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President Trump Fires Acting Attorney General Sally Yates For Refusing To Defend His Muslin Ban Executive Order (Video){F}

White House may start checking social media accounts and cell phone contacts of foreign visitors

In an extraordinary public showdown, President Donald Trump fired the acting attorney general of the United States after she publicly questioned the constitutionality of his refugee and immigration ban and refused to defend it in court.

The clash Monday night between Trump and Sally Yates, a career prosecutor and Democratic appointee, laid bare the growing discord and dissent surrounding an executive order that halted the entire U.S. refugee program and banned all entries from seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days. The firing, in a written statement released just hours after Yates went public with her concerns, also served as a warning to other administration officials that Trump is prepared to terminate those who refuse to carry out his orders.

Yates' refusal to defend the executive order was largely symbolic given that Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump's pick for attorney general, will almost certainly defend the policy once he's sworn in. He's expected to be confirmed Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee and could be approved within days by the full Senate.

Yet the firing reflected the mounting conflict over the executive order, as administration officials have moved to distance themselves from the policy and even some of Trump's top advisers have made clear that they were not consulted on its implementation.

As protests erupted at airports across the globe, and as legal challenges piled up in courthouses, Yates directed agency attorneys not to defend the executive order. She said in a memo Monday she was not convinced it was lawful or consistent with the agency's obligation "to stand for what is right."

Trump's press secretary, Sean Spicer, soon followed with a statement accusing Yates of having "betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States." Trump named longtime federal prosecutor Dana Boente, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as Yates' replacement. Boente was sworn in privately late Monday, the White House said, and rescinded Yates's directive.

Also late Monday, the acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement was removed. The administration didn't offer any explanation for the move, only said via Twitter that Daniel Ragsdale is returning to his previous position as deputy director. ICE executive associate director Thomas Homan was elevated to the role of acting chief.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in a statement that Homan had led efforts "to identify, arrest, detain, and remove illegal aliens." The statement didn't mention Ragsdale.

The chain of events bore echoes of the Nixon-era "Saturday Night Massacre," when the attorney general and deputy attorney general resigned rather than follow an order to fire a special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal. The prosecutor, Archibald Cox, was fired by the solicitor general.

Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration who was the top federal prosecutor in Atlanta and later became Loretta Lynch's deputy, was not alone in her misgivings about the policy and its rollout.

At least three top national security officials — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Rex Tillerson, who is awaiting confirmation to lead the State Department — have told associates they were not aware of details of the directive until around the time Trump signed it. Leading intelligence officials were also left largely in the dark, according to U.S. officials.

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that despite White House assurances that congressional leaders were consulted, he learned about the order from the media.

A large group of career diplomats circulated several drafts of a memo arguing that the order Trump signed last week will not make the U.S. safe, saying it runs counter to American values and will fuel anti-American sentiment around the world.

Spicer challenged those opposed to the measure to resign. "They should either get with the program or they can go," he said.

Trump's order pauses America's entire refugee program for four months, indefinitely bans all those from war-ravaged Syria and temporarily freezes immigration from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. Federal judges in New York and several other states issued orders that temporarily block the government from deporting people with valid visas who arrived after Trump's travel ban took effect and found themselves in limbo.

Yates on Monday said that she had reviewed the policy and concluded that it was at odds with the Justice Department's mission. She said that though other lawyers in the department had reviewed the order, their review had not addressed whether it was "wise or just."

"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," Yates wrote in a letter.

Trump said the order had been "approved" by Justice Department lawyers. However, the department has said the Office of Legal Counsel review was limited to whether the order was properly drafted, but did not address broader policy questions.

The blowback underscored Trump's tenuous relationship with his own national security advisers, many of whom he met for the first time during the transition.

Mattis, who stood next to Trump during Friday's signing ceremony, is said to be particularly incensed. A senior U.S. official said Mattis, along with Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph Dunford, was aware of the general concept of Trump's order but not the details. Tillerson has told the president's political advisers that he was baffled over not being consulted on the substance of the order.

U.S. officials and others with knowledge of the Cabinet's thinking insisted on anonymity in order to disclose the officials' private views.

Despite his public defense of the policy, the president has privately acknowledged flaws in the rollout, according to a person with knowledge of his thinking. But he's also blamed the media — his frequent target — for what he believes are reports exaggerating the dissent and the number of people actually affected.

After a chaotic weekend during which some U.S. legal permanent residents were detained at airports, some agencies were moving swiftly to try to clean up after the White House.

Homeland Security, the agency tasked with implementing much of the refugee ban, clarified that customs and border agents should allow legal residents to enter the country. The Pentagon was trying to exempt Iraqis who worked alongside the U.S. and coalition forces from the 90-day ban on entry from the predominantly Muslim countries.

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Judges In 4 States Block Enforcement Of President Trump's Muslim Travel Ban Following Ruling From Federal Judge (Video)

The White House is in the process of discussing the possibility of “asking foreign visitors to release information on what social media sites they use and to share their cell phone contacts.”

It was revealed on Sunday that the Trump team is thinking of adding this extra level of security to their “extreme vetting” process.

If it goes forward it would mean that foreign visitors will have to disclose their online activity in addition to showing their phone’s contact information to the American government.

Those who do not wish to comply with this order will not be granted entry into the country.

According to CNN, the White House policy director Stephen Miller discussed these measures with officials of the State Department, Customs and Border Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security.

All of this comes after Trump signed an executive order barring people from seven Muslim countries from entering the US. This order caused chaos at airports all across the country where foreigners were being detained.

