Roger Stone left federal court on Feb. 1. The judge in his case has imposed a gag order on attorneys and others.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
A federal judge imposed a gag order on Friday in the case of Republican political consultant Roger Stone.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered that lawyers and others in the case must not talk about it publicly in ways that “pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice” and specifically they must not use the area outside court in Washington, D.C., as a venue for those kinds of statements.
Jackson wrote in her order she has responsibilities to protect the ability to seat an impartial jury and “maintain the dignity and seriousness of the courthouse and these proceedings.”
Lawyers, witnesses and Stone aren’t forbidden from making all public statements.
Stone is facing seven criminal counts including obstruction of an official proceeding, witness tampering and making false statements. Prosecutors say he lied to Congress about the role he may have played in the 2016 election as a conduit between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and WikiLeaks, which released embarrassing material stolen by Russian intelligence officers.
Stone has pleaded not guilty and says he did nothing wrong. All he did in 2016, he has argued, was hype public information that was available to everyone else at the time.
Stone had opposed a gag order. As someone who makes much of his living as a commentator and by making media appearances, he said he feared being required to keep silent.
Jackson tried to reassure him in an earlier hearing that even if she did impose a gag order, he would still be at liberty to talk publicly about immigration and foreign relations and even New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady if he wants.
Stone and his supporters have spared no criticism of the Justice Department. Stone complained that he was treated worse than Osama bin Laden and he and supporters have questioned how CNN was able to position cameras to capture the FBI’s arrival at his Florida home last month.
The cable network has explained that its journalists noticed grand jury activity in Washington that led editors and producers to guess that an indictment might be coming. Law enforcement specialists also have said that a large number of officers arriving early in the morning to serve a warrant is standard procedure.
Jackson’s order didn’t stop Stone’s criticism on Friday; he said in an email to supporters that authorities are trying to hurt him by denying him the ability to raise money for his legal defense fund and that he is so low on cash he is “literally living on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.”
Jackson, however, did write in her order that she would be watching the public comments that Stone makes.
Wrote the judge: “While it is not up to the court to advise the defendant as to whether a succession of public statements would be in his best interest at this time, it notes that one factor that will be considered in the evaluation of any future request for relief based on pretrial publicity will be the extent to which the publicity was engendered by the defendant himself.”
WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 15: President Donald Trump spoke on border security during a Rose Garden event. NPR stopped its “special coverage” of the president’s remarks before he finished speaking.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
When a U.S. president schedules a Rose Garden announcement to talk about declaring a national emergency, it’s a pretty safe bet that NPR will carry it live.
That was the case this morning, when NPR started airing “special coverage” of President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency in order to help finance a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
But the president didn’t make it easy for NPR and its member stations, and other news organizations that cut away from regular programming, to broadcast the remarks live. Trump started out at 10:39 a.m. ET talking about international trade for several minutes before moving on to the topic of why he was declaring a national emergency. NPR carried those remarks live for 20 minutes, during which the president repeated his rationale, as well as some of his past claims that have been proven untrue.
At 10:59 a.m., NPR stopped carrying the event live and returned to Morning Edition, for analysis of the announcement. The president kept speaking until 11:29 a.m., eventually taking a few questions from members of the press.
(What a listener heard depended on where they were listening. Once the “special coverage” stopped, some local NPR-affiliated stations continued with Morning Edition or other scheduled programming, depending on their time zone. Others immediately switched back to live coverage of the president, which NPR also offered to its member stations. That’s because stations are independent entities and make programming decisions that they feel are best for their communities.)
My office heard from listeners who criticized the decision to air the announcement live and others who criticized the decision to drop it. We also heard from listeners who praised the decision to air only a portion of it. I asked newsroom officials about their thinking.
Terence Samuel, a deputy managing editor, said the decision “was based purely on news value.” It was important to hear what the president had to say, in what was a historic declaration, Samuel said. So, NPR listeners heard the president say, more than once, what he was doing and why he was doing it and what he hoped to accomplish, Samuel said, and then, “We felt at that point that he was not saying anything that the audience had not heard.”
As the president repeated himself, Samuel said, “we didn’t feel that it was adding value.” He added that the newsroom continued to listen to the remarks for anything newsworthy.
(As a side note, listening to the live remarks by radio also was at times frustrating, as the president had people in the audience stand up — people who listeners could not see.)
