LOS ANGELES (AP) — Some of the 4,000 immigrants who gathered Wednesday in Los Angeles to take their U.S. citizenship oath let out a collective moan when they learned they were going to watch a videotaped message from President Donald Trump.
For them, the president’s remarks welcoming them into the “American family” and urging them to help newcomers assimilate felt insincere after he previously ordered a travel ban, moved to end a program shielding nearly 800,000 young immigrants from deportation, and referred to Mexican immigrants as rapists.
“You look at the track of others things he’s said and you don’t feel like he’s a genuine person to want to welcome new citizens,” said Kevin Alvarado, a 21-year-old college student who arrived in the U.S. from Nicaragua as a toddler.
Others, however, appreciated Trump’s message of unity — especially at a time of political division.
“I thought the video was great,” said Moises Rodriguez, a 28-year-old wedding disc jockey who came from Mexico and supports Trump’s tough stance on illegal immigration. “The fact that it was very important that we educate the people that are coming here to assimilate to what is the American dream — I thought that was very important.”
Such messages are a key part of naturalization ceremonies. Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush also produced video messages for use during the events.
In his message, Trump welcomes citizens and tells them they should teach American values to others and “help newcomers assimilate to our way of life.”
“Our history is now your history. And our traditions are now your traditions,” he said.
The speeches by Bush and Obama also mentioned the values of American citizenship. But Trump’s remarks struck a different tone.
“His message seems to be much more, ‘You need to fold yourself into the American fabric of American citizenship,'” said Jason Edwards, a professor of communication at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. “There is not a message about the journey of immigrants.”
Trump’s video debuted as more immigrants are applying to become American citizens.
More than a million people filed applications for citizenship in the year ending in March, up 23 percent from a year earlier, according to statistics from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Legal service organizations that assist immigrants with the process say they saw a surge in interest after the president issued executive orders on immigration.
Immigrants who want to become U.S. citizens generally must have been legal permanent residents of the U.S. for at least three years, show good moral character and pass English and civics tests that cover topics such as the Constitution and the presidency.
Sarah Thompson, a 42-year-old software product manager from Canada, said she filed her application to naturalize the day after Trump was elected.
She said his aggressive stance on immigration made her want to shore up her standing in this country — and it didn’t seem to match the videotaped remarks played at the Los Angeles ceremony.
“It didn’t seem sincere to me given how he has conducted himself during his presidency so far,” Thompson said after becoming a U.S. citizen.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating two female Navy hospital corpsmen in Florida who posted Snapchat photos making a newborn dance to rap music and giving the middle finger to another baby with a caption that said, “How I currently feel about these mini Satans.”
Vice Adm. C. Forrest Faison, the Navy’s Surgeon General, has also ordered an immediate stand-down at all Navy medical commands to review policies, standards and “our oaths, our pledges, our reasons for serving.”
Faison said the review must be done within 48 hours.
The “highly offensive photos and videos,” said Faison, were “shared on various platforms and … viewed by hundreds of thousands of individuals.” That behavior, he said, is inconsistent with the Navy’s core values, medical ethics and the oaths the corpsmen took for their profession.
“In an age where information can be shared instantly, what we say and post online must reflect the highest standards of character and conduct, in both our personal and professional lives,” Faison said in a message posted to the force.
Faison also ordered an immediate prohibition on any personal cellphones in patient care areas, and told commanders to ensure no patient photos exist on social media. He also told commanders to personally contact all the current and expectant mothers planning to deliver children in Navy facilities, talk to them about what has been done and address their concerns.
Navy Capt. Brenda Malone, spokeswoman for the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, said the corpsmen were removed from any jobs involving direct patient care and appropriate action will be taken once the NCIS investigation is finished. She said NCIS would forward the results of the investigation to the appropriate command to determine if criminal prosecution is warranted.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Home device maker Nest Labs is adding Google’s facial recognition technology to a camera-equipped doorbell and rolling out a security system in an attempt to end its history of losses.
The products announced Wednesday expand upon the internet-connected thermostats, smoke detectors and stand-alone security cameras that Nest has been selling since its inception six years ago.
Although Nest has been among the early leaders in the effort to make home appliances as intelligent as people’s smartphones, it hasn’t been able to make money to the frustration of its corporate parent, Alphabet. In an attempt to shake things up, Alphabet brought in cable industry veteran Marwan Fawaz to replace Nest founder Tony Fadell as CEO after Fadell stepped down 15 months ago.
Nest had been supplementing its existing product line with slightly different choices until Wednesday’s move into entirely new categories.
The Hello doorbell comes with a built-in video camera and speakers that will make it seem like it can recognize and talk to people.
The doorbell will draw upon Google’s facial recognition technology so it can warn a home’s occupants when a stranger approaches. Google bought Nest for $3.2 billion in 2014 and then spun it off after it hatched Alphabet as its parent company.
Nest is now lumped into a group of risky companies venturing into new areas of technology that have collectively lost $10.6 billion during the past three-and-half years alone. Alphabet hasn’t disclosed how much Nest has contributed to it the losses in its “Other Bets” segment
Nest isn’t announcing a price for its new doorbell until it hits the market sometime during the first three months of next year.
