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USA and Mexico announce joint effort in drug war

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 09:50 AM PDT

Despite disagreements over immigration and trade, U.S. Guard officials have announced that the United States and Mexican governments are joining forces to fight drug smuggling on the seas.

The joint effort is scheduled to begin Sunday, and will last “for the foreseeable future,” as the U.S., Mexico and Columbia work together to target drug smugglers off South America’s Pacific coast, according to a report by the Associated Press.

The Associated Press reported:

U.S. and Mexican forces have routinely worked together at sea, but the latest effort "marks a significant step in terms of information sharing, collaboration and cooperation between the United States, Mexico and other partner nations," according to the Coast Guard.

The Americans and Mexicans will exchange intelligence more freely than in the past, which could mean sharing information on well-traveled routes for drug smugglers or preferred paths for specific smuggling organizations, Coast Guard spokeswoman Alana Miller said.

They will also board the other country's vessels to view operations and gain expertise, Miller said. In 2015, three members of the Mexican navy boarded a Coast Guard vessel during a port call in Huatulco, Mexico, but this operation calls for more frequent exchanges, and they will be at sea.

The operation will last "for the foreseeable future as long as it's working for everyone," Miller said. "It's sort of open-ended."

Traffickers over the years have increasingly turned to the sea to move their illegal goods, traversing an area off South America that is so big, the continental United States could be dropped inside. Smugglers routinely move cocaine out of countries like Colombia to Central America and Mexico via fishing boats, skiffs, commercial cargo ships — even homemade submarines.

The operation comes after five years of record seizures by the Coast Guard. But U.S. officials say because of limited resources, the U.S. military's smallest service still catches only about 25 percent of illegal shipments in the Pacific.

The Coast Guard reportedly seizes three times the amount of cocaine through ocean smuggling as the amount captured at the border.

Under rules between the two nations, the U.S. Coast Guard cannot chase drug smugglers into Mexican waters, but must stop its pursuit and notify Mexican authorities to pick up the chase.

The AP noted:

As much as 20 percent of the cocaine moving through South America ends up in the United States, and most of it lands first in Mexico from seafaring smugglers. The hope is boats will be stopped before their shipments are loaded onto Mexican trucks that fan out on various routes bound for the U.S. border, authorities said. Large boats can cart 20 tons (18 metric tons) of cocaine or more.

In the following video, taken from a drug bust by the U.S. Coast Guard in 2015, a submarine was captured, which was reportedly carrying $181 million worth of drugs – 6 tons in all.

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Ted Nugent: Students who led protests for gun control ‘soulless’ and ‘dangerously stupid’

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 09:46 AM PDT

In a Friday radio interview on “The Joe Pags Show,” National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent railed against the high school students who have led recent protests demanding more gun control, calling them “soulless” and “dangerously stupid.”

“I really feel sorry for them because it's not only ignorant and dangerously stupid, but it's soulless,” Nugent said. “To attack the good law-abiding families of America when well known predictable murderers commit these horrors is deep in the category of soulless.”

Nugent added, “These poor children, I'm afraid to say this and it hurts me to say this, but the evidence is irrefutable — they have no soul.”

In the interview, Nugent lamented the “dumbing down of America” by schools and teachers.

“The dumbing down of America is manifested in the culture deprivation of our academia that have taught these kids the lies, media that have prodded and encouraged and provided these kids lies,” he said.

The Hill reported: Nugent, a National Rifle Association board member and outspoken supporter of President Trump, has a history of making inflammatory political statements. But he swore off such language last year after a shooter opened fire on a congressional baseball practice in Virginia.

Nugent’s comments came in response to protests by students across the country demanding an end to gun violence.

Those protests have largely been led by students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where a gunman opened fire last month, killing 17 people and injuring 14 others.

That shooting reignited an intense debate about the nation’s firearm laws, as students and anti-gun violence advocates have put pressure on lawmakers to strengthen gun restrictions.

The post Ted Nugent: Students who led protests for gun control ‘soulless’ and ‘dangerously stupid’ appeared first on Dennis Michael Lynch.

