Tag Archives: birthday

Legacy Of President Trump’s Travel Ban Will Be Hard For Biden To Erase

Pamela and Afshin Raghebi celebrate a birthday together. Afshin, who was born in Iran, has been stuck overseas, away from his U.S. citizen wife, for more than two years after he flew abroad for an interview at a U.S. Consulate as part of his green card application.

Pamela Raghebi


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Pamela Raghebi

After fleeing civil war in Syria, Haitham Dalati and his wife made it to the United States in early 2017 during a brief window when the first version of President Trump’s travel ban had been put on hold by the courts.

They hoped their daughter and her family would soon follow. Instead, the rest of the family got caught up in Trump’s immigration crackdown and ended up stuck in Lebanon for more than three years.

It wasn’t until last November that the couple’s daughter, son-in-law and four grandchildren were allowed in as refugees, crying and hugging during a tearful reunion at the airport gate in Pennsylvania.

Now tens of thousands of families are hoping for similar reunions.

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to sign a flurry of executive orders when he takes office Wednesday, including an order rolling back the travel ban on people from Muslim-majority countries.

Legal battles over the travel ban raged for months until the Supreme Court ultimately upheld a slimmed-down version in 2018. At the same time, the Trump administration slashed the refugee admission cap. The policies left Haitham Dalati’s family and thousands of others in limbo.

“This is so horrible for us. So I don’t know now whether America is good or bad,” Dalati told NPR in an interview in 2018.

When he spoke again with NPR this month, Dalati said he sees America through new eyes. “Much better than before, when my daughter is with me, with her children and husband,” he said. “Really, it’s another America.”

Legal experts say it should be relatively easy for Biden to end the travel ban on Day 1 of his administration, as he has promised. The policy was created by executive order, and it can be reversed in much the same way.

But immigrant advocates say the hard work is still ahead.

“It’s not just what they can do with the stroke of the pen,” says Avideh Moussavian, the legislative director for the National Immigration Law Center, one of many nonprofit organizations that have fought what they deride as the “Muslim ban.”

Moussavian says the Biden administration needs to assure immigrants that they will be treated fairly and give another chance to immigrants who have been rejected for visas and green cards under the travel ban.

“What we really think is crucial … is to provide meaningful relief to people who have been directly impacted,” Moussavian says.

People like Pamela Raghebi, who has been separated from her husband for more than two years.

“I miss him and those arms holding me tight, making me laugh,” Raghebi tells NPR in an interview.

Her husband, Afshin Raghebi, was born in Iran and lived in the U.S. illegally for years. They met in Seattle, where she lives as a U.S. citizen. After they got married, he applied for a green card.

Under the rules, he had to fly to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for an interview at the U.S. Consulate. They knew that was risky because of the travel ban. But Pamela Raghebi says they were trying to do the right thing.

Nonetheless, her husband’s application was denied. And now, he’s stuck overseas.

“We were devastated,” Raghebi says. “It’s an insult. … But we will keep trying.”

Immigration hard-liners say it would be a mistake to end the travel ban completely. They argue that the ban puts pressure on foreign governments affected by the travel ban — those in countries like Iran, Syria and Libya — to improve their own security vetting for travelers to the United States.

“The burden should be on these countries to show their systems are adequate,” says Jessica Vaughan at the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for lower levels of immigration. “And their situations haven’t changed all that much.”

But even some national security experts say banning all travelers from a country wasn’t the answer. Instead, they say it fueled a narrative that the U.S. discriminates against Muslims.

“These bans damaged our nation’s reputation,” says Elizabeth Neumann, a top counterterrorism official in the Trump administration until she resigned last year. She wrote an analysis of the travel and refugee bans for the National Immigration Forum.

“They were an unnecessary distraction from the actual security enhancements that were needed,” Neumann says.

Critics of the travel ban say it has also had a big impact on public opinion in the United States

“There’s a polarization when it comes to people’s views of Muslims,” says Dalia Mogahed, research director at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, an organization that’s focused on American Muslims.

