A federal judge in Michigan has blocked the deportation of more than 1,400 Iraqi nationals, giving them time to make their cases in court before the government may deport them. U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith granted a preliminary injunction request made by attorneys for the Iraqi nationals who had asked him to halt their deportation, saying they would be persecuted in Iraq. Goldsmith said the possible deportees, many whom are Chaldean Christian, would face “grave harm and possible death” in Iraq because there they are members of a persecuted minority.
In June, 234 Iraqi nationals were arrested and detained on removal orders that in most cases had been dormant for five to 10 years. For many years Iraqi has refused to accept deportees from the U.S. but they recently agreed to start accepting them after their country was taken off of the travel ban.
In addition to the 114 arrested during the ICE raids in Michigan in June, the judge’s order applies to 85 other Iraqis arrested outside the state. In total, there are 1,444 Iraqi nationals in the U.S. with final orders of deportation who could be affected by the judge’s ruling.
Judge Goldsmith entered a preliminary injunction to give the Iraqis 90 days to argue their cases before the Board of Immigration Appeals and the courts before the government can deport them back to Iraq. Goldsmith said that the government made legal representation of the immigrants difficult because many of them have been moved around from state to state to different immigration centers. Many of those targeted entered in the U.S. as children, and more than half of them have been in the country for more than a decade because Iraq refused to take them back, according to the ruling.
The court said that those detained have been housed around the country in federal detention facilities with limited access to legal advocates and their families. Most of them are from Detroit, which has a large Chaldean Christian population. They were targeted for deportation because they overstayed their visas or committed crimes — typically misdemeanors, according to advocates.
Clarence Dass, an attorney who represents about 25 of the 114 Iraqis arrested last month said “For people who have been learning their fate every two weeks, 90 days is a lifetime,” Dass said. “All we are asking is for a chance to show that deportation of these particular individuals is a death sentence, and the judge’s decision today allows us to do that. Once we show those facts and circumstances, I am hopeful we will be able to save their lives.”
A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said the agency declined to comment on the ruling. ICE has said previously that the Iraqis detained have criminal records, pose safety threats, and have already had their cases heard in courts. The crimes they were convicted of range from marijuana possession to homicide.
Longtime Arizona senator and former presidential candidate John McCain has been diagnosed with primary glioblastoma, a malignant form of brain cancer. Senator McCain’s office said the diagnosis came after McCain had surgery last week to remove a blood clot above his left eye at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona. Lab results from the surgery confirmed the presence of glioblastoma.
McCain is reportedly weighing whether to undergo an aggressive treatment of radiation and chemotherapy, and has not said when he might return to Capitol Hill. Glioblastoma is the most common of all malignant brain tumors, representing 15.4% of all primary brain tumors, according to the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA), who estimate there will be over 12,000 cases before the end of 2017.
With the permission of McCain’s family, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta spoke to doctors involved in the senator’s care. Gupta learned McCain had felt tired over the last few months and had a bout of double vision, but blamed it on his intense travel schedule. Doctors ordered a CAT scan and an MRI scan of McCain’s brain that revealed the tumor.
The symptoms of glioblastoma are usually a result of increased pressure on the brain. The ABTA lists headaches, nausea, vomiting and drowsiness as symptoms for the tumor. Depending on where the tumor is, however, weakness on one side of the body, memory and speech difficulties and visual changes can all be developed as a result.
The ABTA labels the prognosis for glioblastoma survival in terms of median survival — the length of time at which an equal number of patients do better and an equal number of patients do worse. Depending on the type of glioblastoma and treatment used, this can range from 14 months to three years. The association also cites a 2009 study that found 10% of patients with glioblastoma may live five years or longer. The average survival time for malignant glioblastoma is around 14 months with treatment.
There is no specific treatment used for glioblastoma but there are a few different approaches doctors can take. Gupta said “This is a malignant cancer, what that means in this case is that you operate on this,” “It needs to be treated as well with chemotherapy and radiation.”
