Colma cemeteries buried in demand as shortage of land lies ahead –

If you’re planning on getting buried in Colma, you might want to do something about it — soon.

That’s because an all-new Bay Area housing crisis is just around the corner.

There are 1.5 million dead people in Colma already — and room for thousands more. But no one knows exactly how many thousands.

“We’re optimistically projecting another 40 years,” said James Carlson, executive director of the Hills of Eternity Memorial Park, where, it seems, eternity comes with an asterisk. Forty years sounds like a long time everywhere but the undertaking business, which traffics in eternity. “If you’re planning on dying, you better come see us.”

Carlson said his three cemeteries — Hills of Eternity, Home of Peace and Salem Memorial Park — can accommodate perhaps another 5,000 paying customers. (On top of that, he said, the cost of a standard grave is going up in July, from $8,000 to perhaps $8,500.)

The historic section of the Cypress Lawn cemetery is nearly filled up. The prime spots in other Colma graveyards are largely spoken for. There are newer tracts, on the northeast side of Hillside Boulevard, that are easier to move into based on the “location, location, location” principle of real estate. And those are being snapped up too.

Woodlawn Cemetery has about 5 acres of usable space left, out of its 63 acres, said general manager Hector Gonzalez. That will last another 10 years, maybe. Just to make sure, Woodlawn is building a resplendent new granite mausoleum to accommodate more customers above ground. Construction began a few weeks ago.

Woodlawn can fit about 1,000 people per acre in traditional burials — fewer in elaborate family plots.

“It depends on what product goes in there,” Gonzalez said matter-of-factly, a “product” being one of the nicer things that some Woodlawn residents have been called.

It’s the same story at urban cemeteries everywhere, as Baby Boomers quickly become the opposite of babies, with up to 100 percent of them expected to die.

Consider historic Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, home to 560,000 dead (including Boss Tweed). It will reach capacity in 10 years. Or Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, home to 400,000 dead (including John F. Kennedy). It will hit capacity within 25 years.

Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, home to 2 million dead (including Chopin) and stuffed like a chicken cordon bleu, has already taken to leasing out its grave sites in 10-year increments. It evicts the remains of customers whose loved ones are unable, or no longer around, to pay. Those remains get moved to an ossuary — a communal residence for bones. (The famed catacombs of Paris already house 6 million people in a similar fix. Because each human body has 206 bones, that comes to a staggering 1.2 billion bones beneath Paris.)

Undertakers call crypt rental the “European model” of undertaking. People have been buying cemetery space in the Old World a lot longer than they have in the new. No sense paying good money to take up prime real estate, the theory goes, after everyone who remembers who you were has shuffled off, too.

“Something is going to have to change in Colma at some point,” said Rich Rocchetta, a docent with the Colma Historical Association. “Each cemetery is different, and each cemetery has different amounts of space. Some of them have very little space.”

How many years remain until Colma fills up is hard to guess. Decades ago, the cemeteries sold off excess plots of land to build new-car dealerships. No one is selling cemetery land to car dealers any more.

At Cypress Lawn, President Robert Gordon said 5 acres remained unsold, largely in a new tract east of the historic cemetery, and that each acre accommodates about 1,500 folks. Gordon has his eye on snapping up nearby vacant properties. One of them is the defunct nine-hole Cypress Golf Course — a cemetery and a golf course being vaguely similar in their devotion to greenery and to challenging matters.

“To say we have five years left is not giving the right message to the market,” Gordon said. “And I’m always finding land inside our developed areas that I can open, or sell differently.”

Cremation, once the frowned-upon, low-budget “C-word” in the funeral trade, could be an answer. It’s more popular than ever before. It’s one way to save on cemetery real estate and pricey funerals. This year, every other dead person will be cremated. Within two decades, the undertakers say, 4 out of 5 people will be.

Gordon said Cypress Lawn has lots of tucked-away places on its grounds suitable for urns or cremated remains that might not be usable for coffins. If cremation continues to increase in popularity, Cypress Lawn has “a few decades, at the very least,” he said.

Take a drive around Colma. Except for Holy Cross — which says it’s got 100 acres lying around, unoccupied — the town is practically shoulder to shoulder already.

Touring the famous graves of Colma, always a pleasant way to remind oneself that life is precious and the clock is ticking, has never been more fun. And there have never been more dead bodies in Colma than there are right now.

At Hills of Eternity, you can call on Levi Strauss and Wyatt Earp, two fellows who riveted the Old West. At Holy Cross, you can borrow one of the 15 baseballs from the tomb of the great Joe DiMaggio and play a quick game of catch on the lawn above his head. At Cypress Lawn (be sure to pick up at the front desk a handy guide to the famous residents), you can call on San Francisco newspapermen William Randolph Hearst and Charles de Young, members of rival families now at rest only a few steps from one another and who were always pleased to meet their readers.

There’s always something happening in a cemetery. Squirrels and birds dash about, dodging the lawn mowers. Mourners drop by, putting fresh flowers in. Groundskeepers cruise around in golf carts, taking dead flowers out. Every once in a while, a hearse pulls up with a new neighbor, slowly, followed by a line of cars with their headlights on.

Cemetery insiders say that if Colma does fill up, it will be nothing less than the punch line of a 106-year-old cosmic joke. The cemeteries of Colma were built to accommodate the occupants of the 19th century San Francisco cemeteries. After space ran out in San Francisco, civic leaders in 1912 ordered the cemeteries shut down and their occupants moved en masse to Colma.

Once, San Francisco was too crowded for dead people. Someday, Colma will be, too.


Steve Rubenstein is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @SteveRubeSF


Big names in Colma

Some famous residents of Colma’s cemeteries, and where to find them:

William Randolph Hearst, newspaperman: Cypress Lawn

Levi Strauss, denim jeans kingpin: Hills of Eternity

George Moscone, slain San Francisco mayor: Holy Cross

Bill Graham, rock music showman: Eternal Home

Joe DiMaggio, baseball player: Holy Cross

Wyatt Earp, lawman: Hills of Eternity

Charles de Young, Chronicle co-founder: Cypress Lawn

Etienne Guittard, chocolate maker: Woodlawn

Lincoln Beachey, stunt pilot: Cypress Lawn

Emperor Joshua Norton, protector of Mexico: Woodlawn

Maximillian Fonzie, dog: Pet’s Rest


Source: Colma cemeteries buried in demand as shortage of land lies ahead –

How Trump’s tariffs on Mexico are taking jobs from U.S. workers – The Washington Post

Jessica Lopez packages wire coil nails at the Mid Continent Nail Corp. in Poplar Bluff, Mo. (Brad Vest/For The Washington Post)

When a Mexican company bought Mid Continent Nail Corp. in 2012, workers at the factory here feared it was the beginning of the end. Their jobs, they suspected, would be given to lower-paid workers in Mexico, more casualties of the hollowing out of U.S. manufacturing driven in part by an embrace of global trade.

