travel ban03

With travel ban blocked, travellers head to US

PALM BEACH — After a US appeals court refused to restore President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration order, travellers who had been banned from entering the country trickled in Sunday as the White House vowed to prevail in the high-stakes legal battle.

The early-morning ruling from a federal appeals court was the latest chapter in a saga which began on Jan 27, when Trump issued a blanket ban on all refugees, and travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

For now, the decision maintains one made by a federal judge in a lower court, who temporarily suspended Trump’s order on Friday pending a wider legal review.

The next deadline comes on Monday, when all parties must submit additional documents to the appellate judges, according to a schedule determined by the court.

Trump initially dispatched Vice President Mike Pence to convey the White House’s position on Sunday’s political talk shows. Pence called the decision “frustrating.”

“We will move very quickly,” he told Fox News. “We are going to win the arguments because we will take the steps necessary to protect the country, which the president of the United States has the authority to do.”

But in the mid-afternoon, after taking an uncharacteristic, nearly day-long break from Twitter, Trump came out swinging again.

“Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!” he wrote.

“I have instructed Homeland Security to check people coming into our country VERY CAREFULLY. The courts are making the job very difficult!”

Trump already had unleashed a string of fiery tweets on Saturday defending his policy and attacking “so-called” federal judge James Robart, who issued Friday’s decision in Seattle.

Asked by multiple networks whether Trump’s comment about Robart was out of line, Pence defended his boss.

“Every president has a right to be critical of the other branches of the federal government,” Pence told CBS News.

But Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell told CNN: “I think it is best not to single out judges for criticism.”

“We all get disappointed from time to time at the outcome in courts on things that we care about,” he said.

Trump’s executive order slapped a blanket ban on entry for nationals of the seven countries for 90 days and barred all refugees for 120 days. Refugees from Syria were blocked indefinitely.

In its appeal to Robart’s decision filed late Saturday, the Justice Department said suspending the ban was causing “irreparable harm” to the American public.

It said Robart’s ruling had run afoul of constitutional separation of powers, and “second-guesses the president’s national security judgment.”

But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the request for the travel ban to be immediately reinstated, without offering a reason.

The court asked the states of Washington and Minnesota, which had filed the original suit over the ban, to provide additional documents.

And the Justice Department was given until time to complete its legal dossier.

Then, the court could schedule a hearing, or rule on whether the ban should remain suspended.

Meanwhile, travellers from the targeted countries with valid visas began arriving on American soil.

In New York, 33-year-old Sudanese doctor Kamal Fadlalla rejoiced — after a week blocked in his home country, he was back in the Big Apple with friends and colleagues.

“It feels great,” Fadlalla told AFP on Sunday at John F. Kennedy International Airport. “It was a tough week actually.”

Iranian graduate student Sara Yarjani, who was initially deported under Trump’s order, arrived in Los Angeles.

“I am so grateful to all the lawyers and others that helped me,” she said tearfully.

In Syria, a 25-year-old law graduate, who asked not to be named, said he was driving to Beirut on Sunday to catch a flight to Amman and then a connecting flight to New York.

“I jumped up and haven’t been able to sleep since. I’m ecstatic,” the man told AFP.

The State Department has said visa holders from the seven countries are allowed to travel to the US as long as their documents have not been “physically cancelled.”

The department had earlier said up to 60,000 people had their visas revoked as a result of Trump’s order.

The restrictions fueled numerous weekend protests at home and abroad — from London and Hong Kong to Washington and Palm Beach, where Trump spent the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago retreat on Florida’s east coast. — AFP

Pence to lead voter fraud commission

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump said Sunday he is creating a commission headed by Vice President Mike Pence to investigate what the US leader alleges was massive voter fraud in the 2016 election.

No public evidence has emerged of large-scale illegal voting in the November election, and Trump and the White House have failed to substantiate the president’s claim.

However, Trump listed the ways he believed voter fraud had occurred during an interview with Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly which aired before the Super Bowl on Sunday.

The fraud was apparent, Trump said, “when you look at the registration and you see dead people that have voted, when you see people that are registered in two states that voted in two states, when you see other things, when you see illegals, people that are not citizens, and they are on the registration rolls.”

“It’s really a bad situation. It’s really bad,” Trump said.

Trump’s own lawyers have stated in legal filings that there was no evidence of fraud in the Nov 8 election.

But on Sunday the president promised “to set up a commission to headed by Vice President Mike Pence and we’re going to look at it very, very carefully.”

