Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Donald Trump sacks acting Attorney-General Sally Yates over travel ban remarks

    Extract from ABC News

    Updated 10 minutes ago
    United States President Donald Trump has sacked acting Attorney-General Sally Yates after she directed Justice Department attorneys not to defend his controversial executive refugee and immigration ban.
    Ms Yates had said she was not convinced Mr Trump's travel ban was lawful.
    "I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution's solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right," Ms Yates said.
    "At present, I am not convinced that the defence of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities, nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful."
    The Democratic appointee's directive was likely to be temporary, given that Senator Jeff Sessions, Mr Trump's pick for attorney-general, will likely move to uphold the president's policy.
    Mr Sessions is awaiting Senate confirmation.
    Still, Ms Yates's abrupt decision deepened the chaos surrounding Mr Trump's order.
    At least three top national security officials — Defence Secretary James Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Rex Tillerson, who is awaiting confirmation to lead the State Department — have told associates they were not aware of details of directive until around the time Mr Trump signed it.

    Leading intelligence officials were also left largely in the dark, according to US officials.
    Tennessee senator Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, said that despite White House assurances that congressional leaders were consulted, he learned about the order in the media.
    The fallout was immediate, with friction growing between Mr Trump and his top advisers and a rush by the Pentagon to seek exemptions to the policy.
    The White House approach also sparked an unusually public clash between a president and the civil servants tasked with carrying out his policy.

    White House divide deepens as Trump doubles down

    A large group of American diplomats circulated a memo voicing their opposition to the order, which temporarily halted the entire US refugee program and banned all entries from seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days.

    In a combative response, White House spokesman Sean Spicer challenged those opposed to the measure to resign.
    "They should either get with the program or they can go," Mr Spicer said.
    The blowback underscored Mr Trump's tenuous relationship with his own national security advisers, many of whom he met for the first time during the transition, as well as with the Government bureaucracy he now leads.
    While Mr Trump outlined his plan for temporarily halting entry to the US from countries with terror ties during the campaign, the confusing way in which it finally was crafted stunned some who have joined his team.
    Mr Mattis, who stood next to Mr Trump during the signing ceremony, is said to be particularly incensed.
    A senior US official said Mr Mattis, along with Joint Chiefs chairman Joseph Dunford, was aware of the general concept of Mr Trump's order, but not the details.
    US officials and others with knowledge of the Cabinet's thinking insisted on anonymity in order to disclose the officials' private views.

    Video: Nine further people were released from Dallas airport detention overnight (ABC News)

    Radio Australia shortwave station in Shepparton


    Radio Australia 70 year anniversary - WIN news coverage May 2014   

    Beaming Radio Australia around the world on shortwave

    Updated 15 May 2014, 12:40 AEST
    Inside the studios of Radio Australia, it's all hustle and bustle, but you'll need to travel 200 kilometers up the road to find the place where the international broadcaster's signal is beamed to the region. Radio Australia's transmission site is based in Shepparton, in central Victoria.  The site was first used for ABC broadcasts in 1944.
    Chosen for its flat landscape and soil conductivity, the site is 600 acres, or 200 hectares, and is home to seven transmitters of 100 kilowatt capacity.
    There are 13 antennas supported by masts 70 metres tall that beam Radio Australia's signal up to the ionosphere. The signal bounces off the ionosphere and is sent back to Earth in the direction of the receiving transmitter.
    It's a precise art that's been mastered by the seven staff whose duties also include maintaining the facility and equipment.
    Terry Fahey is the team leader at the Radio Australia transmission site and has had plenty of time to perfect his behind the scenes radio technical skills. After all, he's been sending our signal to you for 34 years.

    Extract from 
    1943 - ABC Radio Australia - Shepparton (Victoria)

    2014 - Google Streetview, main entrance

    2014 - satellite view of Station

    Radio Australia 1964 Tuning Signal

    Click to hear the Radio Australia Tuning Signal and Opening Announcements, December 1964!

