pacific

Jeff Sessions Marvels At How A Judge ‘On An Island In The Pacific’ Could Stall Travel Ban

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeff-sessions-judge-island-travel-ban_us_58f91582e4b00fa7de1292d1

 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressed skepticism that a federal judge who serves in Hawaii had the power to block President Donald Trump’s retooled travel ban, which has been stuck in the courts since last month.

 

“I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power,” Sessions told “The Mark Levin Show,” a conservative talk show, earlier this week, according to a report by CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson, a Hawaii native, issued an order March 15 that put a stop to important aspects of Trump’s second travel ban. That order, which applies nationwide, is being challenged by Sessions’ Department of Justice before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco. A Virginia-based court is considering a separate Justice Department appeal to a Maryland ruling against the travel ban

The night Watson issued his ruling, Trump complained to a booing audience in Tennessee that the judge’s ruling was “flawed” and that it “makes us look weak.” Watson has reportedly been the subject of threats for ruling against the president’s executive order, which would limit travel to the U.S. from six Muslim-majority countries and halt refugee resettlement programs.

The two senators from Hawaii, both Democrats, reacted strongly to Sessions’ comment. Sen. Mazie Hirono likened his remarks about Watson to “dog whistle politics.”

Mr. Attorney General: You voted for that judge. And that island is called Oahu. It’s my home. Have some respect. https://twitter.com/ianbremmer/status/855131597577834496 

Hey Jeff Sessions, this has been the 50th state for going on 58 years. And we won’t succumb to your dog whistle politics

In a statement later Thursday, Hirono, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee that vets and confirms federal judges, called Sessions’ suggestion that Watson is somehow unable to carry out his duties impartially “dangerous, ignorant, and prejudiced.”

“I am frankly dumbfounded that our nation’s top lawyer would attack our independent judiciary,” she said. “But we shouldn’t be surprised. This is just the latest in the Trump Administration’s attacks against the very tenets of our Constitution and democracy.”

Hawaii’s attorney general, Doug Chin, whose state led the charge against the second travel ban in federal court, blasted Sessions over his apparent disregard for the separation of powers.

 

“Our federal courts, established under article III of the Constitution, are co-equal partners with Congress and the President,” Chin said in a statement late Thursday. “It is disappointing AG Sessions does not acknowledge that.”

 

A Justice Department spokesman tried to mitigate Sessions’ comments.

“Hawaii is, in fact, an island in the Pacific — a beautiful one where the Attorney General’s granddaughter was born,” Ian D. Prior said in an email to The Huffington Post on Thursday. “The point, however, is that there is a problem when a flawed opinion by a single judge can block the President’s lawful exercise of authority to keep the entire country safe.”

 

Trump’s swipes against the federal judiciary since taking office have alarmed court watchers and the public. Even Justice Neil Gorsuch faced a tough round of grilling in confirmation hearings last month from senators asking about the president’s outbursts. The then-nominee declined to call Trump out by name, saying that he couldn’t get into politics.

 

Trump and his surrogates’ openly anti-Muslim sentiments have haunted his executive orders in the courts. In his ruling, Watson found that the second travel ban — which was crafted to correct deep flaws courts found with the first one — was likely unconstitutional because it was implemented with the intent to target members of a particular religion.

 

In the Levin interview, Sessions said that judges shouldn’t “psychoanalyze” Trump’s motives and instead look at the national security rationale behind it.

Ryan J. Reilly contributed reporting.

This story has been updated to include Chin’s statement.

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Scientists find their first biofluorescent reptile, a Pacific sea turtle

(CNN)That’s not a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle” floating before your eyes. You’re seeing the first biofluorescent reptile discovered by scientists.

While filming small sharks and coral reefs in the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, marine biologists had a stunning encounter with a “glowing” sea turtle.

Scientists captured footage of a hawkbill sea turtle emitting neon green and red light. The discovery was made in late July by David Gruber of the City University of New York and his team. The footage was released for the first time on Monday.

Gruber, an emerging explorer for National Geographic, described the turtle as an alien spaceship when he initially saw it swimming in the water.

“It was absolutely gorgeous,” Gruber said in an interview with CNN. The turtle swam into the team’s lights while they were filming coral underwater. The turtle’s appearance was unexpected and took everyone by surprise, he said.

In just a few years, scientists have started to pay more attention to biofluorescence in marine species.

“It’s a bit like a mystery novel,” Gruber said. “It started with jellyfish and coral, and the fluorescent molecules jellyfish and coral create has lead to monumental breakthroughs in biomedical science.”

Fluorescence has helped provide a marker for scientists to see the inner workings of cells and that has partially lead to an explosion in research in the biofluorescence field, Gruber explained.

Finding a reptile that exhibits biofluorescence opens up a new set of questions: Why is a turtle emitting light? What is the chemical composition?

Unlike bioluminescence, which is when an organism produces its own light through chemical reactions, such as what fireflies do, biofluorescence is when an animal absorbs light, transforms it and radiates it, sometimes in a different colors.

Scientists have discovered the presence of biofluorescence in corals; arthropods such as crabs and insects; and more than 200 species of sharks and fishes.

In certain cases, scientists have an idea as to how organisms use biofluorescence. In coral living in sun-drenched parts of the ocean, for example, biofluorescence functions as a form of sunscreen. It also can work as a lure as well. Early studies suggest some fish use biofluorescence as a way to signal to one another.

“For fish and sharks and now turtles, it’s much more mysterious,” Gruber said.

Typically biofluorescence is used to attract prey and is used as a form of defense. The neon lights may help with camouflaging the turtle. But Gruber explained that it may be too early to understand why the turtle radiates these lights.

“The ocean is the perfect place to evolve these kinds of fluorescent molecules because it is almost completely blue,” he said. “The ocean absorbs almost every other color except for blue — so these animals have been creating ways to take in that blue light and transform into other colors,” he said.

Scientists are just starting to understand the process. “This is just another example showing how many mysteries the ocean has in store for us,” he said.

However, the hawksbill turtle is critically endangered and the species is threaten because of climate change. In some areas, there are only several thousand breeding females left.

“Their numbers have really dwindled, and yet we still don’t understand them. For me, there’s a sense of urgency to protect and understand these species while they are still here,” he said.