Back in January I sided with the newsroom’s policy to carry most presidential addresses live, despite this president’s pattern of making statements that are misleading or simply not true when the facts are examined. Listeners should have the opportunity to hear a president’s own words, and I had confidence that NPR would fact-check that speech, which ran just a couple of minutes, afterward.
But no news organization has an obligation to turn over its airtime automatically, even to a president. NPR does not carry all campaign speeches live, including those by sitting presidents, for example. Today’s unscripted remarks were eventually repetitive, as Samuel said, and at times, to my ear, felt more like a rally for supporters than a serious presidential address. While the president’s answers to questions from reporters were illuminating, notably when he seemingly undermined his own legal case, that could be covered through after-the-fact reporting.
One listener who wished NPR had continued to broadcast the president’s remarks wrote that she switched channels. That’s also an important point: There were other places to hear the full thing, at least for those who had a broadband or television connection. NPR’s website and its Facebook page carried the remarks in their entirety.
In this case, NPR made the right call.
City of Aurora, Ill., officials says a suspect has been apprehended in a shooting at a manufacturing company on Friday afternoon.
The city added that the area is still on lockdown.
EMERGENCY UPDATE | 3 p.m.
THE SHOOTER HAS BEEN APPREHENDED! The area is still on lock down!
More information will be provided soon.
— City of Aurora, IL (@CityofAuroraIL) February 15, 2019
“We are told that multiple people have been struck by gunfire,” a spokesman for the Kane County State Attorney’s Office wrote in an email to The Washington Post.
The city, a suburb of Chicago, sent out a tweet at 3:23 p.m., alerting the public that police were responding to an active shooter situation near the streets of Highland and Archer.
ALERT: There is an active shooter near Highland and Archer. Aurora Police are on the scene. More information will be available soon.
— City of Aurora, IL (@CityofAuroraIL) February 15, 2019
Minutes later, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed they were also on the scene.
— ATF HQ (@ATFHQ) February 15, 2019
This is a developing story and will be updated.
Today on the show, we’re launching a three part series on antitrust law, one of the most important but least-understood bodies of law in the United States.
For this first episode in the series, we’re starting at the very beginning, in the nineteenth century, with the story of John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil. We go to Titusville, Pennsylvania, and retrace the steps of muckraking journalist Ida Tarbell as she uncovers the back room deals struck by Rockefeller, then one of the world’s richest men. Tarbell’s investigative reporting in the early 1900s inspired a court case that helped change the design of the American economy.
Gracie García poses for a photo in her backyard in Los Indios near San Benito, Texas. The border wall was built about ten years ago in García’s property and she says she has not been paid for it.
Veronica G. Cardenas/Texas Public Radio
Veronica G. Cardenas/Texas Public Radio
President Trump’s emergency declaration will potentially free up over six billion dollars to build hundreds more miles of barrier along the southern border. One of the first priorities for construction is the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where the majority of illegal crossings now occur. Residents there have strong views about the barrier, both pro and con.
Nayda Alvarez is a lifelong resident of La Rosita, a small town along the Rio Grande nested between the cities of Roma and Rio Grande City. She’s a local high school speech teacher and lives next door to her parents.
She remembers the moment she opened up a letter from the federal government. “You know, I’ve had like a stress headache ever since I’ve got that letter,” she said.
The letter asked Alvarez if she would grant the federal government permission to survey her land for the possible construction of some kind of border infrastructure.
She doesn’t know what her legal options are: “It’s the uncertainty behind the letter or behind everything because you ask questions and they don’t know when or where or how or what’s going to happen.”
Nayda Alvarez poses for a photo in her backyard, which is part of the property that her family has owned for five generations along the Rio Grande in the community La Rosita, near Rio Grande City, Texas. Alvarez says that if the border wall were built as it shows it in the preliminary maps, her house would have to be demolished in order to leave the 150-feet enforcement zone.
Veronica G. Cardenas/Texas Public Radio
Veronica G. Cardenas/Texas Public Radio
The surveying is generally the first step before the federal government offers to purchase the land. If the landowner doesn’t want to sell, the federal government can sue, using its power of eminent domain to take the land.
The first letter arrived in Alvarez’s mailbox in September. Then a second one in November, a final one followed in January threatening legal action.
Alvarez has not yet responded to either letter because she’s busy seeking legal advice.
