Reason Roundup

The New York Times Defends Outing Trump Whistleblower as CIA

Plus: Trump slashes number of refugees allowed in next year, big cities are shedding millennials, and more...

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On the impeachment front… The anonymous whistleblower complaint about Donald Trump's July call with Ukraine's president (and subsequent alleged attempts to cover it up) was apparently lodged not long after a CIA officer raised the issue around the office.

"The officer first shared information about potential abuse of power and a White House cover-up with the C.I.A.'s top lawyer through an anonymous process," The New York Times reported on Thursday night. "The lawyer shared the officer's concerns with White House and Justice Department officials, following policy."

Then, about two weeks later, the officer "decided to file a whistle-blower complaint to [inspector general for intelligence agencies Michael] Atkinson, a step that offers special legal protections, unlike going to a general counsel," according to the Times.

Lawyers representing the person who filed the whistleblower complaint did not confirm that the CIA agent was their client, saying: "The whistle-blower has a right to anonymity."

Executive Editor Dean Banquet defended the paper's decision:

We decided to publish limited information about the whistle-blower—including the fact that he works for a nonpolitical agency and that his complaint is based on an intimate knowledge and understanding of the White House—because we wanted to provide information to readers that allows them to make their own judgments about whether or not he is credible. We also understand that the White House already knew he was a C.I.A. officer.

Meanwhile, Trump isn't letting whistleblowers and the possibility of impeachment dim his capacity for cruel immigration policy. Yesterday the administration announced that it would lower the refugee cap from its current 30,000 down to 18,000.

"The coming year's 18,000-person cap will be the lowest since the refugee resettlement program began in 1980, a major shift from the 110,000 refugee admissions former President Barack Obama proposed for fiscal year 2017," Politico points out.

The announcement comes at the same time as new figures on dwindling immigration rates:

The net increase of immigrants in the American population dropped to about 200,000 people in 2018, a decline of more than 70 percent from the year before, according to William Frey, chief demographer at the Brookings Institution, who conducted the analysis.

"It's remarkable," said David Bier, an immigration expert at the Cato Institute, of the 2018 numbers. "This is something that really hasn't happened since the Great Recession. This should be very concerning to the administration that its policies are scaring people away."


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Young people are leaving big cities. "Large U.S. cities lost tens of thousands of millennial and younger Gen X residents last year, according to Census figures released Thursday that offer fresh signs of cooling urban growth," The Wall Street Journal reports. According to the paper's analysis of census figures:

Cities with more than a half million people collectively lost almost 27,000 residents age 25 to 39 in 2018….It was the fourth consecutive year that big cities saw this population of young adults shrink. New York, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Washington and Portland, Ore., were among those that lost large numbers of residents in this age group.

The drop in young urban residents last year was smaller than in 2017, when big cities lost nearly 54,000 residents in this age group. But the sustained declines signal a sharp reversal from the beginning of the decade, when young adults flooded into cities and helped lead an urban revival.

The 2018 drop was driven by a fall in the number of urban residents between 35 and 39 years old. While the number of adults younger than that rose in big cities, those gains have tapered off in recent years.


QUICK HITS

  • The next small but significant step in congressional criminal justice reform moves involves federal sentencing policy. The Prohibiting Punishment of Acquitted Conduct Act would "end the unjust practice of judges increasing sentences based on conduct for which a defendant has been acquitted by a jury," says a press release from sponsoring Senators Dick Durbin (D–Ill.) and Chuck Grassley (R–Iowa).
  • The president doesn't understand the difference between an apostrophe and a hyphen, among other things:

  • The Senate voted to confirm Eugene Scalia as the new secretary of labor.
  • Government shutdown averted.
  • A Mississippi city is claiming undocumented immigrants don't have a right not to be killed by police:

  • Bitcoin is back in a chaos spiral downward.
  • On the spectacular downfall of WeWork.
  • A new measure in the large Australian state of New South Wales "overturned a 119-year-old law that made it a criminal offense to procure or administer an abortion."
  • Tech executives in a CNBC poll voted Facebook the technology giant "most likely to face punitive action as a result of the federal government's antitrust review of Silicon Valley."
  • Uber's redesign will "combine Uber's ride-hailing and food delivery apps, boost new modes of transportation like scooters and add safety features."
  • Everybody's canceled!