Instead, Mid Continent’s factory has doubled in size since Deacero’s purchase. The company, facing fewer restrictions on steel exports after the North American Free Trade Agreement, shipped steel into Missouri, willing to pay skilled workers more to take advantage of cheaper energy costs in the United States and a location that allowed swift delivery to U.S. customers.

But President Trump has put 25 percent tariffs on steel imports, bumping production costs and prompting Deacero to reconsider this arrangement. With Mid Continent charging more for nails, orders are down 70 percent from this time a year ago despite a booming construction industry. Company officials say that without relief, the Missouri plant could be out of business by Labor Day — or that remaining production could move to Mexico or another country.

And so trade restrictions aimed at preventing U.S. jobs from heading to Mexico and elsewhere have instead hampered a Mexican company’s multimillion-dollar effort to create jobs in the United States — an unintended consequence of Trump’s trade war that demonstrates the difficulty of attacking trading partners without hurting workers at home.

The layoffs have already begun. The company now employs fewer than 400 workers, down from about 500 before the tariffs took effect last month. Temporary contract workers have been let go. Some permanent workers have left for other jobs, in anticipation of a new wave of employment losses or the possible shuttering of the plant.

“We’re in a situation where we’re fighting against our own country,” said Chris Pratt, operations general manager at Mid Continent. “It seems like a battle we shouldn’t be having to fight.”

Chris Pratt, operations general manager at Mid Continent. (Brad Vest/For The Washington Post)

Nails move through a machine at the Mid Continent. (Brad Vest/For The Washington Post)

Deacero is trying to decide what it will do next. For now, it is using the steel it once exported to the United States in production facilities in Mexico, which make wire products for the domestic market. But the future remains hazy.

“Obviously, moving nail production to Mexico or another country is a possibility, but it is a bad alternative. Mid Continent does not want to move and is not planning to do so,” said company spokesman Jim Glassman. “The workers there continue to hope and expect that President Trump will save their jobs.”

Philip Bennett, 37, a machine repairman at Mid Continent, appeared close to tears as he talked about his 5-year-old daughter, Aubree, who has a congenital heart condition that has required multiple surgeries. He has health insurance through Mid Continent that covers her.

“There’s a lot of good things that he is doing. But he’s affecting me now, and I don’t appreciate it,” Bennett, a Trump supporter, said of the president.

“I mean, I don’t expect him to come down here,” he added. “It’d be nice — and see what he’s affecting, and see the people he’s hurting.”

But while workers in Missouri fear additional layoffs, not a single Mexican employee has been fired.

“The strength of the domestic market [in Mexico] has helped us,” Luis Leal, Deacero’s vice president of trade, said in a phone interview from the company’s headquarters in Monterrey, Mexico.

Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports June 1 by invoking a rarely used provision that permits the president to swiftly penalize imports on the grounds of national security. Combined with broader actions aimed at Mexico, Canada, the European Union, China and other trading partners, the tariffs represent a fulfillment of Trump’s campaign promises to, in the president’s view, rescue U.S. workers from what he termed the “American carnage” wrought by international trade deals.

While the 25 percent tax on steel imports has helped the domestic steel industry — the Commerce Department noted in a statement that several domestic steel plants have re-opened or expanded — it also raised costs for U.S. firms. Mid Continent used to sell a box of 50 nails for $27. Now, it tacks on $5.50 to cover the cost of the tariff, company officials said.

A forklift driver moves pallets of nails inside of the warehouse. (Brad Vest/For The Washington Post)

Firms can apply to Commerce for waivers from the steel and aluminum tariffs if they can show that the products they seek to import cannot be obtained in the United States in sufficient quantity or quality.

The process for getting those exclusions has been shambolic. Only after the tariffs were imposed in June did the agency begin training the roughly 30 evaluators who must review at least 21,000 relief petitions

Commerce said it would take a next step in reviewing the company’s application for exemptions by the end of this week, but the company still faces more hurdles before getting a final verdict.

The tariffs’ effects on Mid-Continent and Deacero demonstrates why economists broadly say protectionism can do more to damage the economy than to grow it. And experts say Trump’s trade policy risks dampening foreign investment in the United States, as firms hesitate to spend amid uncertainty about future trade rules.

Between 2005 and 2016, Mexican foreign direct investment in the United States quadrupled to $17 billion — financing that supported more than 123,000 American jobs.

The examples are visible across the United States, even if Americans don’t always realize when they are purchasing a Mexican product. Mexico’s CEMEX is now one of the largest cement companies in the United States. Grupo Electra owns Advance America, the biggest payday-loan company in the United States. Mexican baked goods company Bimbo now produces some of the United States’ most recognizable products, including Sara Lee apple pie and Entenmann’s muffins, and employs more than 20,000 people.

Those investments were driven by NAFTA, as well was by a liberalizing Mexican economy that prompted its entrepreneurs to look across the border for business opportunities.

Trump has repeatedly threatened to withdraw from NAFTA, and his administration is in negotiations with officials from Mexico and Canada to reorder the 1994 trade agreement.

“I think the last year and a half has been a shock,” said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute and author of a book about U.S.-Mexico relations. “I think the assumption was that, with NAFTA, this was an increasingly seamless economic zone that would continue on.”

As it waits to hear about exemptions, Mid Continent has found itself, unexpectedly and at times uncomfortably, at the center of a political fight over Trump’s trade war.

While other, larger companies such as Harley Davidson and General Motors issued warnings about upcoming moves, Mid Continent was among the first to cut jobs. And the firm’s executives have become part of a complex brew of trade policies and electoral politics.

Ken Henson, a manual machine operator, works inside of the machine shop. (Brad Vest/For The Washington Post)

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), facing a tough reelection race in a state Trump won by 19 percent percentage points in 2016, seized on the company’s predicament, interrogating Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in a hearing on Capitol Hill last month. The next week, she was trailed by media outlets as she toured the company’s facilities despite blistering heat.

Under normal circumstances, the company would have ceased operating as the heat index soared above 105 degrees. Because McCaskill was expected, the workers kept working, as supervisors rotated them in and out of an air-conditioned break room. McCaskill, clad in a reflective safety vest, declared that “it’s time to end this reckless trade war.”

As McCaskill made the company a cause in her campaign to stay in office in Trump country, GOP lawmakers kept a lower profile on the issue as they attempted to square their support for Trump with the economic threats from tariffs that had begun to hit home.

A spokeswoman for McCaskill’s GOP opponent, Josh Hawley, the state attorney general, said in a statement that Hawley “supports the president’s goal to get better trade deals and stop trade cheaters, like China,” but that Mid Continent “makes a good case for an exemption and we have spoken to the White House about it.”

Amid the debate about Trump’s tariffs, the company has come under new scrutiny as well.

For years, Mid Continent and Deacero have fought their own mini trade wars.

In its statement, Commerce noted Deacero has since 2009 faced accusations that it is “dumping” steel — a trade practice that involves undermining competitors by selling a product in a foreign country at a below-market price.