When a cancer is malignant, cells are dividing uncontrollably and can invade nearby tissues. The cancer cells may also spread to other parts of the body through the blood stream or lymph system in the body. Gupta added because of the nature of the tumor, McCain will likely need more procedures in the coming weeks. “The concern is that it will come back. That’s the big concern with these types of tumors,” he said. “In order to try to give him the best chance at that, it is likely he’ll undergo further treatments over the next several days.”
McCain’s cancer is the same form that claimed the lives of Senator Ted Kennedy and Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Beau Biden. This is not McCain’s first battle with cancer; in 2000 he underwent a procedure to remove a type of skin cancer called melanoma from the left side of his face. McCain, 80, also had a melanoma removed from his left arm in 2000 and another removed from his nose in 2002. Both were determined to be the least dangerous types of melanoma.
A horrific incident of human trafficking was discovered in the parking lot of a Walmart in San Antonio, TX. Eight people were discovered dead inside a tractor-trailer and around three dozen people more were in very bad shape, many of them unconscious and unable to speak. Thirty people were taken to the hospital, 17 were listed in critical condition with one critical patient dying later. Another 13 people were in serious condition. In total, 39 people were in the back of the trailer, two were school age children but most were in their twenties and thirties.
Authorities were alerted when the employees of the San Antonio Walmart saw the tractor-trailer in their parking lot for a long time. When some employees went to check on the trailer, the driver asked for water. While giving him the water, police were alerted who reached the scene within a short time.
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said that when police arrived on the scene, they discovered eight people dead and 30 suffering from various injuries. The driver, identified as James M. Bradley Jr., 60, of Clearwater, Florida was arrested at the scene.
The eight people whose bodies were initially found were believed to have died from heat exposure and asphyxiation. San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood told the media “We quickly called a ‘mass casualty incident’ and had about 29 units arrive out there and start transporting people”. “With heat strokes or heat injuries, a lot of them are going to have some irreversible brain damage”.
He added, “Unfortunately, some of them were severely overheated, and that was a refrigerated truck with no refrigeration…So the inside of the truck was just austere condition that nobody was going to survive in it. So we were very fortunate that they were found because if they would have spent another night in that environment, we would have 38 people who would not have survived.”
San Antonio police are investigating what they believe is a massive human trafficking operation. Officials from the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement were helping with the investigation. Surveillance video showed that several vehicles had approached the trailer to pick up people. Some occupants fled into the woods nearby. Authorities are searching the entire area on foot and by air using helicopters to locate those that ran into the woods.
Smugglers often transport large groups of migrants from stash houses near the border in tractor-trailers, or disperse them in smaller vehicles, taking them to cities like Houston or San Antonio. A spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of the Border Patrol, said that the people in the truck were probably migrants who had crossed the Mexican border on foot and been taken to a stash house before being put in the tractor-trailer to be transported farther north.
Just this month in Houston, about a dozen immigrants being smuggled in a cargo truck were rescued after being left in the locked vehicle for about 12 hours in a strip-mall parking lot. A police officer heard the immigrants, including a 16-year-old girl, banging on the walls for help.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has extended the state of emergency for another three months. The extension followed weekend ceremonies to commemorate the first anniversary of the failed military coup in which around 250 people, mostly unarmed civilians, were killed. Anniversary celebrations came a week after the leader of the main opposition, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, ended a nearly 280-mile “March for Justice” from Ankara to Istanbul by holding a rally attended by more than a million people calling for an end to emergency rule and injustice.
President Erdogan vowed to continue the brutal crackdown against activists, journalists, teachers and opposition lawmakers. He also called for the reinstatement of the death penalty in Turkey. Since emergency rule was imposed on July 20 last year, more than 50,000 people have been arrested and 150,000 people have been suspended in a crackdown which Erdogan’s opponents say has pushed Turkey on a path to greater authoritarianism.
Speaking at parliament, Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli said the emergency rule had helped created the necessary legal environment to cleanse the state of Gulen’s network. The Turkish government says it is necessary to root out supporters of the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen who is believed to be behind the coup attempt. Gulen has denied any involvement.
