Nation and World briefs for July 3

Judge blocks Trump policy keeping asylum-seekers locked up

SEATTLE — A federal judge in Seattle on Tuesday blocked a Trump administration policy that would keep thousands of asylum-seekers locked up while they pursue their cases, saying the Constitution demands that such migrants have a chance to be released from custody.

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U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ruled Tuesday that people who are detained after entering the country illegally to seek protection are entitled to bond hearings. Attorney General William Barr announced in April that the government would no longer offer such hearings, but instead keep them in custody. It was part of the administration’s efforts to deter a surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Pechman said that as people who entered the U.S., they are entitled to the Fifth Amendment’s due process protections, including “a longstanding prohibition against indefinite civil detention with no opportunity to test its necessity.”

Immigrant rights advocates including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project sued to block the policy, which was due to take effect July 15.

“The court reaffirmed what has been settled for decades: that asylum-seekers who enter this country have a right to be free from arbitrary detention,” Matt Adams, legal director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, said in a written statement. “Thousands of asylum-seekers will continue to be able to seek release on bond, as they seek protection from persecution and torture.”

Navy SEAL acquitted of murder in killing of captive in Iraq

SAN DIEGO — A decorated Navy SEAL was acquitted Tuesday of murder in the killing of a wounded Islamic State captive under his care in Iraq in 2017.

The verdict was met with an outpouring of emotion as the military jury also cleared Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher of attempted murder in the shootings of two civilians and all other charges except for posing for photos with the body of the dead captive.

The case exposed a generational conflict within the ranks of the elite special forces group and the outcome dealt a major blow to one of the military’s most high-profile war crimes cases.

Gallagher cried “tears of joy, emotion, freedom and absolute euphoria,” defense lawyer Marc Mukasey said. Family and friends clutched each other in relief in the courtroom.

“Suffice it to say this is a huge victory,” Mukasey said outside court. “It’s a huge weight off the Gallaghers.”

Fire kills 14 Russian sailors aboard deep-sea submersible

MOSCOW — Fire broke out on one of the Russian navy’s deep-sea research submersibles, and toxic fumes from the blaze killed 14 sailors aboard, Russia’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday, although it released few details about the disaster or the vessel involved.

The Defense Ministry did not say how many sailors were aboard the vessel during Monday’s fire, whether there were any survivors or if it was submerged at the time. But Russian media reported it was the country’s most secret submersible, a nuclear-powered vessel designed for sensitive missions at great depths.

President Vladimir Putin, who came under criticism for his handling of the Kursk nuclear submarine disaster in 2000 that killed 118 sailors, canceled a scheduled appearance and immediately summoned Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for a briefing on the blaze, which was under investigation.

“Fourteen submariners have died of poisoning by fumes from the fire,” Shoigu told Putin during a televised meeting. “The fire was extinguished thanks to the crew’s resolute action.”

Putin ordered Shoigu to fly to the Arctic port of Severomorsk, the main base for Russia’s Northern Fleet where the vessel was brought, to oversee the investigation and report back to him personally.

Trump says he will tap economists for 2 key Fed vacancies

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump, who has criticized the Federal Reserve for not cutting interest rates, said Tuesday that he intends to nominate two economists to fill influential positions on the central bank’s Board of Governors.

Trump said he would name to the board Christopher Waller, who is executive vice president and research director at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, where he has worked since 2009. He also tapped Judy Shelton, the U.S. executive director for the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development. Shelton was previously an economic adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign.

The planned nominations were announced by Trump in a tweet late Tuesday. Each must be confirmed by the Senate.

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Trump’s choices come after he has harshly and repeatedly criticized the Fed under Chair Jerome Powell for raising rates four times last year and for keeping rates unchanged this year. Trump has argued that the Fed, by keeping its benchmark rate in a range of 2.25% to 2.5%, is slowing economic growth and depressing the stock market.

This spring, Trump said he planned to nominate former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain and conservative commentator Stephen Moore to the remaining two vacancies on the Fed board.

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