Russian 'birth tourists' are flocking to Miami, and Trump condos, to give birth to American citizens
A growing number of pregnant Russian women have been traveling to Miami to give birth, with the wealthier ones buying birth tourism packages and those of more modest means putting together DIY packages. Giving birth in the U.S., and Miami in particular, is a status symbol in Moscow, NBC News reports, and the big draw is birthright citizenship. All children born in the U.S. are U.S. citizens. "The child gets a lifelong right to live and work and collect benefits in the U.S." NBC News says. "And when they turn 21 they can sponsor their parents' application for an American green card."
President Trump, a critic of birthright citizenship, has been insisting on getting rid of such "chain migration" in immigration talks going on in Washington. But as The Daily Beast reported last year, Trump-branded condos in Miami, especially its Sunny Isles Beach area — dubbed "Little Russia" — are especially popular birth tourism bases for women who can afford the rent. Some Russian birth tourism outfits tout the Trump name in their packages. "There is no indication that Trump or the Trump Organization is profiting directly from birth tourism," NBC News says, though The Daily Beast notes that Trump's company "does benefit from Russian patronage of the nearby Trump International Beach Resort."
Birth tourism is perfectly legal — for now — as long as the birth tourists don't lie on their immigration or insurance forms, and California is a popular destination for Chinese mothers-to-be — as Jeb Bush awkwardly highlighted in 2015. There are no official numbers for how many foreign women come to the U.S. to give birth to U.S. citizens each year, but Florida says the number of births there by all foreign nationals who live outside the U.S. has spiked 200 percent since 2000. Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert kicked off Monday's Late Show by wishing his viewers a happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, then noting that in Alabama and Mississippi, it's also Robert E. Lee Day. "Look, even if you like Robert E. Lee, there's a lot of other Mondays out there," he said. But it's also "Day 4 of S--thole Gate," Colbert said. "I'm confident to my core that that's going to be bleeped, because CBS has higher standards than the president." Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is standing by his assertion that Trump said "shithole," he said, adding: "Really, I'm allowed to say 'Dick Durbin?' That's surprising."
Before Trump denied saying that exact vulgarity on Friday, he was reportedly calling friends to brag about it. "He's like a toddler calling his mom to the potty: 'Come look at the load I dropped in the national discourse,'" Colbert said. He also compared Trump to a "racist Rumpelstiltskin." Like his fellow late-night hosts, Colbert wasn't overly impressed with the reported GOP assertion that Trump said "shithouse," not "shithole": "Either way, Trump is being a complete asshouse, who maybe, maybe, doesn't belong in the White Hole."
Colbert noted Trump's growing bromance with House Majority Leader Kevin "My Kevin" McCarthy, who gave Trump a jar of just strawberry and cherry Starbursts after noticing red and pink are the only colors he eats. He didn't dawdle on the punch line: "Oh, so Trump likes some colors more than others, just like his immigration policy."
Colbert noted the Wall Street Journal report that Trump paid an adult film star $130,000 to stay quiet about a 2006 affair during the final days of the 2016 election. "That is truly shocking — that Donald Trump paid one of his contractors," he quipped. You can watch his other musings about L'Affaire Stormy Daniels below. Peter Weber
"It says a lot about where we're at as a country," Seth Meyers said on Monday's Late Night, "that in the last few days it was reported that a porn star was paid to stay quiet about an alleged affair with Trump, and for 38 minutes people in Hawaii thought they were about to be hit with an incoming missile — and neither of those is the biggest story in the news right now." President Trump, by almost all accounts, used a vulgar word to dismiss immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and Africa, but after initial shock at his calling those nations "shithole countries," we're now having "a pointless debate" over whether Trump really used the word "shithouse," Meyers said.
Whichever word Trump used, Meyers said, "what Trump's private comments reveal is that he doesn't actually want a merit-based system at all, he wants a system that takes in more white people and keeps out people of color."
On Monday's Daily Show, Trevor Noah was equally unimpressed that this argument somehow got "more stupid."
Heimagined everyone in Africa rejoicing: "We live in a shithouse not a shithole! Ah, Donald Trump. At least now we have a shitroof over our head!" Look, Noah said, Trump "having a poo-poo mouth is not the story for me. The president of the United States condemning whole groups of people as worthless and undesirable based on what country they happen to be born in, that's the story." The situation "reminds me of 'grab them by the pussy,' because the words are shocking at first, but then that's all some people end up focusing on," Noah said. Even if Trump had chosen a different word, "it's still him bragging about sexual assault, the same way writing off a whole continent as a shithouse or shithole is still the president being racist while negotiating immigration policy." Watch below for some addition thoughts on Trump's defenders and his own "least racist person" excuse. Peter Weber
Watch Ari Melber prove how once-vocal 'moral majority' conservatives are silent with Trump in the White House
If you lived during the 1990s and ever switched on a television, you probably remember former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and televangelist Pat Robertson denouncing swearing and railing against what they viewed as a culture shaped by decaying morals and values.