During the Trump administration, Mogahed says, Democrats have become less likely to hold negative views of Muslims, while Republicans have moved in the opposite direction. More than 75% of Republicans now associate Islam with violence, Mogahed says.

Mogahed says she used to hear frequently that Islamophobia isn’t real or that it’s not a big problem — even from self-described liberals. She says that rarely happens anymore.

“Islamophobia is not new. And it didn’t start with Trump,” Mogahed said in an interview. “But what these kinds of policies have done is, it’s ended the denial.”


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Author: Joel Rose

Betty White says she will spend her 99th birthday feeding two ducks who visit her “every day”

Betty White has all of her ducks in a row before her birthday this year. The beloved television icon is turning 99 on January 17 and said she is planning to spend it, at least in part, with two special feathered friends.

“The Golden Girls” actress spilled her animal-filled plans for the special day to Entertainment Tonight on Tuesday. 

“What am I doing for my birthday?” White asked. “Running a mile each morning has been curtailed by COVID, so I am working on getting ‘The Pet Set’ rereleased, and feeding the two ducks who come to visit me every day.”

“Betty White’s Pet Set” was a weekly show she created and hosted in 1971, which is making its debut on digital platforms and DVD, on February 23 to celebrate its 50th anniversary, a December press release from MPI Media Group said. 

The program spotlighted, “her lifelong devotion to animals, and the people who love them,” according to the release.

White invited her fellow famous friends with their dogs, cats, birds and even horses on the program. The show also featured appearances from wild animals, including bears, elephants, eagles and more, according to the release. Icons including Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, Doris Day, Rod Serling and others appeared on the syndicated show. 

The half-hour episode series was executive produced by her late husband, Allen Ludden. 

The star has long professed her love for creatures of all shapes and sizes. During a 2012 interview with “CBS Sunday Morning” at the Central Park Zoo White joked that she doesn’t “necessarily admit” that she likes animals more than people, adding “but yes, I do!”

“When did this love affair with animals start?” asked Katie Couric at the time. “Oh, in the womb!” White responded. “My mother and dad were the same way. Yeah. So, it’s been a joy of my life the whole time.”

White often advocates for wildlife conservation and has been honored for her decades-long dedication to the humane treatment of animals. She even authored the 2011 book, “Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo,” which is full of anecdotes about her life spent with all sorts of critters.

Betty White says she will spend her 99th birthday feeding two ducks who visit her “every day”

Betty White has all of her ducks in a row before her birthday this year. The beloved television icon is turning 99 on January 17 and said she is planning to spend it, at least in part, with two special feathered friends. 

“The Golden Girls” actress spilled her animal-filled plans for the special day to Entertainment Tonight on Tuesday. 

“What am I doing for my birthday?” White asked. “Running a mile each morning has been curtailed by COVID, so I am working on getting ‘The Pet Set’ rereleased, and feeding the two ducks who come to visit me every day.”

“Betty White’s Pet Set” was a weekly show she created and hosted in 1971, which is making its debut on digital platforms and DVD, on February 23 to celebrate its 50th anniversary, a December press from MPI Media Group outlined. 

The program spotlighted, “her lifelong devotion to animals, and the people who love them,” according to the release.

White invited her fellow famous friends with their dogs, cats, birds and even horses on the program. The show also featured appearances from wild animals, including bears, elephants, eagles and more, according to the release. Icons including Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, Doris Day, Rod Serling and others appeared on the syndicated show. 

The half-hour episode series was executive produced by her late husband, Allen Ludden. 

The star has long professed her love for creatures of all shapes and sizes. During a 2012 interview with “CBS Sunday Morning” at the Central Park Zoo White joked that she doesn’t “necessarily admit” that she likes animals more than people, adding “but yes, I do!”

“When did this love affair with animals start?” asked Katie Couric at the time. “Oh, in the womb!” White responded. “My mother and dad were the same way. Yeah. So, it’s been a joy of my life the whole time.”

White often advocates for wildlife conservation and has been honored for her decades-long dedication to the humane treatment of animals. She even authored the 2011 book, “Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo,” which is full of anecdotes about her life spent with all sorts of critters.


