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Trump unfairly diverted $ 2.5B to the border wall, fueled the appeals court rules

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SAN FRANCISCO – A federal appeals court ruled Friday against the Trump administration in its transfer of $ 2.5 billion of military construction projects to build sections of the United States border wall with Mexico, ruling that it illegally evaded Congress, which decides how to use the funds. .

In two opinions, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed with a coalition of border states and environmental groups that held that the money transfer was illegal and that building the wall would pose environmental threats.

The rulings were the latest twist in the legal battle that has largely followed Trump’s path. Last July, the Supreme Court allowed $ 2.5 billion to be spent as the litigation continued, mitigating the impact of the latest appeals court action.

The administration has already awarded much of the money, including a $ 1.3 billion job in Arizona that was announced last month. Trump visited Yuma, Arizona, on Tuesday to mark the completion of the 200-mile border wall during his administration, largely with the transferred military funds that the Ninth Circuit panel deemed illegal.

After the $ 2.5 billion transfer of military funds, the Pentagon diverted another $ 3.6 billion that an appeals court in New Orleans ruled in January that they could be spent.

Still, critics of the Trump wall praised Friday’s decisions to defend the Constitution, which gives Congress the power of the purse.

“The funds he is stealing, which were appropriated by Congress, are vital to supporting the safety and well-being of the brave uniformed men and women, as well as their families,” said Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat. Of California.

The Ninth Circuit ruled that the Trump administration not only lacked the authority to authorize the transfer of funds, “but also violated an express constitutional ban designed to protect individual liberties.”

The vote on both rulings was 2-1 with judges appointed by former President Bill Clinton in the majority and a dissident candidate for Trump.

The panel said the government was proceeding with the construction of the border wall without guaranteeing compliance with environmental regulations, thereby harming the interests of Sierra Club members who visit the border region for hiking, bird watching and other recreational activities.

The panel also held that the government did not demonstrate that construction would stop the flow of illegal drugs. He said the administration had cited drug statistics but did not address how the wall would impact the problem.

“The fact that the executive branch does not demonstrate, in concrete terms, that the public interest favors a border wall is particularly significant given that Congress determined that the fence is a lower budget priority and Justice Department data points to a contrary conclusion, “wrote the majority. .

The White House said the decisions will not interfere with its ability to continue building the wall, noting that the Supreme Court has reversed many of the court’s decisions.

After the Supreme Court gave the green light last year to begin work on the wall using money from the Department of Defense, the Justice Department promised to continue defending the administration’s efforts to protect the southern border.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who led a coalition of attorneys general from 20 states that sued the administration, praised the court decision.

“While the Trump administration steals public funds to build an unauthorized wall on the southern border, families across the country are struggling to pay their bills,” said Becerra. “They deserve to know that their hard-earned dollars go toward what Congress intended: to benefit them and their communities.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, which sued on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, said that if the Trump administration appeals, the case will return to the Supreme Court, where the ACLU will seek to tear down sections of the wall that are they built with military money

“The damage that has been done cannot be undone, but we will return to the Supreme Court to finally stop this destructive wall,” said ACLU staff attorney Dror Ladin.

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Trump administration warns against investing in Chinese companies

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The Trump administration warned of investing in Chinese companies due to the possibility of sanctions and boycotts for the Chinese Communist Party’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and its strong-armed response to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, according to a report.

National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, wrote in a letter to the United States Railroad Retirement Board that investments in China opened their retirees to “unnecessary economic risks,” the report said. Tuesday the New York Times. .

The letter also noted that the investments would put money in the hands of companies “that raise significant humanitarian and national security concerns,” including some that supply the Chinese military.

Citing a “moment of increasing uncertainty,” O’Brien and Kudlow said “the possibility of future sanctions or boycotts that may arise from a wide range of problems, including the Chinese government’s culpable actions regarding the global spread of the Covid – 19 pandemic, the suppression of democracy in Hong Kong. “

The Railroad Retirement Board, an independent federal agency, managed $ 28.3 billion in assets at the end of 2018, according to the report.