Google’s facial recognition technology is coming to the doorbell a few months after Nest introduced a more sophisticated indoor security camera featuring the same tool. Nest also announced Wednesday that the same facial recognition tools will be deployed on an outdoor security camera that will cost $349.
Apple is implanting a different form of facial recognition into its $1,000 iPhone X to unlock the device, telegraphing a future where cameras increasingly are going to be able to identify people within its lens’ range. The new phone will be released in November.
Nest’s usage of facial recognition hasn’t yet sparked privacy concerns because it doesn’t tap into Google’s vast database of photos to automatically recognize people. Instead, a user of the Nest camera or doorbell must manually tag and name people before the device recognizes someone.
The Nest home security system is being billed as a simpler and more convenient way to protect a home than the alarms and other kinds of sensors that have long been sold by other vendors. Nest’s “Secure” system will sell for $499 for its basic toolkit of devices.
College football’s Bowl Subdivision has seen a 73 percent increase in the number of targeting penalties enforced through the first three weeks of the season compared with the same point in 2016.
National coordinator of officials Rogers Redding said Wednesday that 55 targeting penalties have been enforced in 214 games (0.26 per game). Last year at this time, 35 targeting penalties had been enforced in 230 games (0.15).
Targeting is called if a player uses the crown of his helmet to strike an opponent above the shoulders or strikes the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with a helmet, forearm, hand, elbow or shoulder.
Big Ten coordinator of officials Bill Carollo said the early numbers are alarming.
“I fired off an email to a few people to say we need to do something about this,” he said. “Let’s not wait until the end of the season. Not let’s wait to do a study. I don’t have all the answers, but it needs to get to the level of commissioners, athletic directors and partnering with coaches.”
The rule didn’t change from last year. Targeting penalties that are upheld by video review result in a 15-yard penalty and the ejection of the player called for the targeting.
Redding said the increase in number of calls could be attributed to on-field and replay officials becoming more comfortable making the call.
Last year, for the entire 2016 season, there was an average of 0.17 targeting calls enforced per game. The 0.26 per game so far this season is a 53 percent increase.
Redding said comparing the first three weeks of 2016 to the first three weeks of 2017 is a better gauge because games in September tend to be played differently because there are more mismatches, and less experienced players are on the field.
Redding said there have been 75 targeting penalties called on the field through three weeks, and 20 of them have been overturned on review. Last year, there were 44 fouls called on the field through three weeks, with nine of them overturned.
Of the 55 targeting penalties enforced, 15 of the calls were initiated by the replay official. Redding said he did not have complete data for how many calls were made by replay officials last year.
More college football coverage: http://collegefootball.ap.org and www.Twitter.com/AP—Top25 .
MADRID (AP) — Thousands of people supporting a contested referendum to split Catalonia from Spain took to Barcelona’s streets amid an intensifying government crackdown on the independence vote that included the arrests of a dozen regional officials Wednesday and the seizure of 10 million ballot papers.
The arrests — the first involving Catalan officials since the campaign to hold an independence vote began in earnest in 2011 — prompted the regional government and some of its supporters to say casting a ballot was as much about dignity as whether to break away from Spain.
Regional Catalan officials so far have vowed to ignore a Constitutional Court order to suspend the Oct. 1 referendum while judges assess its legality.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned them of “greater harm” if they don’t drop the referendum bid, which he called a “totalitarian act.”
“Disobedience of the law by a part of the political power is the opposite of democracy, it means an imposition, an injustice, the violation of people’s rights and an attack to democracy,” Rajoy said in a televised appearance on Wednesday night.
“If you care about the tranquility of most Catalans, give up this escalation of radicalism and disobedience,” the conservative leader said, addressing Catalan officials directly. “You are on time to avoid a greater harm.”
Catalan nationalists argue that self-determination is an inalienable right that can’t be curbed by any constitution. The prime minister’s determination to prevent the ballot has backing from the main Spanish opposition parties.
Some members of Rajoy’s conservative government have even referred to the standoff as democratic Spain’s greatest political crisis since 1981, a failed coup attempt in the country’s parliament that came only three years after the official end of Gen. Francisco Franco’s dictatorship.
Spanish Interior Ministry officials would not identify the arrested regional officials, saying the investigation was ongoing. The Catalan regional government confirmed that among them were Josep Maria Jove, secretary general of economic affairs, and Lluis Salvado, secretary of taxation. Jove is the No. 2 to the region’s vice president and economy chief, Oriol Junqueras.
The Catalonia branch of Spain’s High Court said Wednesday that some 20 people were being investigated for alleged disobedience, abuse of power and embezzlement related to the referendum. Police acting on a judge’s orders searched 42 premises, including six regional government offices, officials’ private offices and homes, as well as three companies in Barcelona, the court said in a statement.
The arrests risked stoking public anger in Catalonia, where pro-independence passions can run high. Several thousand independence supporters gathered to angrily protest the raids outside government offices in Barcelona, which is Catalonia’s capital. Some demonstrators sat down in the street to block police cars, while a few scuffled with police officers.
