Top News Stories for Today – January 30 , 2017
Trump defends immigration executive order
In a statement released Sunday, President Trump said the executive order he signed on Friday “is not a Muslim ban,” and while he has “tremendous feeling” for the refugees fleeing Syria, “my first priority will always be to protect and serve our country.”
The order — which caused confusion and protests at airports across the country and prompted outrage from Democrats and a handful of Republican lawmakers, including Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham — stops refugee entry into the US for 120 days and bars citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen — from entering the US for the next 90 days. The banned list does not include Muslim-majority countries where the Trump Organization does business, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
Trump insisted his action is “not about religion,” noting that while the immigration suspension affects almost entirely Muslims, “there are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order.” Four countries not affected by the order are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates — the home nations of the 19 terrorists involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. CNN, NPR, The Week
Myanmar government adviser shot dead at airport
A government legal adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi’s government and prominent voice for religious harmony in Myanmar, U Ko Ni was shot and killed by a lone gunman Sunday afternoon at point-blank range outside Yangon International Airport. He was rushed to Yangon Hospital and did not regain consciousness.
Police at the scene detained a suspect, later identifying him as a 52-year-old man from the city of Mandalay. U Ko Ni was returning from a state-sponsored trip to Indonesia. He had taken part in a panel discussion about religious violence in the Myanmar’s Rakhine State. CNN
Million sign petition to stop Trump’s UK visit
A petition to stop US President Donald Trump’s UK state visit has gathered more than a million signatures. Numbers of signatories have been rising rapidly since a US clampdown on immigration came into effect over the weekend, causing anger worldwide. PM Theresa May announced the visit on her recent US trip. Downing Street said while it disagreed with the policy it was right to still work with the US.
Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn has urged the PM to postpone the visit. The petition is now the second-most popular ever on the government’s website. MPs will discuss it on Tuesday. It states: “Donald Trump should be allowed to enter the UK in his capacity as head of the US Government, but he should not be invited to make an official State Visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen.” BBC
6 killed in shooting at Quebec City mosque
Six people were killed and eight injured Sunday night when gunmen opened fire at a mosque in Quebec City during evening prayers, police said. Police also told reporters there are two suspects in custody. A witness told Reuters there were about 40 people inside the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Center when up to three gunmen came in and started to shoot.
The mosque’s president, Mohamed Yangui, who was not at the mosque when the shooting took place, called the attack “barbaric.” There has been an uptick in incidents of Islamophobia in recent years, Reuters reports, and last year, a pig’s head was left on the cultural center’s doorstep. Reuters, ABC News, The Week
Trump puts former Breitbart chief on NSC
In a presidential memorandum issued Saturday night, President Trump gave a permanent seat on the National Security Council (NSC) to Stephen Bannon, chief White House strategist and the controversial former head of Breitbart News.
The memo restructured the NSC, adding Bannon to “the principals committee” while removing the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as well as the director of national intelligence, who will now be limited to meetings “where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed.” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Sunday he finds the decision worrisome and a “radical departure from any national security council in history.” Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice labeled the reorganization “stone cold crazy.” ABC News, The Hill, The Week
ACLU raised $24 million over the weekend
Over the weekend, the American Civil Liberties Union received more than $24 million from 356,306 online donations — a hefty sum considering the nonprofit organization typically only receives $4 million a year from online donations. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” executive director Anthony Romero said early Sunday, when the fundraising total was at $10 million.
“People are fired up and want to be engaged.” On Friday, President Trump signed an executive order banning entry into the United States by travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries and halting the refugee program, and the next day, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of two Iraqi men detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. A federal judge blocked part of the order, and the men were released. Since Nov. 8, the ACLU’s membership has doubled to 1 million members. Yahoo News, Slate
Miss France crowned Miss Universe
A 23-year-old dental student from France won the Miss Universe crown Monday in the annual pageant held this year in the Philippines. Iris Mittenaere from the small town of Lille in northern France said in reply to a final question from pageant host Steve Harvey that she would be honored if she just landed among the three finalists, but was visibly stunned when she was announced the winner among the field of 86 contestants.
Mittenaere was speechless and put her hands on her face as the outgoing winner from the Philippines, Pia Wurtzbach, crowned her as the crowd erupted in cheers and applause at the packed Mall of Asia Arena by Manila Bay. In her profile, she said she would “advocate for dental and oral hygiene” if she takes home the crown. In the final question to the top three finalists, the candidate were asked to cite a failure in their life and explain what they learned from the debacle. VOA
Trump’s US travel ban
Thousand demonstrate in US: Thousands of demonstrators gathered Sunday near the White House in Washington, launching a second day of protests in cities across the United States against President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from seven Muslim countries. Protests also were under way in New York’s Battery Park, which overlooks the Statue of Liberty — America’s iconic beacon that has inspired and welcomed immigrants from across the globe for more than 140 years. Protests also were held in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston, Boston, Atlanta, Louisville and Detroit. VOA
Pakistan: Pakistan’s leading opposition politician, Imran Khan, is urging President Donald Trump to ban Pakistanis from entering the United States, after he suspended immigration from seven Muslim majority countries. The controversial US ban currently applies to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Addressing a rally in the central Pakistani town of Sahiwal on Sunday, Khan denounced the ban as anti-Muslim and praised Iran for its retaliatory action of banning Americans from entering the Islamic Republic. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government has not yet commented about Trump’s ban on Muslim countries. On Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus hinted that Pakistan could be included in the list of countries from which immigration has been banned. VOA
Starbucks: Starbucks says it plans to hire 10,000 refugees over five years in the 75 countries where it does business. Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz outlined the company’s plan in a memo sent to employees Sunday in response to President Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven Muslim majority countries. “We are living in an unprecedented time,” Schultz wrote in the memo, which listed several actions the company says it is taking to “reinforce our belief in our partners around the world.” The refugee hiring proposal, Schultz wrote, will begin with a focus on people who have served with US troops as interpreters and support personnel. CNN
Facebook: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also criticized the executive order. “We should also keep our doors open to refugees and those who need help,” he said in a post. “That’s who we are.” VOA
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