Glassman, the Mid Continent spokesman, said previous interactions between Commerce and Deacero were “utterly irrelevant” to the company’s request for an exclusion from the tariffs.

Mid Continent has also at times has asked for government intervention in dealing with foreign competition. The business has successfully filed trade cases against countries around the globe including China, Korea, Oman and Malaysia accusing them of “dumping” nails into the U.S. at below-market prices, according to company officials.

Philip Bennett, a machine setup, has a tool box filled with pictures of his fiancé and daughters. (Brad Vest/For The Washington Post)

Now, one rival is objecting to Mid Continent’s bid for an exemption from the new tariffs.

Roger Aurelio, who runs a much smaller nail sales business in Griffith, Ind.,that resells nails from Mid Continent and other manufacturers, said Mid Continent has told only part of the story in its media blitz. Aurelio argued that Mid Continent has not been transparent about the fact that despite being located in Missouri, it is a Mexican-owned company, and that its products stamped “Made in America” are manufactured largely from Mexican steel.

Aurelio also contends that if Mid Continent is granted exclusions to continue to import from Mexico, that would put it on an unfair footing compared with its competitors.

Mid Continent, Aurelio argued, is trying to “get a free situation under the tariffs when it’s not even United States-owned.”

Mid Continent officials countered that Aurelio, who sells nails but does not manufacture them, benefits from the tariffs that are burdening Mid Continent because he gets higher prices for his nails. And a company spokesman strongly disputed Aurelio’s assertion that it is in any way denying its ties with Mexico.

“Mexican investors bought Mid Continent in 2012, made major capital investments and spent large sums fighting unfair Asian competition,” Glassman said. “The result is the largest U.S. nail manufacturer with — before June 1, anyway — more than 500 employees, nearly double the workforce of five years ago. These workers are Americans. They have American families. If they lose their jobs, those jobs will be American jobs.”

Meanwhile, Mid Continent’s prominence put company officials in the spotlight, and some became targets of harassment from foes of Trump. Pratt, who declined to say who he supported for president, said he has begun receiving dozens of calls a day from all over the country questioning his politics.

The messages, Pratt said, were to the effect of: “You voted for Trump, how do you like him now?”

Source: How Trump’s tariffs on Mexico are taking jobs from U.S. workers – The Washington Post

What Separating Migrant Families at the Border Actually Looks Like – VICE

Earlier this month, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced plans to prosecute “100 percent” of migrants illegally crossing the Mexican border, it became official US policy to routinely separate children from their parents. Already, hundreds of children have been ripped from their families: 658 kids in the first 13 days of the program alone, Customs and Border Protection disclosed in a Senate subcommittee hearing Wednesday. This policy—which advocates say in practice mainly targets women and youths seeking asylum from the violence-ridden countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador—is intended to punish the adults by criminally prosecuting them for entering the country, thereby deterring others from making the journey north. But it does incalculable damage to the children at an already traumatic moment in their lives, often stripping them from their mothers when their mothers are all they have.

“Why do I have to leave? Mami I want to stay with you!” one four-year-old El Salvadorian boy balled to his mother, known as JIL, as CBP officers took him and his ten-year-old brother away from her in South Texas, according to an affidavit filed by the mother. They were separated in March—before Sessions’s policy even officially launched—but the incident is an example of what is now common practice at the border. The brothers slept in the same room as their mother back in El Salvador and were too anxious to go to the bathroom without her after witnessing MS-13 gang members beat and threaten her. But once they arrived in the US, the boys were placed in two separate foster homes and held in government custody for over a month without being able to speak with their mother, who remains in Laredo Detention Center, JIL’s attorney Denise Gilman told me.

The boys are now staying with other family in Virginia, but JIL will likely be detained for many more months: A San Antonio judge Wednesday issued her a bond too high for her to pay—$12,500—deeming her a flight risk for being connected to a gang, when her sole connection was the harm they did her.

As Gilman, the director of University of Texas’s Immigration Law Clinic, explained: “There’s a real trend towards trying to put all asylum seekers in the same category as gang members even when all this young mother was seek to protect these young boys by bringing them to the US.”

ICE intends to prosecute all parents for illegal entry, but an agency spokesperson told me that the process is still ramping up, so some families are still remaining together and being sent to family immigrant detention centers.

Stories of extreme violence, sex abuse, death threats, and imprisonment are the norm when talking to these families—time and time again, the women say they only brought their children here to save their lives.

The same week Sessions made his announcement, the largest family facility—a 2,400-bed cluster of trailers in Dilley, Texas—was packed nearly to capacity, as volunteers and a few legal staff scrambled to inform women of their rights as they fought immediate deportation. Kids detained included a 16-year-old whose father sold her to drug traffickers until her mother rescued her; a first-grader pulled out of school to work for her father inside the house all day with her mom while an armed guard trapped them inside; a nine-year-old pursued by gang members at school to sell drugs for them until her mother refused and was threatened with murder; and an adolescent boy forced to watch his mother have sex with his stepfather in their one-room apartment nearly every day.

For the children, even a moment’s separation can be devastating. One volunteer recalled a two-year-old who wailed when her mother, a Honduran woman, tried to leave her in a separate room while discussing her case. So the child sat doodling as the mother recounted why they’d fled: A member of the M18 gang had kidnapped them from their home, held them hostage, beat them, and brought ten comrades over to rape the mother in front of the child. He swore to kill them if they escaped, but one night while he was sleeping the mother was able to slither through an opening in the window. She sprinted with her baby to the bus station and rode straight to the US. While the mother spoke, her child started drawing on her and kissing her shoulders.

These are the faces of family separation: the families who come here because their governments could not protect them. But the face new problems upon crossing the border and being detained by the US. Parents and children could lose contact for months, years, or even permanently. Mothers convicted of illegal entry can be sentenced to up to six months in jail and be dealt up to $10,000 in fines, while the youths are shipped off to Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters around the country—and ORR and the US Marshals Service, which prosecutes the mothers, do not communicate, Jennifer Podkul, policy director for Kids in Need of Defense, told me.

Even once the parents are out of jail and transferred to immigrant detention centers, they remain divided from their kids—meaning some parents are deported before their children even know it, said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants Rights Project.

And as they wait in limbo, it’s unclear where these children will be able to stay. Already the ORR shelters equipped to house unaccompanied minors—which until now have been children traveling without a parent—are 91 percent full. To quickly make more room, the Trump administration now plans to put kids on military bases—which the Obama administration did in the past with unaccompanied teens. But this setup is only meant for kids 13 and older for temporary emergency stays. And while the vast majority—83 percent last year—of unaccompanied minors entering the country have been older than 13, children traveling with parents tend to be far younger, often babies.