    2012 - entrance to the Station

    1945 - transmitter hall


    Soon after the onset of the European Conflict in 1939, discussions took place between the imperial leaders in London and the government leaders in Canada and Australia. These discussions focused on the setting up of large international shortwave stations for use as a possible backup for the BBC Empire Service in England. Work moved ahead in both countries, and two large shortwave bases were established; Sackville in Canada for Radio Canada International and Shepparton in Australia for "Australia Calling".

    Site surveys for the Australian shortwave station were conducted in many areas of south eastern Australia, and finally the decision settled upon a grassland location of 200 hectares in the fertile fruit-growing Goulburn valley of central Victoria. This site, 6 km north of the town of Shepparton, on Verney Rd, Lemnos, was reasonably accessible to the three major cities, Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne, and it was suitable propagationally for a large shortwave station.

    February 1943
    The main transmitter hall was completed in February 1943, and even though it was designed to contain three transmitters, yet none could be found. Finally, an agreement was reached with the United States, and a 50 kW RCA transmitter, originally allocated to the "Voice of America", was diverted for installation at Shepparton.

    The agreement between the American and Australian governments included a proviso that this lendlease transmitter should also carry a relay of programming from the "Voice of America". Thus it was, that the 90 minute daily program, the "Philippine Hour", was heard on relay from "Australia Calling" in Australia for a year or two.


    1961 - transmitter hall

    1959 - transmitter hall

    1973 - main transmitter room - 100 kW unit

    1962 - Control Panel for antenna switching and skewing

    1959 - antennas

    May 1 1944
    This new lendlease transmitter from the United States was installed at Shepparton and it was inaugurated, with programming co-ordinated in the ABC studios in Melbourne and fed by landline to the shortwave transmitter at Shepparton, a distance of 180 km.
    Two additional transmitters at 100 kW were manufactured in Sydney as a joint effort between AWA and STC and these were installed at Shepparton under the callsigns VLA and VLB. A total of 19 antennas were erected at Shepparton, mostly curtains with passive reflectors. 

    August 15 1945
    Transmitter VLA was inaugurated, and just four days later, VLB was inaugurated.

    All three of these transmitters incorporated two channels of programming access.

    In preparation for the 1956 Olympic Games in Melboune, two new transmitters were installed at Shepparton. Another American made RCA unit at 50 kW was designated as VLD, and an Australian made STC unit at 10 kW was designated as VLY.Soon afterwards, during a modernisation program, one of the channels in each of the three transmitters at Shepparton was split off and incorporated into a new transmitter. The newly derived transmitters were activated with the callsigns VLC, VLE, and VLF. However, the callsigns in use at Shepparton became so complicated that they were abandoned at the end of October 1961.

    Australian Government's Policy DecisionsIn the 1960s, the Australian Government made a major policy decision that it would progressively abandon its services for areas outside of the Asia/Pacific region. This was a consequence of a decision that RA would provide a ring of shortwave services into neighbouring countries, a policy which survives to the present.
    For many years, I provided part-time engineering support and consultancy to Radio Australia, when it was part of the Post Office, as well as preparing scripts and tapes for the various Communications programs, including DXers Calling.

    In those years, I was privy to many proposals and plans, which at the time were classified confidential, and were neither divulged nor released to the outside world.
    That included Policy Papers concerning RA’s refusal to permit any foreign broadcasting service to use the Shepparton facilities, in the “national interest”
    A related policy concerned the Govt's decision not to allow the construction of any international broadcasting facility on Australian soil, except in very special circumstances.
    The decision to allow HCJB to set up its station at Kununurra, Western Australia, in 1975, came as a complete surprise to many of us in the industry, which was a complete about-face of an established policy.
    It was well known that it took several years for approval to be handed by the Govt to set up the new station.

