First on CNN: Southwest border apprehensions down sharply in January

Washington (CNN)Apprehensions at the southern border decreased sharply in January, according to statistics obtained by CNN — a drop in line with yearly seasonal trends but that could give President Donald Trump an early talking point in his efforts to ramp up border security.

According to preliminary Customs and Border Protection numbers for January obtained by CNN but not yet released to the public, family unit apprehensions decreased by 42%, unaccompanied minors were down 39% and total apprehensions decreased by 27%.
Month-to-month numbers in apprehensions can be misleading. According to data for the past four years, apprehensions typically drop in January and did so sharply in 2016.
    Next month’s data could be critical in interpreting whether the drop was due to seasonal trends or something bigger. The amount of migration north through Mexico is also tied to the conditions in Central America, where many migrants are fleeing violence and drug cartels.
    The numbers also do not take into account what are called inadmissables — migrants who present themselves at the border and are deemed unable to enter the country, often due to lack of authorization. Apprehensions refer to those removable aliens who are arrested.
    Still, Trump supporters are likely to see the numbers as vindication of his hardline approach to immigration, an indication that his tough talk and policy proposals are already deterring migrants from coming in.
    While total and unaccompanied minor apprehensions had been trending downward last month already, family units surged in the final three months of 2016 — a statistic that Trump supporters interpreted as an attempt by desperate migrants to get into the US before Trump was inaugurated and could change US immigration policy.
    As Trump continues to roll out his executive agenda and as Congress begins to consider how they will pay for his promised wall and increase in enforcement, the numbers could provide key talking points in the push to implement Trump’s immigration agenda.
    There were 9,314 family unit apprehensions in January, down from 16,135 in December; 4,430 unaccompanied minors apprehended, down from 7,243 in December, and 31,575 total apprehensions, down from 43,272 in December.
    In 2016, total apprehensions were 37,014 in December 2015 and 23,758 in January 2016, a drop of 36%, according to CBP data.
    Family units dropped from 8,973 to 3,143 from December 2015 to January 2016, a dip of 65%, and monthly data for unaccompanied minors was not readily available.
    The numbers could shift slightly when they are released to the public, as CBP regularly revises its statistics pending agency reconciliation of individual records.
    The White House referred questions to the Department of Homeland Security, and CBP declined to comment until they release final numbers

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    February 9, 2017

    First on CNN: US military to rent space in Trump Tower

    Washington (CNN)The US military is looking to lease space in Trump Tower.

    “In order to meet official mission requirements, the Department of Defense is working through appropriate channels and in accordance with all applicable legal requirements in order to acquire a limited amount of leased space in Trump Tower,” Lt. Col. JB Brindle, a Defense Department spokesman, told CNN.”The space is necessary for the personnel and equipment who will support the POTUS at his residence in the building.”
    Military support for a president, including the military staff assigned to keeping the “nuclear football” nearby, requires close proximity to the commander in chief, which is why the Pentagon needs to rent a more expensive space closer to the penthouse where Trump resides when he’s in New York.
      After Trump’s election, the US Secret Service investigated renting a floor in the same facility, a midtown Manhattan building that sits on one of the busiest streets in the country. The Secret Service did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
      According to Jared Horowitz, who works for the company responsible for available commercial space at Trump Tower, the floors available to rent — with the average floor space running between 13,500 to 15,500 square feet — cost about $1.5 million a year. Trump Tower is owned by the Trump Organization.
      The Department of Defense noted that the military has had to seek similar accommodations in the private residences of previous presidents as well, including in Chicago during Barack Obama’s tenure.

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      February 8, 2017

      Super Bowl commercials: best and worst of 2017

      Whether they were packed with celebrities or hinted at the political climate, here are the Super Bowl ads that made a splash this year

      Super Bowl 51 offered a bounty of commercials some good, some not so good. Heres our rundown of the best and worst of Sundays TV presentation:


      You dont look like youre from around here.

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      February 6, 2017

      The best way to counter the far right? Know the enemy | Hari Kunzru

      Since Trumps election win, his online footsoldiers are ever more emboldened. Heres how to fight back

      Last weekend, I flew to Berlin to speak at a seminar. I found myself relieved to be off American soil but worried about leaving my family behind. I wasnt concerned about their safety, at least not as things stand. My wife and children are citizens and my immigration status is solid, though its significant that these are times when I have to think about my wifes citizenship and my solid immigration status.

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      February 5, 2017

      Trump travel ban leaves Iranian baby’s heart surgery in limbo

      (CNN)An Iranian infant with a heart defect is entangled in President Trump’s immigration ban — and her extended family in Oregon is on an urgent mission to get her to the US for critical surgery.

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      February 4, 2017

      Trumpolicy: Day 14

      Washington (CNN)For those of you keeping track, it’s now three days in a row without any executive actions by President Donald Trump, but, of course, stay tuned for updates!

      As more of the President’s cabinet picks push through to a Senate floor vote and the President himself touts some tough long-distance phone calls, much of the buzz on Capitol Hill still centers on what’s happening with his immigration orders and which “R” word has the most juice when it comes to Obamacare: repeal, replace, or … drumroll … repair?


      EXECUTIVE ACTIONS — As we said, all was quiet on that front today.


        • Repair, repeal, replace? On Groundhog Day, Republicans once again find themselves in a war of words, this time over how to describe their health care efforts.

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        February 3, 2017

        Earth Day picked as date for science march on Washington

        (CNN)Just like protesters who have taken to the streets and airports — for the Women’s March and against the travel ban — scientists are planning their own march.