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Judge blocks Trump order on refugees, White House officials reveal green card holders will NOT be affected after all 

U.S. judges in at least four states blocked federal authorities from enforcing President Donald Trump's executive order restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Judges in Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington state, each home to major international airports, issued their rulings late Saturday or early Sunday, following an order on Saturday night by U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly in New York's Brooklyn borough.

Donnelly had ruled in a lawsuit by two men from Iraq being held at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

While none of the rulings struck down the executive order, the growing number of orders could complicate the administration's effort to enforce it.

Trump's order on Friday halted immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, and stopped the resettlement of refugees for 120 days. The new Republican president said these actions were needed "to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States."

Condemnation of the order was swift and broad-based. Democratic politicians and civil rights groups weighed in, as well as U.S. allies who view the actions as discriminatory and divisive.

Democratic attorneys general from California, New York and other states, meanwhile, were discussing whether to pursue their own legal challenges.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Sunday said it "will comply with judicial orders," while enforcing Trump's executive order in a manner that ensures those entering the United States "do not pose a threat to our country or the American people."

Across the United States, lawyers worked overnight to help confused international travelers at airports. Activists and lawyers tracking the arrivals said some Border Patrol agents appeared to be disregarding the various court orders.

"There is really no method to this madness," Becca Heller, director of the New York-based International Refugee Assistance Project organization, told reporters on a conference call.

Supporters of Trump's order said authorities acted properly in swiftly taking steps to enforce it.

"It is better (to) be safe than sorry," said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the conservative Center for Immigration Studies in Washington.

Lawsuits brought on behalf of more than 100 individual travelers have been filed around the country, some activists and lawyers have estimated.

CURBS ON TRUMP'S ORDER

In Boston, U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs on Sunday issued a temporary restraining order blocking the removal of two Iranians who have taught at the University of Massachusetts, and had been detained at the city's Logan International Airport.

That order was set to last seven days, and appeared to go further than Donnelly's by barring officials from detaining, as well as removing, approved refugees, visa holders and permanent U.S. residents entering from the seven countries. Donnelly's order forbade only removal.

Matthew Segal, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, in a statement called Burroughs' order "a huge victory for justice" in the face of what he characterized as Trump's "unconstitutional ban on Muslims."

In Alexandria, Virginia, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema late on Saturday barred the Homeland Security agency from removing an estimated 50 to 60 legal permanent residents who had been detained at Dulles International Airport, which serves the Washington, D.C., area.

That order also required the agency to let those individuals speak with lawyers, according to the Legal Aid and Justice Center in Virginia, which represents lower-income people.

In Seattle, U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly barred the government from removing two people, who were not identified by name in court papers. He scheduled a Feb. 3 hearing over whether to lift that stay.

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President Trump's Ban On Refugees & Visitors From 7-Muslim Countries Causes Chaos, Panic, Anger Worldwide (Video)

Trump defends his controversial 'Muslim ban' on Twitter

  • Trump talked about the 'need' for 'strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW' in a tweet on Sunday morning 
  • 'Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world - a horrible mess!' he tweeted out about 8am 
  • But Reince Priebus later revealed a dramatic change to the policy, saying green card holders are not included 
  • Comments came after a federal court granted a stay blocking the deportation of detained migrants for now
  • The president on Saturday defended his executive order banning migrants and refugees from the US
  • Reports of dozens of people being stopped from entering the US or booted off airplanes poured in Saturday
  • Twelve refugees were also detained at New York's JFK airport on Friday night, prompting a massive protest
  • About 375 travelers were affected ; 109 were denied entry to the US ; another 173 couldn't board their planes
  • One of the people detailed was an 88-year-old blind man in Washington, who had his medication taken away  
  • Homeland Security said the temporary stay will not stop Trump's immigration ban from being put in place 

Donald Trump has refused to back down and instead reiterated his belief that America needs to strengthen its borders. He is seen speaking on the phone with the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud

Donald Trump has refused to back down and instead reiterated his belief that America needs to strengthen its borders. He is seen speaking on the phone with the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud

Kellyanne Conway was also doing the rounds on Sunday's morning talk-shows, and during an appearance on Fox News she suggested the ban was needed to stop another September 11-style attack.

'It's temporary,' she said of the ban, downplaying the affect it could have of separating families. 

'And it’s just circumstantial in terms of whether you are one of those 300 or some who were already on an aircraft or trying to get to an aircraft, as opposed to the 3,000 children who will be forever more separated from their parents who perished on 9/11.' 

Press Secretary Sean Spicer then made an appearance later in the morning on ABC's This Week, where he said the White House was unable to alert people of the executive order in advance because doing so posed a threat to security.

Trump tweeted on Sunday morning about the 'need' for 'strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW'. The message came after massive protests on Saturday

Trump tweeted on Sunday morning about the 'need' for 'strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW'. The message came after massive protests on Saturday

Trump is pictured with Jared Kushner, Communications Director Sean Spicer and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn during a call to the Saudi King on Sunday

Trump is pictured with Jared Kushner, Communications Director Sean Spicer and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn during a call to the Saudi King on Sunday

'We had to do it in a way that ensured the safety of America was preserved. And if we had telegraphed that ahead of time, then that would have been a massive security problem,' Spicer said, when asked how much warning was given of the order. 

'So what we did is made sure that we were coordinating with the appropriate leadership at the appropriate level so the department and agencies, both Homeland Security, Border and Customs Protection.'

It came after Trump also took aim at the New York Times, which featured a story about the protests against Trump at airports across the country, on Sunday morning.

'Somebody with aptitude and conviction should buy the FAKE NEWS and failing @nytimes and either run it correctly or let it fold with dignity!' Trump raged.   