Trump has previously argued that were it not for illegal immigrants voting, he would have won not just the electoral college but also the popular vote, which was taken by Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

Although there has been no substantiated evidence of massive voter fraud, US officials have said they believe that Russia attempted to meddle in the presidential vote by hacking Democratic Party emails as part of a pro-Trump campaign.

Senators have launched a bipartisan investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling. — AFP

Trump under fire for respecting ‘killer’ Putin

PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump is drawing fire from Republicans and Democrats alike after playing down political assassinations in Russia and Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Trump showed no signs of yielding to demands from within his own Republican Party to distance himself from President Vladimir Putin’s regime, instead plunging himself into a fresh political firestorm.

“I do respect him. Well, I respect a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to get along with them,” Trump said in an excerpt of an interview with Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly that aired before the Super Bowl on Sunday.

When pressed in relation to Putin’s alleged links to the extrajudicial killing of journalists and dissidents, Trump said, “we’ve got a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?”

“Take a look at what we’ve done too. We’ve made a lot of mistakes.”

Trump’s fellow Republicans, including Senate leader Mitch McConnell, were quick to criticise the president’s remarks.

“I don’t think there is any equivalency with the way the Russians conduct themselves and the way the United States does,” McConnell said.

“He is a former KGB agent, a thug, not elected in a way that most people consider a credible election,” he told CNN.

That criticism was echoed by Michael McFaul, a former ambassador to Russia and advisor to president Barack Obama, who described Trump’s comments as “disgusting.”

“This moral equivalency that Trumps continues to draw between the USA and Russia is disgusting (and inaccurate),” he said on Twitter.

Mainstream Republicans have repeatedly called on Trump to distance himself from Putin, with little impact.

Throughout the election campaign, Trump refused to criticise the Russian leader, saying better relations with the Kremlin would be in the US national interest.

The new president has advocated working with Russia to combat the IS group in Syria.

“If Russia helps us in the fight against ISIS, which is a major fight, and Islamic terrorism all around the world, major fight. That’s a good thing,” Trump told Fox.

Moscow has deployed aircraft, naval assets and troops to Syria, but has so far trained its fire on rebels with the aim of propping up President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Trump’s repeated criticism of Nato — a common target of Putin — has only fueled suspicions that Trump is ready to side with Moscow over allies in Europe.

Across Europe, there are growing concerns that the continent might be wedged between a hostile Russia and a hostile US. — AFP

President visits military command,
sets sight on IS

PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump is to visit US Central Command, meeting officers who will form the tip of the spear in implementing his new strategy to defeat the Islamic State (IS) group.

After a three-day break in southern Florida, Trump will stop off at Centcom headquarters in Tampa on his way back to Washington.

The military command is responsible for an area that includes the Middle East and Central Asia.

It plays a key role in Operation Inherent Resolve — the US-led mission to “degrade and defeat” the group — which has resulted in 17,861 strikes across northern Syria and Iraq since August 2016.

Apart from seizing territory and declaring a caliphate, the IS group has claimed responsibility for attacks in Africa, Europe, the US, Southeast Asia and across the Middle East.

It’s seen as influencing attackers in San Bernardino, California, who killed 14 people in December 2015, and the attacker of an Orlando nightclub, who left 49 dead in June last year.

In late January, Trump ordered generals to begin a 30-day review of the US strategy to defeat the Syria and Iraq-based militant group.

Trump had made fighting “radical Islamic terrorism” a central plank of his election campaign and the issue is emerging as the organising principle of his foreign and domestic policies.

Most experts express more concern about Americans becoming radicalised and carrying IS-inspired attacks, rather than groups dispatching clandestine agents from around the world.

The contours of Trump’s policy to fight IS abroad are still coming into focus.

On Jan 28, he signed a presidential memorandum that called for a review including any “recommended changes to any United States rules of engagement.”

That could foreshadow a tougher approach, but it is one that some experts believe could fuel radicalisation.

Meanwhile, Trump will meet fellow Nato leaders in May, the White House said Sunday after the president’s call with the alliance’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg.

Trump expressed “strong support for Nato” but called on European members to pitch in more, the White House said in a statement, adding that Trump “agreed to join in a meeting of Nato leaders in Europe in late May.”

“The parties agreed to continue close coordination and cooperation to address the full range of security challenges facing Nato,” the White House statement said.

