Texas ICE Jail to Release 29 Families After Federal Ruling on Asylum.

H8 dilley dention center

Nielsen’s trip came as the Trump administration said it would begin withdrawing thousands of soldiers it mobilized to the border ahead of the midterm elections, and after a federal judge halted the Trump administration’s plans to bar migrants from seeking asylum unless they arrive at a legal U.S. port of entry. Following that ruling, 29 migrant families will be released from the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley. Many of them come from a region of Central America known as the Northern Triangle, encompassing El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The area is marked by widespread poverty and extreme gang violence. In a statement, Amnesty International welcomed the releases as a positive step but blasted the Trump administration over its policy toward migrants, writing, “It is unconscionable to criminalize mothers, fathers, and children who have lost everything. The administration must immediately abandon plans to build more detention centers and tent cities.”

Maine basketball team and Hollywood Casino spend Thanksgiving at homeless shelter

The University of Maine men’s basketball team and the staff of the Hollywood Casino prepared and served Thanksgiving dinner to members of the community at the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter.

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BANGOR (NEWS CENTER Maine) — The holidays are a time to spend with family, but also a time to give back to those less fortunate than you.

This is the fourth year the staff of the Hollywood Casino has prepared Thanksgiving dinner at the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter, and the third year one of the two University of Maine basketball teams has served the meals.

“The Hollywood Casino, really great neighbors to have.” Boyd Kronholm, executive director of the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter, said. “They not only support us on Thanksgiving but they have hired and given employment to some of our overnight guests.”

The shelter serves three meals on Thanksgiving and expects to serve about 100 hungry members of the community.

“43 of those people will probably be people who stay here but everyday at noon we open up our doors for a soup kitchen for anyone who’s hungry in the community. So those are people who may have been through our shelter at one point but are housed, but may not know where their next meal is coming from.” Kronholm said.

Junior guard on the Maine Black Bears, Isaiah White, says he’s not new to giving back to the community he lives in.

“When I’m back home, back in high school our church used to do things like this around the holidays too.” He said.

While this isn’t the community White grew up in, he says he enjoys giving back to a place that welcomed him with open arms.

“Maine, you know, the city of Bangor, Orono, the school, has fully embraced the basketball team.” He said.

US Chief Justice Roberts rebukes Trump’s ‘Obama judge’ complaint

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts pushes back against Trump, saying there are no ‘Obama judges or Trump judges’.

President Donald Trump greets Chief Justice John Roberts on Capitol Hill [Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo]

President Donald Trump greets Chief Justice John Roberts on Capitol Hill

US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts pushed back on Wednesday against Donald Trump‘s description of a judge who ruled against the president’s new asylum policy as an “Obama judge”.

It’s the first time that the Republican-appointed leader of the federal judiciary has offered even a hint of criticism of Trump, who has previously blasted federal judges who ruled against him.

Responding to a query made by the Associated Press, Roberts said, “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”

Roberts added that on the day before Thanksgiving that an “independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for”.

The White House had no immediate comment on Roberts’s remarks.

A halt to new asylum rules

The ruling Trump criticised that prompted Roberts’s rebuke came from US District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco on Monday.

Tigar temporarily blocked the Trump administration from denying asylum to individuals who cross the US’s border between official ports of entry.

In his ruling, Tigar issued a temporary nationwide restraining order prohibiting the enforcement of the policy. The order will last until until at least December 19 when the judge scheduled a hearing to consider a more long-lasting injunction.

“Whatever the scope of the president’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” Tigar wrote.

After Tigar’s ruling, Trump critcised the judge, calling him an “Obama judge” and the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals itself a “disgrace”.

“Every case that gets filed in the 9th Circuit, we get beaten. And then we end up having to go to the Supreme Court, like the travel ban, and we won,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday.

But the initial travel ban ruling in 2017 was issued by US District Judge James Robart, an appointee of President George W Bush. Roberts also was appointed by Bush.

It was unclear what Trump meant when he said things would change. The 9th Circuit is by far the largest of the federal appellate courts, covering Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Some Republicans in 9th Circuit states have proposed splitting the circuit in two, but legislation has not advanced.

OPINION

Kavanaugh and white boys’ club politics in the US

Hamid Dabashi
by Hamid Dabashi

The court has long had a majority of judges appointed by Democratic presidents, with the current breakdown at 16-7. But Trump has the opportunity to narrow that edge significantly because there are six vacancies, and he already has nominated candidates for five of them.

List of critcisms

The president’s latest remarks come as the Supreme Court is enmeshed in controversy over his appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Several justices have spoken out about judicial independence and the danger of having the court viewed as a political institution that is divided between five conservative Republicans and four liberal Democrats. Roberts is widely seen as the justice closest to the middle and likely to determine the outcome of high-profile cases that split the court.

Trump’s remarks are part of a long list of criticisms from the president directed a judges and courts.

Trump last year referred to a jurist who ruled against him on his travel ban as a “so-called judge”. Trump as a presidential candidate in 2016 said a judge in a case involving Trump University was biased against him because of the jurist’s Mexican-American heritage.

The US Constitution established the federal judiciary as a co-equal branch of government with the executive and legislative branches as part of a system of checks and balances on power.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

Bangor homicide suspect expected in court

29-year-old Donald Galleck was arrested on Friday, November 16, in connection to the beating death of 40-year-old Jason Moody.

Bangor police officers found Moody beaten unconscious on Sunday, November 11. Moody was taken to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center. He died of his injuries on Tuesday.

Police classified the beating as a homicide and issued a warrant for Galleck’s arrest.