Senior White House official Reince Priebus revealed on NBC’s Meet the Press that a big change has been made for permanent residents, with green card holders no longer affected

Senior White House official Reince Priebus revealed on NBC’s Meet the Press that a big change has been made for permanent residents, with green card holders no longer affected

Priebus on immigration ban: 'Perhaps we need to take it further'

The comments came after Homeland Security said a temporary stay granted by a federal court will not stop Trump's immigration ban from being put in place.

The agency said the court order affected a relatively small number of travelers who were inconvenienced by security procedures upon their return.

One of those people 'inconvenienced' was an 88-year-old blind man, who was detained for hours and had his medication taken from him at Dulles Airport in Virginia, the Daily Beast's Betsy Woodruff reports. 

'President Trump's Executive Orders remain in place— prohibited travel will remain prohibited, and the US government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety,' a statement read. 

Donald Trump signs an executive order to impose tighter vetting of travelers entering the United States
The front page of Sunday's New York Times is seen

Donald Trump was also annoyed by the New York Times on Sunday morning, with the newspaper featuring news of the protests prominently on its front page (right)

Trump called on the historic newspaper to be sold, and continued his war on information and the press by dubbing it, 'fake news'

Trump called on the historic newspaper to be sold, and continued his war on information and the press by dubbing it, 'fake news'

One of the people detained on Saturday was an 88-year-old blind man, who was held for hours and had his medication taken from him at Dulles Airport in Virginia, the Daily Beast 's Betsy Woodruff reports

One of the people detained on Saturday was an 88-year-old blind man, who was held for hours and had his medication taken from him at Dulles Airport in Virginia, the Daily Beast 's Betsy Woodruff reports

Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to the White House, also dismissed the stay order, saying nothing in it: 'in anyway impedes or prevents the implementation of the president's executive order which remains in full, complete and total effect.'

It was also reported on Sunday a coalition of states is considering how it could legally challenge the ruling.

Democrat attorneys general are expected to be a source of fierce resistance to Trump, much as Republican attorneys general opposed former President Barack Obama's policies. 

A lawsuit brought by states would heighten the legal stakes surrounding the president's executive order, signed late Friday, as courtroom challenges to the ban have so far mostly been filed by individuals.

'The Trump executive order should not stand and must be confronted as a constitutional overreach,' said a statement from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. 'It tramples on centuries of American tradition.'

California and New York joined Pennsylvania, Washington and Hawaii in evaluating what specific claims could be filed, and in which court.

The states could decide not to file lawsuits, and it was unclear how many states would ultimately sign on for such an effort.

'There certainly are conversations underway,' said Joe Grace, a spokesman for Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. 

On Saturday night, the federal court for the Eastern District of New York issued the stay after only two of 12 refugees held at JFK airport were released. They had been held for 14 and 24 hours respectively.

Migrants around the country were detained, with about 375 travelers impacted by the order. 

Out of the 375, 109 were in transit to the US and denied entry. Another 173 people were stopped by airlines from boarding an aircraft to the US. 

An additional 81 travelers with green cards or special immigrant visas received waivers.

People protested across the country on Saturday, including in New York where a massive demonstration carried on through Saturday evening as 10 out of 12 refugees remained held at JFK airport

People protested across the country on Saturday, including in New York where a massive demonstration carried on through Saturday evening as 10 out of 12 refugees remained held at JFK airport

WHAT IS TRUMP'S IMMIGRATION ORDER SUPPOSED TO DO?

Ban refugee entries from all countries for 120 days. Refugees can be accepted on case-by-case basis, including if they are a religious minority facing religious persecution

Block refugee entries from Syria indefinitely.

Cap refugee intake at 50,000 per year.

Ban visa and immigration entries for 90 days from Muslim-majority countries on banned list, including Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.

Suspend visa issuance to countries of particular concern.

The stay issued Saturday evening blocks the situation pending a permanent ruling. 

The ACLU lawyers who handled the case have also filed a motion for class certification, which means other people affected by the order will be able to benefit from the stay as part of a class action. 

As a result, travelers cannot be deported back to their home countries, but it does not force authorities to allow them into the US. 

Trump's ban affects citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. The temporary stay also protects refugees with an approved case.

It is unclear what will happen to those detained. A later court date has been set for February.

Thousands of people were seen protesting at airports across the country, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco and more.

'I hope Trump enjoys losing. He's going to lose so much we're going to get sick and tired of his losing,' ACLU national political director Faiz Shakir told Yahoo News

Lawyers also headed to airports to volunteer to help those who were being detained. 

President Donald Trump on Saturday defended his executive order barring refugees and citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the country

The federal court for the Eastern District of New York issued an emergency stay (pictured) Saturday evening. The stay means that none of the travelers detained in airports around the country can be deported

The federal court for the Eastern District of New York issued an emergency stay (pictured) Saturday evening. The stay means that none of the travelers detained in airports around the country can be deported

WHO EXACTLY IS BANNED FROM THE U.S? 

Any non-US citizen from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen is now barred from entering the United States.

That covers visa-holders from those seven countries who were out of the United States after Friday, when President Donald Trump signed an executive order with the temporary ban. They cannot return to the US for 90 days.

There's an exemption for immigrants and legal permanent residents whose entry is in the US national interest, but it's unclear how that exemption will be applied.

Visa holders already in the US will be allowed to stay.

Customs and Border Protection is notifying airlines about passengers whose visas have been canceled or legal residents scheduled to fly back to the US Airlines are being told to keep them off those flights.

Source: Associated Press 

'This ruling preserves the status quo and ensures that people who have been granted permission to be in this country are not illegally removed off US soil,' deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, Lee Gelernt - who argued the case, said.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony D Romero added: 'Clearly the judge understood the possibility for irreparable harm to hundreds of immigrants and lawful visitors to this country.