Nearly 100 MS-13 members arrested in ICE sting arrived in US as ‘unaccompanied minors’

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 09:25 AM PDT

In a recent sting conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, nearly 100 of the arrested MS-13 gang members were found to have arrived in the United States by crossing the U.S.-Mexico border as "unaccompanied minors" and were resettled throughout the country by the federal government.

The “Operation Matador” sting resulted in the arrests of approximately 475 gang members, with 99 of those detained having arrived in the U.S. as "unaccompanied minors."

Breitbart reported: Of the 99 MS-13 gang members who entered the country as unaccompanied minors, 64 of them were granted Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJ), which acts as a quasi-amnesty program for young illegal aliens who cross the southern border.

Of the 475 gang members arrested by ICE in this operation, 65 of them had been allowed to be released into the U.S. by an immigration judge, while four were re-arrested on criminal charges after they were released.

Unaccompanied minors who cross the southern border have continued to be resettled across the U.S. despite a direct correlation of the quasi-amnesty program — known as the Unaccompanied Minor Childrens (UAC) program — with the proliferation of the MS-13 gang in regions of the country like Nassau County and Suffolk County in New York.

Under President Trump's administration, the UAC program has continued. For example, in Fiscal Year 2018 thus far, nearly 200 unaccompanied minors have been resettled in Suffolk County, along with almost 280 in Queens County, and more than 115 in Nassau County, despite the regions' issues with the MS-13 gang.

Thus far in Fiscal Year 2018, Miami-Dade County, which is also struggling with a massive illegal alien population, has been forced to take in nearly 400 unaccompanied minors. During the same time, Palm Beach County has had more than 33o unaccompanied minors resettled in the region.

The post Nearly 100 MS-13 members arrested in ICE sting arrived in US as ‘unaccompanied minors’ appeared first on Dennis Michael Lynch.

Trump lambasts sanctuary cities in Weekly Address (video)

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 09:18 AM PDT

Saturday morning, the White House released a weekly address from President Trump, who pounded the sanctuary cities in America for being distribution centers for criminal aliens and drug dealers, and called for Congress to cut off funding for those cities providing sanctuary to illegal aliens.

The president’s remarks included the following:

Every day, an average of 116 Americans die from an opioid-related overdose. This is a national crisis that demands immediate action.

That is why, last week I traveled to New Hampshire to announced the steps my administration is taking to combat this deadly epidemic.

Our plan has three major parts:

  • Reducing drug demand by focusing on prevention, so people don’t get addicted in the first place.
  • Reducing drug supply, including getting tough on traffickers and dealers – and when I saw tough, I’m talking about really tough because it’s the only language they understand.
  • Increasing drug treatment to get life-saving help to those who really need it.

But if our brave federal agents are going to be successful in stopping this deadly epidemic, then we must stop lawless sanctuary cities.

Sanctuary cities release thousands of dangerous criminal aliens into our communities, including drug traffickers, drug dealers and vicious gang members.

In fact, several of the criminal aliens who got away in Oakland after the mayor helped them evade capture have already committed new crimes – crimes that could have been easily prevented, if not for Oakland’s dangerous sanctuary policies.

It is no coincidence that six of the biggest heroin markets in the United States are sanctuary cities. More than 40% of heroin coming across the southern border is transported through California, a sanctuary state.

Drug cartels have transformed sanctuary cities like Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, into major distribution centers, because the criminal aliens in the drug trade know that local politicians will help them evade authorities.

Sanctuary cities put innocent Americans at the mercy of hardened criminals and heartless drug dealers. These are bad people. 

We want our cities to be safe havens for Americans – not criminal aliens.

It is time for Congress to cut off funds for sanctuary cities and to close the loop holes that allow drugs and criminals to violate our borders.

We’re going to stop the flow of deadly drugs. We’re going to get help to those who need it, and we’re going to end the the scourge of addiction in America.

Watch his full remarks below: 

The post Trump lambasts sanctuary cities in Weekly Address (video) appeared first on Dennis Michael Lynch.

Census Advisory Committee member on citizenship question: ‘What the hell?’

