Judge orders deported asylum seekers to be returned to US, in Trump administration rebuke
Fox – A federal judge on Wednesday took the extraordinary step of ordering that asylum seekers who sued after their deportation be returned to the U.S. to have their claims heard anew, ruling against the Trump administration’s revised asylum policies.
The ruling from U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington came a day after the same judge presided over a contentious sentencing hearing for former national security adviser Michael Flynn — in which he questioned whether the ex-White House official committed “treason” and accused him of selling out the United States to foreign interests. He later delayed Flynn’s sentencing until 2019, as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
In his sweeping ruling Wednesday against the Trump administration’s immigration policies, Sullivan said recent changes violated federal law.
RT – President Donald Trump has tweeted that ISIS has been defeated, as the White House announced that US has started pulling out its troops from Syria.
The US has begun the withdrawal of its troops from Syria, the White House said in a statement. However, it added that the move does not mean an end of the military campaign in the war-torn country but marks a “new phase” in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).
“These victories over ISIS in Syria do not signal the end of the Global Coalition or its campaign. We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.
She also partly echoed an earlier tweet by President Trump, who also said that IS terrorists were defeated while calling the group “the only reason for [the US troops] being there [in Syria].”
U.S. News, Politics & Government
AP – The Trump administration moved Tuesday to officially ban bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly like automatic firearms, and has made them illegal to possess beginning in late March.
The devices will be banned under a federal law that prohibits machine guns, according to a senior Justice Department official.
Bump stocks became a focal point of the national gun control debate after they were used in October 2017 when a man opened fired from his Las Vegas hotel suite into a crowd at a country music concert below, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Fox – Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch appeared on Capitol Hill on Wednesday for closed-door testimony to answer questions on the Justice Department’s Russia and Hillary Clinton email probes, following former FBI director James Comey’s feisty back-to-back interviews with the same committees.
Comey was grilled on Monday, and in early December, by the House Judiciary and Oversight committees. He complained afterward of a “frustrating” experience, accusing Republicans of being motivated by politics.
Democrats on the committee – as they did with Comey – lamented Wednesday that the hearing was a waste of time. Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin told reporters he did not learn anything new from the questioning of Lynch. Raskin said he noticed some people sleeping in the room during the testimony.
Lynch came under fire in 2016 after her infamous tarmac meeting with former President Bill Clinton days before the FBI decided it would not recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton for her handling of classified information on her private email server. Lynch, reacting to the criticism for meeting Clinton while the FBI investigated his wife, has claimed she and Clinton only discussed “innocuous things.”
Ars Technica – “Please call a lawyer for me!” Haisam Elsharkawi shouted at LAX while being detained.
A Southern California man has become the latest person to sue the federal government over what he says is an unconstitutional search of his phone at the Los Angeles International Airport.
According to his lawsuit, which was recently filed in federal court in Los Angeles, Haisam Elsharkawi had arrived at LAX on February 9, 2017 and was headed to Saudi Arabia to go on a hajj, the Muslim religious pilgrimage.
After clearing the security checkpoint, Elsharkawi, an American citizen, was pulled aside from the Turkish Airlines boarding line by a Customs and Border Protection officer, who began questioning him about how much cash he was carrying and where he was going. Elsharkawi complied with the officer’s inquiries and dutifully followed him to a nearby table.
“As the questioning continued and became increasingly aggressive, Mr. Elsharkawi asked if there was a problem and whether he needed an attorney,” the complaint states. “Officer Rivas then accused Mr. Elsharkawi of hiding something because of his request for an attorney.”
Soon after, another agent, Officer Rodriguez, began searching Elsharkawi’s pockets and discovered his phone. Rodriguez asked Elsharkawi to unlock his phone, which he declined to do. He then also refused to answer further questions without having an attorney present.
Another officer told Elsharkawi that he was not under arrest and as such had no right to an attorney—at which point he asked to be released.
When that request was ignored, another agent, Officer Rivas, began rifling through Elsharkawi’s carry-on bag for a second time.
The complaint continues:
Mr. Elsharkawi asked for his phone back to make a call. Officer Rodriguez responded by stating that Mr. Elsharkawi had an attitude, was obviously racist, and had a problem with the uniform of CBP officers. Officer Rodriguez told Mr. Elsharkawi to put his hands behind his back, and handcuffed him.
Officer Rodriguez, along with two other CBP officers, then began pulling Mr. Elsharkawi into an elevator.
At this point, Mr. Elsharkawi feared for his safety. He turned to a nearby flight attendant and yelled to her, “Please call a lawyer for me!”
When Mr. Elsharkawi was taken into the elevator and reached another floor of the airport, he again loudly yelled out, “Someone help, someone call a lawyer for me. They said I’m not under arrest even though I’m handcuffed and they are taking me somewhere that I don’t know and will not let me have a lawyer.”
Officer Rodriguez then pushed Mr. Elsharkawi’s arms up to his neck, to the point that Mr. Elsharkawi feared they would break.
One of the CBP officers stated that Mr. Elsharkawi was causing a lot of problems, and recommended taking him downstairs.
Economy & Business
Yahoo Finance – The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised interest rates for the fourth time this year.