Fast forward to today, and many of the "moral majority" conservatives who used to warn that curse words were a "threat to our national values" are now singing a very different tune, MSNBC's Ari Melber said Monday night. In the wake of President Trump reportedly referring to Haiti, El Salvador, and unnamed African countries as "shitholes," Gingrich, who once called on corporations to stop doing business with radio stations that played rap music, has been silent, and so has former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who in 2016 said it was "unprofessional" and "just trashy" for people to drop F-bombs.
When you watch the clips Melber provides, the hypocrisy seems pretty blatant — former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly is seen cheering and taking credit for Pepsi dropping profanity-using spokesman Ludacris in 2002, but he wasn't afraid to cozy up to longtime friend and noted swearer Trump when he still had a television show to put him on. The same goes for Ralph Reed, a conservative political activist and onetime director of the Christian Coalition; he declared in the 1990s that "character matters" and "American people ... care about the character of our leaders," but after the Access Hollywood tape featuring Trump bragging about grabbing women leaked in 2016, Reed defended him by saying it was a "10-year-old tape of a private conversation" that "ranks pretty low" on evangelicals' "hierarchy of concerns." "This isn't a story where the emperor has no clothes," Melber said. "The rest of the royal court has been exposed and it's not pretty." Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia
Former Trump campaign CEO and White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon is expected to meet with the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors on Tuesday, ABC News reports. This will be Bannon's first interview with congressional investigators looking into Russian election interference, and the House committee reached out to Bannon before the Michael Wolff book Fire and Fury made Bannon persona non grata in President Trump's White House, leading to his forced resignation as head of Breitbart News. Bannon hired a lawyer last week in preparation for his testimony.
Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC News that he has questions about what Bannon knows of any Trump-related money laundering, the meeting Donald Trump Jr. set up with Trump campaign officials and Kremlin-linked lawyers who promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton, and a meeting in the Seychelles between Erik Prince and the head of a Russian investment bank, apparently after Prince and Bannon met. Bannon joined the Trump campaign in August 2016, and one of his predecessors, Corey Lewandowski, is also expected to testify before the House panel this week. Peter Weber
More than 70 years after he saved U.S. troops by attacking an enemy soldier on a beach in Italy, Chips is being recognized for his courage during World War II.
On Monday, Chips, a German shepherd-husky mix, was posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal, Britain's highest honor for animal bravery. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Alan Throop flew to London for the ceremony, and so did 76-year-old John Wren, whose father donated Chips to the war effort in 1942. Chips landed on a beach in Sicily in 1943, and U.S. soldiers said he found a machine gun nest, bit the enemy soldier in the neck, and pulled the gun from its mount; later that day, he also helped capture 10 more enemy soldiers. Chips was injured, with powder burns and scalp wounds, but he survived.
Throop told The Associated Press that Chips was recommended to receive the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and Purple Heart, but the awards were rescinded when Army policy kept animals from getting medals. Chips was honorably discharged and went back home to New York at the end of the war, but only lived seven more months. His obituary revealed that he served as sentry to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the Casablanca Conference, and also met Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1945 — Chips was trained to bite people he didn't know, and when Eisenhower bent down to pet him, Chips chomped his hand. Catherine Garcia
Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon is the relatively apolitical late-night host, so presumably he was channeling 1970 James Taylor on Monday's show when he endorsed Oprah Winfrey for president in 2020, concern-trolled Stephen Bannon, and used some of the details in the Michael Wolff tell-all Fire and Fury to paint President Trump as a cheeseburger-eating TV addict who has turned the White House into a "s--thole." Fallon, dressed as early-vintage Taylor, sang a modified version of Taylor's hit "Fire and Rain," and it had plenty of zingers. "I've seen Fire and I've seen Fury, I've seen White House staff who will have to face a jury," he sang on one chorus. "I've seen him drink a cup of water with tiny hands, while he's lying in bed watching Fox & Friends." Watch below. Peter Weber
Apparently, it's really, really hard to get fired from the Hawaii Emergency Management System.
The worker who erroneously sent a message Saturday morning warning 1.4 million Hawaiians that a missile was headed for the island did not lose his job over the mishap, Richard Rapoza, spokesman for the Hawaii Emergency Management System, said Monday. He would not reveal where the unidentified employee now works, but did say "the individual has been temporarily reassigned within our Emergency Operations Center pending the outcome of our internal investigation, and it is currently in a role that does not provide access to the warning system." He also said people who work at the center have received death threats over the scare.
At 8:05 a.m. Saturday, the worker launched a computer program to start an internal test and was given a choice: hit "test missile alert" or "missile alert." He picked "missile alert," and two minutes later Hawaiians looked down at their phones and read a terrifying message: "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL." It took a few minutes for U.S. Pacific Command to confirm there was no threat, but it wasn't until 8:45 that a new cellphone message went out: "False alarm. There is no threat or danger to the State of Hawaii." The Federal Communications Commission is investigating the incident, but FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has already brushed it off as an "honest mistake." Catherine Garcia