Galleck was found at an apartment on Fifth Street in Bangor on Friday afternoon. He and the apartment tenant, Mary Mulner, were both taken into custody.

Galleck is being held without bail. He was wanted for a prior offense of domestic violence assault and violating the conditions of his release.

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The Thinning Blue Line: A police shortage in Maine could soon get a lot worse (or is that better?)

Many departments have multiple positions open, but supervisors are struggling to find qualified candidates to fill them. So what happens when a large number of veteran officers retire?

Maine is no exception.

Many police departments, statewide, have multiple positions open, but supervisors are struggling to find qualified candidates to fill them.

Even more troubling, what those numbers look like moving forward, when a large number of veteran officers can retire.

Helping people. As cliche as it might sound it’s the No. 1 reason many police officers put on the badge.

A former high school English teacher, Tyler Plourde is now a trooper with the Maine State Police. “I wanted to have an impact on my community being able to help people”.

Officer Colin Gordan is a Falmouth police officer. “People ultimately get into to police work to help people, preserve order. As corny and cheesy as that sounds it’s true.”

What’s also true is there are fewer and fewer people willing to do the job. Many departments in Maine are down two, five, even 13 police officers.

Lt. John Kilbride, a 20-year veteran of the Falmouth Police Department, says that’s an incredible strain for a department. He says, “it’s nerve-wracking, you can’t just pluck a police officer off a tree.”

There are a lot of reasons for the police shortage.

  • Low pay, when compared to the high risks of the job
  • The negative attitude some people have toward police
  • A difficult and lengthy hiring process
  • Young people entering the workforce who are making a balance between work and life a top priority (something that any cop will tell you is not easy)

Maine State Police Lt. David Tripp says while his agency has been successful shoring up their vacancy rate, he admits being down troopers can cause a strain. “We are pushing some would say beyond our capacity with the services we’re providing.”

It’s a problem that could get a lot worse.

The Maine State Police currently has 341 officers. In two years, 15 percent will be eligible to retire. That’s 51 state troopers.

There are 161 Portland police officers. Over the course of the next five years, more than 25 percent are or will be eligible for retirement. That’s more than 44 officers.

The Maine Warden Service is facing similar issues. There are 125 game wardens. Today, 23 percent can retire. That’s more than 40.

Even smaller agencies are not immune.

The South Portland Police Department has 55 officers. Right now, 26 percent can retire. That’s 14 police officers.

Lt. Tripp says, “so when we look at that number that could be fairly high, 51 potentially retiring, that does cause us some concern”.

Those numbers are forcing departments to be more flexible and take a closer look at how they’re recruiting. Some are using social media and incentives or signing bonuses to attract candidates.

But finding interested candidates isn’t the only challenge, so is finding qualified ones.

Lt. John Kilbride says, “I will go without before I put forth someone I’m not comfortable with.”

When a department is down officers, it’s forced to play defense—prioritizing calls as well as cases.

That can not only impact communities, it can place a bigger burden on the rank and file.

“You start putting stressors on really good people and they start evaluating whether they want to stick around, it’s a sinking ship. You’ve hit the iceberg,” says Lt. Kilbride.

NEWS CENTER Maine spoke with officers from agencies across the state, who did not want to go on camera. They told us “a lot of times it’s like swimming upstream” … “investigations don’t get the attention they deserve, because they’re not enough officers” … “everyone loves to take video of you hoping you screw up” and “a lot of people don’t understand our training or why we do the things we do.”

Joe Loughlin, former deputy chief of the Portland Police Department and a national law enforcement consultant, says the stress on law enforcement officers today is enormous.

Loughlin says, “for years we’ve been saying we can do less with more, well that doesn’t work anymore, you need people”.

“These are tough days for this profession and tough days for the citizens because in the end, it’s the good citizens who suffer,” says Loughlin.

Loughlin, as well as those still in law enforcement, says they’re confident that, while it won’t happen right away, this shortage will pass and ultimately enough people will answer the call to protect and serve.

Lt. Tripp says, “I’ve had citizens say to me why would you do this job? Why would you want to do a job with everything going on today? Police officers being shot at or shot. Why would you do it? For me personally, if it’s not us, then who is it?”

“Love Prevails”: Floridians Celebrate Massive Restoration of Voting Rights to People with Felonies

At least 1.4 million people have regained the right to vote in Florida, following the passage of Amendment 4, a statewide initiative to re-enfranchise people with felony convictions who have completed their sentences, excluding people convicted of murder or sex offenses. The amendment passed overwhelmingly, with 64.5 percent of the vote. It needed 60 percent to pass. The win will permanently alter politics in a state that elected Republican Ron DeSantis as Florida governor by just over 55,000 votes, according to the latest numbers. DeSantis defeated Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, who was vying to be the first African-American governor in Florida’s history. We speak with Desmond Meade, who spearheaded the fight for Amendment 4. Desmond Meade is the president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. He’s also chair of Floridians for a Fair Democracy. He is one of some 1.4 million people who has just regained his right to vote.

As Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman faces court in the US, elaborate precautions are in place around the former leader of the Sinaloa cartel – after all, he has previously escaped from prison, twice.

One of Mexico‘s most notorious drug lords will go on trial in the US later on Monday.

Joaquin Guzman, also known as “El Chapo”, has been held in solitary confinement in New York for the last two years.

Security for the trial is expected to be high, and not just for Guzman who escaped twice from Mexican prisons. There are extra precautions being taken for witnesses and jurors to ensure their safety, as well.

Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo reports from Brooklyn, New York.