According to the White House statement the parties also discussed “the potential for a peaceful resolution of the conflict along the Ukrainian border.” — AFP

trump protest

Supporters: Give him a chance

NEW YORK — On one side, a few dozen diehard supporters of Donald Trump. On the other, a dozen or so equally passionate counter-demonstrators. They faced off Sunday outside Trump Tower — proof positive of how entrenched the divide has become.

The pro-Trump protest, on a bitingly cold Manhattan day, was one of the first in the president’s largely Democratic hometown since he took office on Jan 20.

Demonstrators urged their fellow Americans to give the new president a chance, and they backed his controversial travel ban on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

A big white banner they unfurled read, “Welcome the Trump Era!”

The crowd stood outside designer boutiques Dolce & Gabbana and Armani on Fifth Avenue near the president’s New York home and business headquarters in Trump Tower.

But such is the antipathy that the Republican president can arouse in New York — he won only 18 per cent of the city’s votes — that soon a dozen or so counter-demonstrators descended on the scene.

The pro-Trump group wore his red “Make America Great Again” campaign hats, carried US flags and chanted “USA! USA!”

Some wore Star of David buttons and carried signs in Hebrew and in English, one of which said: “President Trump Mazel Tov You’re Doing It Your Way.”

Demonstrators on both sides competed to make their message heard. “No ban, no wall, refugees are welcome here,” his opponents shouted in a sing-song chant.

But Cindy Grosz, a Trump supporter and rally co-organiser, said Americans should give the new president a chance.

“He’s been in office less than three weeks. He’s entitled to have a fair shot and to run the government the way he wants to,” she said.

Sunday’s rally paled next to the huge anti-Trump marches and rallies that have sprung up almost spontaneously across the country. But the president’s New York supporters were uncowed.

Adela Pisarevsky, a Manhattan retiree who emigrated from Argentina decades ago, said the rally had a point to make. — AFP

queen

Gun salute marks Elizabeth’s 65 years on British throne

LONDON — Queen Elizabeth, the world’s longest-reigning living monarch, celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee yesterday as Britain commemorated 65 years since she ascended the British throne.

The 90-year-old monarch, who became Britain’s longest-reigning sovereign in 2015, did not publicly mark the occasion herself, but a 41-gun royal salute was fired in a central London park to honour the landmark.

“Today’s Sapphire Jubilee marks yet another remarkable milestone for our remarkable queen,” Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement.

“It is a testament to her selfless devotion to the nation that she is not marking becoming the first monarch to reign for 65 years with any special celebration, but instead getting on with the job to which she has dedicated her life.”

Elizabeth became queen aged 25 on Feb 6, 1952, following the death of her father George VI, the 40th monarch in a royal line that traces its origin back to Norman King William the Conqueror who claimed the throne in 1066.

When she overtook her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria’s record 63 years on the throne, she remarked it was not something to which she had ever aspired, and Buckingham Palace said she would spend the day at her residence in Sandringham, eastern England, as was usual.

However, the queen’s office released a 2014 portrait showing her wearing a suite of sapphire jewellery she received from her father as a wedding gift in 1947.

Elizabeth remains hugely popular with Britons with an approval rating of about 80 per cent.

At the Tower of London, in the capital’s Green Park and all around the kingdom, gun salutes were fired in tribute.

Sapphire is the 65th anniversary gemstone and a photograph has been reissued of the sovereign wearing a suite of sapphire jewellery given to her by her father as a wedding gift in 1947.

The 2014 portrait by David Bailey shows her wearing the glittering necklace, dating from 1850 and made of 16 large oblong sapphires surrounded by diamonds.

“She has very kind eyes with a mischievous glint. I’ve always liked strong women, and she is a very strong woman,” the photographer said at the time.

The Royal Mint is marking the anniversary with specially-designed commemorative coins, ranging from a £5 coin to a £1,000 solid gold 1kg coin — which actually costs £50,000 (RM275,824) to buy.

They also bear words from the famous quote in her 21st birthday speech to the Commonwealth back in 1947: “My whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.”

Queen Elizabeth became Britain’s longest-serving monarch ever in September 2015, surpassing the reign of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, a record she said was ”not one to which I
have ever aspired”.

She also became the longest-reigning living monarch in the world in October last year following the death of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Elizabeth’s three big jubilees were the silver jubilee in 1977 — after 25 years — marked by street parties and a world tour; the 2002 golden jubilee — at 50 years — featuring a pop concert at Buckingham Palace; and the diamond jubilee in 2012 — for 60 years — which saw a river pageant on the Thames in London.