“I have lived here all my life,” she said. “This land belonged to my great-grandparents since this area was part of Mexico. Unlike some people say that we might be first generation — no my parents and great-grandparents have been here forever.”
Alvarez questions the need for an emergency declaration to build a wall in her backyard — she said she’s felt safe in her community her entire life. She said she has tried to talk to local, state, and federal government officials — including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — about the impending border project.
“You ask them questions, and they have no idea,” she said referring to her interactions with the Army Corps of Engineers. “They won’t give you an answer. They just give you the runaround, and they never give you a straight answer.”
But now Alvarez thinks she has a plan to get elected officials’ attention.
“If they ever do a fly by I do have my ‘No Border Wall’ up on my roof so they know where I stand but nobody’s bothered to ask us,” said Alvarez. “This is about what is right or wrong, and a wall is not going to help anything. It’s not gonna work.”
Gracie Garcia lives in Los Indios, a small town by the Rio Grande near San Benito in Cameron County. She knows what it’s like to see a border wall built on her property. That happened to her over a decade ago.
“It’s 10 years since they built it and to this day we haven’t been paid for anything as we were told they were supposedly going to pay for the property, the amount of land they took,” said Garcia.
Garcia is also a life-long Valley native and lives with her four children next to a section of border wall that cuts through her backyard.
“When I look at the wall I think it’s just a waste of money,” said Garcia. “I really don’t understand why they went this way.”
Garcia said she stayed in the area even after the wall went up because she loves her community.
“It’s really peaceful, everyone gets along with everybody, the neighbors,” she said. “It’s quiet and it’s good. It’s a really good place to live in. It’s comfortable.”
But Ruperto Cardenas, who lives by the Rio Grande in the small town of Escobares near Roma, Texas in Starr County, about 90 miles away from Garcia, welcomes the push for more border barriers. He said he’s seen people cross illegally onto his property from Mexico.
“I’ve seen how freely people walk through here,” said Cardenas. “That’s a fact.”
Cardenas is 75 years old and a farmer who owns a total of about 600 acres of land. He doesn’t mind the government cutting through his property because he believes it will reduce the flow of drugs coming into the country. The topic is extremely personal to him.
“It has affected some of my kids, and I have personally gone through the hell that parents go through when they have children that are addicted to any one of these drugs,” said Cardenas. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, most illegal drugs coming into the U.S. from Mexico are through legal ports of entry along the southern border.
Still, Cardenas is inviting the government to build a wall on his property: “I say, let’s try to stop it, let’s try something new. Let’s try this wall because for 75 years, nothing has worked. Maybe this will.”
Nadya Alvarez said she doesn’t have the luxury of a 600 acre farm.
“I’m not losing a piece of my land. I’m actually going to lose my house,” said Alvarez. “Unlike other people who say, ‘oh, I’m just going to lose the back part.’ Okay, you lose your back part, but I’m going to lose my house. What are we supposed to do? This is not America. Or at least not the America that I know.”
It’s still unclear how many miles of border wall will be built in the Rio Grande Valley.
According to the border security bill passed by Congress and signed by the President, the Department of Homeland Security and the local elected officials of the cities impacted by the upcoming border wall will need to reach a mutual agreement regarding the design and alignment of physical barriers by Sept. 30.
Anthony Porvaznik, chief patrol agent for the Border Patrol’s Yuma sector, inspects a recently reinforced section of border fence in San Luis, Ariz. Porvaznik says a few weeks ago 350 migrants and children burrowed under another spot of the border fence about 12 miles away.
In a desolate stretch of desert outside Yuma, Ariz., there’s a spot where more than 350 migrants and children burrowed under the steel border fence a few weeks ago.
“This only goes down just about probably another foot, this steel,” said Anthony Porvaznik, chief patrol agent for the Yuma sector of the Border Patrol. He says smugglers tried digging in more than a dozen different spots, looking for places where the ground was soft enough.
“This is very sandy,” Porvaznik said. “It’s like that all the way down, and so it was easy to dig.”
About once a week, Border Patrol agents come across migrant groups of 100 people or more in some of the most isolated parts of the southwest border. In Arizona, the number of migrant families and children crossing the border more than doubled last year, straining resources in the U.S. and Mexico.
The White House says the situation is evidence of a broader crisis at the southern border. On Friday, the president declared a national emergency in order to free up billions of dollars to expand the border wall. The administration wants a total of about $8 billion, including $1.4 billion in the funding bill passed by Congress, for border wall construction.