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Golden Gate Bridge could be crowded this weekend: Roadshow

Q: Every year on my husband‘s birthday our family walks across the Golden Gate Bridge. We are planning to go this weekend. I would like to find out if the bridge has been very busy with people walking since we are very concerned about COVID-19 issues. We don’t want to be walking very close to other people. Also, will the parking lot be open?

Joan Rabin, Los Altos

A: I love your tradition. Bridge visitorship has declined significantly during the pandemic, but there is occasional crowding on weekends and holidays. With dry and warm weather forecast this Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend, I would expect a good number of walkers. Bridge officials will announce their plans today for this weekend. Check goldengate.org for updated information.

Any parking lot closures will be highlighted on a bright orange banner at the top of the page.

Keep face masks on, and maintain physical distance, as you normally would. Try to hold to your tradition, and be ready to make that celebratory birthday walk together belatedly, on a quieter weekend, if crowds make it COVID-unsafe.

Q: Why does the 10-mile stretch of Highway 101 between Gilroy and Morgan Hill seem so forgotten?

A major effort to rehab the road was made back in 2016, I believe. A cement mixing facility was actually set up in one of the cloverleaves. But this effort resulted in the patched areas being considerably higher than the surrounding pavement. The road was almost more uncomfortable than before that repair. Despite two attempts to repair it, you can still feel the patches.

Today, the southbound lane three is a mess. Some parts cannot be driven in if you care about your load or vehicle. My question is, why this road did not get more attention?

Steve Sayle

A: There are plans to widen 101 into San Benito County in a few more years. But here’s the bad news. Repaving 101 is not on the list anytime soon.

Q: I have traveled from New Mexico and Arizona to California, and the difference in driver behavior is staggering. All through New Mexico and Arizona, folks move to the right when not passing. Not here.

Christa Fenus-Cates

Miss Manners: My husband says I’d ‘make a big deal,’ so I’m not allowed at the birthday breakfast

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband thinks it is proper for him to go to a birthday breakfast with a male friend who knows an old girlfriend of his, and leave me home because I would make a big deal at the breakfast. That’s his excuse.

GENTLE READER: And yours is that you wouldn’t?

If the fault is simply that your husband is still friends with someone who knows his ex, you might not have a legitimate case.

If it is that your husband would rather spend his birthday talking about his ex-girlfriend than directly to you, well, then Miss Manners agrees. That might be a big deal.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Which one is proper: the single mom calling the kids on Christmas Day to wish them a merry Christmas, or the kids calling the mom?

49ers on Monday: Shanahan ‘up for anything’ so QB change could be afoot

Coach Kyle Shanahan spent part of his 41st birthday Monday fielding variations of the same question, the same one he’ll hear again the next many months: What is going on with the 49ers’ quarterback situation?

For now, Shanahan is weighing whether or not to start Nick Mullens a sixth straight game Sunday when the 49ers host the Dallas Cowboys.

“I’m up for anything right now,” Shanahan said. “We’ll see how that goes the next couple days.”

C.J. Beathard is Shanahan’s other option, not Jimmy Garoppolo. Shanahan noted that the 49ers won’t risk putting Garoppolo on the field if doing so could prompt offseason surgery, adding that a Week 16 or Week 17 return is “up in the air.”

Garoppolo won’t return to practice until next week at the earliest because of a Nov. 2 high ankle sprain; tight end George Kittle will resume practicing this week after his foot fracture in that same, Nov. 2 loss at Seattle.

“We’ve gotten over the hump but it is a risk, and we’re not going to do it if there’s a risk,” Shanahan said of Garoppolo. “We feel talking to Jimmy and the doctors it is a risk this week. We’ll re-evaluate it next Monday.”

This week’s debate centers on whether to sit Mullens, who’s lost 3 of 7 fumbles and had 10 passes intercepted. (Veteran Josh Johnson is on the practice squad but there’s been no hint of elevating him.)