With her advancing age, Elizabeth is gradually handing over more duties to younger members of the royal family.
— Agencies

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Royal race

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William (centre) and Prince Harry take part in a relay race during a training event to promote the charity Heads Together, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London on Sunday.
— Picture by AFP

IPOH

Burger sales banned to curb littering

IPOH — Stall operators have been told to stop selling burgers to reduce littering during Thaipusam.

The Ipoh Hindu Devasthana Paripalana Sabah and the City Council have decided on the ban after the sales were found to have largely contributed to the littering.

The organisation’s chairman, R.V. Suppiah, said: “During our discussions with the council, we agreed there should no longer be burger stalls as wrappers have been found littering the fields at D.R. Seenivasagam Park and Padang Ipoh.

“We encourage stall owners to sell vegetarian food instead since this is
a religious occasion.”

Suppiah said there would be ample bins for devotees and visitors to throw rubbish.

He said the Kallumalai Arulmigu Subramaniar Temple in Gunung Cheroh would give away 10,000 packets of food for lunch, and the Sri Maha Mariamman temple in Buntong would also give 5,000 packets of food on Thaipusam day.

“There will be also a lot of thannir panthal (water stations) in the compounds of the temples where people will distribute water and food,” he said.

Suppiah said the temple authorities were expecting about 350,000 devotees and visitors for the celebrations.

There would be about 5,000 milk pot bearers and also 4,000 devotees taking part in the “hair offering” at Kallumalai temple.

“The temple committee has engaged about 50 barbers who will shave the heads of devotees wanting to give their hair as an offering,” he said.

To make it more comfortable for those present, Suppiah said, mobile toilets would be provided at the two temples, at DR Seenivasagan Park and Ipoh Padang and at Little India in Jalan Lahat.

The chariot from Mariamman temple will leave for the Kallumalai temple at 6.30am tomorrow and is expected to reach its destination at noon. It will return to the Mariamman temple at 3pm on Friday.

Several roads will be temporarily closed during the chariot procession.

Suppiah urged devotees and visitors to adhere to the dress code set by the temple management.

“We also hope there will not be incidents such as spraying paint on women,” he said.

‘Specialised’ most overused 
buzzword on Linkedln

KUALA LUMPUR — Online networking platform Linkedln revealed yesterday the most overused words found on Malaysians’ LinkedIn profiles last year as part of an effort to help professionals shine and differentiate themselves when describing their skills and abilities.

The word “specialised” emerged as the most commonly used buzzword in Malaysia, followed by “leadership”, “passionate”, “experienced”, “responsible”, “strategic” and “excellent.”

The compilation of the 10 most used words in the last 12 months was drawn from analysis of millions of profiles worldwide including three million from Malaysia.

“The top offender ‘specialised’ is a newcomer to the list and appears to be a favourite for marketers, sales and talent representatives,” a statement accompanying Linkedln’s findings said.

Malaysian professionals should try and understand what talent recruiters were looking for when creating their resumes on the online network, Roger Pua, LinkedIn’s senior director of corporate communication for Asia Pacific, said in the statement.

“A talent recruiter goes through a sea of resumes daily. Understanding and knowing attention-grabbing words will help professionals differentiate themselves. The effort and time put into choosing suitable, unique words to describe your skills, achievements and career passion will go a long way.

“All you have to do is get started and we hope that these buzzwords will do just that for the working professionals in Malaysia.”

LinkedIn’s career expert Blair Decembrele was also quoted as saying the list of overused words would be helpful for professionals to keep in mind when they were mapping out their resumes online.

“Like most things in life, if you’re willing to put a little time and effort into making simple changes to your profile, you’re going to get a whole lot in return. All you have to do is get started,” he said.
— Malay Mail Online

Motorists owe JB council RM11.3m in compounds

JOHOR BARU — The Johor Baru City Council will step up prosecution of traffic offenders to recover the RM11.3 million in arrears of compounds imposed between May and December last year.

Mayor A. Rahim Nin said yesterday the sum was for a total of 367,000 compounds imposed under the Road Traffic Orders (Parking Lots Distribution)
By-Laws.

“A total of 6,440 reminders have been sent to the vehicle owners who have yet to settle the fines,” he said at a full council meeting.

“These people must remember that they can be prosecuted and fined up to RM300 and be required to make other payments due to the mayor under
the provisions.”

Rahim said the council would extend the period for renewal of business licences to March 30 to ease congestion at the city council counters.

He said the council had collected revenue exceeding RM320 million for 2016, of which RM189 million was from tax receipts. — Bernama

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