Trump Signs Executive Order Suspending U.S. Refugee Intake
President Trump signed an executive order Friday that among things suspends the U.S. refugee program for 120 days and bars all Syrian refugees until further notice—an expected move that comes on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which honors the millions of victims of Nazi genocide, including the tens of thousands of Jews who were denied asylum in the U.S. at the time.
The move explicitly appears to target Muslims refugees—though the White House has shied way from calling it a Muslim ban, as Trump had done during the presidential campaign. But in an interview with CBN’s Brody Files, Trump said persecuted Christians will be given a priority over others. The executive order also appears to suspend immigration from some Muslim-majority countries, with some exceptions. The secretary of Homeland Security will submit a report of countries within 30 days.
Officials have previously said the Trump administration will suspend the issuance of visas from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The seven countries account for an insignificant number of people entering the U.S.—though they account for about 40 percent of the U.S. refugee intake. Refugee and human rights groups have sharply criticized the move.
UPDATE: Theresa May Meets Trump at the White House
British Prime Minister Theresa May became the first foreign leader to meet with President Trump at the White House. The two leaders are expected Friday to discuss, among other things, a trade deal, NATO, and Russia. Trump has said he’ll negotiate directly with May over a trade deal, which the U.K. needs following its vote last summer to withdraw from the European Union. Statements from both London and Brussels in recent days suggest the process of withdrawing from the EU is likely to be anything but smooth; a trade deal the U.S. would boost May’s credentials at home ahead of an expected parliamentary vote on Brexit. Both countries remain members of NATO, and while May has called the Atlantic alliance invaluable, Trump has described it as “obsolete.” As for Russia, which Trump has said he wants to work with, May, perhaps paraphrasing a former U.S. president, said: “My advice is to engage but beware.”
Al-Shabaab Attacks a Kenyan Military Base and Kills Dozens
The militant Islamist group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for an attack on a military base Friday that reportedly killed dozens of Kenyan soldiers. A spokesman for Kenya’s military said the terrorist group had used vehicles laden with explosives to gain access to the base, located in the southern town of Kulbiyow, which is on the border of Kenya and Somalia, then raided it with their fighters. A spokesman for al-Shabaab told Reuters its fighters killed at least 66 soldiers at the base, who were deployed with a regional peacekeeping mission. These numbers have not been confirmed by the Kenyan government, and al-Shabaab’s death tolls typically differ from official counts. The militant group has waged a war in the region near Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia for more than a decade. Recently, as the African Union’s security forces clamp down on the terrorists, they have stuck back with more violence. This week alone, al-Shabaab claimed credit for an attack on a hotel in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, that killed 28 people.
President Trump is expected Friday to urge defense officials to devise a plan in 30 days to defeat ISIS. The plan, according to The New York Times, could include “American artillery on the ground in Syria and Army attack helicopters to support an assault on the group’s capital, Raqqa.” Trump makes his first visit to the Pentagon today. On Thursday, Trump renewed his calls for a wall on the southern border with Mexico and addressed Republican lawmakers at their annual retreat.
Amid our pain and grief, we must face a bitter truth.
Thoughts and prayers. It began as a cliché. It became a joke. It has putrefied into a national shame.
If tonight, Americans do turn heavenward in pain and grief for the lost children of Uvalde, Texas, they may hear the answer delivered in the Bible through the words of Isaiah:
“And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.”
We will learn more about the 18-year-old killer of elementary-school children: his personality, his ideology, whatever confection of hate and cruelty drove him to his horrible crime. But we already know the answer to one question: Who put the weapon of mass murder into his hand? The answer to that question is that the public policy of this country armed him.
Of all the objections NIMBYs raise to new housing and infrastructure, perhaps the most risible is that their community is already too crowded.
Some propositions are so obvious that no one takes the time to defend them. A few such propositions are that human life is good, that people can and often do provide more benefits to the world than they take away, and that we should design society to support people in leading lives that are good for themselves and others.