Children stayed in shelters an average of 41 days in fiscal year 2017—but that will likely increase with widespread family separation, projected Bob Carey, who was ORR director under Barack Obama. These children may have to wait for their parents to get out of detention, or they may seek another adult sponsor already in the US to claim them. But those adults are now more fearful to come forward, since the Trump administration just two weeks ago announced a proposal to collect information on potential sponsors’ immigration status, information that could be used for enforcement purposes. As Carey told me, “It appears we’re setting up a long-term incarceration system for children.”

Physically divided from their parents, they also become divided before the law: While each family makes up a single asylum case when that family is kept together, when parents and children are in different locations different courts handle them. That’s because proceedings must go forward where each individual is located—so JIL’s asylum case is currently being heard in San Antonio immigration court, while her children’s is in Virginia, Gilman said. And any parent in detention is heard in a detained docket, which can’t include non-detained family members, further splitting cases. This spells trouble for a legal system already overwhelmed by a backlog of nearly 700,000 cases—and since immigrants don’t have the right to free legal help, we’re likely to see more young children representing themselves in immigration court.

Migrants are detained after illegally crossing the border in early 2017, ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration. Photo by John Moore/Getty

A DOJ spokesperson told me that there had been no blanket policy change to the way the courts were handling family asylum cases, so it’s too soon to know how separations could impact the courts long-term. He noted that the backlog currently counts each family member, even if multiple relatives are part of one case, and he referred me to Sessions’s statement announcing the policy, which said, “Congress has failed to pass effective legislation that serves the national interest—that closes dangerous loopholes and fully funds a wall along our southern border. As a result, a crisis has erupted at our Southwest Border that necessitates an escalated effort to prosecute those who choose to illegally cross our border.”

An ICE spokesman also defended the policy to me by noting that “every day in communities across the country, if you commit a crime the police will take you to jail—regardless if you have a family or not.” And under the law, anyone can be prosecuted for illegally entering the US, including parents. The spokesman said ICE was committed to making sure its enforcement did not “unnecessarily disrupt the parental rights of alien parents and legal guardians of minor children,” and that it would look into any individual cases of children not able to communicate or reunite with their parents.

This new policy is only the latest in a line of so far unsuccessful strategies to dissuade Central American families from coming to seek protection in the US. Beginning in 2014, facing the fact that families from the Northern Triangle countries were fleeing northward en masse, the Obama administration began opening family detention centers like Dilley and conducting deportation raids of Central Americans who lost their asylum cases.

The US government also funded and trained Mexico’s immigration enforcement to facilitate the removal of immigrants before they reach the US border—but as I found reporting in Honduras in 2016, families desperate for protection would often get straight on the bus north again after being deported. Coyotes—the real smugglers, who get paid by migrants to lead them to the US—began offering clients three chances for their money. So even if Mexican authorities deported them twice, they would still attempt the journey once more.

The Trump administration is now going even further than the Obama administration in its attempts to deter asylum seekers, as it seeks to terrify mothers from coming here with their children. The prosecutions have already started flooding border courts, and this “zero-tolerance” policy has only just begun. Meanwhile the refugee crisis of Central America’s Northern Triangle countries continues apace—16 times the number of people from the region were displaced in 2017 as were in 2011, the the UN refugee agency noted in a recent report. The families have a legal right to seek asylum here—and as devastating as the consequences may be, they will not stop coming. The terror they leave behind is much worse.

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Source: What Separating Migrant Families at the Border Actually Looks Like – VICE

Donald Trump plans to cut Meals on Wheels to pay for Mexican border wall | The Independent

The president appears to be prioritising his promised wall along the US-Mexico border which will receive an immediate $1.5bn (£1.2bn) cash injection


Community projects like Meals on Wheels and housing assistance are set to lose out on all of their government funding if Donald Trump‘s budget blueprint for the coming fiscal year is passed by politicians.

The president’s proposals include the complete elimination of the $3 billion (£2.4 billion) Community Development Block Grant program, which funds those programs along with other community assistance efforts.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will also see its funds slashed.

The president appears to be prioritising his promised wall along the US-Mexico border which will receive an immediate $1.5bn (£1.2bn) cash injection, with another $2.6bn (£2.1bn) if his spending plans for the 2018 budget year are approved by the House of Representatives.

Environmental Activists Vandalized and Defaced Trump Golf Course

Mr Trump – who campaigned for the presidency on a staunchly anti-immigrant platform – said repeatedly during his election bid that Mexico would pay for the wall. Instead, it appears that initially at least, US taxpayers will foot the bill.

Thursday’s $1.15 trillion (£1 trillion) budget – titled America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again – will also benefit the military, which will receive the largest windfall since the Reagan administration.

The 10 per cent Pentagon boost – intended to improve troop readiness, fight Isis and buy new weapons – is financed by $54 billion (£44 billion) of cuts to foreign aid and domestic agencies that had been protected by former President Barack Obama.

Mr Trump said: “A budget that puts America first must make the safety of our people its number one priority — because without safety, there can be no prosperity.”

The financial blueprint goes after the frequent targets of the party’s staunchest conservatives, eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts, legal aid for the poor and low-income heating assistance.

Twelve of the government’s 15 cabinet agencies would absorb cuts under the president’s proposal. The biggest loser is arguably the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which will reportedly see its funding slashed by almost a third, receiving $2.5 billion (£2 billion) instead of the current $8.2 billion (£6.7 billion).

Agriculture, Labour, Housing and State departments will also see funding pulled, along with Transportation programmes like Amtrak.

The $3 billion (£2.4 billion) Community Development programme – which funds popular programmes such as housing assistance and Meals on Wheels – which delivers food to the elderly and disabled – will be completely dismantled.

More than 3,000 EPA workers would lose their jobs and programmes such as Mr Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which would tighten regulations on emissions from power plants seen as contributing to global warming, would be eliminated.

Popular EPA grants for state and local drinking and waste water projects would be preserved, however.

Mr Trump’s proposal only covers roughly a quarter of the approximately $4 trillion (£3.3 trillion) federal budget, the discretionary portion that Congress passes each year.

It does not address taxes, social security, or Medicare and Medicaid – the a social health care program for families and individuals with limited resources.

It does not make predictions about deficits and the economy either.

Associated Press contributed to this report


Source: Donald Trump plans to cut Meals on Wheels to pay for Mexican border wall | The Independent

Sen. Tom Cotton Got Dunked on By a 7-Year-Old at His Town Hall Meeting 

Image via AP Photo.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), who is wrong about most things, inevitably found himself in the tricky position of getting scolded by a small child at an Arkansas town hall meeting on Wednesday night.

“Donald Trump makes Mexicans not important to people who are in Arkansas who like Mexicans, like me and my grandma and all my family,” Toby Smith, age 7, told Cotton to loud cheers from the packed auditorium. “And he’s deleting all the parks and PBS kids just to make a wall. He shouldn’t do that. He shouldn’t.”

After accidentally calling him “Tony” a few times, Cotton ventured a response: “Whatever your background, whatever your heritage, whatever your race or ethnicity or religious belief, part of the fabric of America is that we are a melting pot and we are all one people.”

“Prove it!” someone yelled.