But immigrant advocates say U.S. officials have exacerbated the situation at the border by limiting the number of migrants who can seek asylum at legal ports of entry. They say that’s pushing a growing number migrant families to cross illegally in more remote areas of Arizona and New Mexico, miles from the nearest food, water and medical care.
“We hesitate to use the word ‘crisis,’ because we don’t think that this is a threat to the country,” said Joanna Williams with the Kino Border Initiative, a humanitarian group that operates a migrant shelter in Nogales, Mexico.
The vast majority of these migrants are fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. And Williams says U.S. immigration officials have underestimated their desperation to reach U.S. soil.
“They’re trying to find a route to safety,” Williams said. “For them, the risks are worth it.”
No longer the ‘wild wild west’
Despite the recent influx of migrant families, the Yuma sector is widely considered a border enforcement success story.
The number of illegal border crossings in Yuma today is just a fraction of what it used to be in the early 2000s. Former acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke touted the sector’s turnaround in a 2016 op-ed in USA Today titled, “Border Walls Work. Yuma Proves It.”
The border wall between San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico and Arizona’s Yuma County.
Even as Border Patrol agents “were arresting on average 800 illegal aliens a day,” Duke wrote, “we were still unable to stop the thousands of trucks filled with drugs and humans that quickly crossed a vanishing point and dispersed into communities all across the country.”
“It was just to me like the wild wild west. It was just out of control,” said Barbie Moorhouse, a helicopter pilot in the Border Patrol.
Before she was a pilot, Moorhouse worked on the ground as a Border Patrol agent in the mid-2000s. Back then, she says, agents ran themselves ragged chasing migrants trying to cross illegally.
“We did the best we could with what we had at the time,” Moorhouse said. “But it is definitely a better situation today than it was 10 years ago. The change was pretty dramatic.”
Since then, the Border Patrol ranks have swelled. More miles of wall and fence have been built. And the number of illegal border crossings is far below what they used to be.
But today, the face of those migrants has changed. Instead of farm workers and laborers trying to dodge agents, nearly 90 percent of the border-crossers are families and children. Instead of trying to get away, they’re trying to get caught.
And once again, the U.S. is not prepared.
“It is a crisis for us because this is a situation that the Border Patrol is not resourced or geared to deal with,” said chief patrol agent Anthony Porvaznik.
Border Patrol agents are spending hours caring for the migrants in their custody, Porvaznik said. They pick up hundreds of hamburgers at a time from McDonald’s, and wait with migrants at the hospital if they need medical attention.
“We need additional manpower to deal with the population that we have to essentially babysit,” Porvaznik said. “And that takes Border Patrol agents away from a national security border security mission to deal with a humanitarian mission.”
Porvaznik says big groups of migrants have been especially frustrating, because they take his agents away from the law enforcement tasks they signed up for when the joined the Border Patrol.
“We’re here to arrest people that are trying to do bad things and bad people trying to come into the country,” Provaznik said. “And we still do that. But when we have this priority mission of having to deal with children and families, that takes away from our ability to get manpower out where we need them.”
Unlike the border-crossers of a decade ago, many of these Central American migrants are trying to turn themselves in to the Border Patrol, in order to request asylum in the U.S.
“There’s not an incentive to travel in smaller groups or to try to hide from immigration officials,” said Joanna Williams. So these migrants are crossing in larger groups because “in many ways, it’s safer,” she said.
A few years ago, it was more common for migrant families to cross in places like the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. But Williams says that route has become increasingly dangerous because the Mexican side of the border is controlled by cartels. So migrants are crossing in remote borderlands, in spite of the risks.
In December, an 8-year-old girl died in U.S. custody after crossing with a large group of migrants in a remote corner of New Mexico. Her death, and that of a second migrant child a few weeks later, prompted the Border Patrol to expand medical screenings for all migrants in its custody.
There’s another reason these migrant families have gotten more desperate, says Williams. In the past, they might have gone to legal ports of entry to request asylum. But since last year, U.S. officials have been letting only a few families in at a time at many ports of entry.
So these migrants have to choose between two bad options if they want to reach the U.S. They can cross the border illegally in remote areas. Or wait, sometimes for months, in border towns.