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 09:01 AM PDT

In response to the news that the U.S. Census Bureau is adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, a member of the Census Scientific Advisory Committee questioned, “What the hell?”

D. Sunshine Hillygus, a professor at Duke University who serves on the CSAC, asked the question at the opening of a Thursday presentation at the panel’s spring meeting, then made it clear that she opposed the inclusion of the citizenship question on the 2020 census.

“I want to say in no uncertain terms that I think this is an absolutely awful decision,” she said. “I am dumbfounded that this decision is coming in at such a late date. My view is that this is going to have severe negative implications for data quality and costs.”

The Hill reported: Her comments came days after Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced plans to include a question about citizenship status on the 2020 census – a question that has not been asked by the Census Bureau since 1950.

In a PowerPoint presentation, Hillygus warned that including such a question could bring about “negative implications for data quality and cost,” and damage the Census Bureau’s reputation. She said that including the citizenship question would be viewed as a strictly as a political decision, and would fuel the perception that such information could be used to target non-citizens.

“Because it is viewed as a strictly political decision, I think it doesn’t matter how much the Census Bureau says we will keep your data confidential,” she said.

Civil rights groups and Democrats have fiercely opposed the decision, arguing that it would lead to incomplete and inaccurate data that would lead to lopsided congressional districts and the skewed allocation of federal funding.

The post Census Advisory Committee member on citizenship question: ‘What the hell?’ appeared first on Dennis Michael Lynch.

Middle school teacher: ‘America has never been great for minorities’ (video)

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 08:43 AM PDT

A Georgia school district called a recently recorded rant by one of its middle school teachers against President Donald Trump’s America “extremely unfortunate.”

Johnetta Benton, a sixth grade teacher at Hampton Middle School, was recorded by one of her students delivering a 15-minute lecture in which she mocked Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again” and claimed that “America has never been great for minorities.”

“He must be talking about when it was great for Europeans. Because when it comes to minorities, America has never been great for minorities. And even now it makes me go, ‘hm,’ and I'm trying to figure out when it was great. And then now he's trying to stop immigration,” Benton said in the recording.

J.D. Hardin, the communications coordinator for the Henry County schools in Georgia, called the teacher’s remarks “extremely unfortunate,” and said that the matter had been “addressed immediately,” The Hill reported.

“This unfortunate incident affords us to opportunity to remind our educators of the importance of keeping any potential political bias out of lessons for students of any age,” Hardin said in a statement.

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U.S. Border Protection makes major announcement on construction of Trump’s border wall

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 08:21 AM PDT

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Friday that “construction of the border wall is underway,” describing the replacement of steel plate barriers – including a two-mile strip along the border of Calexico, Calif. – as part of President Donald Trump’s border wall system.

"We're on track to replace 20 miles of primary vehicle barrier in Santa Teresa, New Mexico," said Ronald Vitiello, the acting deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. "Ground breaking is scheduled for early April."

Vitiello said that 14 miles of steel plate barrier will be replaced in San Diego and described a new 30-foot barrier extending two miles in Calexico as part of the new border wall system since it takes the place of outdated barriers, The New York Times reported.

The Hill reported: President Trump issued a tweet this week touting the Calexico project as part of his proposed border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, despite the project being a priority for U.S. officials since 2009.

He also asserted during a speech to union workers in Richfield, Ohio, on Thursday that his administration has “started building our wall. I'm so proud of it.”

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen clarified that the photos the president shared in his tweet were part of the Calexico project.

Various barriers, including fencing and steel walling, currently stretch over more than 650 miles of the southern border. Vitiello said that the administration aims to set up fencing or a wall along 1,000 miles of the southern border.

The recently passed omnibus spending bill allocated $1.6 billion for border security, which can be used for new technology and repairs of existing structures along the U.S.-Mexico border.


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Google employees organize to fight cyberbullying within the company

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 08:01 AM PDT

A group of approximately 100 Google U.S. employees concerned about cyber bullying inside the company has proposed new policies for conduct to mid-level management, hoping they will raise the issue with senior management in the company.