Later, protesters rejoiced when National Police officers left the headquarters of the anti-establishment CUP political party. The officers waited hours for a judge to sign off on a warrant to search the premises for referendum-related propaganda, but the permission never came.
Protests also occurred in other Catalan towns and in Spain’s capital, Madrid. There were no reports of arrests and one person was reported injured, according to the regional police.
At the demonstration outside the Catalan regional ministry of economy, protester Charo Rovira said she felt sad at the turn of events.
“Catalonia is practically in a state of siege,” she said. She added that the arrested politicians were merely acting according to the will of the people.
Catalonia’s president, Carles Puigdemont, blasted the police operations as “unlawful” and accused the national government of adopting a “totalitarian attitude.” He accused Madrid of bringing a state of emergency to Catalonia and of effectively cancelling the northeastern region’s self-rule.
His televised statement came as Spain’s Finance Ministry said it was imposing further controls over the Catalan government’s finances to ensure no public money is used for the referendum.
Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro’s order means that virtually all of Catalonia’s public spending will be handled in Madrid and that no credits could be requested for non-essential payments.
Catalonia represents a fifth of Spain’s 1.1-trillion-euro ($1.32 trillion) economy and enjoys wide self-government authority, although key areas such as infrastructure and taxes are in the hands of central authorities. The region’s 7.5 million inhabitants overwhelmingly favor holding a referendum, but are roughly evenly divided over independence.
As part of the crackdown, police confiscated nearly 10 million ballot papers, the Interior Ministry said. Polling station signs and documents for election officers were also seized during a raid on a warehouse in a small town outside Barcelona.
“Today the government of Rajoy has crossed a very dangerous red line,” Jordi Sanchez, president of Catalan National Assembly, a civic group leading the independence drive said. “We will do all we can for democracy and freedom to prevail.”
Barcelona Football Club, which is popular around the world, waded into the controversy, too. The soccer team said it “condemns any act that may impede the free exercise of (democratic) rights” and vowed to “continue to support the will of the majority of Catalan people, and will do so in a civil, peaceful, and exemplary way.”
Spain’s Interior Ministry canceled time off and scheduled leave for Civil Guard and National Police officers who are being deployed to ensure the vote doesn’t happen. It gave no details on the number of agents involved.
AP photographer Emilio Morenatti and videographer Hernan Munoz contributed from Barcelona. Barry Hatton contributed from Lisbon, Portugal.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Space station astronaut Joe Acaba is getting a double dose of hurricanes — even in orbit.
Harvey flooded his home in Houston last month. Now Maria has slammed into Puerto Rico, his family’s homeland.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, the first astronaut of Puerto Rican heritage offered words of comfort to family members and everyone else during the wrath of Hurricane Maria.
“My parents were born there, so a lot of relatives, cousins, godparents” are still in Puerto Rico, Acaba said. “I hope everyone’s doing well and that you take care of yourselves.”
Acaba, a former teacher who arrived at the International Space Station last week, said he had not yet seen the hurricane from space. The storm made landfall at Puerto Rico an hour before the TV interview.
“It’s kind of hard to believe, but you get so busy in the day working so hard that at times you forget to look out the window,” said Acaba, who is on his third spaceflight and his second visit to the space station.
Acaba was in Russia then, getting ready for his launch, when his home flooded in Houston. Friends and colleagues came to his rescue, yanking out walls and drying out his house.
“It was a huge relief to know that there were people at home, taking care of me,” he said.
Fellow NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei’s home in Houston fared much better. It’s tough being in space when you want to help those back home, he said, but all the help to the astronauts’ families from Johnson Space Center colleagues has been “hugely appreciated.”
Acaba, Vande Hei and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin rocketed from Kazakhstan on Sept. 12. They joined American Randy Bresnik, Italian Paolo Nespoli and Russian Sergey Ryazanskiy already at the orbiting outpost.
Acaba took Puerto Rican flags up with him.
“No Puerto Rican can travel without their Puerto Rican flags, so I have my share of those. And pretty soon, the space station’s going to start looking like Puerto Rico with all the flags,” he said.
Acaba’s parents were from Hatillo, Puerto Rico, and, while young, moved to the U.S. Born and raised in Southern California, Acaba served in the Marine Corps Reserves, volunteered for the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic and worked as a hydro-geologist before becoming a science and math teacher in Florida.
NASA chose Acaba in its first official group of astronaut-educators in 2004 along with Richard Arnold, who will make another trip to the space station in March, a month after Acaba departs. The two will make short video clips and use social media to reach out to youngsters.
“For all of us, it’s a dream come true and we want them to believe the same,” he said. He added: “As much as we can do to help the great teachers out there, we’re going to try to do that.”
Meanwhile, Nespoli, in orbit since July, said he misses sharing pizza with friends. He recently dug out the space station’s espresso machine, an Italian experiment from two years ago. He brought up some coffee capsules to try.
After weeks of instant space coffee, “a really good espresso would make a difference.”