Since the failed coup where Turkish military forces tried to overthrow the government, the Turkish government has taken what some say are controversial steps to strengthen its power. In March, the Jurist Report was published by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The report describes a plethora of human rights violations committed by the Turkish government between July 2015 and December 2016.
The same month the report was published, around 330 individuals were put on trial for alleged involvement in an attempted coup. In November Turkey significantly restricted the activities of NGOs like human rights organizations and children’s groups and arrested opposition party leaders alleging they were connected to terror organizations. Earlier this month the Turkish Parliament elected seven new members to the country’s 13-member Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) in an overnight vote.
Ten human rights activists, including Amnesty International Turkey director Idil Eser, were in court to face terrorism related charges. The targeting of human rights defenders and similar earlier crackdowns on lawyers and associations raises the question of who will be left to defend the tens of thousands of people caught up in the post-coup purge.
According to state and county data, drug overdose deaths surged in 2016, killing nearly 60,000 Americans last year. It is an alarming 19% increase over the 52,404 recorded in 2015 and the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States. All evidence suggests the problem has continued to worsen in 2017. The epidemic of opioid and heroin abuse means that for Americans under the age of 50, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death.
The New York Times compiled estimates for 2016 from hundreds of state health departments and county coroners and medical examiners. The initial data points to large increases in drug overdose deaths in states along the East Coast, particularly Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Maine. The Times analysis suggests that the exponential growth in overdose deaths in 2016 didn’t extend to all parts of the country. In some states in the western half of the United States, overdose deaths may have leveled off or even declined.
The Times data showed that heroin and fentanyl-related deaths are still increasing across the United States – particularly in the Northeast and Midwest. The death rate from synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, surged 72% in 2015, and heroin death rates increased nearly 21 percent.
In Ohio, overdose deaths increased more than 25% in 2016, largely driven by Cook County, where 1,091 of the state’s 3,310 overdose deaths were reported. Last week, the state of Ohio filed a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical industry, accusing drug manufacturers of aggressively advertising opioids and lying to both doctors and patients about the dangers of addiction.
The Drug Enforcement Agency wrote in a 2016 report detailing what the organization calls a global threat “The United States is in the midst of a fentanyl crisis, with law enforcement reporting and public health data indicating higher availability of fentanyls, increased seizures of fentanyls, and more known overdose deaths from fentanyls than at any other time since the drugs were first created in 1959.”
California had the largest total number of overdose deaths at 4,659 in 2015, followed by OH with 3,310, which like West Virginia has been hard hit by the epidemic. The Drug Abuse Warning Network estimated that misuse or abuse of narcotic pain relievers were responsible for more than 420,000 emergency department visits in 2011, the most recent year for which we have data.
Experts warn a key factor of the surge in deaths is fentanyl, which can be 50 times more powerful than heroin. Fentanyl has been popping up in drug seizures across the country. It is usually sold on the street as heroin or drug traffickers use it to make cheap counterfeit prescription opioids. Fentanyls are showing up in cocaine as well, contributing to an increase in cocaine-related overdoses.
Research suggests that since heroin and opioid painkillers, (including prescription ones) act similarly in the brain. Opioid painkillers are often referred to by some doctors as “heroin lite” and taking one (even “as directed”) can increase one’s susceptibility to becoming hooked on the other.
To the surprise of other world leaders, President Trump announced that the US will pull out of the Paris global climate pact. Abandoning the pact would isolate the US from international allies that spent years negotiating the 2015 agreement to fight global warming and pollution by reducing carbon emissions in nearly 200 nations.
The decision means the US will join only Nicaragua and Syria as UN-member countries that aren’t aboard. The US emits more carbon into the atmosphere than any country except China. Abandoning the pact was one of Trump’s principal campaign pledges and the decision reverses one of the Obama administration’s signature achievements. Still, America’s allies have expressed alarm about the likely consequences.