The group reportedly formed in the fall of 2017, with a mission to convince Google to tighten their rules of conduct for internal forums and to hire staff to enforce the policies. The group wants to halt inflammatory conversations and personal attacks on the forums and see punitive action taken against individuals who disregard others with such conduct.

In an exclusive report, Reuters noted, the group also wants Google to list rights and responsibilities for accusers, defendants, managers and investigators in human resources cases. The group also desires greater protection for employees targeted by what it views as insincere complaints to human resources used as a bullying tactic and goading.

The organizers said Google should be more attuned to when people seeking to stir animosity or expressing views opposite the company's stated values try to take over discussions about race, gender and other sensitive subjects.

The group is speaking informally to mid-level executives, hoping they will take up the cause with senior management, organizers said. Self-described conservatives at Google have also raised their own concerns.

The split among Google employees reflects growing polarization across the United States since President Donald Trump was elected. Other companies and industries have also been hit by corporate scandals involving diversity and harassment.

The post Google employees organize to fight cyberbullying within the company appeared first on Dennis Michael Lynch.

Gun control activist David Hogg takes aim at Sen. John McCain

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 07:41 AM PDT

David Hogg, a survivor of the February mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who has become a high-profile gun control advocate, turned his scrutiny on Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in a Friday tweet.

“Why do you take so much money from the NRA?” Hogg, 17, asked in a reply to a Twitter message posted on McCain’s feed regarding the Phoenix-area “Rio Reimagined” redevelopment project that was launched Friday.

AZCentral.com reported: McCain, a six-term Arizona Republican who was the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, is the No. 1 recipient of NRA money among current members of Congress, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Throughout his long career in politics, including the 2008 presidential race, McCain has gotten a $7.7 million boost from the NRA, the non-partisan center found.

McCain, 81, is now battling a deadly form of brain cancer called glioblastoma. McCain’s health has kept him in Arizona since before Christmas and it is unclear when he will return to Capitol Hill. He is not expected to seek a seventh Senate term in 2022.

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New York passes bill prohibiting cops from having sex with detainees

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 07:21 AM PDT

State lawmakers in New York passed a bill on Thursday prohibiting police officers from having sex with people who are being held in custody.

The legislation was introduced and passed unanimously following a case in which two former detectives, Eddie Martins and Richard Hall, were accused of raping an 18-year-old woman who was arrested on marijuana charges in September 2017.

According to the Daily News, the woman, who goes by the pseudonym Anna Chambers, said the two took her to a parking lot where they raped her and forced her to perform a sex act. The cops, who both quit the police force in November, admitted to having sex with the woman and said it was consensual.

New York State law already ruled out the possibility of consensual sex between correction officers and prisoners. And while the same standard already applied to jails within police stations, it didn't apply to cops, who could argue the sex was consensual and face a misdemeanor for misconduct instead of a more serious charge like felony rape.

Bill S7708, which was sponsored by Sen. Andrew Lanza, explicitly states that anyone under arrest or in detention is incapable of giving consent.

New York City Council member Mark Treyger, who represents the district in Brooklyn where the alleged rape took place, called for the state to close the legal loophole.

Treyger lauded passage of the bill in a Friday tweet.

"This horrific rape outraged our community, and from day one I have made it clear I would do whatever it took to advocate for common sense consent laws to make sure that this could never happen again. Grateful to all the advocates that joined this fight."

The loophole had been called “very troubling” by New York City Mayor de Blasio, and the NYPD supported legislation to close it.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who had also supported the legislation, said the bill "closes an egregious loophole and helps protect against abuse in our justice system."

The post New York passes bill prohibiting cops from having sex with detainees appeared first on Dennis Michael Lynch.

White House criticized for lack of diversity among spring interns (photos)

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 07:02 AM PDT

Following the Friday release of a photograph of the White House’s spring interns posing with President Donald Trump, social media users quickly criticized the lack of diversity among the group.

Some critics compared the group  of interns to those that served under former President Barack Obama, whom they argued were more diverse, The Hill reported.