    The establishment of RA’s new facility at the Cox Peninsula, near Darwin in 1969 also came as a surprise, as the policies of the time did not support the building of such a facility so close to our northern neighbours. There was already a large military communications facility at North West Cape, at Exmouth, Western Australia, and concerns had been raised at the reasons for setting up a RA station so close to a facility which had been believed to be a prime target for airborne terrorist attacks

    Just as surprisingly, the Government’s decision to abandon the Cox Peninsula station in 1996 came unexpectedly, which had been triggered by growing political unrest and turmoil across
    Southern Asia.

    Facilities in 2012There are seven transmitters of 100 kW carrying exclusively the international programming of Radio Australia. There are 13 antennas, supported by masts 70 metres tall. The site is owned and operated by Broadcast Australia, employing seven full time staff. 

    March 2015As a result of massive  budget cuts across the ABC, all transmissions from Shepparton to Asia were cancelled. Broadcasts in English, Tok Pijsin and French continued only for the primary service area for the Pacific, from three transmitters. Transmissions in Chinese, Indonesian and Thai were cancelled. Services in Tok Pisin ware reduced. A 5-minute news broadcast in French continued on Mondays to Fridays, intended for New Caledonia, Vanuatu and other French speaking communities in the western Pacific.


    1959 - feeder lines

    1959 - antennas

    1962 - transmitter maintenance

    End to ABC's HF shortwave radio service to leave remote travellers vulnerable says tourist operator

    Extract from ABC News

    Updated 18 Jan 2017, 4:13pm

    An Australian outback tour operator says remote travellers depend on the ABC's HF shortwave radio service for news, weather and general information.

    The ABC has been heavily criticised by Northern Territory residents since it announced in December it would save $1.9 million by cutting the transmission.
    ABC Radio is currently broadcast throughout remote parts of Australia, as well as to international audiences in the Pacific islands.
    Mick Hutton from Beadell Tours, who regularly travels through the western deserts with tourists, said there was no other service available to replace the shortwave.
    "The ABC broadcast over that HF radio is about our only connection during daylight hours with what's going on in the world," he said.
    "That's about the only news, reliable weather forecasts, including your emergency warnings for bushfires and cyclones.
    "That's all you've got - there isn't anything else because there's no mobile phone service."
    Mr Hutton said once the service ends, travellers would need to use a satellite phone to source news.
    "There won't be any avenue for an emergency service broadcast and that's probably the most worrying," he said.
    "There are all sorts of things that can be done notifying people but it's exceptionally difficult if the people you're trying to notify don't have the equipment to be notified on."

    'At least 5,000' people tuning into ABC's shortwave radio services

    A shortwave radio supplier estimates 5,000 people regularly use a shortwave in Australia and the Pacific to listen to ABC Radio.

    Garry Cratt from Tecsun Radio Australia said the ABC should continue to provide people with basic information, especially those who cannot otherwise access other services.
    "I think it's fair to say there would be several thousand in the Pacific that would be listening to Radio Australia on a daily basis," he said.
    "Of course there are all those people in yachts and they're in an itinerant listening group, and then the stockmen as well.
    "I'd say there is at least 5,000."
    Mr Cratt took exception to the ABC's assertion that the shortwave radio is now 100-years-old and outdated.
    He said his business recently shipped 500 radios to the Solomon Islands to be distributed to outlying villages.
    "The Solomon Islands do have a fairly unreliable domestic shortwave service themselves but most people listen to Radio Australia," he said.
    "A lot of the places that do receive Radio Australia, there is no power for a start, so they're relying on batteries and solar panels.
    "The people that are listening, that will be affected, are those people who are maybe still back in the last century but that's not their fault."
    ABC Rural has contacted the ABC for comment.

    In a previous statement, the ABC said "the move is in line with the national broadcaster's commitment to dispense with outdated technology and to expand its digital content offerings including DAB+ digital radio, online and mobile services, together with FM services for international audiences.
    "The majority of ABC audiences in the Northern Territory currently access ABC services via AM and FM and all ABC radio and digital radio services are available on the VAST satellite service."
    Earlier on Wednesday, NT Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy posted on social media that she was meeting the ABC's managing director Michelle Guthrie to discuss the shortwave.
    "We listen to ABC, now you listen to Territorians," she tweeted.