“The United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction in terms that are fair to the United States and its workers. So we’re getting out. We’ll see if we can make a deal. If we can’t, that’s fine,” Trump said to cheers during a ceremony in the Rose Garden.
A White House spokesperson said “The accord was negotiated poorly by the Obama Administration and signed out of desperation. The US is already leading the world in energy production and doesn’t need a bad deal that will harm American workers.”
The Paris climate agreement sets a goal for its signatories to keep warming below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), compared with preindustrial times, by 2100, with a goal of keeping global warming to a mere 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Each country sets its own voluntary goals for emissions cuts, pledging to become stricter as time goes by and there are no binding rules about how the countries should meet those goals.
When the agreement was signed, the US agreed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to between 26-28% of 2005 levels by 2025. The agreement does not officially go into effect until 2020, but meeting those goals would require all countries to take steps preemptive steps before 2020- like setting standards for vehicle emissions, appliances and power plants.
Critics of the decision to abandon the Paris agreement believe the likelihood of international cooperation on carbon-cutting goals past 2025 is on far shakier ground, and that the US will be forfeiting a seat at the table to shape the climate future.
They also feel it does enormous damage to our international credibility as withdrawal from international negotiations is becoming a pattern. The United States withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal under Trump’s first executive order. Trump is also hostile to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), in which members pledge military cooperation with one another. Many feel it will be harder to negotiate other international issues without trust from other nations.
In Montana, tech millionaire Greg Gianforte won a special election for the state’s sole congressional seat just one day after he was charged with assaulting a reporter. Gianforte body-slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs to the floor and repeatedly punched him, after Jacobs tried to ask about the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring of the House health care bill.
More than $6 million was spent by outside groups in Montana’s special election with 90% of the money favoring Gianforte. He won just over 50 percent of the vote, defeating Democratic challenger Rob Quist, who received 44 percent. Gianforte addressed the incident during his victory speech “Last night, I made a mistake, and I took an action that I can’t take back. And I’m not proud of what happened. I should not have responded in the way that I did. And for that, I’m sorry.”
Immediately after the violent altercation, the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs, quickly relayed the incident on social media. “Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacobs tweeted. Jacobs went to a local hospital for an X-ray on his elbow and Gianforte left the event.
Jacobs’ account of the incident was corroborated by Fox News Alicia Acuna, who was in the room to interview Gianforte at the time of the violent attack. Acuna stated that after Jacobs asked Gianforte a question, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck and slammed him to the ground before punching him repeatedly. “To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff’s deputies,” Acuna wrote in her account of the attack.
The sheriff’s office released a statement saying it was investigating allegations of assault involving Greg Gianforte but held press conference hours later as news of the assault spread. Gianforte spokesperson Shane Scanlon released a statement that conflicted with witness accounts “Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office,” Scanlon said in the statement, “the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions. Jacobs was asked to leave. After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”
In audio released of the incident, Jacobs asks Gianforte a question about the latest CBO scoring of the Affordable Health Care Act. “I’m sick and tired of you guys,” Gianforte said. A struggle can be heard on the recording as Gianforte continues “ The last guy who came here did the same thing. Get the hell out of here. Get the hell out of here. The last guy did the same thing. Are you with the Guardian?” “Yes! You just broke my glasses, you just body slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacobs can be heard saying as Gianforte repeatedly yells at him to “Get the hell out of here.”
Earlier on the day of the assault, Jacobs had published a story in the Guardian about financial ties between Gianforte and Russian companies under U.S. sanctions. There is no word on whether his report in the Guardian was a motive in the assault.
The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to reinstate President Trump’s second attempt at a travel ban on all refugees and citizens of six majority-Muslim nations from entering the United States. The Justice Department has vowed to challenge the appeals court ruling and take it to the Supreme Court.
