by Kenneth Fine
Describing President Trump’s revised travel ban as intolerant and discriminatory, a federal appeals court on Thursday rejected government efforts to limit travel to the United States from six predominantly Muslim nations. Attorney General Jeff Sessions quickly vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court.2) The president's son-in-law is now under the FBI's watch for possible connections to Kremlingate.
The decision was the first from a federal appeals court on the revised travel ban, which was an effort to make good on a campaign centerpiece of the president’s national security agenda. It echoed earlier skepticism by lower federal courts about the legal underpinnings for Mr. Trump’s executive order, which sought to halt travelers for up to 90 days while the government imposed stricter vetting processes.
The revised order, issued on March 6, “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination,” the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., concluded in its 205-page ruling.
Investigators are focusing on a series of meetings held by Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and an influential White House adviser, as part of their probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and related matters, according to people familiar with the investigation.3) Trump tells NATO member nations to pay up.
Kushner, who held meetings in December with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow, is being investigated because of the extent and nature of his interactions with the Russians, the people said.
President Trump on Thursday punctured any illusions that he was on a fence-mending tour of Europe, declining to explicitly endorse NATO’s mutual defense pledge and lashing out at fellow members for what he called their “chronic underpayments” to the alliance.4) Blue Cross/Blue Shield requests 23 percent rate hike.
On a tense day when Mr. Trump brought the “America first” themes of his presidential campaign to the very heart of Europe, he left European leaders visibly unsettled, with some openly lamenting divisions with the United States on trade, climate and the best way to confront Russia.
The discord was palpable even in body language. When Mr. Trump greeted Emmanuel Macron, France’s new president, they grabbed each other’s hands, jaws clenched, in an extended grip that turned Mr. Trump’s knuckles white. When the leaders lined up to pose for the traditional photograph at NATO headquarters, Mr. Trump appeared to push aside the Montenegrin prime minister, Dusko Markovic, to get to his assigned place in the front.
The split was starkest at NATO headquarters, where Mr. Trump used the dedication of a soaring new building to lecture allies on their financial contributions. Far from robustly reaffirming NATO’s mutual defense commitment in the way that many members hoped he would, Mr. Trump repeated his complaint that the United States was shouldering an unfair burden.
Earlier today, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina announced that it was seeking an average rate hike of 22.9 percent for individual plans on the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace, a staggering increase for the half-million people insured by BCBS in North Carolina through the Obamacare exchange.5) N.C. Congressman Mark Meadows tears up when he realizes the Republican Obamacare replacement would harm people like his late sister and father.
On the surface, this hike—along with news that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City is abandoning the ACA marketplace altogether, leaving twenty-five Missouri counties without an Obamacare insurer—lends credence to Republican claims that the health care law is “collapsing” and in a “death spiral.” Dig a little deeper, however, and the truth is more complicated. Indeed, much of the blame isn’t inherent to Obamacare at all, but rather owes to the uncertainty sown by the Trump administration and the Republicans hellbent on repealing the law.
Yesterday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released what can only be described as a devastating analysis of the American Health Care Act, Republicans’ effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The CBO found that the bill would leave an additional twenty-three million people uninsured, gut Medicaid, put at risk millions with preexisting conditions, and cause sick and older people’s premiums to skyrocket to finance a massive tax cut for the wealthy. The AHCA narrowly passed the House earlier this month without a CBO score following a compromise between the GOP leaders of the moderate Tuesday Group and the hard-right Freedom Caucus.Those regrets stemmed from the realization that the plan he backed might well have left his late sister and father, who both died after cancer battles, out in the cold. From the Independent Journal Review:
Earlier this week, U.S. Representative Tom MacArthur of New Jersey resigned as chairman of the Tuesday Group, saying, “Many in the Tuesday Group are eager to live up to our ideal of being problem-solvers, while others seem unwilling to compromise. The recent health care debate was illustrative.”
And now U.S. Representative Mark Meadows, who represents the Eleventh Congressional District of North Carolina and chairs the Freedom Caucus, seems to be having his own regrets.
When reporters pointed out the portion of the CBO report saying individuals with preexisting conditions in waiver states would be charged higher premiums and could even be priced out of the insurance market — destabilizing markets in those states — under AHCA, Meadows seemed surprised.6) Riverside graduate might have been deported.
“Well, that’s not what I read,” Meadows said, putting on his reading glasses and peering at the paragraph on the phone of a nearby reporter. […]
After reading the paragraph, Meadows told reporters he would go through the CBO analysis more thoroughly and run the numbers, adding he would work to make sure the high-risk pools are properly funded.
Meadows, suddenly emotional, choked back tears and said, "Listen, I lost my sister to breast cancer. I lost my dad to lung cancer. If anybody is sensitive to preexisting conditions, it’s me. I’m not going to make a political decision today that affects somebody’s sister or father because I wouldn’t do it to myself.”
Wendy Miranda Fernandez, a Durham resident unexpectedly taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in March, has been taken to the airport for the third time since being detained, according to the advocacy group Alerta Migratoria NC. Her deportation, delayed several times since she was detained while seeking a stay of a 2016 order of removal from the country, is scheduled for 8:05 this morning.
If she’s sent back to El Salvador, her supporters say, it could amount to a death sentence.
Republican Greg Gianforte has won the special election for Montana's open US House seat, CNN projects, defeating Democrat Rob Quist and capping off a whirlwind final 36 hours of the campaign that saw Gianforte being charged for allegedly assaulting a reporter.Have a great weekend.
In his acceptance speech, Gianforte apologized by name to Ben Jacobs, the Guardian reporter who accused the Republican of "body-slamming" him and breaking his glasses.
"When you make a mistake, you have to own up to it," Gianforte told his supporters at his Election Night rally in Bozeman. "That's the Montana way."