'Our courts today worked as they should as bulwarks against government abuse or unconstitutional policies and orders. On week one, Donald Trump suffered his first loss in court.'

It followed reports that Muslim-majority countries with ties to Trump's business empire have been excluded from the order, Bloomberg reports.

Statistics show Trump doesn't have any business relations with the seven black-listed countries, but does with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Turkey.

Speaking on Saturday afternoon, Trump defended his policy - hours before protesters and lawyers across the country fought against it.

'It's not a Muslim ban, but we are totally prepared,' Trump told reporters in the Oval Office Saturday afternoon, according to The Hill.

'It's working out very nicely. You see it in the airports, you see it all over. It's working out very nicely and we are going to have a very, very strict ban and we are going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years.'

Reports of people being detained came from all around the US on Saturday. 'They're literally pouring in by the minute,' director of the International Refugee Assistance Project Becca Heller told the New York Times.

A crowd of protesters gathered on Brooklyn's Cadman Plaza Saturday night, outside of the federal court for the Eastern District of New York that issued the stay

A crowd of protesters gathered on Brooklyn's Cadman Plaza Saturday night, outside of the federal court for the Eastern District of New York that issued the stay

Protesters rallied in Brooklyn outside of the federal courthouse, which blocked Trump's order temporarily Saturday evening

Protesters rallied in Brooklyn outside of the federal courthouse, which blocked Trump's order temporarily Saturday evening

Demonstrators rallied outside the courthouse Saturday night as a judge granted the emergency stay protecting the detained travelers from deportation
A massive rally was held on Cadman Plaza, where the temporary measure was granted

Demonstrators rallied outside the courthouse Saturday night as a judge granted the emergency stay protecting the detained travelers from deportation

'No ban': Demonstrators at the massive rally in Brooklyn voiced their disagreement with Trump's executive order

'No ban': Demonstrators at the massive rally in Brooklyn voiced their disagreement with Trump's executive order

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE BEING DETAINED? 

A senior Homeland Security official told Reuters that roughly 375 travelers affected by the order.

Out of the 375, 109 were in transit to the US and denied entry. Another 173 people were stopped by airlines from boarding an aircraft to the US.

An additional 81 travelers with green cards or special immigrant visas received waivers. 

The ACLU gave an estimate comprised between 100 and 200 people.  

New York City/JFK: 12

Dallas/Fort Worth: 50

Dulles International: 50

Los Angeles International: 50

Seattle–Tacoma: 13

Atlanta: 11

Chicago: 13 

About 50 people were held at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, USA Today reported. Fifty people were also detained at Dulles International Airport, where protesters gathered. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring have said the state could take legal action against the ban.

One Yale student said he would be unable to attend the prestigious Ivy League university. Another student from the Massachusetts Institute Of Technology said he was barred from boarding a plane.

A Stanford University student, a Sudanese national and legal permanent resident with a green card, was held for eight hours at JFK before being able to return to California.

An Iranian scientist was meant to fly to Boston to study cardiovascular medicine at Harvard but has now had his visa suspended indefinitely.  

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Facts Still Matter!!! Donald Trump's Team LIES About Crowd Turnout at Inauguration, Then When Caught In Lie, Call It "Alternative Facts' [Video]

President Donald Trump's sweeping ban on people seeking refuge in the United States and visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries caused confusion and panic among travelers on Saturday, with some turned back from U.S.-bound flights.

Immigration lawyers in New York sued to block the order, saying numerous people have already been unlawfully detained.

The new Republican president on Friday put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily barred travelers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries. He said the moves would protect Americans from terrorism.

The executive order prompted fury from Arab travelers in the Middle East and North Africa who said it was humiliating and discriminatory. It drew widespread criticism from U.S. Western allies including France and Germany, Arab American groups, human rights organizations.

"This is a stupid, terrible decision which will hurt the American people more than us or anybody else, because it shows that this President can’t manage people, politics or global relationships," said Najeed Haidari, a Yemeni-American security manager for an oil company in the Yemeni capital Sanaa.

The bans affect travelers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and even extends to green card holders who are granted authorization to live and work in the United States, according to a Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman.

In Cairo, five Iraqi passengers and one Yemeni were barred from boarding an EgyptAir flight to New York on Saturday, sources at Cairo airport said.

The passengers, arriving in transit to Cairo airport, were stopped and re-directed to flights headed for their home countries despite holding valid visas, the sources said.

Lawyers from numerous immigration organizations and the American Civil Liberties Union sued in federal court in Brooklyn on behalf of two Iraqi men, one a former U.S. government worker and the other the husband of a former U.S. security contractor.

The two men had visas to enter the United States but were detained on Friday night at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, hours after Trump's executive order, the lawsuit said.

Customs and border patrol agents at many airports were unaware of the executive order early on in the evening, said Mana Yegani, an immigration lawyer in Houston, who works with the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Yegani and her fellow lawyers worked through the night fielding calls from travelers with student and worker visas who were being denied entry into the United States and ordered on flights back to Muslim-majority countries on the list.

Green card holders were also being stopped and questioned for several hours. Officials also denied travelers with dual Canadian and Iranian citizenship from boarding planes in Canada that were headed the United States, she said.

"These are people that are coming in legally. They have jobs here and they have vehicles here," Yegani said.

Those with visas from Muslim-majority countries have gone through background checks with U.S. authorities, Yegani noted.

"Just because Trump signed something at 6 p.m. yesterday, things are coming to a crashing halt," she said. "It's scary."

Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway reaffirmed the president's decision in a Twitter post on Saturday.

"@POTUS is a man of action and impact. Promises made, promises kept. Shock to the system. And he's just getting started," she tweeted.

 

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Protesters Swarm Streets Across The U.S. In The Wake Of President Trump's Inauguration. 217 Arrested In D.C. 6 Cops Injured (Video/Pics)

White House press secretary Sean Spicer's false claims about the size of the crowd at President Donald Trump's inauguration were "alternative facts," a top Trump aide said Sunday.

In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," host Chuck Todd pressed Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway about why the White House on Saturday had sent Spicer to the briefing podium for the first time to claim that "this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period."

"You're saying it's a falsehood. And they're giving -- Sean Spicer, our press secretary -- gave alternative facts," she said.

Todd responded: "Alternative facts aren't facts, they are falsehoods."

Conway then tried to pivot to policy points. But later in the interview, Todd pressed Conway again on why the White House sent Spicer out to make false claims about crowd size, asking: "What was the motive to have this ridiculous litigation of crowd size?"

"Your job is not to call things ridiculous that are said by our press secretary and our president. That's not your job," Conway said.

Todd followed up: "Can you please answer the question? Why did he do this? You have not answered it -- it's only one question."

Conway said: "I'll answer it this way: Think about what you just said to your viewers. That's why we feel compelled to go out and clear the air and put alternative facts out there."

Trump himself directed Spicer to go to the White House briefing room to talk about the inauguration crowd size, Conway told CNN's Athena Jones on Sunday.

Aerial photos -- a 2009 shot from Getty compared to 2017 shots from television broadcasts -- show former President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration appeared to draw a much larger crowd than the one at Trump's inauguration, while Washington's mass transit ridership and Nielsen television ratings also show Obama's first inauguration was a larger draw.

A source told CNN that Trump was enraged about photographic comparisons of the two inaugurations. Trump publicly complained about media coverage of the size of his inauguration crowd during a visit to CIA headquarters Saturday. Hours later, Spicer followed suit in the White House briefing room, then left without taking questions.

Sean Spicer LIES About Trump's Inauguration Crowd

Kellyanne Conway Says Sean Spicer Gave 'Alternative Facts'

Charlamagne Gives Kellyanne Conway & Sean Spicer 'Donkey Of The Day'

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Anarchy two blocks from the White House: More than 200 are arrested as riot police teargas masked mob of Trump haters smashing stores and burning cars

Protesters set fires and hurled bricks in a daylong assault on the city hosting Donald Trump's inauguration, registering their rage against the new president in a series of clashes that led to more than 200 arrests. Police used pepper spray and stun grenades to prevent the chaos from spilling into Trump's formal procession and evening balls.

Several spirited demonstrations unfolded peacefully at various security checkpoints near the Capitol as police helped ticket-holders get through to the inaugural ceremony. Signs read, "Resist Trump Climate Justice Now," ''Let Freedom Ring" and "Free Palestine."

But about a mile from the National Mall, police gave chase to a group of about 100 protesters who smashed the windows of downtown businesses including a Starbucks, a Bank of America and a McDonald's as they denounced capitalism and Trump. Police in riot gear used pepper spray from large canisters to help contain the violence, which erupted periodically throughout the day.

"They began to destroy property, throw objects at people, through windows. A large percentage of this small group was armed with crowbars and hammers," said the city's interim police chief, Peter Newsham.

Six officers suffered minor injuries, he said.

The confrontation began an hour before Trump took the oath of office and escalated several hours later as the crowd of protesters swelled to more than 1,000, some wearing gas masks and with arms chained together inside PVC pipe. One said the demonstrators were "bringing in the cavalry."

When some crossed police lines, taunting, "Put the pigs in the ground," police charged with batons and pepper spray, as well as stun grenades, which are used to shock and disperse crowds. Loud booms echoed through the streets about six blocks from where Trump would soon hold his inaugural parade.

Some protesters picked up bricks and concrete from the sidewalk and hurled them at police lines. Some rolled large, metal trash cans at police.

Later, they set fire to a limousine on the perimeter of the secured zone, sending black smoke billowing into the sky during Trump's procession.

As night fell, protesters set a bonfire blocks from the White House and frightened well-dressed Trump supporters as they ventured to the new president's inaugural balls. Police briefly ordered ball goers to remain inside their hotel as they worked to contain advancing protesters.

Police said they charged 217 people with rioting, said Newsham, noting that the group caused "significant damage" along a number of blocks.

Before Inauguration Day, the DisruptJ20 coalition, named after the date of the inauguration, had promised that people participating in its actions in Washington would attempt to shut down the celebrations, risking arrest when necessary.

Trump supporter Brett Ecker said the protesters were frustrating but weren't going to put a damper on his day.

"They're just here to stir up trouble," said the 36-year-old public school teacher. "It upsets me a little bit that people choose to do this, but yet again, it's one of the things I love about this country."

At one checkpoint, protesters wore orange jumpsuits with black hoods over their faces to represent prisoners in U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay. Eleanor Goldfield, who helped organize the DisruptJ20 protest, said protesters wanted to show Trump and his "misguided, misinformed or just plain dangerous" supporters that they won't be silent.

Black Lives Matter and feminist groups also made their voices heard. Outside the International Spy Museum, protesters in Russian hats ridiculed Trump's praise of President Vladimir Putin, marching with signs calling Trump "Putin's Puppet" and "Kremlin employee of the month."

Friday's protests spread across the nation and as far abroad as Australia.

In Sydney, thousands rallied in the city's central Hyde Park. One organizer said hatred, bigotry and racism are not only America's problems.

