July 12, 2019

Border Patrol agents are fully aware that caring for migrant children isn't in their job description.

But some of them have reportedly gotten sick of the added burden of feeding, processing, and transporting migrants — so much so that they've emblazoned those duties on a commemorative coin "mocking" the fact that they're performing them instead of patrolling the border, ProPublica reports. The coin is unofficial, yet features the Border Patrol logo, and has been "circulating among Border Patrol agents at the U.S.-Mexico border," ProPublica continues.

One side of the coin, which ProPublica obtained, features an image that resembles the migrant caravans that arrived at the border last year. The people carry a Honduran flag, and all appear to be men, though the real caravan included women and children. The edge of the coin reads "keep the caravan coming." On the other side, agents are shown bottle-feeding an infant and fingerprinting what appears to be a teenage boy, with the words "feeding," "processing," "hospital," and "transport" written around the edge.

So-called "challenge coins" like these aren't uncommon, and they're usually unofficial like this one, ProPublica reports. It's not clear where this coin comes from, but it was distributed as early as April and has been discussed or spotted by agents in both Texas and California. They were also promoted in the secret Facebook group where agents reportedly mocked migrant deaths and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

CBP officials said they hadn't heard about the coin until ProPublica contacted them about it. One unnamed official said CBP "has a firm policy on the use and production of challenge coins bearing CBP identifiers," but suggested the coin would be fine if it didn't include the logo. Read more, and find a picture of the coin, at ProPublica. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 16, 2019

Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii) barely made it two weeks into his term before stirring up some controversy.

The congressman, who is fully aware that he's white, described himself as "an Asian trapped in a white body" at an event Tuesday, per National Journal fellow Nicholas Wu. And, as The Washington Post astutely said, "his apology didn't help" his case.

Case was at "an event celebrating Asian-American and Pacific Islander advances in Congress," Hawaii News Now says, but it's unclear what led up to the comments. What is clear is that Case represents America's only majority-Asian district.

Case told Hawaii News Now that he is "fiercely proud" of representing a state "where no ethnic group has been in the majority for generations." He added that he has "absorbed and live the values of our many cultures" and he "regret[s] if my specific remarks to the national API community on my full absorption of their concerns caused any offense." Also of questionable note: Case's spokesperson said the congressman was just repeating "what his Japanese-American wife sometimes says about him," per the Post.

Case first graced the House in Hawaii's 2nd District from 2002-2007, before leaving the post for an unsuccessful Senate run. He ran for the Senate again in 2012, losing to then-Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) in 2012. This time around, he won a primary of largely minority candidates to win his seat. Kathryn Krawczyk

August 16, 2017

On Monday, President Trump held a press conference to declare racism "evil" and to directly condemn "the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists." On Tuesday, Trump held another press conference, during which he snapped at reporters as he insisted that "both sides" were to blame for the deadly violence at Saturday's white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In Trump's opinion, Tuesday's was the more successful of the two press conferences, Politico reported:

Trump, however, was in "good spirits" on Tuesday night, according to a White House adviser who spoke to him. The adviser said the president felt the news conference went much better than his statement on Monday, in which he declared that “racism is evil” and denounced certain hate groups by name. Aides had pressured Trump to deliver the statement after his initial remarks on Saturday — in which he blamed "many sides" for the fatal protests in Charlottesville — set off a firestorm.

The president was not alone in his pleasure at the news conference. Chief strategist Steve Bannon, whose nationalistic views helped shape Trump's presidential campaign, was thrilled with the remarks, according to a friend of Bannon. [Politico]

To be clear: The press conference the president thought "went much better" was not the one that at which he confirmed that "hatred, bigotry, and violence" have "no place in America," but the one that former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke heartily praised. Becca Stanek

April 28, 2017

Either White House aide Sebastian Gorka has a budding hobby, or there's something he needs to tell us. Business Insider's Natasha Bertrand noticed Friday that Gorka has been on somewhat of a rampage lately following knife companies on Twitter:

Recently, Gorka followed AKTI-Am Knife & Tool (Twitter handle @SaveOurKnives), Cold Steel, Knife Thursday, SOG Knives, Benchmade Knife Co, Spyderco Knives, Kershaw Knives, Emerson Knives, Inc., Blade Show, Knife Depot, Knife Center, Blade HQ, Boker Knives, and Knife Informer.

It appears Gorka has yet to comment on his following spree. Becca Stanek

January 30, 2017

Senior White House adviser Stephen Miller took the weekend protests over President Trump's targeted immigration ban as evidence the executive order's implementation was actually going quite well. In an interview Monday on CBS's This Morning, Miller, who has been panned for his hand in bringing the order to fruition, said that "if nobody's disagreeing with what you're doing, then you're probably not doing anything that really matters." "I think anytime you do anything hugely successful that challenges a failed orthodoxy, you're going to see protest," Miller said.

Trump's new executive order bans people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. Miller said he would describe the ban's rollout as "efficient, orderly, [and] enormously successful" — but he did not mention border officers' reported confusion about how to carry out the order, the lack of communication between government agencies before the order was signed, the criticism from international leaders, or the hundreds of people arriving at U.S. airports only to be detained or sent back.

In the next 30 days, Miller said the Trump administration will work to figure out a better screening system to "try and ensure that people entering our country, particularly on a permanent basis, truly love and support the United States of America."

Catch Miller's interview — including his attempt to explain how the ban will make America safer — below. Becca Stanek

May 15, 2016

Former London Mayor Boris Johnson told The Telegraph on Sunday that the Europeans' goals to unite the continent are not unlike Adolf Hitler's.

"Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically," he said. "The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods."

Johnson vocalized his opposition to Britain's involvement in the European Union in February, while he was still mayor, notably going against Prime Minister David Cameron. On June 23, British voters will weigh in as to whether the nation should leave the EU. Julie Kliegman

May 9, 2016

Bayan Zehlif, a Muslim student at Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga, California, was surprised to open her yearbook and find herself identified as "Isis Phillips," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"I am extremely saddened, disgusted, hurt, and embarrassed that the Los Osos High School yearbook was able to get away with this,” Zehlif wrote Friday on Facebook. "Apparently, I am 'Isis' in the yearbook. The school reached out to me and had the audacity to say that this was a typo. I beg to differ, let's be real."

Officials asked students to return their yearbooks, and are working on getting Zehlif's name fixed in a new version. The superintendent presiding over Los Osos High School called the Islamic State reference a "regrettable incident." Julie Kliegman

April 25, 2016

Former Democratic presidential candidate Jim Webb is just a tad disgruntled by the most recent wave of criticism leveled at former President Andrew Jackson, in light of the news that Harriet Tubman will be sharing in his $20 bill spotlight. He tackled the ongoing debate in a Washington Post op-ed published Sunday:

This dismissive characterization of one of our great presidents is not occurring in a vacuum. Any white person whose ancestral relations trace to the American South now risks being characterized as having roots based on bigotry and undeserved privilege. Meanwhile, race relations are at their worst point in decades. [The Washington Post]

Webb acknowledged that Jackson owned slaves and also infamously ordered Native American tribes to head east of the Mississippi River, but questioned whether the Trail of Tears was really intended to be "genocidal."

He ultimately asserted that both Jackson and Tubman deserve respect for their contributions to the nation. Read the rest of his stance, including a gratuitous Mark Twain quotation, here. Julie Kliegman

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