×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
September 12, 2018

The Trump administration has rolled back refugee programs so substantially that the U.S. is on track to admit just 22,000 refugees this year — one quarter of the number admitted in 2016, Reuters reported Wednesday.

The number of forcibly displaced people in the world, 68.5 million, is at a record high this year, but the U.S. took in fewer refugees than at any other point in the past four decades, when the modern refugee program began. President Trump set a low ceiling of 45,000 for refugee admission in 2018, and the number of arrivals lagged far behind that.

The "travel ban" pushed by the Trump administration has also affected refugee resettlement statistics. Trump signed a disputed executive order that created a stricter vetting process for people from 11 countries, mostly in the Middle East and Africa. Refugees from those nations now make up less than 2 percent of the admissions, whereas they used to account for 36 percent of U.S. refugees.

Nearly two-thirds of the officials who used to conduct refugee interviews have been reassigned to asylum screenings, reports Reuters, focusing on migrants already in the country instead of people who qualify for U.N. refugee status.

President Trump is expected to determine 2019's refugee ceiling this month. Reuters reports that some administration officials who supported maintaining or increasing the cap no longer work in their positions, sparking fears among advocates that the number will soon be even lower. Read more at Reuters. Summer Meza

6:52 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Two of Judge Brett Kavanaugh's former classmates asked The New Yorker to remove their names from a statement they signed in support of the Supreme Court nominee.

On Sunday night, The New Yorker published an article by Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow about a woman, Deborah Ramirez, who said while she was at Yale University, her classmate, Kavanaugh, exposed himself to her at a party. Mayer and Farrow spoke to former classmates who said they remembered hearing about such an incident, others who believed Ramirez's word, and some who said Kavanaugh would never expose himself.

The article included a statement, prepared by Kavanaugh's attorneys, signed by two of the male classmates Ramirez said were at the party, the wife of a third male student Ramirez said was involved in the incident, and additional classmates. They said they were "the people closest to Brett Kavanaugh during his first year at Yale" and could declare "with confidence that if the incident Debbie alleges ever occurred, we would have seen or heard about it — and we did not. The behavior she describes would be completely out of character for Brett."

On Monday evening, The New Yorker updated the article to reflect that two classmates who originally signed the statement, Louisa Garry and Dino Ewing, approached the magazine after the article was published and asked that their names be removed. Garry said she "never saw or heard anything like this. But I cannot dispute Ramirez's allegations, as I was not present." Ewing said he did not have direct knowledge of the incident and did not think it sounded like Kavanaugh, but "I also was not present and therefore am not in a position to directly dispute Ramirez's account." Catherine Garcia

5:14 p.m. ET
Kaufman County Sheriff's Office via AP

A Dallas police officer who killed a black man after wrongly entering his apartment was fired Monday, ABC News reports.

Officer Amber Guyger, 30, shot and killed her neighbor Botham Jean, 26, in his Dallas apartment earlier this month and is now being charged with manslaughter. Guyger said she shot Jean when she entered the apartment and, believing it was her own, thought Jean was a burglar, NPR reports. Jean lived directly above Guyger.

Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall said she made the decision to fire Guyger after an internal affairs investigation wrapped Sept. 9, per ABC News. Hall released a statement last week saying she was waiting to take employment action against Guyger because she didn't want to "interfere with the ongoing criminal investigation."

Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Jean family, called the firing an "initial victory." Merritt said his office is conducting their own investigation and is hoping to file a wrongful death civil lawsuit against Guyger and the city of Dallas, ABC News reports. Marianne Dodson

5:07 p.m. ET
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Her heart may go on, but will ours?

Céline Dion announced Monday that she will be ending her Las Vegas residency after eight years. She is set to perform 28 shows at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace before officially ending her run June 8, Rolling Stone reports.

The pop icon revealed her "mixed emotions" about her final stint in Vegas in a Facebook statement. "Las Vegas has become my home and performing at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace has been a big part of my life for the past two decades," said Dion. "It's been an amazing experience, and I'm so grateful to all the fans who have come to see us throughout the years."

Dion has performed 1,089 shows at Caesars Palace. Her first residency, A New Day ... , began in 2003 and was a massive hit, helping to launch what Forbes once called the "residency boom," as performers flocked to Sin City to follow Dion's example and take over the strip for years at a time. The Canadian icon isn't the only diva now exiting the Las Vegas Strip — Britney Spears ended her five-year residency at Planet Hollywood last year, while Jennifer Lopez is gearing up to end hers after over two years.