The Fed increased the target range for its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to a new band of 2.25%-2.5%, putting the Fed funds rate at its highest level since the spring of 2008. All ten voting members of the FOMC voted in favor of Wednesday’s decision.
In its statement, the Fed pointed to a labor market that has “continued to strengthen” and economic activity that is “rising at a strong rate.” The Fed did note the slowdown in private investment seen over the last several months, saying “business fixed investment has moderated from its rapid pace earlier in the year.”
Along with its latest policy statement the Fed also released an updated set of economic projections, which shows a downgrade in the Fed’s forecast for interest rate hikes next year.
Science & Technology
CNBC – Facebook said in a blog post Wednesday it allowed other big tech companies to read users’ private messages, but denies it did so without consent.
The post came in response to a New York Times investigation published Tuesday that said Facebook granted tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix and Spotify special access to users’ personal data including private messages and contact details.
Facebook said it enabled partner companies like Spotify to access users’ private messages after a user had signed into Facebook through the partner company’s app.
The Guardian – Facebook gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read and even delete users’ private messages, a new investigation has revealed.
The social media giant granted major companies far more exceptions to its privacy policies than previously known, making user data available through loopholes to companies including Amazon, Microsoft and Sony.
The loopholes, reported by the New York Times, suggest a company that was prepared to bend its own rules to keep valuable partners onside.
Facebook gave Netflix, Spotify and the Royal Bank of Canada the ability to read, write and delete users’ private messages; it gave Microsoft, Sony and Amazon the ability to obtain email addresses of their users’ friends as late as 2017; and it gave device manufacturers such as Apple the ability to build special features that plugged into the social network.
Ars Technica – Nuro, a startup founded by two veterans of Google’s self-driving car project, has reached an important milestone: it has started making fully autonomous grocery deliveries on public streets.
Fry’s Food, a brand owned by grocery giant Kroger, launched a self-driving grocery delivery program back in August in partnership with Nuro. Fry’s has been using Nuro cars to deliver groceries to customers near one of its stores on East McDowell Road in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Initially, these deliveries were made by Toyota Priuses that Nuro had outfitted with its sensors and software. There were also safety drivers behind the wheel. Nuro says it has made 1,000 deliveries using these vehicles since August.
Now Nuro is making a leap to fully driverless operation using the R1, a new vehicle custom-built for autonomous deliveries. This new vehicle is significantly smaller and lighter than a conventional passenger car and doesn’t even have space for a human driver on board. Nuro says that it will now make deliveries with a combination of the Priuses and the R1. A Nuro spokeswoman says the company currently has two R1s on the road in Scottsdale and plans to “use them actively going forward.”
Nuro isn’t the first company to offer autonomous delivery services. Competitors like Marble and Starship have been offering autonomous vehicle deliveries for a while. But those startups have built robots designed to operate on sidewalks, which means they mostly move at walking speeds. By contrast, Nuro vehicles are designed to operate on public streets. They can move up to 25 miles per hour, allowing them to cover a larger area and get goods to customers more quickly
Infowars – This image from the Hubble Deep UV (HDUV) Legacy Survey encompasses 12,000 star-forming galaxies in a part of the constellation Fornax known as the GOODS-South field.
With the addition of ultraviolet light imagery, astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have captured the largest panoramic view of the fire and fury of star birth in the distant universe.
Gardening, Farming & Homesteading
NaturalNews – An experienced prepper often has a list of essential supplies, such as food, water, and survival gear, that they keep stocked at home or at their bug-out location at all times. However, even the most seasoned survivalist may need reminding, especially when it comes to unusual but useful items. (h/t to Survivopedia.com)
The list included are items that you can collect, recycle, or repurpose into versatile survival tools. You can even use some of them as bargaining chips.
Mercola – Stanford University scientists found royalactin, a protein found in royal jelly responsible for the queen bee’s massive growth, has the ability to keep mouse embryonic stem cells pluripotent by inhibiting differentiation.
Stem cells are pluripotential, meaning that they have the ability to turn into any and every type of tissue to form an entire being, be it animal or human.
They also identified a protein with similar qualities found in mammals, dubbed Regina, which like royalactin allows embryonic stem cells to maintain their naïve state.
Embryonic stem cells have a tendency to differentiate into mature tissue cells when grown in the lab, and in order to use the stem cells for research and/or therapies, they must be kept in their “naïve” state long enough.
These initial findings could eventually lead to the development of drugs to boost stem cells in the human body, allowing for the regeneration of healthy tissue in damaged organs
Mercola – Okra, aka lady fingers because of their fuzzy, tapering pods, has an abundance of seeds, which impart beneficial nutrients to improve several aspects of your health.
.Scientists suggest okra may exert antihyperglycemic and hypolipidemic effects, and be associated with reduced damage to pancreatic tissues.
Okra is a favorite vegetable in the American south for dishes like Creole-style gumbo, but okra water is a new preparation, and regardless of the preparation, both the peels and the seeds have been shown to have medicinal uses.
Earlier studies on Abelmoschus esculentus (okra) suggest it could improve metabolic complications, as it had a beneficial effect on the pancreas in rats; the benefits may translate to humans, as well