In San Francisco, thousands formed a human chain on the Golden Gate Bridge and chanted "Love trumps hate." In the city's financial district, a few hundred protesters blocked traffic outside an office building partly owned by Trump.

In Atlanta, protests converged at City Hall and a few hundred people chanted and waved signs protesting Trump, denouncing racism and police brutality and expressing support for immigrants, Muslims and the Black Lives Matter movement.

In Nashville, half a dozen protesters chained themselves to the doors of the Tennessee Capitol. Hundreds also sat in a 10-minute silent protest at a park while Trump took the oath of office. Organizers led a prayer, sang patriotic songs and read the Declaration of Independence aloud.

In the Pacific Northwest, demonstrators in Portland, Oregon, burned U.S. flags and students at Portland State University walked out of classes. Police in Portland used incendiary devices and tear gas to disperse a crowd that at one point numbered in the thousands. About 200 protesters gathered on the Capitol steps in Olympia, Washington, carrying signs that included the messages "Resist Trump" and "Not My Problem." Olympia police reported about 100 marchers causing some traffic disruptions downtown, and protesters also marched in Seattle.

The demonstrations won't end when Trump takes up residence in the White House.

A massive Women's March on Washington is planned for Saturday. Christopher Geldart, the District of Columbia's homeland security director, has said 1,800 buses have registered to park in the city Saturday, which could mean nearly 100,000 people coming in just by bus.

___

Associated Press writers contributing to this report were: Steve Peoples, Alan Suderman, Matthew Barakat, Alanna Durkin Richer, Luis Alonso Lugo, Tami Abdollah, Chad Day and Brian Witte in Washington; Kate Brumback in Atlanta; Jonathan Mattise and Erik Schelzig in Nashville; Janie Har and Jocelyn Gecker in San Francisco; and Gillian Flaccus in Portland, Oregon.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Thousands descend on half-empty National Mall with ponchos and umbrellas for Trump's inauguration - as throwback picture reveals more than double turned out for Obama

Riot police tear gas masked mob of Trump haters

  • 217 people have been arrested and six police officers injured in the D.C.protests against President Trump
  • A violent rampage started two blocks from the White House in McPherson Square and along K Street 
  • A limo was set on fire after destructive demonstrators threw a flare into its shattered windows 
  • Police with shields lined up and blocked the parade route as riots broke out around the city
  • Officials have used tear gas, pepper spray and flash bang grenades on the mob 
  • Windows have been smashed at Starbucks, McDonald's and Bank of America buildings
  • Broadcaster Larry King said the windows of his SUV were smashed by protesters while he was in studio

Thousand of protesters launched a violent rampage just blocks away from the White House as Trump haters smashed store windows, set fire to cars and threw bricks at police - who arrested more than 200 before nightfall.

Heated clashes broke out in McPherson Square and along K Street as hundreds of riot police fired tear gas and drew their nightsticks to contain the masked mob.

As the rioting unfolded, Trump and his family were arriving at a review stand at the White House to see the end of the inaugural parade.

Militant anti-Trump protesters gave a foretaste of what could follow during the violent outbreaks, which has so far seen 217 people arrested and at least six police officers injured.

A limo was set on fire after masked protesters wearing all black threw a flare into the vehicle. They had reportedly run up to the car and smashed its windows in D.C. following Trump's inauguration

A limo was set on fire after masked protesters wearing all black threw a flare into the vehicle. They had reportedly run up to the car and smashed its windows in D.C. following Trump's inauguration

Riot police have arrested nearly a hundred people for the explosive protests in the streets of D.C. Washington police said numerous individuals were charged with rioting

Riot police have arrested nearly a hundred people for the explosive protests in the streets of D.C. Washington police said numerous individuals were charged with rioting

Police use pepper spray on the mob of protesters in McPherson Square. A violent rampage started just two blocks from the White House in the square and along K Street

Police use pepper spray on the mob of protesters in McPherson Square. A violent rampage started just two blocks from the White House in the square and along K Street

Rioters set off multiple fires as they confronted police as protests over Trump turned ugly

Rioters set off multiple fires as they confronted police as protests over Trump turned ugly

Rioters set fire to a limousine and scrawled 'We the people' on the side of the vehicle 

Rioters set fire to a limousine and scrawled 'We the people' on the side of the vehicle 

More than 95 people have been arrested so far during the riots. Hundreds of protesters dressed in black marched through the streets of D.C. breaking windows and hurling projectiles

More than 95 people have been arrested so far during the riots. Hundreds of protesters dressed in black marched through the streets of D.C. breaking windows and hurling projectiles

Police have arrested nearly 100 anti-Trump protesters on Friday. Rioters hurled rocks and other debris at a Starbucks Cafe window as they ran through the streets on in protest of President Trump

Police have arrested nearly 100 anti-Trump protesters on Friday. Rioters hurled rocks and other debris at a Starbucks Cafe window as they ran through the streets on in protest of President Trump

A mob chanting abuse at Trump threw bricks and rocks at police and set fire to debris on the street in McPherson Square near the White House.

Nearby, thousands of protesters descended on Franklin Square Park where they graffitied a stretch limo before setting the vehicle ablaze right outside the Washington Post building. 

'Groups of people started gathering around the limo. There was a sense of something going to happen. People were shouting "it's going to blow". We tried to move them back,' DailyMail.com columnist Katie Hopkins, who witnessed the ordeal, said. 

'The inauguration parade for the president is just blocks away from where all this is happening.'

Hopkins said the anarchists set things ablaze and started throwing bricks, stones and rocks.

'These people are here for this purpose - these guys are here for the fight,' she said. 

