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December 13, 2018

The Oklahoma City bombing woke up U.S. counterterrorism officials to violent white supremacy and other forms of right-wing extremism. But 9/11 and political pressure turned their attention elsewhere — and "now, they have no idea how to stop" far-right extremists, The New York Times details in Thursday's episode of The Daily podcast.

After Timothy McVeigh's deadly 1995 attack, an FBI crackdown "somewhat succeeded in sending the far right underground," Times contributor Janet Reitman reports on The Daily. Then 9/11 arrived, and "the entire national security apparatus," including the FBI under then-director Robert Mueller, shifted to "countering Islamic extremism," Reitman says. Just one man — Daryl Johnson — was left to probe domestic right-wing extremism under the newly formed Department of Homeland Security.

Things seemed quiet until former President Barack Obama gained national prominence, and Johnson — a registered Republican — correctly assumed the first black president would reinvigorate white supremacists. Under Obama, Johnson authored a report warning of this new threat, which was largely taking shape online, Johnson tells The Daily. But conservative media didn't like tying "right-wing" to "extremism," Johnson said. And their intense backlash led then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to rescind the report altogether.

National security monitoring of violent white supremacy only faded from there. Johnson was reassigned to a new job and eventually left DHS, and today, not a single person at DHS is dedicated solely to right-wing extremism, Johnson tells The Daily.

This shift may have successfully prevented another 9/11. But "white supremacists and other far-right extremists have killed more people in the United States ... than any other category of domestic extremist" in the meantime, per the Times. Listen to more on The New York Times' The Daily. Kathryn Krawczyk

December 12, 2018

President Trump's administration is again ramping up its anti-refugee efforts. And this time, people who fled the Vietnam War are in the crosshairs.

Vietnam and the U.S. established diplomatic ties in 1995, and immigrants who arrived in America before then were protected from deportation under a 2008 agreement. But the Trump administration now believes the agreement doesn't actually protect them, a spokesperson for Hanoi's U.S. embassy tells The Atlantic, and it might start sending some of them back.

Trump has a long track record of opposing refugee resettlement, from reducing America's cap on how many refugees it will accept per year to moving to end protections that spare at-risk immigrants from deportation. Just Tuesday, Trump officials moved to deport 46 Cambodian immigrants legally living in the U.S., The New York Times reported.

This latest refugee crackdown came as Trump officials met with Washington's Vietnamese embassy, with an advocacy group telling The Atlantic they discussed reworking the 2008 agreement. A previous reinterpretation of the deal under Trump decided its protections didn't apply to "pre-1995 arrivals with criminal convictions," The Atlantic writes. A handful of Vietnamese immigrants were deported after the August decision.

Officials from Vietnam and the U.S. protested the change, and both countries' governments tried to reason further with the White House, America's ambassador to Vietnam through October of this year says. But Trump officials are still moving to strip the 2008 deal's protections from all pre-1995 immigrants — many of whom fled the Vietnam War and have obviously lived in America for decades.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security said "we have 5,000 convicted criminal aliens from Vietnam with final orders of removal" and "it's a priority of this administration to remove" them. Read more at The Atlantic. Kathryn Krawczyk

December 5, 2018

Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, was arrested on Saturday in Vancouver at the request of the United States, Canada's Justice Department announced Wednesday.

Meng, who is also the deputy chairwoman of the company's board, is the daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei. A spokesman for Huawei said it has "been provided very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng." People familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal the U.S. is seeking her extradition so she can appear in federal court in the Eastern District of New York.

The U.S. considers Huawei, a tech giant with ties to the Chinese government, a threat to national security. In April, the Journal reported that the U.S. Justice Department was investigating Huawei's business dealings in Iran, because authorities suspected that Huawei has been involved in sanctions violations since at least 2016. Catherine Garcia

December 4, 2018

Jeffrey Epstein could've faced dozens of his alleged trafficking victims in a trial set to start Tuesday. Instead, a settlement is sparing him from what could've been days of emotional testimonies from women who say they were forced into sex with the Florida millionaire and his friends as teenagers, Law and Crime reports.

More than a decade ago, Epstein was accused of building a "cult-like network" of girls coerced into sexual acts. That massive suit ended thanks to then-Florida prosecutor and current Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who arranged a plea deal that subjected Epstein to just 13 months in jail, the Miami Herald detailed. The deal was kept secret from and suppressed the stories of about 80 women who had similar accounts of abuse by Epstein.

Epstein had since sued Bradley Edwards, who represented some of Epstein's alleged victims, saying Edwards "ginned up accusations ... as part of an illegal scheme to lure investors," The Washington Post writes. Edwards countersued, "alleging malicious prosecution and defamation" by the millionaire, per Law and Crime. Jury selection for the trial was set to begin Tuesday, but was halted when both sides agreed to a confidential settlement in which Epstein admitted his allegations against Edwards "were absolutely false."

Much like Epstein's first plea deal, Tuesday's settlement silenced his alleged victims once again. Women now in their 20s and 30s who were expected to share how they were violated in their teenage years won't have a chance to testify anymore. But in a press conference, Edwards still claimed the settlement was a victory for them, saying The Miami Herald's reporting already had those stories covered. Kathryn Krawczyk

December 3, 2018

This year's highest-paid YouTube star is just 7 years old, making millions off of videos showing him opening boxes and playing with toys.