    The end of shortwave transmission services is scheduled for January 31. 

    Nick Xenophon to introduce legislation to force ABC to reinstate shortwave radio service

    Posted 23 minutes ago

    South Australian senator Nick Xenophon says he will introduce legislation to Parliament to force the ABC to reinstate its shortwave radio service, which is ending today.

    Key points:

    • Xenophon says the ABC has underestimated the impact of its decision
    • ABC says shortwave radio is outdated technology
    • Pastoralists, remote communities among those calling for reversal of decision

    The ABC announced in December that it would switch off its shortwave transmission to remote parts of northern Australia and across the Pacific.

    Mr Xenophon said his introduction of legislation next week was not the ideal way to handle the issue, but something had to be done.
    "This is a pretty messy way of doing it — putting up a bill — but it will force the ABC management to account," he said.
    "If it means part of the solution is trying to squeeze more money out of the Government, then so be it."
    Mr Xenophon said he believed the ABC had underestimated the impact of its decision.
    "The fact is this will affect thousands of Australians who are in remote areas, but it seems it will affect many tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people who are regular Radio Australia listeners throughout the region," Mr Xenophon told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program.
    "This is an essential service not just for the bush in Australia but for the region. I hope I can get bipartisan support to reverse this decision."
    The ABC said shortwave technology was out of date and it would save $1.9 million by cutting the service, which it said would be reinvested in expanding content and services.
    The national broadcaster said in a statement there would be a transition program and it "has offered comprehensive advice on how to best access emergency information, ABC News and entertainment".

    Pastoralists, fishermen among those angered by decision

    But the decision has prompted widespread criticism from federal and Northern Territory MPs, pastoralists, fishermen and tour operators, as well as from communities across the Pacific.
    "This is shocking news, totally shocking news," said Francesca Semoso, Deputy Speaker of Bougainville's Parliament in Papua New Guinea.

    "The reason being that wherever you go — if you are up on the rooftop of your house, if you are up in the mountains in Bougainville, if you are down in the valleys, in the Pacific islands in Papua New Guinea, in Bougainville — the only medium that can reach me at that location is shortwave."
    Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association chief executive Tracey Hayes said the move would have a profound impact on the wellbeing of isolated workers and families.
    "There will be just silence in the vehicle and they would have had no contact with the outside world," she said.
    "I can't imagine what it is going to be like for people who are being put in that position."
    Norther Territory MP Gerry McCarthy said he had invited ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie to his remote electorate to listen to people affected by the decision.
    "Come to the Northern Territory for a start, consult with the people that are affected, real Australians out there in remote areas," he said.
    "Also we've offered the help and support of the [Northern Territory] Department of Housing and Community Development to go and do some serious analysis about who are the users of shortwave."
    ABC Radio will continue to broadcast across the Northern Territory on FM and AM bands, via the viewer access satellite television (VAST) service, streaming online and via the smartphone app.

    Senator Nick Xenophon says "I'll be putting up legislation in the parliament to mandate that the ABC reinstates this critical shortwave service."


    Garry Williams is a long haul truckie based in SA with Gilberts Transport Service, a great family owned business. He is pretty “trucked off” that on the 31st of January, ABC management in Sydney will kill off its shortwave broadcast from the Northern Territory which will affect thousands, including truck drivers, remote area communities in the far north of SA, and large parts of the Territory.
    The $1.9 million that the ABC will save is peanuts compared to their billion dollar budget and is a kick in the guts to Australians living and working in remote parts of Australia.
    Garry made the point that, for a large part of his trip to Darwin, from Tuesday he will be able to pick up shortwave broadcasts in Mandarin and Japanese and other Asian languages, but not from Australia’s national broadcaster which is relied on for news and emergency announcements. Shame.
    Along with my colleagues, I’ll be putting up legislation in the parliament to mandate that the ABC reinstates this critical service.

    Saudi Arabia and Egypt are excluded from Trump's ban. Why?