SWAT team police in full riot gear moved in spraying pepper spray in a bid to disperse the rioters. Among those where hit were Hawk Newsome, leader of Black Lives Matter in New York

The protesters had earlier dragged trash cans into the road before setting them on fire.

Vendors selling Trump T-shirts suddenly started offering them as 'fire fuel, and set them alight.

A protester burns one of Trump's Make America Great t-shirt just hours after he was sworn in as president

A protester burns one of Trump's Make America Great t-shirt just hours after he was sworn in as president as Anti-Trump demonstrator set a 'Make America Great Again' hat on fire as masked, black-clad protesters carrying anarchist flags smashed windows and scuffled with riot police in D.C.

A man stands naked facing police and the offices of the Washington Post in protest against Trump's presidency 

A man stands naked facing police and the offices of the Washington Post in protest against Trump's presidency 

Police officers move protesters away from a car that was set on fire during protests near the inauguration of President Donald Trump

Police officers move protesters away from a car that was set on fire during protests near the inauguration of President Donald Trump

Police use pepper spray on protesters in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in a chaotic confrontation blocks from Donald Trump's inauguration as protesters registered their rage against the new president. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)

Protesters take cover as they are hit by pepper spray by police on the sidelines of the inauguration in (Picture: REUTERS/Adrees Latif)

People help a demonstrator during a protest before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States Friday -- capping his improbable journey to the White House and beginning a four-year term that promises to shake up Washington and the world. / AFP PHOTO / ZACH GIBSONZACH GIBSON/AFP/Getty Images

People help a demonstrator (Picture: AFP PHOTO / ZACH GIBSONZACH GIBSON/AFP/Getty)

WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES - JANUARY 20: Security forces intervene anti-Trump demonstrators as they try to block entrances on the inauguration day of Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States, in Washington, United States on January 20, 2017. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Security forces intervene anti-Trump demonstrators as they try to block entrances on the inauguration day of Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States, in Washington, United States on January 20, 2017 (Picture: Getty)

epa05735014 Police helps people who try to attend the inauguration parade but are blocked by demonstrators sitting down at 10th Street near Pennsylvania Avenue to prevent spectators from reaching one of the entrances to the parade route to protest Donald J. Trump who will take the oath of office as he is sworn in as the 45th President of the United States in Washington, DC, USA, 20 January 2017. Trump won the 08 November 2016 election to become the next US President. EPA/Astrid Riecken

Police help people who try to attend the inauguration parade but are blocked by demonstrators sitting down at 10th Street near Pennsylvania Avenue (Picture: EPA)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Rain falls on protesters and supporters at National Mall

  • Up to a million people were expected to see Donald Trump sworn in on Friday morning
  • The half-empty ceremony saw temperatures in the 40s and some rain was expected
  • At Obama's 2009 inauguration, 1.8million people were in attendance on the below freezing day 
  • Supporters and protesters who turned out braved the rainy weather with ponchos and umbrellas 
  • Protesters blockaded the way to the parade route and some riots broke out in D.C. 
Up to a million people were expected to attend Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday morning, but during the ceremony the National Mall was half-empty

Up to a million people were expected to attend Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday morning, but during the ceremony the National Mall was half-empty

Trump's half-empty ceremony, which expected a turn out of 900,000 people, saw temperatures in the 40s and some rain was expected
Obama's 2009 ceremony saw nearly double than Trump's expected turn out
 

The National Mall sits half-empty during Trump's inauguration on (left). At Obama's 2009 inauguration (right) there was an estimated 1.8million people in attendance despite the below freezing weather��

Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts

Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts

Crowds on the National Mall as President-elect Donald J. Trump takes the oath of office

Crowds on the National Mall as President-elect Donald J. Trump takes the oath of office

The half-empty ceremony, which expected a turn out of 900,000 people, saw temperatures in the 40s and some rain was expected. 

Past inaugurations saw higher attendance numbers. According to D.C. Metro's ridership statistics, only 193,000 trips were taken by 11am on Friday morning, compared to 2013 when 317,000 people had used the public transportation. 

In 2009, numbers reached 513,000 and Bush's 2005 ceremony had 197,000 rides.   

Demonstrators came from across the US to voice their objection President Donald Trump - despite being a tiny minority compared to vast crowds there to hail him. Some said they would also have protested Hillary Clinton. 

Protests became violent and destructive as shop windows were smashed out in retaliation to Trump being sworn in on the steps of Capitol Hill. 

Several thousand inauguration-goers were held up for an extra hour by just a handful of animal rights protesters who blocked an entry point at 7th Street and D600nw and were met by soldiers and police with dogs. 

Hundreds of thousands of supporters descended upon the National Mall and braved the rainy elements to see Donald Trump sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Friday

Former President George W. Bush keeps covered under the rain during the inauguration ceremonies swearing in Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States

Former President George W. Bush takes off his cover under the mild rain during the inauguration ceremonies swearing in Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States

Choir members wore plastic rain gear to prepare for the presidential inauguration. Washington D.C. expects up to a quarter of an inch of rain for the day 

Choir members wore plastic rain gear to prepare for the presidential inauguration. Washington D.C. expects up to a quarter of an inch of rain for the day 

Thousands were drawn to the city to witness the event, disregarding the 80 per cent chance of rain and gloomy forecast.

Most of the rain is expected to fall around noon but showers are expected to start as early as 10am. 

The damp weather is supposed to heighten to light rain at 11am and full rain is expected at noon.

At 1pm the skies begin to clear up with few showers, and the drizzle is supposed to end around 3pm, just in time for the parade.

