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The Supreme Court has dealt a major blow to President Trump’s efforts to rescind DACA, the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gives at least 700,000 young immigrants permission to live and work in the United States. On Monday, the court refused to hear a White House appeal of lower court rulings saying Trump’s move to cancel the program was unconstitutional. Monday’s decision by the Supreme Court means the legal challenges to DACA’s cancellation will continue to work their way up through the courts. In the meantime, DACA recipients will be shielded from deportation and allowed to continue to renew their protected status. But Monday’s move by the Supreme Court does not resolve the future of the program. A group of undocumented activists are currently on a 250-mile walk from New York City to Washington, D.C., to demand Congress pass a permanent solution to DACA and protect young undocumented immigrants.
President Trump met with governors Monday to discuss gun control, even as he bowed to demands by the National Rifle Association to back away from proposals to increase the age for purchasing an assault-style rifle and to change the rules on bump stocks. At the meeting with the governors, President Trump also claimed that he would have run into the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the February 14 mass shooting, in which 17 people were killed by a former student.
President Donald Trump: “You know, I really believe—you don’t know until you’re tested, but I think—I really believe I’d run in there, even if I didn’t have a weapon. And I think most of the people in this room would have done that, too, because I know most of you. But the way they performed was—was really a disgrace.”
President Trump also said he had lunch with the leaders of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox, over the weekend, and that lawmakers shouldn’t be “afraid” of the NRA.
President Donald Trump: “Don’t worry about the NRA. They’re on our side. You guys, half of you are so afraid of the NRA. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Meanwhile, during the meeting, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee spoke out against President Trump’s proposals to arm teachers to deter mass shootings.
Gov. Jay Inslee: “I’ve listened to the first grade teachers that don’t want to be pistol-packing first grade teachers. I’ve listened to law enforcement who have said they don’t want to have to train teachers as law enforcement agencies, which takes about six months. Now I just think this is a circumstance where we need to listen, that educators should educate, and they should not be foisted upon this responsibility of packing heat in first grade classes. Now, I understand you have suggested this. And we suggest things, and sometimes then we listen to people about it, maybe they don’t look so good a little later. So I just suggest we need a little less tweeting here and a little more listening.”
This all comes as, in Florida, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel is facing increasing calls to resign over his department’s inability to stop the mass school shooting, which included his department’s failure to take seriously dozens of previous calls about the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, about whom residents had expressed fears for years. One of his deputies, Scot Peterson, has resigned after details emerged that he took cover outside the school during the shooting. He is now claiming that he didn’t enter the school because he thought the shooting was happening outside.
And Georgia’s Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has attacked the airline company Delta, after it said it would stop offering discounted prices to NRA members—becoming one of a slew of companies to break ties with the NRA. In response, the lieutenant governor, who leads the Georgia state Senate, said Republican lawmakers would retaliate by eliminating a $50 million sales tax exemption on jet fuel which benefits Delta. The shipping company FedEx, however, says it will not drop its discounted prices for the NRA, despite pressure from activists.
White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump, who is also President Trump’s daughter, refused to answer questions about the slew of sexual harassment and assault allegations against the president. Ivanka Trump has positioned herself as one of the key people within the Trump administration working on policies related to women and gender equality. Yet, when asked in an NBC interview about the 19 women who have accused Trump of sexual harassment or assault, Ivanka said the question was “inappropriate.”
Peter Alexander: “Do you believe your father’s accusers?”
Ivanka Trump: “I think it’s a pretty inappropriate question to ask a daughter if she believes the accusers of her father, when he has affirmatively stated that there is no truth to it. I don’t think that’s a question you would ask many other daughters. I believe my father. I know my father. So I think I have that right as a daughter to believe my father.”
That’s Ivanka Trump, a senior White House adviser, who has just returned from South Korea, where she led the United States in the Winter Olympics closing ceremony.
In Syria, activists say the Syrian government is continuing to carry out airstrikes and artillery shelling in the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta, outside Damascus, despite a daily 5-hour “pause” in the fighting ordered by Russia, the Syrian government’s main backer. Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has expressed support for British airstrikes targeting the Syrian government, if there is “incontrovertible evidence” that the regime has carried out chemical attacks. The United Nations and Syrian and international human rights organizations have repeatedly accused the Syrian regime of using chemical weapons, a charge the Syrian government denies.