        The group behind the March for Science in Washington just announced in a tweet that they will rally on April 22 — Earth Day.
        The march, born on social media — through an idea floated in a Reddit thread and then followed up with organizing on Twitter, Facebook, and a Google form — has gained a following of hundreds of thousands online.
          Organizers want the march to be a nonpartisan protest that champion support and funding for science, science-based policy and diversity. They’re worried about the new administration’s stance on climate change, energy policy and other issues.
          “The march for science champions publicly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and democracy,” the group’s website reads.

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          February 2, 2017

          Democrats ready for Gorsuch battle on Capitol Hill

          Washington (CNN)Within minutes of President Donald Trump’s selection of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Democrats who will lead the fight in the Senate delivered scathing assessments — but held fire on perhaps the most important question facing them: whether they will filibuster the nomination.

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          February 1, 2017

          Be fierce, furious, and fight! Join the Raccoons of the Resistance! | First Dog on the Moon

          The Raccoons of the Resistance will help you channel your anger against the actual literal coup in the USA with this handy coup-resisting guide

          The Racoons of the Resistance in the Time of Trump

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          January 31, 2017

          A Reality Check of Trump’s first week in office

          Washington (CNN)It’s been a busy week for President Donald Trump as he settles into the presidency. Here’s a look at some of the more eye-opening statements of the week:

          Crime in the city

            During the Republican Party retreat in Philadelphia this week, Trump made a reference to the city’s murder rate.
              “Here in Philadelphia, the murder rate has been steady,” he said. “I mean, just terribly increasing.”
              While the murder rate is up in some big cities, Philadelphia is not one of them. Last year, 277 people were murdered in the City of Brotherly Love. That’s hardly different from the 280 that were killed in 2015 and way down from the 391 homicides in 2007. To say it is “terribly increasing” is just plain false.

              How many jobs?

              When he signed an executive order clearing the way for the construction of the much-delayed Keystone XL pipeline, Trump touted the number of jobs that would be produced by the $8 billion project.
              “A lot of jobs — 28,000 jobs,” he said. “Great construction jobs.”
              But, as CNN’s Rene Marsh and Chris Isidore reported, a 2014 State Department report found that only 3,900 workers would be required to build the pipeline over a year’s time.
              If the work is spread over two years, 1,950 people would get jobs directly related to the pipeline’s construction. Once built, the pipeline would only require 35 full-time employees to run it.
              TransCanada, the company that has proposed building the pipeline, does not dispute those figures.
              Supporters of the pipeline argue that it would also spin off jobs from companies supplying goods and services for its construction. The State Department report does estimate that the project would create an additional 42,000 jobs with an estimated $2 billion in wages.
              But that comes out to an average of about $47,000 in pay for each job.
              As a result of all of this, we rate Trump’s claim of “28,000 great construction jobs” as false.

              How bad is it on the border?

              As he signed an executive order to begin the process of building a wall on the US-Mexico border, Trump had this to say about the situation on the country’s southern frontier: “A nation without borders is not a nation. Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders, gets back its borders.”
              But illegal immigration across the southern border has fallen dramatically in recent years.
              According to Customs and Border Protection, 415,816 people were caught trying to enter the country illegally in the fiscal year that ended last September. Of those, 408,870 were caught trying to cross the southern border.
              That national figure is less than half the 1.1 million people caught on average annually between 1980 and 2008. Border Patrol said the trends in people seeking to illegally cross the border correlates with the trends in apprehensions.
              Apprehensions of Mexicans trying to enter the country illegally are near a 50-year low, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.
              The falloff in illegal immigration from Mexico is so great that, according to Pew, in recent years, more Mexicans have returned to their country of origin than have tried to come here. The Border Patrol also notes that “far fewer Mexican nationals and single adults are attempting to cross the border without authorization, while far more families and unaccompanied children are fleeing poverty and violence in Central America.”
              What is different is that “a growing share” of these Central American migrants are surrendering to law enforcement “to seek humanitarian protection” rather than trying to sneak into the US undetected.
              We rate Trump’s claim that the country has no borders as misleading.

              Spicer’s first press briefing

              After a flame-throwing weekend start to his tenure as White House press secretary, Sean Spicer showed up for his first weekday briefing a good bit tamer. He tossed out a self-deprecating joke about his rough start, then quickly went into a long session which had two advantages over his initial outing: He held more firmly to the truth and he took questions. Here are two of his bigger assertions.
              Spicer said at this point in President Barack Obama’s first term, seven of his cabinet picks had already been confirmed, compared to only two for Trump as of the moment Spicer made the statement. He said the reason is Democrats are “playing political games.” His math is correct and that makes the numeric claim true, although Democrats say the cause of the delay is some of Trump’s nominees being slow about submitting their ethics paperwork.
              CLAIM 2: OBAMACARE
              Spicer said the reason for repealing and replacing Obamacare is simple: the competition among providers, which was supposed to bring prices down, has never materialized.
              “You go around the country and look market after market, they are down to one plan. That’s not what the American people were promised. Not only that, but in many cases, you are seeing rates go up 10, 15, 20, 30, 50%.”
              Five states have only one insurer, as do about one-third of counties nationwide, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. And while some premium prices fell, the average monthly premium for the 2017 benchmark “Silver” plan rose 22% … with plenty of plans rising in the 10% to 50% range.
              This claim is also true.

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              January 30, 2017