Transgender boys will now be able to participate in the Boy Scouts of America, the organization announced Monday, accepting children based on their gender identities. Until now, the Boy Scouts only based its enrollment on the gender listed on birth certificates. But, the organization said in a statement, “that approach is no longer sufficient as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state.” Some Boy Scouts have previously been asked to leave the program after leaders found out the children were transgender. The new policy goes into effect immediately. The Boy Scouts have adopted more LGBTQ-friendly policies in recent years, amid pressure. In 2013, the organization said it would allow openly gay children to participate, and in 2015 allowed in gay troop leaders and employees. LGBTQ rights activists celebrated Monday’s announcement.
—President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Monday night, hours after she instructed the Justice Department not to argue in defense of Trump’s immigration and refugee executive order. More here
—Alexandre Bissonnette, the suspect behind the deadly shooting at a Quebec mosque, was charged for perpetrating the attack that killed six people and injured 19 others. More here
—We’re tracking the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
The Boy Scouts Will Now Allow Transgender Boys
Trump Fires Acting Attorney General for Not Defending Immigration Order
Updated at 9:45 p.m.
President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Monday night, hours after she instructed the Justice Department not to argue in defense of Trump’s immigration and refugee executive order.
“The acting attorney general, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States,” the White House said in an unusual statement announcing the dismissal. “Ms. Yates is an Obama administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.”
The White House said Dana Boente, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, would serve as acting attorney general in Yates’s stead until the Senate confirms Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as attorney general.
Events unfolded rapidly after Yates sent a letter to Justice Department lawyers instructing them not to defend Trump’s controversial executive order in court, a surprising rebuke of the new president’s controversial efforts to block immigrants and refugees from seven largely Muslim countries from entering the United States. Yates had been confirmed by the Senate to the position of deputy attorney general in January 2015.
“At present I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with [my] responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful,” she wrote. “Consequently, for as long as I am the acting attorney general, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the executive order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate.”
Her move came after a chaotic weekend at dozens of U.S. airports in which armies of volunteer lawyers and demonstrators attempted to aid those detained and deported by Trump’s executive order. Federal judges in five states blocked immigration officials from enforcing parts of the order over the past three days.
Yates’s directive also adds new energy to the Senate confirmation battle over Sessions, an immigration hardliner nominated by Trump to helm the Justice Department. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on Sessions’s nomination on Tuesday.
“My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts,” she wrote. “In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”
Deadly Quebec Mosque Shooting Suspect Charged
Alexandre Bissonnette, the suspect behind the deadly shooting at a Quebec mosque, was charged Monday for perpetrating the attack that killed six people and injured 19 others, the Toronto Star reports. The 27-year-old university student faces six counts of first degree murder and five counts of attempted murder. Approximately 39 people were attending Sunday prayers at the Cultural Centre of Quebec’s Grand Mosque when a gunman entered the building and opened fire on the worshippers. Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, condemned the shooting as “a terrorist attack on Muslims in a centre of worship and refuge.”
Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooting Suspect Pleads Not Guilty
Estoban Santiago plead not guilty Monday to criminal charges accusing him of perpetrating a shooting that left five people dead and six others injured at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The 26-year-old Iraq war veteran, who traveled to Florida on a one-way ticket from Alaska, faces 22 criminal charges for allegedly loading a handgun in an airport bathroom and opening fire on people in baggage claim. If convicted, he could face life in prison or the death penalty. Santiago’s family said he was receiving psychological treatment prior to the attack, and authorities are determining whether his mental health played a role. Santiago had previously told investigators he was inspired by the Islamic State after chatting with extremists online, though it is unclear if this is true.
Less Than Two Weeks After Leaving, Obama Speaks Out
Less than two weeks since his successor Donald Trump was sworn in as president, former President Barack Obama made a public statement in support of the protests that erupted in response to Trump’s executive order barring travelers from certain majority-Muslim countries.
“President Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country,” reads the statement from Obama spokesperson Kevin Lewis. “Citizens exercising their Constitutional right to assemble, organize, and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.” Notably, in his last press conference, Obama implied he might re-enter the political arena if he believed that the nation had reached a moment “where I think our core values may be at stake.”