Cotton struggled to finish his statement over the jeers. The senator backed Trump’s Muslim ban, and called the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals “the most notoriously left-wing court in America” after the court refused to reinstate the executive order. He recently introduced legislation that would cut legal immigration to the U.S. in half.

At the same event, attendee Kati McFarland, who suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, told Cotton: “Without coverage for preexisting conditions, I will die.”

“Will you commit today to replacement protections for those Arkansans like me who will die or lose their quality of life or otherwise be unable to be participating citizens, trying to get their part of the American dream? Will you commit to replacement in the same way that you’ve committed to repeal?” She asked. His answer was predictably unsatisfying:

Another woman told the senator that her husband is dying, and the couple can’t afford higher insurance premiums. “What kind of insurance do you have?” she yelled.

To Sen. Cotton’s minimal credit, he actually showed up to take the beating, unlike many of his colleagues. Marco Rubio, for some reason, is in Europe right now—a safety measure, surely, considering the pack of bloodthirsty seven-year-olds and grandparents and sick people that await him at home.


Source: Sen. Tom Cotton Got Dunked on By a 7-Year-Old at His Town Hall Meeting 

Federal agents conduct immigration enforcement raids in at least six states – The Washington Post

U.S. immigration authorities arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants in at least a half-dozen states this week in a series of raids that marked the first large-scale enforcement of President Trump’s Jan. 25 order to crack down on the estimated 11 million immigrants living here illegally.

Officials said the raids targeted known criminals, but they also netted some immigrants without criminal records, an apparent departure from similar enforcement waves during the Obama administration. Last month, Trump substantially broadened the scope of who the Department of Homeland Security can target to include those with minor offenses or no convictions at all.

Trump has pledged to deport as many as 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

Immigration officials confirmed that agents this week raided homes and workplaces in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, the Los Angeles area, North Carolina and South Carolina, netting hundreds of people. But Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said they were part of “routine” immigration enforcement actions. ICE dislikes the term “raids,” and prefers to say authorities are conducting “targeted enforcement actions,” she said.

Christensen said the raids, which began Monday and ended Friday at noon, found undocumented immigrants from a dozen Latin American countries. “We’re talking about people who are threats to public safety or a threat to the integrity of the immigration system,” she said, noting that the majority of those detained were serious criminals, including some who were convicted of murder and domestic violence.

Immigration activists said the crackdown went beyond the six states DHS identified, and said they had also documented ICE raids of unusual intensity during the past two days in Florida, Kansas, Texas and Northern Virginia.

That undocumented immigrants with no criminal records were arrested and could potentially be deported sent a shock wave through immigrant communities nationwide amid concerns that the U.S. government could start going after law-abiding people.

“This is clearly the first wave of attacks under the Trump administration, and we know this isn’t going to be the only one,” Cristina Jimenez, executive director of United We Dream, an immigrant youth organization, said Friday during a conference call with immigration advocates.

ICE agents in the Los Angeles area Thursday took a number of individuals into custody over the course of an hour, seizing them from their homes and on their way to work, activists said.

David Marin, ICE’s field director in the Los Angeles area, said in a conference call with reporters Friday that 75 percent of the approximately 160 people detained in the operation this week had felony convictions; the rest had misdemeanors or were in the United States illegally. Officials said Friday night that 37 of those detained in Los Angeles had been deported to Mexico.

“Dangerous criminals who should be deported are being released into our communities,” Marin said.

Spanish language radio stations and the local NPR affiliate in Los Angeles have been running public service announcements regarding the hourly “Know Your Rights” seminars the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles scheduled for Friday and Saturday. By the time the 4 p.m. group began Friday, more than 100 others had gathered at the group’s office in the Westlake neighborhood just outside downtown.

A video that circulated on social media Friday appeared to show ICE agents in Texas detaining people in an Austin shopping center parking lot. Immigration advocates also reported roadway checkpoints, where ICE appeared to be targeting immigrants for random ID checks, in North Carolina and in Austin. ICE officials denied that authorities used checkpoints during the operations.

“I’m getting lots of reports from my constituents about seeing ICE on the streets. Teachers in my district have contacted me — certain students didn’t come to school today because they’re afraid,” said Greg Casar, an Austin City Council member. “I talked to a constituent, a single mother, who had her door knocked on this morning by ICE.”

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) said he confirmed with ICE’s San Antonio office that the agency “has launched a targeted operation in South and Central Texas as part of Operation Cross Check.”

“I am asking ICE to clarify whether these individuals are in fact dangerous, violent threats to our communities, and not people who are here peacefully raising families and contributing to our state,” Castro said in a statement Friday night.

Hiba Ghalib, an immigration lawyer in Atlanta, said the ICE detentions were causing “mass confusion” in the immigrant community. She said she had heard reports of ICE agents going door-to-door in one largely Hispanic neighborhood, asking people to present their papers.

“People are panicking,” Ghalib said. “People are really, really scared.”

Immigration officials acknowledged that as a result of Trump’s executive order, authorities had cast a wider net than they would have last year.

The Trump administration is facing several legal challenges to his executive orders on immigration. On Thursday, the administration lost a court battle over a separate executive order to temporarily ban entry into the United States by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries, as well as by refugees. The administration said Friday that it is considering raising the case to the Supreme Court.

Some activists in Austin and Los Angeles suggested that the raids might be retaliation for those cities’ “sanctuary city” policies. A government aide familiar with the raids said it is possible that the predominantly daytime operations — a departure from the Obama administration’s night raids — meant to “send a message to the community that the Trump deportation force is in effect.”

Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, an immigrant advocacy group, said that the wave of detentions harks back to the George W. Bush administration, when workplace raids to sweep up all undocumented workers were common.

The Obama administration conducted a spate of raids and also pursued a more aggressive deportation policy than any previous president, sending more than 400,000 people back to their birth countries at the height of his deportations in 2012. The public outcry over the lengthy detentions and deportations of women, children and people with minor offenses led President Obama in his second term to prioritize convicted criminals for deportation.

A DHS official confirmed that while immigration agents were targeting criminals, given the broader range defined by Trump’s executive order, they also were sweeping up noncriminals in the vicinity who were found to be lacking documentation. It was unclear how many of the people detained would have been excluded under Obama’s policy.

Federal immigration officials, as well as activists, said that the majority of those detained were adult men, and that no children were taken into custody.

“Big cities tend to have a lot of illegal immigrants,” said one immigration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly because of the sensitive nature of the operation. “They’re going to a target-rich environment.”

Immigrant rights groups said that they were planning protests in response to the raids, including one Friday evening in Federal Plaza in New York City and a vigil in Los Angeles.

“We cannot understate the level of panic and terror that is running through many immigrant communities,” said Walter Barrientos of Make the Road New York in New York City, who spoke on a conference call with immigration advocates.

