Top News Stories for Today – February 7, 2017
127 companies join legal fight against travel ban
A total of 127 companies — including Apple, Facebook, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Netflix and Twitter filed court papers declaring that Trump’s executive order on immigration “violates the immigration laws and the Constitution.” The wave of opposition came in two court filings, one on Sunday and one on Monday.
Almost all the companies that signed on in support are tech companies. The few exceptions include yogurt producer Chobani, snack maker Kind and fashion brand Levi Strauss. All three companies were founded by immigrants.
The ban represents “a sudden shift in the rules governing entry into the United States, and is inflicting substantial harm on US companies,” says the court document. It’s the latest move by the tech industry to oppose Trump’s controversial order, which has run into hurdles in the US court system. CNN
Trump falsely accuses media
President Donald Trump falsely accused the media of refusing to report terrorist attacks, particularly those in Europe, during a speech Monday to the US Central Command (CENTCOM) at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. “It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported,” Trump said. “And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it.
They have their reasons, and you understand that.” He did not elaborate. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer later backed off Trump’s statement, clarifying that Trump meant the attacks were “under-reported,” as opposed to not reported at all. A White House official later released a list of 78 attacks that took place between 2014 and 2016, saying “most” did not “receive adequate attention from Western media sources.” The list included the 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and the 2015 massacre in San Bernardino. BuzzFeed News, The Hill, The Week
Obamas to get Freedom of the City of Dublin
Former US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle are to be granted the Freedom of the City of Dublin. Dublin City councillors voted to award the honour in recognition of Mr Obama’s “moderating and progressive” influence on the world stage. They also acknowledged Mrs Obama’s work on the education of girls around the world and on behalf of refugees.
Lord Mayor Cllr Brendan Carr confirmed the couple had indicated through contacts their happiness to accept. A meeting will be held with US Embassy officials within days and a visit could be organised by the end of the year, he added. He also said the couple saw it as an opportunity for another visit. President Obama and his wife visited the Republic of Ireland in 2011 as part of a tour of Europe. BBC
Syria executed 13,000 civilian in single prison
On Tuesday, Amnesty International reported that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government has secretly hanged 5,000 to 13,000 detainees at the military Saydnaya prison outside Damascus, executing groups of 20 to 50 once or twice a week from 2011 through 2015. The human rights group said it based its report on 84 first-hand accounts from former Saydnaya detainees, guards, and officials, plus judges, lawyers, and experts on detention in Syria.
The detainees — most of them civilians suspected of peacefully supporting the opposition — are hauled before “military field courts” in the dead of night, after being beaten for two to three hours, then after 2-3 minute “trials” they are hanged, Amnesty said. “The judge will ask the name of the detainee and whether he committed the crime,” one former Syrian military court judge told Amnesty. “Whether the answer is yes or no, he will be convicted.” Amnesty International, The New York Times, The Week
French ex-president ordered to stand trial
A French judge has ordered ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy to stand trial in an illegal campaign finance case. Mr Sarkozy faces accusations that his party falsified accounts in order to hide 18m euros ($20m) of campaign spending in 2012. Mr Sarkozy denies he was aware of the overspending, and will appeal against the order to stand trial. He lost the 2012 race, and failed in his bid to run again in this year’s upcoming presidential election.
The case is known as the Bygmalion scandal. France sets limits on campaign spending, and it is alleged the firm Bygmalion invoiced Mr Sarkozy’s party rather than the campaign, allowing the UMP to spend almost double the amount permitted. BBC
Evenly split Senate to vote on DeVos nomination
The Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday on President Trump’s education secretary nominee, Betsy DeVos. Democrats made a last-ditch effort to hold the floor for 24 hours as they tried to persuade a third Republican to join them in opposition to DeVos to break what appeared to be a 50-50 tie.
Barring another defection, Vice President Mike Pence would cast the tie-breaking vote, which would mark the first time in US history a vice president has ever been called on to tip a Cabinet confirmation vote. At the start of an all-night debate on Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called DeVos the “least qualified nominee in a historically unqualified Cabinet.” Republicans have called the billionaire school-voucher proponent the kind of reformer the education system needs. The New York Times, CNN, The Week
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