Last year, another photo of a group of White House interns posing with Trump came under scrutiny when one intern was accused of making a white power gesture in the picture. The young man denied the allegation.

Following are some reactions to the most recent photo:

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Trump Tweet: Blasts California governor’s pardon of criminal illegal aliens

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 06:41 AM PDT

After previously accusing President Donald Trump of "basically going to war" with his state, California Gov. Jerry Brown issued pardons on Friday for five ex-convicts who are facing deportation.

In a Saturday tweet, Trump lambasted Brown’s actions and listed the crimes committed by those who were pardoned.

“Governor Jerry ‘Moonbeam’ Brown pardoned 5 criminal illegal aliens whose crimes include (1) Kidnapping and Robbery (2) Badly beating wife and threatening a crime with intent to terrorize (3) Dealing drugs. Is this really what the great people of California want?” Trump tweeted.

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Trump Tweets: Amazon ‘scam’ on US Post office

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 06:21 AM PDT

In a pair of Saturday morning tweets, President Donald Trump again addressed his concerns regarding Amazon and the cost to the U.S. Postal Service to deliver their packages.

“While we are on the subject, it is reported that the U.S. Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon. That amounts to Billions of Dollars. The Failing N.Y. Times reports that "the size of the company's lobbying staff has ballooned," and that does not include the Fake Washington Post, which is used as a "lobbyist" and should so REGISTER. If the P.O. "increased its parcel rates, Amazon's shipping costs would rise by $2.6 Billion." This Post Office scam must stop. Amazon must pay real costs (and taxes) now!” Trump tweeted.

Trump also tweeted about Amazon Thursday morning, lamenting that they pay “little or no taxes” to state and local governments.”

"I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!" Trump tweeted.

The post Trump Tweets: Amazon ‘scam’ on US Post office appeared first on Dennis Michael Lynch.

HUGE caravan of illegal aliens marching through Mexico toward US border (Part 1)

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 06:01 AM PDT

An “army” of Central Americans, estimated to be at about 1,500 people, with 80 percent of them from Honduras, have started on a journey through Mexico towards the U.S. border, intending to request asylum when they arrive.

Univision reported Monday that the massive group of men, women and children making the 2,500 mile, month-long journey are mostly from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. They started out on Sunday, March 25.

The migrants are marching under the motto, "We are all Americans by birth," and claim they are fleeing their countries because of the "poverty and violence of organized crime."

Although the invaders are marching through Mexico illegally, Mexican authorities are reportedly doing nothing to stop them, as they boldly go right through immigration checkpoints and military bases, and the local townspeople and churches are feeding them as they pass through each community. (See more photos, videos below.)

Trucks and buses sometimes give them transportation for several miles to the next town. When there is no transportation, they walk.

As of Friday, the group had made it to Santiago Niltepec, in Mexico’s southern Oaxaca state, but they are hoping to board a freight train that runs through Mexico to the U.S., riding atop the train cars, to speed up their journey.

The following video was reportedly taken the moment the caravan of migrants crossed into Mexico, marching straight through the immigration checkpoint with no one stopping them.

BuzzFeed News has a reporter, Adolfo Flores, who has embedded himself with the group of migrants, and is sending back photos reports of their journey on Twitter.

"The municipality we're at now is offering buses to get us to the next town. It's been happening at several stops, I imagine they're more interested in getting people out of their public squares," Flores wrote in one update.

An excerpt from the exclusive report by BuzzFeed News:

Organized by a group of volunteers called Pueblos Sin Fronteras, or People Without Borders, the caravan is intended to help migrants safely reach the United States, bypassing not only authorities who would seek to deport them, but gangs and cartels who are known to assault vulnerable migrants.

Organizers like Rodrigo Abeja hope that the sheer size of the crowd will give immigration authorities and criminals pause before trying to stop them.

"If we all protect each other we’ll get through this together," Abeja yelled through a loudspeaker on the morning they left Tapachula, on Mexico’s border with Guatemala, for the nearly monthlong trek.

