President Trump read his first State of the Union address Tuesday night, in which he called on Congress to pass an immigration overhaul and repeatedly tried to conflate immigrants, including DREAMers, with terrorists and gang members. Among Trump’s guests to the State of the Union were the parents of two young girls who were killed by members of the MS-13 gang two years ago in Long Island, New York.
MS-13 is a gang that originated in Los Angeles in the 1980s and has since spread to Central America as a result of the U.S. mass deportation policies. During the lengthy address, Trump also announced he’d signed an executive order keeping the Guantánamo Bay military prison open, and escalated his warmongering rhetoric against North Korea, calling the North Korean government “depraved” and warning it poses a nuclear risk to the United States.
Trump also celebrated his massive tax overhaul benefiting corporations and the richest Americans. Trump entered the State of the Union with the lowest approval rating of any president in modern U.S. history entering his second year in office. We’ll have more on the State of the Union after headlines.
A federal judge in New York City says he won’t ignore President Trump’s “vicious” comments about Latinos as he considers whether to halt the termination of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gives nearly 800,000 young undocumented people permission to live and work in the United States. President Trump cancelled DACA last fall. But on Tuesday, Judge Nicholas Garaufis slammed Trump for his “vicious … recurring, redundant drumbeat of anti-Latino commentary.” This is New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, one of 16 attorneys general who have sued to block the termination of DACA.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman: “It’s a massive, successful program that they are attempting to shut down. The issue of discriminatory animus came up, anti-Latino sentiment, as well. It was a thorough hearing. The judge was very focused on the issues, very well informed. And we look forward to getting a decision.”
This comes after a San Francisco judge also issued an injunction blocking DACA’s cancellation earlier this month.
In financial news, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer says it’s reaping a staggering $11 billion gain as a result of President Trump’s tax overhaul, which massively benefited corporations and the richest Americans. President Trump and Republicans claimed the tax plan would help the middle class, but a recent Reuters poll shows only 2 percent of surveyed workers say they’ve received any benefit from Trump’s tax overhaul.
Democratic lawmakers expressed outrage after the Trump administration announced it would not impose new sanctions against Russia, despite the fact that these sanctions were enshrined in a law passed by Congress and signed by President Trump last year amid concerns about Russia meddling in the 2016 election. Instead, the State Department released a list of prominent Russian political leaders and “oligarchs.” The “oligarchs” list is an exact copy of Russians listed on the Forbes magazine 2017 billionaires list. This is New Hampshire Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen: “Well, the Trump administration has had six months to configure a sanctions regime, sanctions based on a vote, as you heard from Senator Brown, 517 to 5 in Congress. And what did they come up with? They gave us this list. This is the unclassified list. As Senator Cardin said, the oligarchs that are part of this list are taken from Forbes magazine.”
This comes as CIA Director Mike Pompeo recently met with top Russian officials.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, known as FEMA, is ending shipments of food and water to Puerto Rico today, four months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. About a third of Puerto Rico still has no electricity. Some rural areas still have no clean running water. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz criticized FEMA’s move while speaking at a gathering of Latino leaders in Washington, D.C., saying, “While I’m standing here with you, there are children without food in Puerto Rico. We need the help. And it’s not help, we have paid for it.”
In Honduras, a delegation of faith leaders from the United States is denouncing the United States’ support for Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, who has been inaugurated for a second term despite allegations of widespread voting fraud in the November 26 election. This is Rev. Kathleen McTigue of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, speaking outside the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa on Monday.
Rev. Kathleen McTigue: “We call on our United States government to withdraw its recognition of the fraudulently elected government in Honduras. And we demand the investigation and prosecution of both those directly responsible for and those behind the killings during the protests from November 27 ’til today.”
The Polish parliament has sparked outrage by passing a bill that would make it a crime, punishable by up to three years in prison, to suggest the Polish government was complicit in Nazi-era crimes. Opponents say the bill seeks to rewrite and erase the history of Poland’s anti-Jewish pogroms leading up to World War II, and the collaboration between the Polish state and Nazi Germany after the Nazis occupied Poland in 1939.
In Turkey, more than 300 people have been arrested for posting messages online criticizing the Turkish military offensive against the Syrian city of Afrin, a majority-Kurdish city controlled by a U.S.-backed militia. The Turkish government says those arrested include journalists, politicians and activists. The government is accusing them of “spreading terrorist propaganda” by speaking out against the deadly military offensive.
In Egypt, a coalition of opposition parties and pro-democracy organizations are calling for a boycott of Egypt’s upcoming presidential elections. Authoritarian Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is almost certain to win the March elections, after nearly all of his challengers were arrested or disqualified.
In Japan, a woman has filed a landmark lawsuit suing the Japanese government for sterilizing her without her consent because of a mental disability when she was 15 years old. She’s one of an estimated 16,000 people in Japan who were forcibly sterilized under Japan’s eugenics law, which was in force from 1948 until 1996.
In France, Oxford professor and renowned Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan has been detained in Paris, after he was accused by two women of rape and sexual assault last year. Ramadan has denied the accusations.
And Gene Sharp, a lifelong advocate of nonviolent resistance, has died at the age of 90. Sharp was most famous for his extensive writings on nonviolent struggle, which include the influential book “From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation.” He was also the founder of the Albert Einstein Institution, which is dedicated to advancing the study of nonviolent action. This is Gene Sharp accepting the Right Livelihood Award in 2012.
Gene Sharp: “Nonviolent struggle, or nonviolent action, includes three categories of methods, specific means of acting. One, the methods of nonviolent protest, that are symbolic activities, such as marching down the street or displaying certain colors. But this technique, if it has only that, wouldn’t be worth much. It also includes the much more powerful methods of noncooperation, such as social boycotts, economic boycotts, labor strikes, political boycotts, civil disobedience. And thirdly, the methods of nonviolent intervention and disruption, such as sit-ins, fasts and the creation of new institutions.”
Gene Sharp died Sunday at the age of 90 in his home in Boston.