China announced unexpectedly Sunday it was dropping presidential term limits, clearing the way for President Xi Jinping to serve indefinitely. The announcement overturns decades-old term limits in China. Meanwhile, the prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Li Baiguang has died in a state-run hospital in Nanjing. Chinese human rights organizations are calling for an independent investigation into his death.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, government soldiers shot and killed at least four anti-government protesters on Sunday during nationwide protests against President Joseph Kabila’s extended rule. Kabila’s term ended in 2016, but elections have repeatedly been postponed, allowing him to hold on to power.
In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Israeli soldiers raided the village of Nabi Saleh and arrested 10 members of the prominent activist family, the Tamimis, including 15-year-old Muhammad Tamimi, who was previously shot in the face by Israeli soldiers. The Tamimi family has gained international attention after a video went viral of Muhammad’s 17-year-old cousin Ahed Tamimi slapping an Israeli soldier after learning her cousin had been shot in the face. He is scheduled to have reconstructive surgery on his skull next week. Ahed has been held in an Israeli military prison for months and is currently facing a dozen charges in a military courtroom.
Back in the United States, in Washington state, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a jailed Mexican immigrant who says he was beaten and put into solitary for joining a hunger strike. Jesus Chavez Flores is one of 120 immigrants detained by ICE at the Northwest Detention Center who went on a hunger strike to protest conditions at the facility, which is run by the private for-profit GEO Group. Flores was able to record a video message after he was beaten.
Jesus Chavez Flores: “They hit my friend in Unit C-3. They hit me, and they hit another friend, Benito Vasquez. When the guard comes toward me, I’m afraid to encounter him. It’s a guard that when I pass him in the hall, I feel fear, because he is a rough person who should not be working here in these centers, because they are here to take care of us, not to beat us. Just look at how he left my eye.”
In a legal victory for the LGBT community, a federal appeals court has ruled a key civil rights law prohibits employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation. The case involved a gay skydiving instructor who had filed a civil rights lawsuit alleging his firing violated part of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act. Monday’s ruling is also a blow to the Trump administration’s Justice Department, which unexpectedly intervened in the case against the gay skydiver.
In Georgia, U.S. intelligence contractor Reality Leigh Winner is slated to appear in court today in Augusta. She’s pleaded not guilty on charges of leaking a top-secret document claiming Russian military intelligence conducted a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software company just days before the November 2016 election. During today’s court hearing, Winner’s lawyers are set to ask the judge to exclude her statements to FBI agents the day she was arrested, arguing she was denied her Miranda rights.
In sports news, members of the NBA championship team the Golden State Warriors are meeting with kids in Washington, D.C., today, instead of meeting with President Trump, as a protest against the administration. Last September, Trump rescinded the customary invitation to the championship team after its star player, Stephen Curry, spoke out against the president and said he would not visit the White House.
In art and entertainment news, Bollywood fans around the world are mourning the death of superstar Indian actress Sridevi, who died on Saturday at the age of 54 while attending a family wedding in Dubai. She’s one of the Indian film industry’s most famous actresses, widely credited with changing the role of women in the industry. She pushed for equal pay and equal screen time for women. Among those mourning her death is political rapper and singer M.I.A., who tweeted, “Sad to Loose the legend #SRIDEVI its like losing a legend like Michael Jackson for me . she did so much for #Tamil women and Indian movie industry and brown people everywhere. RIP for now but Hurry up and come back!!!!”
And activist and cancer patient Zahara Heckscher has died at the age of 53. Heckscher was repeatedly arrested protesting against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, known as the TPP, and its so-called death sentence clause, which would have extended drug company monopolies on medicines. This is Zahara Heckscher speaking on Democracy Now! about her mother, who also died of breast cancer.
Zahara Heckscher: “I was only 11 when she died of breast cancer, and that was before these drugs were available. She only lived one year after she was diagnosed, and that’s what breast cancer means without access to the modern medicines, the biologics and the other emerging medicines that, for example, have kept me alive for seven years so far and still going strong. So I know very personally what it means when people don’t have access to the medicines. And I also know that breast cancer, it’s not about just the individual patients, it’s about the family. And for me, I’m fighting for my son to have a mom as much as I’m fighting for myself and for other women and their families.”
That’s activist, mother and writer Zahara Heckscher, who died from breast cancer at the age of 53 on Saturday in Maryland. Click here to see our full interviews with Zahara Heckscher.