ashley Tabbador wrote to James McHenry, the director of the Justice Department's Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). The union "received numerous complaints from judges across the nation who found the blog offensive," she added, requesting that the post be withdrawn and apologies issued to all EOIR employees, especially the judges mentioned in the post.

Late Thursday, EOIR Assistant Press Secretary Kathryn Mattingly said in a statement that the "morning news briefings are compiled by a contractor and the blog post should not have been included. The Department of Justice condemns Anti-Semitism in the strongest terms." Peter Weber

January 21, 2019

Fox & Friends is ready for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's eventual death, as they showed prematurely on Monday morning's broadcast.

Ginsburg, 85, is home recovering from surgery to remove two malignant growths in her lungs. Newspapers and other news organizations prepare obituaries of notable people ahead of time, and Fox News blamed the graphic showing Ginsburg and the dates 1933-2019 on "a technical error that emanated from the graphics team." Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy also apologized, blaming a "technical error in the control room" and saying "we don't want to make it seem anything other than — that was a mistake, that was an accident. We believe she is still at home recovering from surgery."

Mondays, right? Peter Weber

January 10, 2019

Come on in — the water's getting warmer.

New research shows that the world's oceans are getting warmer at a much faster rate than previously thought, The New York Times reported. The oceans have, in the past, provided an essential counter to the effects of climate change, but that may be changing.

The oceans have been record-breakingly warm for several years now, per a study published in the journal Science on Thursday. And what's more, they're getting about 40 percent warmer than a United Nations panel estimated back in 2014. That all adds up to a pretty dire picture for our planet going forward.

Earth's oceans absorb up to 93 percent of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases — and as they get warmer, adverse effects such as loss of marine life, vanishing ecosystems, and worsening storms are bound to ramp up.

"Oceans are really the best thermometer we have for changes in the Earth," said Zeke Hausfather, one of the authors of the study. And if this thermometer is anything to go by, things are getting ugly. Read more about the new study at The New York Times. Shivani Ishwar

November 16, 2018

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you. In a recently unsealed court filing, a U.S. federal prosecutor in Virginia inadvertently disclosed that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been charged with an undisclosed crime, The Washington Post reported Thursday night. Hours earlier, The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. prosecutors are increasingly confident about indicting Assange and prosecuting him in U.S. court.

Assange was granted asylum by Ecuador, and he's been living in the country's London embassy since 2012. He has long maintained that leaving the embassy would lead to his arrest and attempted extradition to the U.S. The U.S. government has never said if it has sealed charges against Assange, but former President Barack Obama's Justice Department reportedly decided against pursuing charges on the ground that WikiLeaks is too similar to a news organization.

In the Aug. 22 filing, unsealed in late September and noticed Thursday by a sharp-eyed counterterrorism expert, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer urged a judge to keep charges against a sex trafficking and terrorism suspect, Seitu Sulayman Kokayi, under seal because "due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged." The charges "need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested," Dwyer added later.

It isn't clear what charges have evidently been filed against Assange. "The court filing was made in error," said Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Virginia. "That was not the intended name for this filing." Assange's lawyer Barry Pollack said he has "no idea if he has actually been charged or for what," but "the only thing more irresponsible than charging a person for publishing truthful information would be to put in a public filing information that clearly was not intended for the public and without any notice to Mr. Assange." Peter Weber

September 10, 2018

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett on Monday contradicted a claim President Trump tweeted about the economy, saying somebody must have given him wrong information.

Early Monday, the president tweeted that for the first time in 100 years, the nation's GDP is higher than its unemployment rate. But that's not true; as CNN and The Washington Post both quickly pointed out, it happened 12 years ago, in 2006.

During the White House press briefing Monday afternoon, Hassett surprisingly acknowledged that what the president tweeted was wrong. While he said he doesn't know exactly how incorrect information ended up on Trump's Twitter account, he speculated that somebody probably meant to tell him that it had been 10 years but they accidentally added an extra zero. He added, "You'd have to talk to the president about where the number came from, but the correct number is 10 years."

This was a rare instance of a member of the Trump administration offering a correction after the president tweeted out a false statement. In fact, Hassett suggested that he's grateful the press pointed out the mistake. You can watch the moment from this afternoon's press briefing below. Brendan Morrow

September 9, 2018

China's trade surplus with the United States hit a record monthly high in August despite the Trump administration's imposition of two rounds of new tariffs on Chinese goods and plans to levy additional taxes soon.

The surplus increased from $28.09 billion in July to $31.05 billion last month. "In the short term, it is difficult for the trade gap to narrow because American buyers cannot easily find alternatives to Chinese products," said economist Liu Xuezhi of China's Bank of Communications.

President Trump on Twitter Saturday indicated he will not call a trade truce any time soon. On Sunday, he doubled down, arguing that he is heavily taxing American consumers as a matter of fairness. As Chinese consumers suffer when buying our products, so we must suffer when buying theirs:

In a previous post, the president rejoiced that Ford will no longer sell a small, affordable vehicle in the United States because his tariffs have made it too costly:

Trump proposed Ford build the car in the U.S., but the company has already said it does not make economic sense to do so. Read more about Trump's "unutterably stupid trade war" here at The Week. Bonnie Kristian

July 17, 2018

President Trump on Tuesday appeared to walk back many of his controversial comments from his joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, held Monday in Finland.

Trump faced widespread backlash for failing to side with the U.S. intelligence community over Putin during Monday's summit. On Tuesday, the president addressed the controversy and sought to correct the record. "I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place" he said. "Could be other people also. A lot of people out there."

He also reversed one of his most-criticized comments, when he said he didn't "see why it would be" Russia that interfered in the election. "In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't,'" Trump explained. "The sentence should have been, 'I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia.' Sort of a double negative. So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things."

As critics pointed out, this was one of several instances in which Trump was forced to backpedal a statement after receiving fierce backlash. But Boston Globe reporter Matt Viser noted that Trump claiming he misspoke — and doing so more than 24 hours after the initial remarks — doesn't quite align with his post-press conference tweets and interview with Fox News, in which he fully stood by his comments on Russia's purported innocence.

Trump added that has "full faith" in intelligence officials, and pledged that his administration "will repel any effort to interfere in our elections" going forward. Summer Meza

July 5, 2018

Oregon state Rep. Janelle Bynum (D) was canvassing her constituents in Clackamas, outside Portland, on Tuesday when a Clackamas County sheriff's deputy pulled up alongside, she told The Oregonian on Wednesday. The deputy told Bynum, who is black and running for a second term, that a woman had called to report her for apparently canvassing the neighborhood while on her phone. Bynum, 43, said she has knocked on probably 70,000 doors over her years of campaigning, and this was the first time someone has called the cops on her. She told The Oregonian that the deputy was courteous, professional, and agreed to take a selfie with her.

Bynum got the deputy to call the woman who reported her, and she and the woman spoke. The woman, whose race Bynum said she did not know, was apologetic and said she called 911 out of concern for her neighborhood's safety. "It was just bizarre," Bynum told The Oregonian, adding she wished the lady had spoken to her instead of calling the police. "It boils down to people not knowing their neighbors and people having a sense of fear in their neighborhoods, which is kind of my job to help eradicate. But at the end of the day, it's important for people to feel like they can talk to each other to help minimize misunderstandings." Peter Weber

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