Dion recently released a new song called "Ashes" for the Deadpool 2 soundtrack. But for drowning your sorrows over this news, your best bet is to cue up "My Heart Will Go On." Read more about Dion's final Vegas shows at Rolling Stone. Amari Pollard

4:47 p.m. ET

There are more people working "gig economy" jobs than ever — but most are making less money than they used to.

A Monday analysis by Recode found that people employed by rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft made 53 percent less in 2017 compared to 2013. The same was true for people working for the food delivery apps Uber Eats and Postmates.

An Uber driver used to make about $1,469 a month, but a few factors — fewer hours, lower demand, lower trip prices, and lower wages — have pushed the average monthly income down to $783, says Recode. An Uber representative attributed the change to the number of workers who drive part-time. A Lyft spokesman told MarketWatch that hourly earnings have remained steady.

Other gig economy jobs, which include many temporary or contractual jobs, haven't been hit quite as hard as the transportation sector. For example, people who rent homes using Airbnb have seen the opposite effect, with incomes rising 69 percent in the last five years from $662 to $1,736 per month.

Overall, online gig economy jobs have become more popular. In 2013, less than 2 percent of the working population participated in the industry, which also includes companies like the car-share app Turo and freelance work platforms like TaskRabbit. Now, nearly 5 percent of the working population works at least one "gig" job. See more data at Recode. Summer Meza

4:33 p.m. ET
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

With its ephemeral messages, Snapchat is good for impulse communication. Now, it's getting into impulse shopping.

Snapchat and Amazon announced a partnership Monday that will allow users to point their phones at products, using the Snapchat app, and be redirected to an Amazon link for the same or a similar product, Axios reports. Snapchatters using the feature will be taken to the Amazon app, where they can purchase the item being photographed, per Axios.

The feature is currently available to a small number of users in the U.S., Bloomberg reports, and could help generate revenue for Snapchat. The company hit a record low in its share price at the beginning of the month but saw a 5 percent uptick following Monday's announcement. It's unclear whether Snapchat will receive revenue from Amazon for any purchases made, Bloomberg reports. Marianne Dodson

4:20 p.m. ET
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Apple is the latest multi-billion dollar company to branch into television production. But unlike their streaming competitors, who have basked in the freedom from cable television's restrictions, it seems that Apple will be shying away from more risqué content.

The Wall Street Journal reports that about a year ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook watched Vital Signs, a semi-autobiographical series about rapper Dr. Dre that was expected to be the company's first scripted television series. But after watching the show, Cook decided to cancel it, determining that the contents were too graphic.

"The problem?" Entertainment Weekly explains: "Characters doing cocaine, gun violence, and a rather explicit orgy scene." In addition to scrapping Vital Signs, Apple has been quite diligent about ensuring nothing that could be considered controversial ends up on its platform, the Journal reports — even when there aren't massive orgy scenes involved. The company reportedly told director M. Night Shyamalan that he had to remove the crucifixes from the main characters' house in a show he is developing, as Apple doesn't want any religious or political material, either.

The Journal also reports that when Apple removed the showrunners from a forthcoming series starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, the move was partly motivated because the company "wanted a more upbeat show and took exception to some of the humor proposed." When Apple made the same change to the upcoming Amazing Stories, it was reportedly because the show's material was shaping up to be too dark.

Per one agent who spoke with the Journal, Apple sees its TV service as less like another Netflix and more like an "expensive NBC." Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Brendan Morrow

3:37 p.m. ET
iStock

The Russian government will supply Syria with a long-range missile system within the next two weeks, The Wall Street Journal reports. The announcement comes one week after a Russian aircraft was downed in Syrian airspace, killing 15 Russian servicemen and prompting the Kremlin to place blame on Israel.

Russia previously announced plans to send Syria an S-300 missile system in 2013, but the delivery was postponed at Israel's request, the Journal reports. The defense system can intercept multiple targets within 250 kilometers, per the Journal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin previously labeled last week's aircraft downing as the result of "tragic circumstances," Israeli news outlet Haaretz reports, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said it was Syria who took the plane down. But Russia's Defense Ministry on Sunday rejected claims presented by the Israeli Air Force last week labeling Syria as the responsible party, the Journal reports, instead asserting the fault was Israel's.

Netanyahu and Putin spoke on the phone after Monday's announcement, with the former warning that the missile transfer would "increase the dangers in the region," per the Journal. Marianne Dodson

See More Speed Reads