    Extract from The Guardian

    The American public needs to know the real reasons behind the arbitrary list of countries

    donald trump
    ‘Of course, excluding all Saudis and Egyptians from entering the United States is a bad idea.’ Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
    When President Trump issued executive orders limiting immigration on Friday, it appears there was at least one important omission. He has failed to instruct the National Park Service to put a hood over the Statue of Liberty, the world’s most renowned symbol of freedom.
    It is not the only omission. In identifying Muslim-majority countries from which refugees and visas will be blocked because of concerns about terrorism, Trump left out Saudi Arabia. Yet most of those who hijacked airliners to attack New York and Washington DC on 9/11, the deadliest terrorist episode in history, were Saudis.
    Does Trump shy away from offending Saudi Arabia because he has business dealings with wealthy Saudis? Or because he expects them to curry favor by patronizing his new hotel in Washington? We don’t know. By refusing to release his tax returns and by refusing to divest himself of his businesses, he raises such questions.
    Another country left off the list is Egypt. Yet the leader of the 9/11 hijackers was Mohammed Atta, an Egyptian. Was Egypt omitted because Trump is developing a warm relationship with the country’s brutal dictator, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi? Again, we don’t know.
    Of course, excluding all Saudis and Egyptians from entering the US is a bad idea. Applicants for refugee status or visas should be considered individually. Yet failing to exclude them highlights the arbitrariness of barring all those from some countries whose nationals have had no part in terrorism in the US.
    During his campaign, Trump focused particularly on excluding Syrian refugees, calling them “the ultimate Trojan horse”. It must be acknowledged that despite the extreme suffering they have endured, the US was not especially welcoming of Syrian refugees before Trump took office.
    The United Nations high commissioner for refugees has registered more than 4,800,000 Syrian refugees. The great majority are in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. The Obama administration proposed to admit 25,000 Syrian refugees to the US in the year beginning 1 October.
    Trump has now halted that process. Meanwhile Canada has announced that it resettled 39,617 Syrian refugees by 2 January 2017. The process has gone very well. Many thousands of Canadians are voluntarily helping the refugees and contributing financially to enable them to adjust successfully to their new environment.
    Before accepting the Syrian refugees, Canada vetted them with care. So far, there have been no security issues. The vetting by the US before Syrian refugees are accepted for resettlement has been similar, and has taken up to two years. As in the case of Canada, the US has had no security incidents involving Syrian refugees.
    Yet now, except for a provision that appears intended to exempt the Syrian refugees who are Christians, and therefore of special concern to Christian right supporters of Trump, they are to be blocked from entering the US. This highlights the attempt to engage in religious discrimination. (Actually, if the exemption is applied as written to members of minority religions who have been most severely persecuted, the principal beneficiaries should be Yazidis from Syria and Baha’i from Iran. That may not be Trump’s intent and it may not be followed in practice.)
    In the period following the devastating 9/11 attacks, the US committed a number of acts that damaged the country’s global standing. They include the invasion of Iraq that was justified by the false claim that Saddam Hussein possessed an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction that endangered the US; the water-boarding, wall-slamming and other abuses of detainees from many countries at CIA “black sites”; the extremely prolonged detentions without charges or trial at Guantánamo; the poor administration of occupied Iraq that allowed the country to descend into chaos and helped to spawn terrorist movements in the region; and the torture and sexual humiliation of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib.
    Now, by excluding all refugees from certain Muslim-majority countries and by denying all visas to nationals of those countries, Trump is further detracting from the prestige of the US as a country where people are treated fairly regardless of race, religion or national origin. If he thinks this will enhance safety, he is sadly mistaken.
    Even if he could keep out all those he thinks might threaten the US, he will heighten the danger to many millions of Americans who live, work and travel outside its borders. America, and Americans, would be safer if the country is seen by the world to live up to the ideals represented by the Statue of Liberty.