The court ruled 10-3 to uphold a ruling from a district court judge in Maryland that blocked a portion of the order that temporarily banned travel to the United States by nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. In the majority decision, Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote that Trump’s executive order uses “vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”
Judge Gregory listed televised interviews and numerous statements made at political rallies that, in the court’s view, indicated the true intentions of the order. He cited a rally statement in which Trump called the second order a “watered down version” of the first order as well as a televised interview with Rudy Giuliani who said that Trump had asked him to devise an immigration ban within the bounds of legality.
The judge wrote that a reasonable observer would likely conclude the order’s “primary purpose is to exclude persons from the United States on the basis of their religious beliefs”. The government argued that Trump’s comments on the campaign trail should not be taken into account since they occurred before he took office on Jan 20. The appeals court rejected that view, saying they provide a window into the motivations for Trump’s action in government.
The appeals court questioned a government argument that the president has wide authority to halt the entry of people to the United States. They were reviewing a March ruling by Maryland-based federal judge Theodore Chuang that blocked part of Trump’s March 6 executive order barring people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days while the government put in place stricter visa screening. A similar ruling against Trump’s policy from a Hawaii-based federal judge is still in place. The Hawaii judge’s ruling also blocked a section of the travel ban that also suspended refugee admissions for four months. The San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals is still reviewing that decision.
The Trump administration has argued that the temporary travel ban is a national security measure aimed at preventing Islamist militant attacks. “That’s why it’s not a Muslim ban”. The countries were not chosen because they are predominantly Muslim but because they present terrorism risks, the administration has said.
After the 4th Circuit Court ruling, Attorney-general Jeff Sessions said in a statement that the government would seek a review of the case at the Supreme Court. White House spokesperson Michael Short said “These clearly are very dangerous times and we need every available tool at our disposal to prevent terrorists from entering the United States and committing acts of bloodshed and violence,” adding that the White House was confident the order would ultimately be upheld by the judiciary.
A federal judge in Mississippi has sentenced a Gulfport man to 49 years in prison for murdering a transgender teenager, in the first-ever hate crime prosecution involving a transgender victim. Joshua Vallum, 29, plead guilty in the 2015 killing of 17-year-old Mercedes Williamson and was sentenced to life in prison in July 2016 by an Alabama judge. The Department of Justice later decided to pursue hat crime charges. He was sentenced under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
Vallum, a long time Latin Kings gang member, was arrested just days after the murder when his own father reported the crime to police. He initially told investigators that he blacked out and killed Williamson when he discovered she was transgendered. Several witnesses stepped forward saying that Vallum knew she was transgendered and the two had been in an 8 month relationship.
He later admitted that his motive for the killing was fear of being killed once fellow gang members found out. Jeanie Miller, Williamson’s roommate testified that Vallum once told her and Williamson that his gang would kill both Vallum and Williamson if Williamson’s transgender status was discovered. His brother Jacob saw him on the night of the murder covered in blood and testified that Vallum told him: ‘Well, it was my life or his.’
Prosecutors say Vallum killed Mercedes Williamson after the end of their relationship, because a friend learned that she was transgender, a fact Mr. Vallum kept hidden from friends and family while they dated. On May 30th, Vallum lured Williamson into his car in Alabama and drove her 50 miles to his family home near Lucedale, Mississippi. He then shocked her with a stun gun and stabbed her in the body and head with a pocketknife. When Williamson tried to run into the woods, Vallum chased her down and beat her to death with a hammer.
Vallum confessed to his father Bobby Vallum on June 1st that he had murdered and buried Williamson on the rural property. Bobby Vallum took the information to police, leading to Josh Vallum being charged with murder. Williamson was one of at least 21 transgender people murdered in the U.S. in 2015.
In an effort to broaden the company’s “social interaction” with our clients and FaceBook fans, Daily Trivia Questions are posted on both of our business pages. Here are the weekly standings for this past week, and the winner of the Sunday night Weekly Drawing for an AmEx gift card!
Congratulations – To this past week’s Trivia Contest Winner!! Our latest contest winner for the weekly FaceBook HealthInsurance4Everyone/Health & Life Solutions, LLC Trivia Contest, drawn randomly by computer late Sunday evening, May 21st, 2017 was:
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