Strained resources in Mexico
In the town of San Luis Rio Colorado, right across the border from Yuma County, Ariz., hundreds of migrant families sleep out under blue tarps — the same kind you’d see emergency responders hand out after a hurricane.
A few feet away, two clogged lanes of traffic also wait to get into the U.S. Occasionally the drivers roll down their windows to give money to the migrants, or buy them snacks from street vendors.
Makeshift tents against the border wall in San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico where migrants are waiting for a chance to apply for asylum.
The migrants themselves keep track of everybody’s place in line in a simple spiral notebook. On this day, the notebook is in the hands of a Guatemalan asylum-seeker named Herbert Leal. He flips through the pages to show me the names of more than 100 families from southern Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador. Leal says they’re waiting because they want to do this the “right” way.
“To show U.S. authorities that we are able to wait,” he said through an interpreter. “That we respect the laws of Mexico, and we respect the laws of the United States. That is why we’re here.”
These migrants are afraid to leave this spot because they might lose their place in the line to request asylum. But some do venture to a migrant shelter in town, called Casa del Migrante la Divina Providencia.
“This house was made originally for men,” explains Martin Salgado, who runs the shelter. Salgado’s mother helped found the shelter in the 1990s. Back then, Salgado says, it was primarily a way station for migrant men trying to get to the U.S. to work.
But now Salgado says the majority of migrants are women and children seeking asylum.
“From a year ago, there’s a lot of women,” Salgado told me. “In the past, you didn’t see this picture.”
Before, this was a place to bunk for a night or two. Now many of its beds are empty. But Salgado says the shelter has found other ways to serve the migrants. They come during the day to eat, to shower, and wash their clothes before returning to the line.
Rosia Ramirez Penaloza and her children fled from gang violence in southern Mexico. They’re staying in a makeshift tent in San Luis Rio Colorado as they wait for a chance to apply for asylum at the port of entry.
“These are good people. In my own village, I could not imagine anyone being as helpful and giving,” said Rosia Ramirez Penaloza, a migrant who left Guerrero, in southern Mexico, with her three children. Her youngest daughter is 10 months old. She has another daughter who is 9, and a son who is 11. Ramirez says a gang member in their hometown tried to recruit him.
“They would tell him that if he doesn’t join them, they are going to hurt us,” she said in Spanish through an interpreter. “Hurt his little sister and us.”
Ramirez and her children spend their nights sleeping under a blue tarp fastened directly to the metal border wall, along with hundreds of other migrant families, waiting for their number to be called.
A growing shelter in Tucson
Back across the border in Tucson, Ariz., a shelter for migrant families and children called Casa Alitas has had to grow quickly to keep pace with the growing number of migrants.
“We started back in 2014 in Tucson at the bus station,” says Diego Javier Pina Lopez, the lead coordinator for the shelter. Casa Alitas moved into a house, which it quickly outgrew, and then two houses.
A few weeks ago, the shelter relocated again, to its biggest quarters yet: a former Benedictine monastery in Tucson. The owner, a local real estate developer, is planning to build apartments on the property, but is letting migrants stay there until construction begins.
“We essentially got the keys on a Wednesday,” Pina Lopez said, “and then we were told we needed to open on that Saturday.”
Most migrants families stay at the shelter for less than 24 hours.
They’re dropped off by immigration officials after they’re released from custody, typically with a notice to appear in immigration court. The shelter offers them a place to shower, eat and sleep. Volunteers provide medical screenings and flu shots, and help the migrants book their bus tickets to join friends and relatives across the country.
One room in the sprawling 1940s monastery is full of donated toys. In another, there are piles of coats, jackets, backpacks and shoes that are free for the taking.
The staff at Casa Alitas say it’s unlikely that more miles of border wall will deter these migrant families from coming to the U.S.
“They truly believe that their lives are at risk, and even worse, the lives of their children are at risk,” said Teresa Cavendish, director of operations for Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona, which runs the shelter.
“I think it will actually cause cause more suffering to have the walls in place,” Cavendish said, “because folks will simply go to further extremes in order to make it here.”
A sign outside Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. The tech giant is planning to build a campus in San Jose, Calif.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
A mayor from another city that tried to land big tech companies might be starting to look pretty smart after Amazon canceled its plans for a New York City headquarters. Activists and local politicians said New York had given up too much for too little.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, according to San Jose, Calif., Mayor Sam Liccardo, who refused to offer Amazon and another tech giant, Google, any incentives to locate in his city.
