Supreme Court to rule on Trump travel ban

The Supreme Court has agreed to decide the legality of the latest version of President Donald Trump’s ban on travel to the United States. (AP)
Updated 19 January 2018
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Supreme Court to rule on Trump travel ban

WASHINGTON: The Supreme Court agreed Friday to decide the legality of the latest version of President Donald Trump’s ban on travel to the United States by residents of six majority-Muslim countries.
The issue pits an administration that considers the restrictions necessary for Americans’ security against challengers who claim it is illegally aimed at Muslims and stems from Trump’s campaign call for a “complete shutdown of Muslims” entering the US
The justices plan to hear argument in April and issue a final ruling by late June on a Trump policy that has been repeatedly blocked and struck down in the lower courts.
The latest of those rulings came last month when the federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled that the travel ban Trump announced in September violates federal immigration law.
The federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, also is considering a challenge to the ban.
Last month, the high court said the ban could be fully enforced while appeals made their way through the courts.
The policy applies to travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. It also affects two non-Muslim countries: blocking travelers from North Korea and some Venezuelan government officials and their families.
The Supreme Court has never ruled on whether any of the three versions of the travel ban is legal. The court agreed last June to take up the second version until it expired in the early fall.
Trump’s first travel ban was issued almost a year ago, almost immediately after he took office, and was aimed at seven countries. It triggered chaos and protests across the US as travelers were stopped from boarding international flights and detained at airports for hours. Trump tweaked the order after the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit refused to reinstate the ban.
The next version, unveiled in March, dropped Iraq from the list of covered countries and made it clear the 90-day ban covering Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen didn’t apply to those travelers who already had valid visas. It also got rid of language that would give priority to religious minorities. Critics said the changes didn’t erase the legal problems with the ban.
The same appeals courts that are evaluating the current policy agreed with the challengers. The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond said the ban “drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.” The San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Trump violated immigration law.
The Supreme Court allowed the ban to take partial effect, but said those with a claim of a “bona fide” relationship with someone in the United States could not be kept out of the country. Grandparents, cousins and other relatives were among those who could not be excluded.
But the high court said lower courts were wrong to apply the same limits to the new policy, at least while it is being appealed. The justices did not explain their brief order.
The third version is permanent, unlike the other two, and the administration said it is the product of a thorough review by several agencies of how other countries’ screen their own citizens and share information with the US
Solicitor General Noel Francisco said in court papers that the policy is well within the president’s “broad authority to suspend or restrict the entry of aliens outside the United States when he deems it in the Nation’s interest.”
In response, the challengers said the policy violates the Constitution because it is biased against Muslims and also violates immigration law. The new version continues “the same unlawful policy” that was struck down by lower courts last year, lawyer Neal Katyal said in his brief on behalf of the challengers.


Fury clouds funeral plans for Italy bridge victims

Updated 17 August 2018
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Fury clouds funeral plans for Italy bridge victims

  • The collapse of the Morandi bridge, a decades-old viaduct that crumbled in a storm on Tuesday killing at least 38 people, has stunned and angered the country
  • According to La Stampa newspaper, the families of 17 victims have refused to take part in the state funeral, while a further seven have yet to decide whether they will attend

GENOA: Grieving relatives wept over the coffins of dozens of victims of Genoa’s bridge disaster Friday amid growing fury over a planned state funeral, while rescuers pressed on with their tireless search for those missing in the rubble.
The collapse of the Morandi bridge, a decades-old viaduct that crumbled in a storm on Tuesday killing at least 38 people, has stunned and angered the country, with Italian media reporting that some outraged families would shun Saturday’s official ceremonies.
Italy’s government has blamed the operator of the viaduct for the tragedy and threatened to strip the firm of its contracts, while the country’s creaking infrastructure has come under fresh scrutiny.
Authorities plan a state funeral service on Saturday at a hall in Genoa, coinciding with a day of mourning.
Relatives who gathered at the hall on Friday embraced and prayed over lines of coffins, many adorned with flowers and photographs of the dead.
But according to La Stampa newspaper, the families of 17 victims have refused to take part, while a further seven have yet to decide whether they will attend.
“It is the state who has provoked this; let them not show their faces, the parade of politicians is shameful,” the press cited the mother of one of four young Italians from Naples who died.
The father of another of the dead from Naples took to social media to vent his anger.
“My son will not become a number in the catalogue of deaths caused by Italian failures,” said his grieving father, Roberto.
“We do not want a farce of a funeral but a ceremony at home.”
Despite fading hopes of finding survivors, rescue workers said they had not given up as they resumed the dangerous operation to search through the unstable mountains of debris.
“Is there anyone there? Is there anyone there?” one firefighter shouted into a cavity dug out of the piles of concrete and twisted metal, in a video published by the emergency services.
Between 10 and 20 people are still missing, according to Genoa’s chief prosecutor.
Ten people remain in hospital, six of them in a serious condition.
Hundreds of rescuers are using cranes and bulldozers to cut up and remove the biggest slabs of the fallen bridge, which slammed down onto railway tracks along with dozens of vehicles.
“We are trying to find pockets in the rubble where people could be — alive or not,” fire official Emanuele Gissi told AFP.
Officials say about 1,000 people in all are working on the disaster site, 350 of them firefighters.
The populist government has accused infrastructure giant Autostrade per L’Italia of failing to invest in sufficient maintenance and said it would seek to revoke its lucrative contracts.
Interior Minister Matteo Salvini demanded that the company offer up to 500 million euros ($570 million) to help families and local government deal with the aftermath of the disaster.
The dead also include children, one as young as eight, and three Chileans and four French nationals.
The French nationals, all in their 20s, had traveled to Italy for a music festival, and other victims included a family setting off on holiday and a couple returning from their California honeymoon.
More than 600 people were evacuated from around a dozen apartments beneath the remaining shard of bridge.
On Thursday evening the first residents of some buildings in the affected area were allowed to return home, though others are too badly damaged to save.
The Morandi viaduct dates from the 1960s and has been riddled with structural problems for decades, leading to expensive maintenance and severe criticism from engineering experts.
Its collapse prompted fears over aging infrastructure across the world.
Italy has announced a year-long state of emergency in the region.
Autostrade, which operates and maintains nearly half of Italy’s motorways, estimates it will take five months to rebuild the bridge.
It denies scrimping on motorway maintenance, saying it has invested over one billion euros a year in “safety, maintenance and strengthening of the network” since 2012.
Atlantia, the holding company of Autostrade which is 30 percent owned by iconic fashion brand Benetton, has warned that the government would have to refund the value of the contract, which runs until at least 2038.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Autostrade “had the duty and obligation to assure the maintenance of this viaduct and the security of all those who traveled on it.”
The disaster is the latest in a string of bridge collapses in Italy, where infrastructure generally is showing the effects of a faltering economy.
Senior government figures have also lashed out at austerity measures imposed by the European Union, saying they restrict investment.
But the European Commission said it had given Rome billions of euros to fix infrastructure.