“We’re trying to make sure that families who have been impacted are getting legal services as quickly as possible. We’re trying to do some legal triage,” said Bob Libal, the executive director of Grassroots Leadership, which provides assistance and advocacy work to immigrants in Austin. “It’s chaotic,” he said. The organization’s hotline, he said, had been overwhelmed with calls.

Jeanette Vizguerra, 35, a Mexican house cleaner whose permit to stay in the country expired this week, said Friday during the conference call that she was newly apprehensive about her scheduled meeting with ICE next week.

Fearing deportation, Vizguerra, a Denver mother of four — including three who are U.S. citizens — said through an interpreter that she had called on activists and supporters to accompany her to the meeting.

“I know I need to mobilize my community, but I know my freedom is at risk here,” Vizguerra said.

Janell Ross in Los Angeles and Camille Pendley in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Federal agents conduct immigration enforcement raids in at least six states – The Washington Post.

Tax Plan Sows Confusion as Tensions With Mexico Soar – The New York Times

PHILADELPHIA — President Trump’s decision to build a wall along the length of the United States’ southern border with Mexico erupted into a diplomatic standoff on Thursday, leading to the cancellation of a White House visit by Mexico’s president and sharply rising tensions over who would pay for the wall.

With the conflict escalating, Mr. Trump appeared to embrace a proposal by House Republicans that would impose a 20 percent tax on all imported goods. The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, told reporters that the proceeds would be used to pay for the border wall, estimated to cost as much as $20 billion.

But a furious uproar prompted Mr. Spicer to temper his earlier remarks, saying the plan was simply “one idea” that might work to finance the wall. Mr. Spicer said it was not the job of the White House to “roll something out” on tax policy, while Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, said the administration was considering “a buffet of options.”

If Mr. Trump does eventually announce his support for the tax plan, it could have a broad impact on the American economy, and its consumers and workers, by sharply increasing the prices of imported goods or reducing profits for the companies that produce them. Other nations could retaliate, prompting a trade war that could hit consumers around the globe.

Retail businesses could see their tax bills surge, said David French of the National Retail Federation, who predicted that those costs would be passed on to consumers. He called the idea “very counter to the way consumers are feeling at the moment.”

If nothing else, the rapid-fire developments showed Mr. Trump that international diplomacy and a top-to-bottom overhaul of the tax code would not be as easy as an announcement before a campaign microphone. The events unfolded after Mr. Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday to strengthen the nation’s deportation force and start construction on a new wall along the border.

Adding to Mexico’s perception of an insult was the timing of the order: It came on the first day of talks between top Mexican officials and their counterparts in Washington, and just days before a scheduled meeting between Mr. Trump and the Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto.

The sense of chaos and confusion about the tax issue added to the fallout from Mr. Trump’s conflict with Mr. Peña Nieto, his first direct clash with a world leader since becoming president a week ago. The Mexican peso bounced sharply with each new development.

Tensions between the two have been simmering for months, despite comments by both men that they were trying to work together. Mr. Trump’s immigration and border-wall decisions on Wednesday appeared to shatter the remaining good will between them.

In a video message delivered on Twitter on Wednesday night, Mr. Peña Nieto reiterated his commitment to protect the interests of Mexico and the Mexican people, and pledged to devote the resources of Mexico’s consulates in the United States to protecting its citizens.

“I regret and condemn the United States’ decision to continue with the construction of a wall that, for years now, far from uniting us, divides us,” Mr. Peña Nieto said.

Mr. Trump responded on Twitter, “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.”

Within hours, that is just what happened. Blasting Mr. Trump for sowing division between the countries, Mr. Peña Nieto angrily backed out of the White House meeting, which had been scheduled for next week.

In remarks at congressional Republicans’ retreat in Philadelphia, Mr. Trump portrayed the decision to cancel the meeting as his own and issued a stern warning to Mr. Peña Nieto about the consequences of refusing to cooperate with him on financing the wall.

“Unless Mexico is going to treat the United States fairly, with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless, and I want to go a different route,” Mr. Trump said. “We have no choice.”

In the same remarks, Mr. Trump alluded to the idea of a border tax, saying, “We’re working on a tax reform bill that will reduce our trade deficits, increase American exports, and will generate revenue from Mexico that will pay for the wall if we decide to go that route.”

After the speech, in a brief, impromptu news conference as Mr. Trump flew back to Washington, Mr. Spicer told reporters that the president now favored the plan to impose a 20 percent border tax as part of a sweeping overhaul of corporate taxation. Only last week, Mr. Trump had dismissed the tax as too complicated, favoring his own plan to impose a 35 percent tariff on manufactured goods made by American corporations in overseas factories.

Mr. Spicer said that the plan for the tax was “taking shape” and that it was “really going to provide the funding” for the wall.

Mr. Spicer said that was a direct reference to the centerpiece of House Republicans’ proposal to overhaul the tax code. They have been pushing the idea for months, but with little evidence, until Thursday, that Mr. Trump was interested in it.


President Trump’s First Actions

In his first week in office, President Trump canceled the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, promised to make his proposed border wall a reality, began to roll back the Affordable Care Act, and more.

By DAVE HORN and SHANE O’NEILL on Publish Date January 26, 2017.

Photo by Doug Mills/The New York Times.

Watch in Times Video »

But by the time Mr. Spicer returned to the White House two hours later, he had already recanted. In another hastily arranged conversation with reporters, he called the proposal “one idea” that might work and said it was not the job of the White House to “roll something out” on tax policy.

“We’ve been asked over and over again: ‘How could you possibly do this? There’s no way that Mexico will pay for it,’ ” Mr. Spicer said. “Here’s one way. Boom. Done. We could go in another direction. We could talk about tariffs. We could talk about other custom user fees. There are a hundred other things.”

The White House and House Republicans have been hashing out their respective tax proposals as they press forward with Mr. Trump’s agenda to revive American manufacturing and increase exports.

The House proposal would replace the current system of corporate taxation with one that more closely resembles the approach taken by many other developed nations. The government would impose a 20 percent tax on corporate income earned in the United States, which would have the effect of taxing imports while exempting exports.

The approach, known as border adjustment, creates the appearance of taxing trade deficits. The goods that the United States imported from Mexico in 2015 were worth about $60 billion more than the goods it exported to Mexico, so federal revenue in the short term would increase by roughly $12 billion.

But the House plan would offset that revenue by reducing the 35 percent corporate income tax rate, and would thus generate no new federal revenue over all. It was unclear how that fit with Mr. Spicer’s repeated contention Thursday afternoon that revenue from the tax adjustment would help finance construction of the border wall.

By siphoning off that revenue, Mr. Trump would make it impossible to reduce the tax rate as far as Republicans wish. He is pressing for a 15 percent corporate tax rate.

Moreover, the tax would not be paid by Mexico. It would be paid by companies selling Mexican goods in the United States. Some might raise prices, imposing the cost on consumers, while others might be forced by competitive pressures to absorb the tax, reducing their profits. Many economists also doubt that the change would end up penalizing imports or encouraging exports. They predict that the value of the dollar would rise, offsetting those effects.