Ryan of the Ryan ToysReview channel stopped year's Forbes list, released Monday. After looking at data and talking with industry experts, Forbes estimates that from June 1, 2017, to June 1, 2018, Ryan earned $22 million. His parents launched Ryan ToysReview in March 2015, and he now has 17.3 million subscriber and nearly 26 billion views. He told NBC News he credits his success with being "entertaining" and "funny."

Ryan made an estimated $21 million from advertising on two accounts, Ryan ToysReview and Ryan's Family Review, and $1 million in sponsored posts, Forbes reports. A train, car, Disney, and Lego connoisseur, he's also now the creative director of his own toy and clothing line, Ryan's World, sold at Walmart. That's not his only new revenue source; in October, it was announced that his YouTube content will soon be distributed through Hulu and Amazon. These deals were not counted in this year's estimate, meaning next year, he'll pull in even more money. Catherine Garcia

November 27, 2018

After spending more than eight months living in an airport, Hassan Al Kontar has been granted asylum in Canada and is headed to his new home in Vancouver.

Kontar was stuck in the arrivals section of the Kuala Lumpur airport, after being told in February he couldn't get on a flight to Ecuador. A Syrian refugee, Kontar had overstayed his Malaysian visa and was not allowed to leave the airport. He was stranded in an area that doesn't have any stores or restaurants, The Guardian reports, and he had to sleep under stairways, bathe in the public restrooms, and depend on food donations from airport employees.

Kontar recorded video diaries about his situation and posted them online, where they caught the eye of Canadian Laurie Cooper. In Canada, residents can privately sponsor refugees, and since 2015, Canadians have paid the resettlement fees for 14,000 Syrian refugees. Cooper and her friends raised more than $13,600 for Kontar, but as things finally started coming together, Kontar was arrested at the airport for being in a "forbidden area," and Malaysian authorities hinted he would be sent back to Syria. He wasn't allowed to talk to anyone, but Cooper told The Guardian that Canadian officials stepped in and worked to get him out of the country.

Kontar texted Cooper on Sunday to let her know he was on his way, and her guest room is all set. "It all seemed impossible," she said. "I'm a mom who lives in a little log cabin and he was living in an airport." Catherine Garcia

November 20, 2018

Former White House Counsel Don McGahn apparently had a very hard time convincing President Trump to leave Hillary Clinton and James Comey alone.

This spring, Trump told McGahn he "wanted to order the Justice Department to prosecute" the former secretary of state and former FBI director, two sources tell The New York Times. McGahn immediately shut the president down, reportedly saying he didn't have the power to order a prosecution. Trump could try investigating his political rivals, McGahn said, but that could "prompt accusations of abuse of power" and potential impeachment charges, the Times writes. McGahn then reportedly made White House lawyers wrap up all that advice in an official memo.

But McGahn's words didn't seem to sink in. Trump has "continued to privately discuss the matter, including the possible appointment of a second special counsel" to investigate Comey and Clinton, the Times writes. The president had also reportedly hoped his FBI Director Chris Wray would take action against Clinton, but Wray let him down.

It's unclear what exactly Trump would like to prosecute Comey and Clinton for. But the matter displays how Trump "views the typically independent Justice Department as a tool to be wielded against his political enemies," the Times writes — something that could become particularly relevant with the appointment of loyalist Matt Whitaker as acting attorney general.

The White House declined to comment to the Times. McGahn's lawyer would not comment on any legal advice relayed to the president, but said to McGahn's knowledge, "the president never ... ordered that anyone prosecute" Clinton or Comey. Read more at The New York Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

November 19, 2018

When 3-year-old Mikaila Bonaparte was found to have an unprecedentedly high level of lead in her blood, a health inspector quickly found the cause: Her mother's and grandmother's public housing units in Brooklyn were covered in lead paint.

The New York City Housing Authority's response? That can't be right.

In a massive investigation published Monday, The New York Times found that the authority retested Bonaparte's apartments with its own inspector and insisted there was no lead. But Bonaparte had still still somehow ingested enough lead to perhaps "cause irreversible brain damage," the Times writes. And her story is seemingly one of hundreds.

Because it's been shown to stunt brain development, lead paint was banned in New York City in 1960. Starting in 1989, the city sued lead paint companies and alleged "its public housing buildings were riddled with lead," the Times writes. But by 2004, the Housing Authority's position flipped, claiming only 95 of its 325 developments contained lead, likely because reported instances of lead poisoning had become uncommon.

The authority "was apparently wrong," the Times writes, seeing as the city's health department continued to find lead paint across New York's public housing developments. But from 2010 until this July, the authority challenged the health department on 95 percent of those findings. More often than not, the health department backed down, with a spokesman telling the Times the department was convinced of a false positive in 158 of those 211 cases.

After the Times inquired into the contestations in September, the housing authority's interim chairwoman said the authority was now "accepting whatever the finding of the health department is." New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to respond to the findings Monday. Read more at The New York Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

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