These ideas came under attack, sometimes subtly and sometimes overtly, by environmentalists in the 20th century who were worried about overpopulation. Although major organizations have abandoned population management as an explicit policy goal, the underlying fear that too many people are running up on the limits of too few resources and Well shouldn’t someone do something about that? has never fully been rooted out of American political thought. It is alive and well among NIMBYs. Of all the objections people raise to new housing and infrastructure, perhaps the most risible is that their community is already too crowded. Some even suggest that municipalities should limit housing supply explicitly tocombat population growth.
Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention reportedly chose to protect their denomination by hiding abuse—and then attempted to destroy the victims.
“I knew it was rotten, but it’s astonishing and infuriating. This is a denomination that is through and through about power. It is misappropriated power. It does not in any way reflect the Jesus I see in the scriptures. I am so gutted.”
That’s what Jennifer Lyell, a survivor who was an executive at the Southern Baptist Convention and whose story of sexual abuse at a Southern Baptist seminary is detailed in a devastating 288-page report by Guidepost Solutions, toldThe Washington Post.
The report concludes that for almost two decades, the men who ran the SBC’s executive committee, which oversees the day-to-day operations of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, lied, engaged in cover-ups, sided with those who were credibly accused of abuse, and vilified victims of abuse. Past presidents of the convention and a former vice president allegedly protected and supported accused abusers. A Southern Baptist pastor who had been a senior vice president of the SBC’s missions arm was credibly accused of assaulting a woman, the report finds. The trail of horrors goes on and on.
If you’ve tried to buy a home in the past two years, you have my most profound sympathies. Your experience has probably gone something like this: You found your dream home online; sent photos around to your family; visited the premises (or decided to buy, sight unseen); got your financial statements in order; smartly offered 10 percent over asking; and learned, several hours later, that no fewer than 831 other people had bid for the same house, which sold to a couple who paid 50 percent over asking, all cash, and cinched the deal with a contract amendment promising to name their firstborn child after the seller.
Yes, the American real-estate market really has been historically hellish, or historically hot, depending on whether you were trying to buy a home or sell one. Within the past year, just about every housing statistic you could imagine set some kind of berserk record. Home prices hit a record high, the share of homes that sold above asking hit a record high, and the number of available homes for sale hit a record low.
The teenagers are not all right, but then again, neither are the adults. Pandemic life has been profoundly jarring, and every generation has felt it. I hear about people fighting on airplanes and an increase in violent crimes, then I attend my Alcoholics Anonymous meetings on Zoom and try to figure out why going back to “normal” is so hard. My 80-year-old mother never got COVID-19, but more than two years of sitting at home seems to have hastened her descent into dementia. Meanwhile, many young children are struggling to keep up with their education or even learn how to socialize.
Now imagine what this moment must be like for teenagers. In December, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued a warning: Pandemic-related death, fear, loneliness, and economic uncertainty have worsened “the unprecedented stresses young people already faced.” It makes sense. Between unfamiliar hormones and trying to figure out who you are in the world, being a teen has always been incredibly hard. Pandemic teenagehood is even worse. Recently, I was reading a story in The New Yorker about child suicide when I learned that a friend of a friend’s teenager had died by suicide. I felt sick.
Between 1965 and 1969, more than a million American soldiers served in combat in Vietnam. One can argue that they should never have been sent there, but no one would argue that, once committed to battle, they should have been given inferior equipment. Yet that is what happened. During those years, in which more than 40,000 American soldiers were killed by hostile fire and more than 250,000 wounded, American troops in Vietnam were equipped with a rifle that their superiors knew would fail when put to the test.
