Back in the United States, the U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily lifted restrictions on President Trump’s travel ban—meaning about 24,000 refugees may now be barred from entering the United States. Last week, an appeals court in Seattle ruled that tens of thousands of refugees who had received promises of assistance from refugee resettlement organizations should be allowed to enter. But on Monday, the Supreme Court intervened to block this ruling. The Supreme Court is soon expected to issue a fuller ruling on the ban, which blocks refugees and all citizens of six majority-Muslim nations from entering the U.S.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting some of President Trump’s lawyers have recommended White House senior adviser Jared Kushner should step down over concerns about his meetings with Russian officials during the campaign. Kushner is also President Trump’s son-in-law. Kushner met multiple times with Russian officials and businessmen during Trump’s campaign. These meetings are now part of the multiple investigations into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
Pope Francis has spoken out forcefully against climate change denial. Speaking to reporters Sunday as he flew over Caribbean islands decimated by Hurricane Irma, Pope Francis said humans must make progress in tackling climate change, and called those who continue to deny its existence “stupid.”
Pope Francis: “We will not go backwards, we will go down. That is true. Climate change, you feel the effects, and the scientists tell us clearly the road to take. All of us have a responsibility—all of us—some small, some big, a moral responsibility, to not accept it, to give one’s opinion or to make decisions, and we have to take it seriously. I think it is something we cannot joke about. Whoever denies this must go to the scientists and ask them. They speak very clearly. The scientists are precise. Man is stupid, a head that does not see.”
Pope Francis was speaking with a bandage over his eye because he bumped his head on the popemobile while traveling in Colombia.
An explosive lawsuit filed by a former Fox News contributor is alleging that his former network fabricated quotes and worked directly with the White House to push a fake news story to prop up conspiracy theories linking the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich last year to WikiLeaks. Rich was an aide at the Democratic National Committee who was fatally shot in Washington, D.C., in July 2016. In May of this year, Fox News published a piece titled “DC Murder Mystery: Slain DNC Staffer Was Wikileaks’ Source, Say Investigators.” The article claimed that Rich—not the Russians—provided WikiLeaks with internal emails from the DNC. The only person quoted in the piece—Fox contributor and retired D.C. police detective Rod Wheeler—is claiming Fox knowingly attributed false quotes to him. The complaint also alleges direct White House involvement in the story.
The New York Times reports that President Trump is being pressured by a billionaire financier and a chemical executive to escalate the U.S. war in Afghanistan in a bid to exploit the country’s mineral wealth. The Times reports Trump discussed Afghanistan’s vast deposits of metals and rare earth elements with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and is reportedly considering sending an envoy to Afghanistan to meet with mining officials. A 2010 U.S. estimate found Afghanistan has mineral deposits worth nearly $1 trillion.
The U.S. Treasury Department has fined ExxonMobil $2 million for violating U.S. sanctions against Russia three years ago, when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson served as the oil company’s CEO. The Treasury said ExxonMobil showed “reckless disregard” for U.S. law in 2014 when it signed contracts with Russian oil magnate Igor Sechin to develop offshore reserves in the Arctic. The move violated sanctions placed on Russia after it invaded Ukraine and annexed the Crimean peninsula. Tillerson said at the time his company opposed Russia sanctions, calling them “ineffective.” At the State Department Thursday, spokesperson Heather Nauert was asked whether Tillerson had changed his views on Russian sanctions.
Heather Nauert: “This all predates his time here at the Department of State.”
Matthew Lee: “I understand that.”
Heather Nauert: “And so, I’m going to refrain from giving any comment on that at this time.”
Matthew Lee: “I understand this predates his time as secretary of state, but now he is in a position in which he is part of the team that is supposed to enforce sanctions, not violate them or allow others to violate them, so I think it’s relevant to know what he thinks about this decision today.”
Heather Nauert: “I think—I will say this. The secretary continues to abide by his ethical commitments, including that recusal from Exxon-related activities.”
Secretary of State Tillerson is known to have close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who awarded Tillerson the country’s Order of Friendship decoration in 2013. The Treasury Department’s $2 million fine against ExxonMobil was the maximum amount allowed by law. It represents just over two hours’ profit for the oil giant.
Let’s have a big hand for all of my fellow Amerikans who voted for Comrade Trump. Stupid is as stupid does, and evil is what evil does.