    Does Australia's government support the Trump travel ban? It depends

    Summer ends now, and it ends much as it began, with Malcolm Turnbull caught uncomfortably between a rock and a hard place.
    On Monday, Turnbull declined to follow other world leaders in criticising Donald Trump’s travel ban, despite the fact it is clearly discriminatory, inflammatory, possibly illegal and potentially counterproductive – presumably because Australia needs the new administration in Washington to stand by the refugee resettlement agreement the government negotiated with the previous regime.
    But it’s not only the blindingly obvious imperative of choosing your words carefully so as not to rock the boat with our most important strategic ally at a delicate transitional moment, thereby imperilling a significant prime ministerial achievement – this is the Coalition, folks.
    There are also the vexed internals to consider.
    What is the government’s position on the Trump travel ban? As is frequently the case with this government, it depends on who you ask.
    George Christensen thinks the Trump move is “a sensible policy for national security in the present climate”. The Queensland LNP backbencher would also like a total ban on Australia’s humanitarian intake and a ban from countries that have a high level of violent extremism. Just by the by.
    If Cory Bernardi wasn’t currently in a period of radio silence as he contemplates his immediate political future he’d be all over this too, mining the Trumpocalypse – or in our domestic context, mining the fertile political fault line where Coalition support intersects with One Nation support.
    The treasurer, Scott Morrison, thinks two things: it is inevitable that other nations will follow Australia’s lead in implementing maximum deterrence when it comes to unauthorised arrivals, and nobody should be surprised when a president seeks to implement his election promises – which is about as close to an explicit endorsement of the Trump travel ban as you get.
    Australia’s trade minister, Steve Ciobo, had a different take.
    Ciobo said over the weekend he would not support a Trump-style ban, and nor would most Australians.
    Simon Birmingham, the education minister, was conceptually in the Ciobo camp, but as he ventured out on Monday, he was obliged to bridge the new position just articulated by the prime minister (we aren’t a commentator on the domestic policies of another country) and his own clear commitment to a non-discriminatory immigration policy.
    Australia should be proud of our non-discriminatory immigration policy, Birmingham said, adding somewhat crisply that Christensen was “wrong”.
    Sadly, the immigration minister Peter Dutton left the room on Monday as he was being asked whether or not he supported the Trump travel ban, so we don’t know what the most important conservative figure in the government thinks, and whether it aligns with anyone else’s thinking.
    While declining to criticise Trump, the prime minister said on Monday what he evidently felt he could: Australia was committed to multiculturalism, and to a non-discriminatory immigration policy, and to Secure Borders.
    Turnbull, having clearly resolved to have a press conference to try and stop people opining shrilly that he was in witness protection, or avoiding a controversial subject, but having also resolved to say absolutely nothing – declined to go into what he might be doing to ensure Australian citizens were not caught up in the chaotic scenes playing out in US airports.
    When Australia raised issues “we do so privately and frankly” Turnbull remonstrated, as if private and frank was an intrinsic virtue universally acknowledged in polite society, rather than a tactical call you make when you aren’t in a strong bargaining position.
    Other countries – the United Kingdom, Canada – appear to have secured exemptions from the travel ban from the US for their dual citizens. Incredibly, (yes, that’s irony font) – these two countries have their exemption despite saying precisely what they think about the travel ban.
    Later on Monday the foreign minister, Julie Bishop, (who is currently in the Land of Donald), was notably less private about the frankness.
    She put her elbows out, and said Australia was seeking the same deal.
    “I have directed our officials in Washington DC to work with US officials to ensure any preferential treatment extended to any other country in relation to travel and entry to the United States is extended to Australia,” the foreign minister said.
    Back in the “less is less” session in Canberra, Australia’s prime minister also declined to say anything more than absolutely necessary about what Trump had given Australia by way of undertakings on the refugee resettlement deal – presumably lest Breitbart find out, and start a nasty ruckus.
    A journalist asked: “Prime minister, are you able to give us any more details on the nature of the [resettlement] agreement with president Trump, how many [people] will go and when they will go?”
    Turnbull replied: “No.”
    Later he said it would take the US a “some time” to process people, which was an advance on “no”, but a distance short of full disclosure. Or even partial disclosure.
    Welcome to #auspol 2017 – a startle-rich environment, where Australian prime ministers talk very softly, and carry a tiny stick.