Amazon’s decision to back out of the New York City plan followed opposition from activists and local politicians over the hefty tax breaks and incentives the company would’ve gotten when it moved in.
As big tech companies expand nationwide, cities continue to grapple with how to make sure they are benefiting. One example is San Jose.
Last year, when Amazon was looking for a city to house its second headquarters, Liccardo threw San Jose’s hat in the ring. But unlike the various cities that promised generous tax incentives, San Jose offered Amazon no money.
“If you’re offering incentives, those are dollars you could use to be building out transit, to … supporting an ecosystem of talent development,” Liccardo says.
When Amazon ultimately picked New York for one of its new campuses, many activists said it made no sense for one of the world’s wealthiest companies to get gig tax breaks and other incentives. It caused such a local outrage, Amazon announced it was pulling out.
“The lesson for cities really ought to be, don’t take the bait. And don’t even offer the bait,” Liccardo says.
“Our residents spend a lot of time commuting,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo says. “We’re right up there with the worst cities in commutes and obviously it drives up the housing costs. And so we get the worst of both worlds.”
Which is not to say he doesn’t want Big Tech headquartered in San Jose — Adobe, Cisco and eBay are based there.
“We’re the only major city in the United States that actually has a smaller daytime population than nighttime population,” Liccardo says. “And, as a result, our residents spend a lot of time commuting. We’re right up there with the worst cities in commutes and obviously it drives up the housing costs. And so we get the worst of both worlds.”
Liccardo says when he was approached by Google, which was interested in building a campus in San Jose, the company didn’t ask for incentives and his government didn’t offer any. Rather, the mayor says the city is requiring that 25 percent of the housing built around the campus be rent-restricted and affordable. Like most of the Bay Area, the cost of living in San Jose has skyrocketed, largely driven by the tech boom.
Google, which is headquartered nearby Mountain View, is projected to bring tens of thousands of jobs to San Jose. And Liccardo says the company agreed to fees on development to help fund affordable housing.
Google has purchased around 8 million square feet in downtown San Jose. The city lacks the allure of San Francisco or neighboring Palo Alto, so it’s not hard to see why some are so excited to develop it.
But plenty of locals and activists are not happy with Google moving in.
Jeff Buchanan, the policy director at Working Partnerships USA, a community labor coalition, says that even if San Jose isn’t offering big tax breaks, that doesn’t mean Google’s move will be good for the city.
“Maybe we’re not offering billions in tax rebates,” he says. “But we’re offering really valuable public land in an area where prices are going through the roof. Google is just on the beneficial side of things going their way, without having to give anything back.”
Like many activists in the various cities where tech is expanding, Buchanan has questions about the details: How exactly is housing going to be kept affordable? And, of all those jobs coming to town, how many will go to locals?
“When you look at Google’s workforce,” Buchanan says, “only about 7 percent are either Latino or African-American. You look at the population of San Jose, and it just looks incredibly different than who it is that Google is actually hiring.”
Expensive housing has been a problem for people like Joseph Chavez. A few years ago, it was so bad that his family — like so many others — had to leave San Jose.
“The prices are so outrageous, we’ve got to move to the Central Valley to actually have affordable homes,” he explains. “So with Google coming here, it might be a bad idea. Rent’s going to go sky high.”
But Chavez works in construction, and he’s hoping to work on the new San Jose Google site. “More jobs means more opportunities. More opportunity means everybody gets to eat. If it pays well, you might be able to make it,” he says.
Whether he’ll be able to make it in San Jose after the Google campus gets built, that’s an open question.
President Trump announces his emergency declaration during a Rose Garden event at the White House on Friday.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
In declaring a national emergency Friday, President Trump tried to underscore the urgency of what he calls a national security crisis along the U.S. border with Mexico, while at the same time downplaying the gravity of his response.
The president and his advisers couched the emergency declaration as a routine move by the executive branch to redirect money Congress has authorized, just as previous presidents have done dozens of times.
Critics scoffed at that argument and accused Trump of an illegal power grab.
The emergency declaration is designed to free up more than $6.6 billion for Trump’s controversial border wall, after lawmakers rejected the president’s demand and approved only a fraction of the wall funding Trump had asked for.
Trump insists the extra money is necessary to control an influx of illicit drugs as well as people fleeing poverty and violence in Central America.