Obama’s decision to weigh in so soon after leaving office suggests a high level of concern over recent events––most presidents try to avoid weighing in on politics in the immediate aftermath of their administrations. But the decision was likely affected by the Trump administration’s decision to falsely characterize the ban as similar to policies pursued while Obama was in office––the Obama administration never barred all refugees, green card holders, or visa applications in the same manner.
“With regard to comparison to President Obama’s foreign police decisions,” Miller’s statement reads, “the President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.”
Washington State Sues Donald Trump Over the Travel Ban
The attorney general for Washington state said Monday the state will sue President Trump over the executive order signed last week that bans migration to the U.S. from seven majority-Muslim countries. Washington is now the first state to file suit against the order. Washington’s attorney general was one of 15 others who signed a statement opposing Trump’s travel ban. On Monday, at a news conference announcing the suit, Governor Jay Inslee said of the order: “Its impact, its cruelty, its clear purpose is an unconstitutional religious test.” The suit will be backed by Washington-based companies like Expedia and Amazon.com, according to The Seattle Times, and company representatives will provide testimonies about the economic harms Trump’s ban will bring. The order has set off waves of protests across the country, and over the weekend a huge crowd demonstrated outside the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where two men were detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection—and later released.
Iraq Bans U.S. Visitors in 'Reciprocity Measure'
Iraqi lawmakers approved a measure Monday barring Americans from entering the country, the Associated Press reports. The measure, which is non-binding, comes in response to President Trump’s executive order Friday banning citizens from Iraq and six other Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. It is unclear when the ban will go into effect, or if it will affect American military personnel or non-government workers already in the country. Iraq’s foreign ministry released a statement Monday condemning the U.S. ban, which it characterized as a “wrong” move by “an ally and a strategic partner.” Indeed, the bans signal a strain in relations between Washington and Baghdad, whose joint efforts have focused on targeting the Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. Iran, which is also on the U.S. list, responded to the U.S. ban Saturday with a retaliatory measure of its own, announcing it too would bar U.S. citizens from entering the country “until the offensive U.S. limitations against Iranian nationals are lifted.”
France Charges Brussels Bombing Suspect in Paris Attacks
French authorities have the charged the Brussels bombing suspect with involvement in the November 2015 Paris attacks. Belgian authorities handed over Mohamed Abrini, the “man in the hat,” to France for one day in connection with the Paris attack, French media quoted prosecutors as saying. Both attacks were claimed by ISIS, and Belgian authorities said they were planned and carried out by the same cell. The Brussels airport bombing on March 22, 2016, killed 32 people; the Paris attacks killed 130.
Trudeau Calls Quebec Mosque Shooting Terrorism
Update at 12:39 p.m. ET
BREAKING: Court clerk confirms the names of suspects in Canadian mosque attack as Alexandre Bissonnette and Mohamed el Khadir.— The Associated Press (@AP) January 30, 2017
Our original post:
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling the shooting deaths of six people at a mosque in Quebec City an act of terrorism. Two men have been arrested in connection with the shooting at the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec; eight people were wounded in Sunday’s attack during evening prayers. Quebec’s Premier Philippe Couillard called the incident “murderous act directed at a specific community.” An unnamed witness told Radio-Canada that the shooting was carried out by two masked gunmen. Martin Coiteux, Quebec’s public-security minister, said places of worship across the province were given extra security following the attack. Last June, someone left a pig’s head at the doorstep of the Islamic Center during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan; Muslims regard the pig as an unclean animal. The motivation of the gunmen is not yet clear.
Here's What's Happening Today With Trump's Immigration Order
President Trump’s executive order led to massive protests, legal challenges, and an apparent reversal over the weekend. The order suspends the U.S. refugee intake for 120 days, bans all Syrian refugees until further notice, and bars people from seven countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen—for 90 days. Following large protests over the weekend at several U.S. airports and outside the White House, as well as legal challenges on the behalf of individuals detained at U.S. ports of entry, the Trump administration appeared to reverse course on a section of the ban the also applied to U.S. permanent residents. Other parts of the ban remain in effect. Protests are expected on Monday, though perhaps on a smaller scale as it’s the start of the workweek. Criticism of the order has spread across the Atlantic: In the U.K., a petition to stop Trump’s state visit has gained more than 1 million signatures; 100,000 signatures were needed for the petition to be considered for parliamentary debate.