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Judge Rules that New DACA Rules are not Valid

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Homeland security secretary, Chad Wolf, signed rules limiting protections included in the Obama-era DACA program. A federal judge ruled that those rules were invalid on November 14th, squandering the Donald Trump administration’s chance to address the program before his presidential run is over.

What We Know:

  • In July of this year, Wolf issued a memo detailing new rules for DACA applicants. The memo said that new DACA applicants would no longer be accepted, and current DACA citizen renewals would only be for one year instead of two.
  • There have been multiple questions about rather Wolf’s appointment is illegal because it did not properly follow the line of succession. In September, Judge Paula Xinis made a ruling that his appointment “was invalid under the agency’s applicable order of succession, and so he lacked the authority to amend the order of succession to ensure Wolf’s installation as Acting Secretary.” in a case handling Wolf’s attempt to enhance restrictions on asylum.
  • On November 14th, Judge Nicholas Garaufis said, “Wolf was not lawfully serving as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security under the HSA [Homeland Security Act] when he issued the Wolf Memorandum,” invalidating Wolf’s limitations on DACA protections.
  • The department of homeland security has only had 2 out of 5 secretaries, John Kelly and Kirstjen Nielsen, confirmed by the senate. The secretaries remain under scrutiny but have not been removed.

The multiple secretaries in question will likely continue to act in their positions. Wolf is continuing his duties and even appointed two new members to the Homeland Security Advisory Council on November 12th.

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Law

DOJ Investigating Bribery Conspiracy Involving Presidential Pardons

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The U.S. Dept. of Justice is investigating an alleged scheme to bribe White House officials or related political committee with political contributions in return for a Presidential pardon, according to a court document unsealed on Tuesday.

What We Know:

  • A federal court order was signed by Chief Judge Beryl Howell on August 28th. It was filed after a government filter team was sorting through more than 50 digital devices as part of an investigation when they came across emails pointing to two alleged schemes.
  • The first scheme involved two individuals, whose names are redacted, who lobbied top White House officials to try to secure clemency of their offenses. The second scheme deemed a “bribery conspiracy,” alleges that “a substantial political contribution [was exchanged] for a presidential pardon or reprieve of sentence” by an individual whose name is being kept confidential.
  • The emails recovered by the filter team were subject to speculation on whether the government can seize them or the attorney-client privilege protected them. Chief Judge Howell ruled that the emails were not protected because them emails were sent to someone who is not a lawyer. “The attorney-client privilege applies only when the participants in the communication are the client and the client’s attorney, who is a ‘member of the bar,’ ” Howell wrote.
  • Judge Howell’s 18-page opinion offers some details about the case and the anonymous perpetrators. According to the document, no one appears to have been charged in connection to the investigation; however, the person seeking a pardon surrendered to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, suggesting that person has already been convicted of a crime.

  • According to the US Pardon Attorney’s office, President Trump has granted 29 pardons and commuted 16 people’s sentences during his presidency. The most recent of his pardons went toward is his former national security adviser Michael Flynn,  who was charged with lying to the FBI, hiding undisclosed lobbying for Turkey, and other potential crimes. Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has also reportedly discussed the possibility of receiving a preemptive pardon before the end of the President’s term, according to The New York Times.

In response to the events, President Trump called the investigation “Fake News!” on Twitter.

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Rafer Johnson, 1960 Olympic Decathlon Champion, Dies at 86

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Rafer Lewis Johnson was an American decathlete and film actor who also won the decathlon at the 1960 Rome Olympics and helped subdue Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin in 1968. At 86-years-old, the champion passed away in his home in Los Angeles, discovered by a family friend Michael Roth. No cause of death has been announced. 

What We Know:

  • Rafer Lewis Johnson was born on Aug. 18, 1934, in Hillsboro, Texas. There are sources that say he was born in 1935, but his family says they are wrong. He moved to California in 1945 with his family, including his brother Jim, a future NFL Hall of Fame inductee. He played football, basketball, baseball, and ran track and field at Kingsburg Joint Union High. According to CBS News, as a freshman at UCLA, where he received academic and athletic scholarships, Johnson won gold at the 1955 Pan Am Games and set a world record of 7,985 points.
  • In years past, Johnson won multiple Olympic medals nationally and internationally. From 1955-1960, he received national decathlon medals and won the silver in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. He did this all while carrying a rivalry with his UCLA teammate C.K. Yang and others from the Soviet Union. He has also carried the US flag at the 1960 games and lit the torch at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to open the 1984 Games. 
  • In June of 1968, Johnson was working on Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign when Kennedy was shot in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Johnson, retired NFL athlete Rosey Grier, and journalist George Plimpton were able to subdue the shooter, Sirhan SirhanJohnson referred to the assassination as “one of the most devastating moments in my life”.
  • Rafer Johnson held many titles in his lifetime. He worked for the Peace Corps, March of Dimes, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and American Red Cross. He remained active for many years at UCLA, serving on various committees and boards. In 2016, he received the UCLA Medal, the university’s highest award for extraordinary accomplishments. The school’s track is even named for Johnson and his wife Betsy. 

Johnson is survived by this wife of 49 years Elizabeth “Betsy” Thorsen, his two children Jenny and Josh, and four grandchildren.

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Coronavirus

Ambulance Companies at a ‘Breaking Point’ After Receiving Little Covid Aid

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The ambulance industry recently revealed it is at a “breaking point” in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, obtained by NBC News. The letter continues to warn that as cases surge during the holiday season, ambulance companies will need more aid in order to keep them afloat.

What We Know:

  • Private ambulance companies, who look after about a third of the communities in the U.S., have not received coronavirus aid since April, when they were allotted $350 million in aid by the Department of Health and Human Services. This money, many companies say, ran out within week.
  • Due to the ongoing pandemic, private ambulance companies are significantly losing revenue due to the overcrowding of hospitals and exceptionally high demand of healthcare workers. As hospitals and healthcare facilities are overwhelmed by Covid admissions, they are limiting or no longer admitting other medical procedures and surgeries. Therefore, ambulance companies are not getting the valuable 911 or hospital transfer calls they once received, and must also spend more money on personal protective equipment.
  • To make matters worse, ambulatory companies now face paying out of pocket for emergency medical procedures that EMTs have to perform on site, rather than transporting patients to the hospital, due to new coronavirus protocols. Additionally, these costly procedures are not reimbursed by Medicare or Medicaid Services as they do not qualify for coverage since patients weren’t actually transported anywhere.
  • In its letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, the American Ambulance Association urged that paramedics and EMTs who make up ambulance services across the country need $2.62 billion; about $43,500 for each of the approximately 60,000 ambulances that answer 911 calls. They suggested that the funds come from the Provider Relief Fund, a $175 billion fund created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support health care workers.

After praising “the ambulance people” and others in healthcare, President Trump said he “will certainly look into it” when mentioned of the ongoing crisis among ambulatory services.

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