“We have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming into our country,” Trump said during a Rose Garden ceremony to announce the emergency declaration, a claim NPR has previously fact-checked.
His plan would redirect money from the Defense Department and the Treasury to supplement the $1.375 billion Congress authorized for the wall. The extra money would allow the administration to build more than 230 miles of border barrier, rather than the 55 miles lawmakers approved.
The administration insists there’s nothing unusual about a president moving money around like that.
“This is authority given to the president in law already,” acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters. “It’s not as if he just didn’t get what he wanted so he’s waving a magic wand and taking a bunch of money.”
Aides said it’s within the president’s power to shift some funds around even without declaring an emergency. But the White House says the declaration does give the president some additional flexibility.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, presidents have declared national emergencies 60 times (including Trump) since the power was codified in 1976. Although the law — passed in the wake of the Vietnam War and Watergate — gave Congress the right to challenge an emergency declaration, most have been uncontroversial.
“There’s rarely been a problem,” Trump said. “They sign it. Nobody cares. I guess they weren’t very exciting.”
Trump’s declaration differs from many of those earlier emergencies. About three-quarters of the time, presidents use their emergency power to impose economic sanctions or limit trade with foreign parties. Then-President Jimmy Carter, for example, declared an emergency to limit business dealings with Iran. George H.W. Bush did the same with Iraq. And Barack Obama used emergency powers to limit transactions with Libya.
Other declarations have followed terrorist attacks or natural disasters. George W. Bush declared an emergency after the Sept. 11 attacks. And Obama used one to respond to the swine flu epidemic in 2009.
Critics say Trump’s declaration is categorically different, in that the president is using his power to fund a border wall far bigger and more expensive than Congress was willing to pay for.
“This is not 9/11. This is not the Iran hostage crisis of 1979,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a news conference on Friday after Trump’s remarks.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the president’s actions a clear violation of lawmakers’ power to set spending priorities.
“This is plainly a power grab by a disappointed president, who has gone outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, also a Democrat, accused the president of “manufacturing a crisis,” and diverting money that law enforcement in his state might use to fight drug dealers.
“Our message to the White House is simple and clear,” Newsom said in a statement. “California will see you in court.”
The president grimly anticipated such legal challenges in announcing the emergency.
“Sadly we’ll be sued,” Trump said. “And sadly it will go through a process and happily we’ll win, I think.”
Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio, pictured here at a press conference in May 2018, last week declared rape and sexual violence a national emergency.
Sia Kambou /AFP/Getty Images
Sia Kambou /AFP/Getty Images
Rape and sexual violence in Sienna Leone is now a national emergency.
Last week President Julius Maada Bio declared it so, and outlined ambitious plans — like free hospital care to rape victims, creating special police and court divisions devoted to sexual violence and a national phone hotline — to address the problem.
Sierra Leone’s sexual violence statistics are harrowing. According to the country’s police service, there were more than 8,500 reported case of sexual- and gender-based violence in 2018 — and a third of these involved a minor. But many activists, and the country’s first lady, say the number of actual cases is likely much higher, as many instances go unreported.
In his announcement, the president noted that “each month, hundreds of cases of rape and sexual assault are reported” with “thousands more” going unreported. Some 70 percent of all survivors are under the age of 15, he said — a statistic that came from the Rainbo Center, a nonprofit that offers free health care and psychosocial services to sexual violence survivors.
Bio declared that, immediately, sex with a minor is “punishable by life imprisonment.”
In the speech, he also directed all government hospitals to provide free health care to every rape victim. He tasked the police with creating a specific division “to speedily handle all cases of rape and sexual penetration of minors,” also asking that all cases of rape and sexual violence be considered aggravated assault.
He asked the country’s chief justice to consider creating a special division within the courts where specific judges would be designated to handle sexual violence cases — and, in the meantime, to speed up sexual violence cases stuck in court. He said a national emergency hotline will be set up to facilitate reporting of sexual violence.
Women’s rights groups have welcomed Bio’s goals. But the question is whether the new policies he announced can spur the action necessary to tangibly impact the lives of the country’s women and girls.
Making these goals a reality may be tough. While declaring a national emergency gives the president the ability to offer policy without asking for parliamentary approval, the plans lack necessary funding. The president still has not outlined how much the full package of services he’s offered will cost — or where the money will come from.