Nonetheless, many businesses in industries such as retail and energy, which rely heavily on imports, were in a panic.

Representative Kevin Brady, the Texas Republican who wrote the plan, told Fox News on Thursday afternoon that he was pleased that Mr. Trump appeared to be on board with it after his appearance in Philadelphia.

“What I heard today from this president was that in tax reform, that they would level the playing field for imports around the world and level it with the U.S. products here in America at the exact same rate,” Mr. Brady said.


Tax Plan Sows Confusion as Tensions With Mexico Soar – The New York Times.

Mexico’s President Cancels Meeting With Trump Over Wall – The New York Times

MEXICO CITY — The president of Mexico said on Thursday that he was canceling his scheduled meeting with President Donald J. Trump in Washington next week, rejecting the visit after the new American leader ordered a border wall between the two nations.

The move by Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, brings to a head the simmering tensions that have been building for months between the two leaders. After calling for dialogue in the face of Mr. Trump’s vows to build a wall, Mr. Peña Nieto ultimately bowed to public pressure in Mexico to respond more forcefully to his northern neighbor.

The decision to cancel the meeting was the result of a remarkable back-and-forth between the two sparring leaders, much of it delivered on Twitter.

On Wednesday, the new American president signed an executive order to beef up the nation’s deportation force and start construction on a new wall along the border.

Adding to the perceived insult was the timing of the order: It came on the first day of talks between top Mexican officials and their counterparts in Washington, and just days before the meeting between the two presidents.

Mr. Trump’s action was enough to prompt Mr. Peña Nieto to start discussing whether to scrap his plans to visit the White House, according to Mexican officials. In a video message delivered over Twitter on Wednesday night, Mr. Peña Nieto reiterated his commitment to protect the interests of Mexico and the Mexican people, and he chided the move in Washington to continue with the wall.

“I regret and condemn the United States’ decision to continue with the construction of a wall that, for years now, far from uniting us, divides us,” he said.

Then on Thursday morning, Mr. Trump fired back, warning that he might cancel the meeting himself if Mexico did not agree to pay for the wall.

Just before Mr. Trump fired off his Twitter post, the Mexican foreign minister and Mr. Trump’s Homeland Security secretary, John F. Kelly, were preparing to see each other for a scheduled 11:30 a.m. meeting.

According to a senior American official, the secretary had been briefed. The appropriate flags had been arranged by the protocol staff at the Department of Homeland Security. Then, just as American officials greeted the minister outside the department’s headquarters in Northwest Washington, the minister received word from Mexico that he was being pulled back, the official said. The meeting never happened.

By early afternoon, Mr. Trump said it was the United States that was being treated unfairly.

“We have agreed to cancel our planned meeting,” Mr. Trump said in a new conference Thursday afternoon. “Unless Mexico is going to treat the U.S. fairly, with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless, and I want to go a different route. We have no choice.”

In Mexico, Mr. Peña Nieto had little political room to maneuver. With Mr. Trump’s order to build the wall, the perceived insults Mexico had endured during the campaign had finally turned into action. Decades of friendly relations between the nations — on matters involving trade, security and migration — seemed to be unraveling.

Calls began to come in from across the political spectrum for Mr. Peña Nieto to cancel his visit, and to respond with greater fortitude to the perceived menace from President Trump. On Twitter, Mr. Trump’s action was referred to by politicians and historians as a “an offense to Mexico,” a “slap in the face” and a “monument to lies.”

Historians said that not since President Calvin Coolidge threatened to invade a “Soviet Mexico” had the United States so deeply antagonized the Mexican populace.

“It is an unprecedented moment for the bilateral relationship,” said Genaro Lozano, a professor at the Iberoamerican University in Mexico City. “In the 19th century, we fought a war with the U.S.; now we find ourselves in a low-intensity war, a commercial one over Nafta and an immigration war due to the measures he just announced.”

Mexico’s President Cancels Meeting With Trump Over Wall – The New York Times.

Putin Led a Complex Cyberattack Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Finds – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia directed a vast cyberattack aimed at denying Hillary Clinton the presidency and installing Donald J. Trump in the Oval Office, the nation’s top intelligence agencies said in an extraordinary report they delivered on Friday to Mr. Trump.

The officials presented their unanimous conclusions to Mr. Trump in a two-hour briefing at Trump Tower in New York that brought the leaders of America’s intelligence agencies face to face with their most vocal skeptic, the president-elect, who has repeatedly cast doubt on Russia’s role. The meeting came just two weeks before Mr. Trump’s inauguration and was underway even as the electoral votes from his victory were being formally counted in a joint session of Congress.

Soon after leaving the meeting, intelligence officials released the declassified, damning report that described the sophisticated cybercampaign as part of a continuing Russian effort to weaken the United States government and its democratic institutions. The report — a virtually unheard-of, real-time revelation by the American intelligence agencies that undermined the legitimacy of the president who is about to direct them — made the case that Mr. Trump was the favored candidate of Mr. Putin.

The Russian leader, the report said, sought to denigrate Mrs. Clinton, and the report detailed what the officials had revealed to President Obama a day earlier: Mr. Trump’s victory followed a complicated, multipart cyberinformation attack whose goal had evolved to help the Republican win.

The 25-page report did not conclude that Russian involvement tipped the election to Mr. Trump.

The public report lacked the evidence that intelligence officials said was included in a classified version, which they described as information on the sources and methods used to collect the information about Mr. Putin and his associates. Those would include intercepts of conversations and the harvesting of computer data from “implants” that the United States and its allies have put in Russian computer networks.

Was It a 400-Pound, 14-Year-Old Hacker, or Russia? Here’s Some of the Evidence

Reports released by information security companies provide evidence about the hacking of United States political officials and organizations.

Much of the unclassified report focused instead on an overt Kremlin propaganda campaign that would be unlikely to convince skeptics of the report’s more serious conclusions.

The report may be a political blow to Mr. Trump. But it is also a risky moment for the intelligence agencies that have become more powerful since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but have had to fend off allegations that they exaggerated intelligence during the buildup to the Iraq war.

The declassified report did describe in detail the efforts of Mr. Putin and his security services, including the creation of the online Guccifer 2.0 persona and to release information gained from the hacks to the public.

“Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him,” the report by the nation’s intelligence agencies concluded.

Mr. Trump, whose resistance to that very conclusion has led him to repeatedly mock the country’s intelligence services on Twitter since Election Day, issued a written statement that appeared to concede some Russian involvement. But Mr. Trump said nothing about the conclusion that Mr. Putin had sought to aid his candidacy, other than insisting that he still believes the Russian attacks had no effect on the outcome.

The president-elect’s written statement came just hours after Mr. Trump told The New York Times in an interview that the storm surrounding Russian hacking was nothing more than a “political witch hunt” carried out by his adversaries, who he said were embarrassed by their loss to him in the 2016 election. Speaking by telephone three hours before the intelligence briefing, Mr. Trump repeatedly criticized the intense focus on Russia.