He said the board has placed the assets in a diversified portfolio like many private sector retirement plans have.

The White House warning comes at a time of heightened tension between Washington and Beijing.

President Trump blamed China for confusing his response to the coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan City.

And the world’s two largest economies have been involved in a trade war after Trump accused Beijing of treating American companies unfairly and stealing intellectual property.

Last week, China imposed a strict national security law in Hong Kong that cracks down on criticism of the Chinese Communist Party and penalizes “secession”, “subversion” and the organization of “terrorist activities”.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in an interview Monday with Fox News, said the United States is considering banning TikTok and other Chinese social media apps over concerns that they collect data from users and share it with the Chinese Communist Party.

“I don’t want to go out in front of [Trump]But it’s something we’re seeing, “said Pompeo.” We’re taking this very seriously. We’re certainly seeing it. “

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Portland Police Union Blames City Officials for Riots: “Condemn Violence”

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The Portland police union criticized public officials for allowing protesters to destroy the city, as protesters once again taunted police on Tuesday night.

In a publication titled “This Cannot Continue,” Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner called on elected officials to “stand up and defend Portland.”

“Condemn violence and burning, looting and destruction of property,” said Turner. “Trust and support the decisions made by law enforcement leaders who simply want to keep residents, business owners and peaceful protesters safe.”

The Black Lives Matter protests have been going on in Portland for more than a month after George Floyd’s death by police. However, protests have frequently turned violent amid clashes between police, protesters and members of the anti-fascist group Antifa.

Looters also ravaged businesses in downtown Portland in late May.

Turner said the police have suffered verbal and physical abuse for too long.

“As the riots continue, it is obvious to everyone that this is no longer about George Floyd, social justice, or police reform,” he said. “They are a group of individuals who try to cause injury, mayhem and destruction by mutiny, looting, lighting fires, throwing stones, bottles, mortars, urine and feces at peaceful protesters, as well as the police.

Police confront protesters as demonstrated by supporters of the Black Lives Matter in Portland, Oregon.

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Black Lives Matter protests continue in Portland

Police arrest protesters as demonstrated by Black Lives Matter supporters in Portland, Oregon.

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“These violent criminal acts have dragged on for nearly 40 days non-stop, while the men and women of the Portland Police Office and its associated agencies have shown staggering restraint in the face of the most divisive moment this country has seen in history modern “.

Turner’s letter concluded: “Keep the people of Portland safe and free from riot, while respecting their First Amendment rights. Support police leadership. Support officers. Tell those who intend to burn and loot our great city ​​not welcome here. Put Portland first.

The protests were largely peaceful on Tuesday night, when crowds gathered to pay tribute to Summer Taylor, the 24-year-old protester who died after being hit by a high-speed car Saturday in Seattle, Oregon Live reported. . At one point, a fight broke out between protesters, prompting police to respond and fire two noisy ammunition.

Video from the scene shows protesters confronting heavily armed police.

The groups had planned a “peaceful sit-in” on Tuesday night, as well as a “Night of Wrath for Summer Taylor.”

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Kazakh beach dwellers beat unconscious seal so kids could take photos

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A seal was beaten to unconsciousness by a group of men on a beach in Kazakhstan, so that children could take photos with it, according to a report.

The defenseless mammal was swimming in the Caspian Sea in Kuryk when the men launched their attack, the Daily Mail reported.

The video of the haunting assault shows the men hitting the seal with long sticks near the shoreline, and another man hoisting a large rock over his head.

Local media reports said the attack continued until the animal passed out, the Mail reported.

“They beat the seal until he passed out. Then they took it out of the water so that the children could take photos and have fun, ”said one witness in one of the reports. “After that, they threw the motionless body back into the sea. I don’t know if he survived. “

The animal attack occurs the same week that people threw rocks at another seal that was swimming in the water. The video of that incident was released by Kazakh model Yevgeniya Mukasheva.

Caspian seals are listed as endangered species.

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