The rifle was known as the M-16; it was a replacement for the M-14, a heavier weapon, which was the previous standard. The M-16, was a brilliant technical success in its early models, but was perverted by bureaucratic pressures into a weapon that betrayed its users in Vietnam. By the middle of 1967, when the M-16 had been in combat for about a year and a half, a sufficient number of soldiers had written to their parents about their unreliable equipment and a sufficient number of parents had sent those letters to their congressmen to attract the attention of the House Armed Services Committee, which formed an investigating subcommittee. The subcommittee, headed by Representative Ichord, a Democrat from Missouri, conducted a lengthy inquiry into the origins of the M-16 problem. Much of the credit for the hearings belongs to the committee’s counsel, Earl J. Morgan. The hearing record, nearly 600 pages long, is a forgotten document, which received modest press attention at the time and calls up only dim recollections now. Yet it is a pure portrayal of the banality of evil.
They weren’t the first mass-shooting victims the Florida radiologist saw—but their wounds were radically different.
As I opened the CT scan last week to read the next case, I was baffled. The history simply read “gunshot wound.” I have been a radiologist in one of the busiest trauma centers in the United States for 13 years, and have diagnosed thousands of handgun injuries to the brain, lung, liver, spleen, bowel, and other vital organs. I thought that I knew all that I needed to know about gunshot wounds, but the specific pattern of injury on my computer screen was one that I had seen only once before.
In a typical handgun injury, which I diagnose almost daily, a bullet leaves a laceration through an organ such as the liver. To a radiologist, it appears as a linear, thin, gray bullet track through the organ. There may be bleeding and some bullet fragments.
As in Europe, where Vladimir Putin’s assault is uniting the region against him, so too in Asia is an aggressive Beijing entrenching American power.
If President Joe Biden’s trip to Asia—marked as it was by his comments on the defense of Taiwan, announcements on a proposed new regional trade pact, and meetings with leaders who exhibit similar levels of concern about a rising China—has shown the persistence of American global power, it has also revealed something of equal importance: Beijing’s failure to translate economic might into political dominance, even in its own backyard.
Biden today concluded a summit of the leaders of the Quad—a security partnership including Australia, India, Japan, and the United States—who issued a joint statement chockablock with references to promoting democracy, a rules-based global order, and peaceful resolution of disputes. That came a day after Biden announced the formation of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, a partnership with 13 countries as diverse as South Korea, Vietnam, and New Zealand. Notably absent from all of this was China. Biden’s trip exhibited Washington’s continued ability to rally other nations behind its standard, and in initiatives overtly targeted against the region’s supposedly rising superpower.
What would it have been like to live in Babel in the days after its destruction? In the Book of Genesis, we are told that the descendants of Noah built a great city in the land of Shinar. They built a tower “with its top in the heavens” to “make a name” for themselves. God was offended by the hubris of humanity and said:
Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.
The text does not say that God destroyed the tower, but in many popular renderings of the story he does, so let’s hold that dramatic image in our minds: people wandering amid the ruins, unable to communicate, condemned to mutual incomprehension.
In the 1960s, the capital was an alluring but dangerous place for people with a secret.
On November 23, 1963, the morning after he swore the oath of office in an impromptu ceremony aboard Air Force One, President Lyndon B. Johnson called Bob Waldron to commiserate about the colossal burden that had just been placed upon his shoulders.
A native of Arp, Texas, a town of fewer than 1,000 inhabitants some 125 miles east of the city where Johnson’s predecessor, John F. Kennedy, had just been assassinated, Waldron, 36, was an administrative assistant for Representative Homer Thornberry, Johnson’s heir to the Tenth Congressional District seat in Texas. Waldron had moved to Washington in 1955. By 1959, though technically still in Thornberry’s employ, he had essentially become a member of Johnson’s Senate staff, one of several people whom allies and benefactors “loaned” to the then–Senate majority leader during his decades-long political rise. Johnson had initially recruited Waldron for his quick note-taking skills, but he soon became something much more significant: a combination of aide, travel companion, and personal confidant. Waldron’s role gradually expanded to “body man,” that term for an all-purpose gofer so particular to Washington—where some in positions of authority view menial tasks such as inserting contact lenses and picking their daily wardrobe as beneath their dignity. In time, Waldron became a fixture in Johnson’s retinue outside the office, once attending dinner at the Johnson home, by his own estimate, 14 nights in a row.