When they get to the US, they hope American authorities will grant them asylum or, for some, be absent when they attempt to cross the border illegally. More likely is that it will set up an enormous challenge to the Trump administration’s immigration policies and its ability to deal with an organized group of migrants numbering in the hundreds.

The number of people who showed up to travel with the caravan caught organizers by surprise, and has overwhelmed the various towns they’ve stopped in to spend the night. Pueblos Sin Fronteras counted about 1,200 people on the first day.

About 80% of them are from Honduras. Many said they are fleeing poverty, but also political unrest and violence that followed the swearing in of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández after a highly contested election last year. The group often breaks into chants of "out with JOH." They also chant "we aren’t immigrants, we’re international workers" and "the people united will never be defeated."

The following video was reportedly taken when the people were lining up to start their journey on Sunday, March 25.

To be continued… this is a developing story. Below is a map of the area. Friday, March 30, the caravan of (reportedly) about 1,500 migrants were in Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca. Other unconfirmed reports are that the numbers are growing with each city they pass through.

Central America


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Ingraham announces break from show amid withdrawal of numerous advertisers (video)

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 05:46 AM PDT

Amid the withdrawal of numerous advertisers from her show “The Ingraham Angle,” Fox News host Laura Ingraham is taking time off for vacation.

Ingraham, who recently mocked Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student David Hogg for being rejected for acceptance by colleges, announced on her show Friday night that she is taking a pre-planned break to be with her family for the Easter holiday.

"A blessed Good Friday and Passover to all of you; I'll be off next week for Easter break with my kids," Ingraham said. “Fear not. We’ve got a great lineup of guest hosts to fill in for me.”

The Hill reported: Ingraham, who hosts one of Fox News' highest rated talk shows, leaves in the midst of controversy and boycotts. At least 14 companies have stopped advertising on Ingraham’s show in the days since the Fox News host mocked Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student David Hogg for being rejected from colleges.

Hogg is both a survivor of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting that took place in February, and a national gun control advocate. He helped organize the March For Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., which brought thousands to the Capitol to pressure lawmakers to change laws in favor of tighter restrictions.

Ingraham apologized on Thursday "for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland." She also praised Hogg's "4.2 GPA," which she had previously mocked.

She noted that she was the first to feature Hogg on the air after the shooting that left 17 dead and praising his "poise" at the time for speaking so well and informatively. She also invited Hogg back on the program to have “a productive discussion.”

After imploring his Twitter followers to contact Ingraham’s top advertisers, Hogg rejected her apology, calling it "an effort just to save your advertisers." Hogg also doubled down by naming 100 advertisers of the show by retweeting a list compiled by Media Matters.

The report from Fox News continued: Since Wednesday night, at least 14 advertisers have stopped advertising on the program, including Liberty Mutual, Office Depot, Jenny Craig, Atlantis Paradise Island, Stitch Fix, Johnson & Johnson, Hulu, Nestle, Expedia, Wayfair, Trip Advisor, Ruby Tuesday, Nutrish, and Global investment group Principal. The only blue-chip company to advertise on Ingraham's show Friday night was IBM, according to Variety.

In response to Ingraham’s announced vacation, Hogg tweeted: “Have some healthy reflections this Holy Week.”

According to Nielsen Media Research, “The Ingraham Angle” finished fourth in the cable news ratings race in total viewers in February, averaging more than 2.6 million viewers. The only cable news shows that attracted more viewers last month were “Hannity," and "Tucker Carlson Tonight" on Fox and “The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC.

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California governor pardons five ex-convicts facing deportation

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 05:25 AM PDT

After previously accusing President Donald Trump of “basically going to war” with his state, California Gov. Jerry Brown issued pardons on Friday for five ex-convicts who are facing deportation, including two whose families fled the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia.

The pardons will not automatically halt deportation proceedings, but will eliminate the state convictions upon which federal authorities base their decisions. The absence of those convictions provide the men’s attorneys with strong legal arguments to try and prevent their deportations.

"The pardon does provide enormous benefit to immigrants facing deportation," said Anoop Prasad, an immigration staff attorney at Asian Law Caucus.