Rain is expected to drizzle out around 3pm, just in time for the parade. Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has said more than 3,000 police officers from other regions and 5,000 National Guardsmen will be in attendance 

Rain is expected to drizzle out around 3pm, just in time for the parade. Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has said more than 3,000 police officers from other regions and 5,000 National Guardsmen will be in attendance 

The National Mall expected nearly 900,000 people to witness Donald Trump become the next president, despite the gray skies and cold rain 

The National Mall expected nearly 900,000 people to witness Donald Trump become the next president, despite the gray skies and cold rain 

Pictured: At Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration, attendance at the National Mall was filled with hundreds of thousands of people gathered to witness America's first African-American president being sworn in 

Pictured: At Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration, attendance at the National Mall was filled with hundreds of thousands of people gathered to witness America's first African-American president being sworn in 

Rioters smash storefront windows on Trump's inauguration day

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Comment by Bombahdrop on February 11, 2017 at 10:43am
Thanks to obama's corrupt dealings with iran, Iran is threatening to nuke us with nuclear explosions. They are getting their boldness from obamas deal with them. I hope Donald does what obama did his whole term which is go over the heads of the same people that are blocking Donald. These mfs who are blocking donald turn the other way when obama was handing our moneys and armour and secret info to those same coutries IRAN who wants to destroy us all, that's why Donald is doing what he's doing. Do you really believe Donald wants destroy America knowing he lives and works in America? The ones causing all this unrest are the democrats and its followers. Ask yourself if a peaceful transfer of power had occurred we wouldnt see the evil s*** people are saying and doing to this president. People are evil now a days no respect for anybody, selfish mfs
Comment by mr1stroke on February 3, 2017 at 4:24pm
Fang I used to think I was a Democrat too until my uncle sat me down and gave me a history of politics in America in comparison
To the Republicans so.i decided to became independent my uncle says they condition you to pick a party so they can control you but by being independent which is why they have the primary they get to pick the candidate they wish but as an independent when you vote at the general election they don't know what to expect it's hard stealing the election that's why trump won by electoral votes that's why the Democratic party was so mad and Hillary almost committed suicide my uncle as a friend who is a secret service he is working on a tell all book he said that night she vandalized everything in that hotel room they were furious they didn't see that coming
Comment by Fang on February 3, 2017 at 2:41am
Many celebrities say they will leave the country if trump wins...well he did and guest what, they are still here. They can't leave there fame and glory because in other countries many people don't even know them, so that's all talk for TV.
Comment by Fang on February 3, 2017 at 2:33am
Thank you, Mr1stroke, many people are fooled by the democrats and they can't see the bigger picture.
The funniest thing is that I use to think I was a democrat until I allowed myself to trully see what's really going on in this country. Like him or not, I truly believe President Trump is going to get this country back on track in many ways. He's here to clean house.
.a
Comment by mr1stroke on February 2, 2017 at 3:16pm

 Fang im with you if that witch would of won we would be in the worse place the terrorist attack would be like France, i dont think people knew the terrorist attack on the United states started with Clinton, people dont know how many enemies they have they f*** a lot of people over and they were waiting to get back at them we dodge the bullet, those people who are so against Trump have no idea what is going, yes may be we dont agree about how he do things, but if it works why not let it be, yes we dont agree with some of the things he says as long he is helping the country who cares, the most important part if we really dont like him we can vote him out in 4 years, instead those idiots are out there wasting their times, i want to know if they will be protesting for 4 years, or what will be the outcome, if i commitment a crime here i go to jail coming here illegally is a crime so what exactly si Trump ding wrong 

Comment by Fang on February 2, 2017 at 3:07pm
What many people fail to realized and comprehend is that the middle eastern countries will always be at war with each other because its been like that from biblical days (The bible) and that will never change no matter how much America or any other countries try to help them. "And that my friend is the bible truth".
Comment by Fang on February 2, 2017 at 2:54pm
Bombahdrop, I agree with everything you say...but just remember we all are immigrants to this land, even though some of us were born here remember where our ancestors came from. I don't believe in open borders, all immigrants should go threw the proper process to enter this country just like me and my family did...no free pass for anyone. President Trump sees what this country need and he's trying to fix it. Thank God Hillary didn't win, if she did, this country would be just like China...over populated and polluted.
Comment by Bombahdrop on February 2, 2017 at 5:22am
I dont understand Americans, how the hell are you siding with immigrants and refugees and aliens wtf is wrong with you? How dare you stand around while these immigrant refugees uprise in our Country to march against our, your president. Obama got away with alot of foul s***, Obama too placed a six month ban on some of those same countries Donald is Targeting but obama gets a pass tho, let me guess y, he looks black smfh. You people are eating up all the lies about Donald Trump and ignore the Truth.
Comment by Bombahdrop on February 2, 2017 at 5:15am
Goooooo Trump!!
God Please Bless and Protect Our Presiden Donald J Trump. AMEN.
Comment by Fang on February 2, 2017 at 3:36am
Give President Trump a break. ok, for all you anti Trump...lets have open borders, no wall. Let all refugees from the middle East come to the US and all refugees from all countries come to the US, not to mention the refugees that wants to come here and kill innocent americans, our love ones. What's going to happen when the country is so over populated and the governments can't support all the citizens and refugees...what then?. What then?...many of you anti Trump are going to turn to the man you all are protesting for help. I am immigrant myself from the Caribbean but my parents paid a lot of money and years went threw the process for us to come here, and I think that order people should do the same. It's sad see all the innocent kids suffering in the middle East because of war. I think it's about time American government start to take care of its own country people first and not others. There are so many hungry and homeless kids and families, poverty, joblessness and the list goes onn...in these United States. President Trump have hard Job and sometimes he just have to make tough decisions. Can't PLEASE everyone...

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