    Backlash against Trump migration order grows as Obama issues warning

    It is extremely rare for a former president to pass comment on the actions of his successor. Obama expressed gratitude to George W Bush for refraining from doing so. But the former president also said he would speak out if he felt fundamental American principles were threatened.
    The Trump administration is striving to regain its footing after a weekend of chaos, confusion and protest. The travel bans, apparently rushed and without consultation, provoked fierce criticism from politicians, businesses and organisations across the globe.
    Obama’s spokesman Kevin Lewis said: “Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.”
    The former president “fundamentally disagrees” with discrimination that targets people based on their religion, Lewis added.
    As mass demonstrations and legal challenges mounted, the White House continued to defend the abrupt move, insisting that while 109 travellers had been “inconvenienced” over the weekend, “coming into this country is still a privilege”.
    But a draft memo circulated around foreign missions strongly dissented against Trump’s executive order, issued on Friday. “We are better than this ban,” the memo said, arguing that it would backfire, making the US less safe from terrorism, and “stands in opposition to the core American and constitutional values that we, as federal employees, took an oath to uphold.
    The draft memo added: “A policy which closes our doors to over 200 million legitimate travelers in the hopes of preventing a small number of travelers who intend to harm Americans from using the visa system to enter the United States will not achieve its aim of making our country safer. Moreover, such a policy runs counter to core American values of nondiscrimination, fair play and extending a warm welcome to foreign visitors and immigrants.”
    The memo is intended to be sent through the state department’s “dissent channel”, intended to allow alternative points of view inside the institution. But normally they are confidential and rarely have more than one author. Any memo of public dissent signed by a significant number of US diplomats would be very rare.
    The last similar occasion was a dissent memo over the Obama administration’s Syria policy signed by more than 50 diplomats last June. That memo was the culmination of years of fierce debate, while it has taken just days for the Trump White House to trigger an even more ferocious backlash from the nation’s diplomats.

    Trump’s executive order, signed on Friday, shut US borders to people from seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – for 90 days. It also suspended the Syrian refugee programme indefinitely, a move that Doctors Without Borders warned “will effectively keep people trapped in war zones, directly endangering their lives”.
    The order was reportedly sped through without prior consultation with John Kelly, the homeland security secretary, or the defence secretary, James Mattis. There appeared to be widespread confusion among authorities over how the bans would be applied to groups such as legal permanent residents. Several federal judges stayed the order in their districts. There were protests at airports across the country and outside the White House and at Trump’s Washington hotel on Sunday.
    There was confusion on Monday about whether or not anyone remained in detention at airports following the chaotic scenes that resulted from the order. Advocacy groups said that the US government was not giving them sufficient information to know for sure that no one remained detained. The government had not provided any list of names of travellers held.
    Meanwhile, the Council on American–Islamic Relations (Cair) issued a lawsuit claiming the travel ban violated the first amendment of the constitution, which establishes the right to freedom of religion. And Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington, said he was also launching a legal challenge, making Washington the first state to do so.
    “The judicial system is adept at protecting the constitution,” Inslee said. “President Trump may have his alternative facts, but alternative facts do not work in a courtroom.” He said the banning of immigrants based their country of citizenship went against state statutes meant to stop discrimination based on place of birth or nationality.

    After days under siege from national and global criticism, the White House attempted to mount a public relations counter-offensive. Sean Spicer, the press secretary, claimed that 109 travellers had been temporarily delayed at airports out of a total of 325,000.
    “It’s a shame that people were inconvenienced, obviously, but at the end of the day we’re talking a couple of hours,” he told reporters. “Coming into this country is still a privilege. We’re still the greatest country on earth.”
    Spicer added: “A hundred and nine were temporarily inconvenienced for the safety of us all. I truly believe it is being blown out of proportion ... The system actually worked really well. That’s the takeaway from this. The country is safer for it.”
    Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser to Trump and the alleged architect of the policy, went on morning TV to insist its implementation had been “orderly” and “efficient”.

