Trump travel ban to be heard by federal appeals court

In this May 15, 2017, file photo, protesters wave signs and chant during a demonstration against President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban outside a federal courthouse in Seattle. (AP/Ted S. Warren)
Updated 08 December 2017
0

Trump travel ban to be heard by federal appeals court

RICHMOND, Virginia: President Donald Trump’s updated travel ban is headed back to a federal appeals court in Virginia.
Thirteen judges on the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals will be asked to decide if the ban violates the constitution by discriminating against Muslims, as opponents say, or is necessary to protect national security, as the Trump administration says.
The hearing scheduled Friday comes four days after the US Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration can fully enforce the ban even as the separate challenges continue before the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th Circuit and the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit appeals courts.
The 4th Circuit is being asked to reverse the decision of a Maryland judge whose injunction in October barred the administration from enforcing the ban against travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen who have bona fide relationships with people or organizations in the US The ban also applies to travelers from North Korea and to some Venezuelan government officials and their families, but the lawsuits didn’t challenge those restrictions.
Trump announced his initial travel ban on citizens of certain Muslim-majority nations in late January, bringing havoc and protests to airports around the country. A federal judge in Seattle soon blocked it, and courts since then have wrestled with the restrictions as the administration has rewritten them. The latest version blocks travelers from the listed countries to varying degrees, allowing for students from some of the countries while blocking other business travelers and tourists, and allowing for admissions on a case-by-case basis.
Opponents say the latest version of the ban is another attempt by Trump to fulfill his campaign pledge to keep Muslims out of the US The administration, however, says the ban is based on legitimate national security concerns.
The 4th Circuit rejected an earlier version in May, finding that it “drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination” toward Muslims. The judges cited Trump’s campaign pledge on Muslim travelers, as well as tweets and remarks he has made since taking office.
“For the people here who are waiting for their families and friends to come to the United States, it has an impact on their faith. It denigrates their faith,” said Mariko Hirose, litigation director for the International Refugee Assistance Project. The group is one of the plaintiffs in the Maryland case.
The Trump administration also says the latest version of the ban was the product of a global review and evaluation of inadequate information-sharing practices of certain foreign governments on security issues.
“The fact that serious national-security risks are posed by some Muslim-majority nations cannot prevent the government from addressing those problems, especially after the kind of extensive, multi-agency review process that occurred here,” government lawyers argued in written briefs.
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Wednesday in a separate lawsuit filed in Hawaii. Much of Wednesday’s arguments focused on a narrower point: whether the president satisfied immigration law in issuing his latest travel order.
It is unclear when the appeals courts will rule, though both sides expect the US Supreme Court will ultimately decide on the legality of the ban.


‘Khusouf Al-Ard’ — The long-awaited return of Hayajan

Updated 4 min 42 sec ago
0

‘Khusouf Al-Ard’ — The long-awaited return of Hayajan

DUBAI: It’s been more than five years since “Ya Bay,” the debut album from Jordan-based indie-pop band Hayajan, was released. Frontman Alaa Wardi was already hugely popular for his online videos of layered a capella covers, but in the years since he has become a genuine online phenomenon with almost a million YouTube subscribers and two solo albums to his name.
Wardi, and his voice, naturally, loom large over Hayajan’s recently released sophomore album “Khusouf Al-Ard.” But it would be a mistake to see this record as ‘Alaa Wardi plus musicians.’ Guitarists Odai Shawagfeh (who also plays with El Morabba3) and Mohammed Idrei, bassist Amjad Shahrouh, and drummer Hakam Abu Soud are equally responsible for Hayajan’s impressive sonic soundscapes.
The majority of tracks on “Khusouf Al-Ard” fall into one of two categories: Upbeat funky pop or slower synth-led ballads. Often, though, those pop tracks have pessimistic lyrics at odds with the bouncy, foot-tapping feel of the instrumentation.
In “Zubalah,” for example, Wardi warns a Martian newly arrived on earth to leave again ASAP because the planet is “trash” and “There is no hope for a better future.” On “Al-Ghabah,” he tells a tale of a bullying animal who becomes king of the jungle and burns it to the ground to quell an uprising, leaving himself ruler of nothing. A fable that could be relevant to any of the world’s ‘strongmen’ rulers.
Throughout the record Wardi shows his vocal chops not just on the top-line melodies, but with great choices of harmonies. The rhythm section is super-tight and the crystalline, angular guitar riffs are often instant earworms. Many of the tracks use the old ‘slow build to crescendo’ trick to great effect. “Kbirna” — a nostalgic ballad that employs Imogen Heap-style Vocoder effects — in particular culminates in the kind of soaring soundtrack-friendly climax that Sigur Ros seemed to have made their own in the Noughties.
The one bum note on the record is “Jibna Al-Eid,” in which Wardi’s requests for us all to come together cross the line into saccharine simplicity (as does the music). The result being a track that sounds like the kind of bad festive charity single usually accompanied by a video of the assembled vocalists grinning unconvincingly at each other.
Still, the rest of the album makes up for that misstep. Along with “Kbirna,” opening track “Yalla Bina” is a high point — driving, funky rhythms interspersed with staccato guitar stabs and a vibe reminiscent of French band Phoenix.
“Khusouf Al-Ard” is a confident, bold record that rewards the patience of the band’s fans.