“China, relatively recently, hacked 20 million government names,” he said, referring to the breach of computers at the Office of Personnel Management in late 2014 and early 2015. “How come nobody even talks about that? This is a political witch hunt.”

Later, Mr. Trump sought to blame the Democrats for any cyberattacks that might have occurred. “Gross negligence by the Democratic National Committee allowed hacking to take place,” he said in a Twitter message posted about 11 p.m. “The Republican National Committee had strong defense!”

Vice President-elect Mike Pence told reporters that he and Mr. Trump had “appreciated the presentation” by the intelligence officials and described the conversation as “respectful.” Mr. Pence said the new administration would take aggressive action “to combat cyberattacks and protect the security of the American people from this type of intrusion in the future.”

Mr. Trump, who has consistently questioned the evidence of Russian hacking during the election, did so again Friday before he met with the intelligence officials. Asked why he thought there was so much attention on the Russian cyberattacks, the president-elect said the motivation was political.

He also repeated his criticism of the American intelligence agencies, saying that “a lot of mistakes were made” in the past, noting in particular the attacks on the World Trade Center and saying, as he has repeatedly, that “weapons of mass destruction was one of the great mistakes of all time.”

But after meeting with the intelligence officials, Mr. Trump appeared to moderate his position, conceding that “Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyberinfrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations, including the Democrat National Committee.”


The Russian Hacking in 200 Words

President Obama announced sanctions against Russia for trying to influence the 2016 election through cyberattacks. Here’s what led to the sanctions.

OPEN Graphic

The report described a broad campaign of covert operations, including the “trolling” on the internet of people who were viewed as opponents of Russia’s effort. While it accused Russian intelligence agencies of obtaining and maintaining “access to elements of multiple U.S. state or local electoral boards,” it concluded — as officials have publicly — that there was no evidence of tampering with the tallying of the vote on Nov. 8.

The report, reflecting the assessments of the C.I.A., the F.B.I. and the National Security Agency, stopped short of backing up Mr. Trump on his declaration that the hacking activity had no effect on the election.

“We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election,” the report concluded, saying it was beyond its responsibility to analyze American “political processes” or public opinion.

The intelligence agencies also concluded “with high confidence” that Russia’s main military intelligence unit, the G.R.U., created a “persona” called Guccifer 2.0 and a website,, to release the emails of the Democratic National Committee and of the chairman of the Clinton campaign, John D. Podesta.

When those disclosures received what was seen as insufficient attention, the report said, the G.R.U. “relayed material it acquired from the D.N.C. and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks.” The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, has denied that Russia was the source of the emails it published.

The role of RT — the Russian English-language news organization that American intelligence says is a Kremlin propaganda operation — in the Kremlin’s effort to influence the election is covered in far more detail by the report than any other aspect of the Russian campaign. An annex in the report on RT, which was first written in 2012 but not previously made public, takes up eight pages of the report’s 14-page main section.

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The report’s unequivocal assessment of RT presents an awkward development for Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who is Mr. Trump’s choice to serve as national security adviser. Mr. Flynn has appeared repeatedly on RT’s news programs and in December 2015 was paid by the network to give a speech in Russia and attend its lavish anniversary party, where he sat at the elbow of Mr. Putin. Mr. Flynn has since defended his speech, insisting that RT is no different from CNN or MSNBC.

The report also stated that Russia collected data “on some Republican-affiliated targets,” but did not disclose the contents of whatever it harvested.

Intelligence officials who prepared the classified report have concluded that British intelligence was among the first to raise an alarm that Moscow hacked into the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers, and alerted their American counterparts, according to two people familiar with the conclusions.

The British role, which has been closely held, is a critical part of the timeline because it suggests that some of the first tipoffs, in fall 2015, came from voice intercepts, computer traffic or informants outside the United States, as emails and other data from the Democratic National Committee flowed out of the country.

The conclusions in the report were described on Thursday to President Obama and on Friday to Mr. Trump by James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence; John O. Brennan, the director of the C.I.A.; Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency; and James B. Comey, the director of the F.B.I.

The key to the public report’s assessment is that Russia’s motives “evolved over the course of the campaign.” When it appeared that Mrs. Clinton was more likely to win, it concluded, the Russian effort focused “on undermining her future presidency,” with pro-Kremlin bloggers preparing a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #DemocracyRIP. It noted that Mr. Putin had a particular animus for Mrs. Clinton because he believed she had incited protests against him in 2011.

Yet the attacks, the report said, began long before anyone could have known that Mr. Trump, considered a dark horse, would win the Republican nomination. It said the attacks began as early as July 2015, when Russian intelligence operatives first gained access to the Democratic National Committee’s networks. Russia maintained that access for 11 months, until “at least June 2016,” the report concludes, leaving open the possibility that Russian cyberattackers may have had access even after the firm CrowdStrike believed that it had kicked them off the networks.


Putin Led a Complex Cyberattack Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Finds – The New York Times.

Source: Putin Led a Complex Cyberattack Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Finds – The New York Times

Mexico Cuts Spending After Brexit Vote Causes Assets to Tumble – Bloomberg

Mexico announced it would cut federal spending by 31.7 billion pesos ($167.9 billion), reducing the country’s international funding needs as emerging-market assets worldwide tumble following the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union.

A decision on whether to increase the country’s key interest rate will be made next week at a June 30 board meeting after analyzing the impact on inflation, central bank officials said in a joint press conference Friday with the Finance Ministry. The spending cut is the second this year after officials reduced the federal budget by 132 billion pesos in February.

Market volatility due to the so-called Brexit “impacts the government’s finances and so we are tightening our belt,” Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said.

While the peso headed for its biggest daily loss in almost five years on Friday, the currency is down just 0.4 percent this week following five straight days of gains spurred by speculation that the U.K. would vote to stay in the EU. The peso, often used as a proxy for risk in other markets, was caught up in a wave of selling Friday after the vote proved speculation false, with stocks plunging across the globe and the British pound falling the most on record. Yields on Mexico’s benchmark peso-denominated bonds jumped 7 basis points to 6 percent, the highest in almost two weeks.

Mexico last raised its key interest rate to 3.75 percent on Feb. 17, after the peso had fallen 9 percent since the beginning of the year. It also introduced discretionary dollar sales, though Banxico hasn’t intervened again since the announcement.

“I can assure you that we will be ready to act at every opportunity,” said Roberto del Cueto, deputy governor at the central bank, adding that the bank would intervene in the foreign exchange market only when the market moves in a ’disorderly’ manner.

Only 0.7 percent of the country’s total trade is with the U.K., Videgaray said. The country’s $177 billion in international reserves and its $88 billion credit line with the International Monetary Fund give the country the necessary tools to defend its currency if necessary, he added.

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Mexico Cuts Spending After Brexit Vote Causes Assets to Tumble – Bloomberg.

Source: Mexico Cuts Spending After Brexit Vote Causes Assets to Tumble – Bloomberg