    Trump’s first seven days in the White House
    Miller, who is also Trump’s principal speechwriter, told CBS’s This Morning: “Any time you do anything hugely successful that challenges a failed orthodoxy, you’re going to see protests. If nobody is disagreeing with what you’re doing, then you’re probably not doing anything that really matters.”
    He denied that the policy had been botched. “By any measure I would describe that as efficient, orderly, enormously successful,” Miller said. “We’re going to take the next 30 days to develop a new set of screening protocols.”
    The former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani also claimed to have worked on the policy and referred to it explicitly as a “Muslim ban”. On Saturday night, he told Fox News: “So when [Trump] first announced it, he said, ‘Muslim ban.’ He called me up. He said, ‘Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.’”
    Giuliani added: “And what we did was, we focused on, instead of religion, danger – the areas of the world that create danger for us. Which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible. And that’s what the ban is based on. It’s not based on religion. It’s based on places where there are substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.”
    Trump himself used his favoured medium – Twitter – to deny the order was responsible for disarray at airports.
    “There is nothing nice about searching for terrorists before they can enter the country,” he posted. “This was a big part of my campaign. Study the world!”
    He added: “Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage, protesters and the tears of Senator Schumer.”
    Delta Airlines experienced a two-and-a-half-hour shutdown on Sunday night, a problem that caused delays for thousands of passengers but was unrelated to Trump’s executive order.
    Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader in the Senate, had become tearful during a press conference on Sunday where he stood alongside refugees and condemned the order as unconstitutional and “un-American”.
    Trump mocked him on Monday during remarks after a meeting with small business owners at the White House.
    “I notice Chuck Schumer yesterday with fake tears,” he said. “I’m going to ask him who was his acting coach, ’cause I know him very well. I don’t see him as a cryer. If he is, he’s a different man. There’s about a 5% chance his tears were real, but I think they were fake tears.”

    The president also criticised Democrats for holding up some of his cabinet nominations.
    “Where was the outrage of the Democrats when all of our companies were fleeing to Mexico and to other places far away and leaving jobs behind?” he said. “Now they’re all coming back. They’re coming back by big numbers.”
    It was not clear if Trump’s use of the word “fleeing” was intended to draw comparison with the refugee issue. Schumer and the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, were due to stand alongside immigrants and Muslims outside the supreme court on Monday evening.
    Democrats are drafting legislation to overturn the ban. Senator Chris Coons, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN on Monday: “I see it as illegal, unconstitutional and un-American. I don’t think this ban will make us any safer. I frankly think it will be a propaganda bonanza for Isis. It has outraged a number of our close allies on whom we are relying to be our partners on the war on terror, and it has sent the wrong message to our allies around the world about what we stand for as a country.
    “Some of the first people caught up in the misguided ban just over the last 48 hours were Iraqi translators who risked their lives for American troops in the war in Iraq, and I think the symbol that sends is a strong one and I look forward to joining others who will be protesting this ban and challenging it both with statutory actions and legal actions.”
    The Pentagon is creating a list of Iraqis who have worked alongside the United States which will be passed to agencies responsible for implementing the executive order. “We have been provided the opportunity by the White House to submit names and we are working forward to do that,” the Pentagon spokesman Capt Jeff Davis said.
    More than a dozen Senate Republicans have opposed the order or expressed concerns. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said in a joint statement that it “sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”
    Trump was also facing criticism for allowing his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, to attend regular meetings of the White House National Security Council, while the chair of the joint chiefs of staff and the director of national intelligence were told to attend only when deemed necessary.
    Spicer insisted on Monday that there had been no change to the structures since the Obama administration.
    Trump also said on Monday that he would announce his pick for the vacancy on the supreme court at 8pm on Tuesday. The court has been working with eight justices since the death last year of Justice Antonin Scalia.

    Additional reporting by Amber Jamieson in New York