The Associated Press reported: Brown's intervention for the men — among 56 pardoned — marked the Democratic governor's third consecutive pardon round in which he intervened on behalf of immigrants who were deported or faced deportation because of criminal convictions. 

Brown last year signed sanctuary legislation limiting state and local cooperation with federal enforcement of immigration laws. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions responded with a Department of Justice lawsuit seeking to invalidate three state laws protecting residents living in the country without documentation.

Those pardoned Friday included Sokha Chhan and Phann Pheach, both of whom face deportation to Cambodia, a country ruled in the 1970s by the genocidal Khmer Rouge. Chhan was convicted of two counts of misdemeanor domestic violence in 2002 and served 364 days in jail.

Pheach was convicted of possessing drugs and obstructing a police officer in 2005 and served six months in jail. His wife said he is in federal custody.


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Trump signals pullback in Syria by freezing US funding for recovery

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 05:04 AM PDT

Amid a reassessment of the United States’ role in the conflict in Syria, President Donald Trump is freezing more than $200 million in funds allocated for recovery efforts in the war-torn country.

The Department of State has been ordered by the White House to put the funds on hold after Trump read a news report indicating that the U.S. had recently committed an additional $200 million to current recovery efforts in Syria. The funds were pledged by exiting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a February meeting in Kuwait of the coalition that is attempting to defeat ISIS, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Fox News reported: The apparent shift comes as the fight against ISIS has reached an impasse, with the insurgent group controlling just 5 percent of the battered nation but holding fast to it and losing little ground in recent months.

The Journal said that a sped-up pullback of America from Syria could kick up concerns about yielding control of the combat-scarred country to Iran and Russia.

In the past month, U.S.-led airstrikes supporting local forces on the ground have diminished. In January, Tillerson laid out a strategy in which the U.S. would remain in Syria for the foreseeable future to prevent an ISIS resurgence and keep Iran’s influence in check.

Now, The Journal said, Trump looks to be questioning that tack. He has said he would like to see regional allies like Saudi Arabia take on more of the burden, and the White House has asked Gulf Arab states to come up with billions of dollars for Syria’s recovery.

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School’s ‘blackface’ prop sparks anger, controversy (pictures)

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 06:35 PM PDT

An Atlanta charter school had to apologize for a questionable prop they used during a black history program. The bit featured second graders holding masks that depict traditional blackface (see video below).

From AJC: The performance, which featured children reciting Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem "We Wear the Mask" while holding paper masks in front of their faces, took place during a program Thursday hosted by The Kindezi School at Old Fourth Ward. Parents posted video and pictures that have been shared thousands of times on social media and expressed concern about the appropriateness of the mask and its historical context.

AJC reports that the school said it is "deeply committed" to making sure "this never happens again” and that it will provide teacher’s with education on "cultural competency" to ensure "staff has a thorough understanding of our shared history regarding race and racism in America, and how to engage in productive conversations with our students and the community."

Kindezi issued the following statement:

"Kindezi Old Fourth Ward sincerely apologizes and accepts responsibility for the hurt, anger, frustration and disappointment caused by the poor judgement we made in having students use masks that mimic blackface while reciting Paul Lawrence Dunbar's poem, We Wear the Mask at our Black History program Thursday night.

We are deeply committed to ensuring that this never happens again and are immediately taking the following actions:

· The Kindezi Schools is conducting a thorough investigation into this matter.

· Kindezi Old Fourth Ward is providing teacher education on cultural competency and ensuring our staff has a thorough understanding of our shared history regarding race and racism in America, and how to engage in productive conversations with our students and the community.

· We are holding conversations with students to provide the historical context of the imagery and poem used, as well as providing them with an opportunity to express their feelings and thoughts.

· We are initiating a conversation with the Old Fourth Ward community to help initiate the healing process.

Kindezi is committed to delivering a life-changing education, filled with love and rigor, that enables all children to thrive. We are also committed to raising the voices of the communities we serve and providing all our students with a positive learning environment that prepares them for future success.

You may see the masks in the video below. If you can’t see the video you may watch it HERE.

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