And some of the country’s other goals, such as delivering free health care to vulnerable sections of the population, have been hampered to funding shortages.
Some of the country’s lawyers are encouraging the president to make amendments to law, rather than unilaterally announcing legal changes. In a written statement, the Sierra Leone Bar Association encouraged the “government to consider amending … the Sexual Offences Act … to ensure that there is no argument or debate about the punishment of life imprisonment.” The association also encouraged other legal amendments, like banning child marriage.
According to Daniel Kettoh, executive director of Rainbo Center, of the 2,900 sexual violence cases that were reported to the center in 2018, only 1.3 percent were successfully prosecuted. Kettoh says there are more than 3,000 cases awaiting trial — and that it sometimes takes years for a woman to get a hearing.
Rebecca Wood, executive director of AdvocAid, a legal aid center for women, points out that there are already services in Sierra Leone, such as the Family Support Unit, that are meant to offer special protection to women — but that are not fully implemented. Wood says there are cases of women seeking police support in domestic violence cases who are not believed. And she reiterates that some see significant delays in their cases — and can wait for years for a trial.
“We’re living in a highly patriarchal society where women have little power and are deeply unequal.” Wood says. “Being treated equally by the police and the criminal justice system … will take a significant shift in attitudes.”
When asked how the president will ensure that the proposed changes are enforced, Fatima Maada Bio, Sierra Leone’s first lady, said: “The president has spoken. When he said this is the way we’re going, there’s nobody in this country that can reverse that. Not possible.”
Gender equality has become an increasingly important issue within Sierra Leone following a wave of violent cases of sexual assault that captured national attention. In 2015, a woman’s body was found on the beach after she was raped and murdered. Hundreds of women, wearing black shirts, marched in response. Sierra Leoneans donned black again three years later when a 5-year-old girl was raped by a relative and left paralyzed. Armed with data they had collected showing that sexual violence was on the rise, the Rainbo Center and other organizations asked Bio to take action.
Fatima Maada Bio says that her husband was prompted to take rape seriously when he heard on the radio a report of a 3-month-old child who was raped and then died within weeks of him taking office. “He knew he could not stay silent anymore,” she says. The president referenced the three-month-old child when making the announcement, calling sexual violence a “despicable” crime.
Fatou Wurie, a Sierra Leonean gender expert, told NPR that Bio’s speech made her feel “seen and heard”:
“It is symbolic on so many levels because it has never been done before, and it is happening at a time when it feels like a new generation of young women are raising their voices to demand better.”
But Wurie also notes a skepticism:
“For far too long we’ve been promised better access to education, to justice, to equality and then miserably failed. Not only by the state, but by … social gatekeepers deeply entrenched and rooted in cultural social norms that relegate women and girls to the margins.”
She says that while the focus on minors is important, “violence and abuse has no age limit,” and that addressing legal changes “is not enough. We have to address our culture of violence.”
A group of more than 20 organizations, including the Rainbo Center, issued a written statement in response to Bio’s announcement. Before thanking the president, they thanked “tireless survivors, leaders, a good number of unsung heroes and activists … who have been working … without recognition.” They warned that “without tangible changes/reforms … this important opportunity could be lost.”
Among other demands, they called for a broad definition of sexual violence not limited to minors — and a survivor fund for women and girls.
Fatima Maada Bio told NPR the president’s announcement was needed because women are “the weaker sex. We are the most deprived ones, when it comes to education, when it comes to jobs, absolutely everything.” She pointed out that women make up a majority of the population, and that Bio wants “women to come forward and … be part of national development.”
According to the 2015 national census, women make up 51 percent of the country’s just over 7 million people. The first lady sees her husband’s declaration as part of a change in Sierra Leone:
“Now, women are silenced, women are obedient, women are doing just what they are told to do, but I believe in the next five to 10 years, a lot of women will know their rights, and I don’t think they’re just going to sit by and allow anybody do as they please.”
Fatima Bangura, a street seller in Freetown, the country’s capital, offers a similar sentiment: “Life isn’t easy here for a woman … if you misbehave, some husbands might punish you, hit you, use abusive language. If the president wants to outlaw gender violence, I’m happy about that.”
Mara Kardas-Nelson is a freelance journalist reporting on health, international development, politics and the environment. She is based in Berkeley, Calif. Follow her @marajennkn
Cooper Inveen is a freelance journalist based in Sierra Leone. Follow him at @cinveen