“The way we’ve been turning the ball over, I need to decide if the change of quarterbacks helps or not,” Shanahan added. “It’s very tough to win football games the way we’ve been turning the ball over.”

Mullens’ two turnovers Sunday — a first-half sack/fumble and second-half interception — were returned for Washington’s only touchdowns in a 23-15 loss, dropping the 49ers to 5-8 and on the cusp of playoff elimination.

Beathard has not started since going 1-4 and 0-5 in 2017 and ’18, respectively.

“Nick’s a smart guy, he’s very accountable,” Shanahan said of Mullens, who signed in 2017 as an undrafted rookie. “I’m pretty hard on him but he’s harder on himself.

“That’s why he’s fun to coach. You don’t have to beat around the bush with anything. He sees it, probably knows the answer because he watches on his own before I get to him. The game is not just about knowing. It’s hard out there and you’ve got to play well.”

HEALTH CENTER

Wide receiver Deebo Samuel’s season is over unless the 49ers magically make the playoffs. He aggravated an Oct. 25 hamstring strain on Sunday’s opening snap, a 9-yard run.

Linebacker Fred Warner (nerve stinger) and running back Raheem Mostert (ankle) were undergoing MRI exams Monday and their status is to be determined.

Center Daniel Brunskill is day to day with a shoulder sprain.

AIYUK ‘STEP BACK’

Shanahan isn’t gloating at rookie Brandon Aiyuk’s production, including career highs Sunday with 10 catches on 16 targets for 119 yards.

“I know he’s got good stats but I’ve got high expectations for Brandon to keep improving every week,” Shanahan said. “He handles himself more like a pro more than most rookies I’ve been around, so he’s got a great future. But I still think he can play a lot better.

“He took a small step back last night and hoping he takes two steps forward next week.”

Shanahan noted that Mullens’ receiving corps, in general, compounded Sunday’s passing-game woes with nine drops. Also, Shanahan does not expect rookie Jauan Jennings to play this season because of an October hamstring injury, adding that next offseason will be key to his development.

EXTRA POINTS

— Offensive line coach John Benton’s COVID-19 positive test made for a scary Sunday morning, Shanahan said. Contract tracing determined that Benton did not potentially expose others because masks and social distancing were employed on the practice field, which is the only place the 49ers can congregate under the NFL’s intensive protocol.

— Shanahan did not indicate whether the 49ers would exercise Robbie Gould’s 2021 option, ahead of a Week 16 deadline.

Virginia woman does 53 acts of kindness for 53rd birthday

The pandemic didn’t allow Debra Ferrell to gather with her whole family for her birthday. So instead, she celebrated the day by giving back — with 53 gifts from her heart.

Ferrell went on social media and asked people for suggestions on acts of kindness that she could perform for others during her birth month, one for every year that she’s been alive.

“It’s one of the hardest times in my history, so I figured why not make other people smile,” said Ferrell, who is from Roanoke, Virginia.

The requests for her Oct. 4 birthday arrived from across the U.S.: Parents who hoped for words of encouragement for their kids on their first year of virtual school. A woman who wished for a gift basket for her fiancé, a doctor at a hospital’s COVID-19 unit. A friend of a family in Minnesota that lost their 4-year-old to cancer, who wanted them to feel that they were not alone.

For them, Ferrell found a memorial wind chime with a note on the clapper that says, “When you hear the wind, I am with you.”

“We just felt like that was appropriate to send to them with a letter about, you know, that someone hears and someone is there all the way from Roanoke, Virginia,” Ferrell said. “We just want you to know someone cares.”

This is not the first time she has shown her instinct for caring. On her birthday in 2014, she started “Love With Skin On,” an organization that she runs with family and friends. According to its Facebook page, the group aims to “share tangible acts of love and kindness.”

Its motto? “Be Love. Do Stuff.”

“I know that might sound cheesy, but it’s just one of my favorite things to do,” said Ferrell, who works as a resident service coordinator at a retirement community. “I just feel that if we live our life trying to make other people smile, I’m the one who gets the most out of it.”

Sometimes that includes taking donations of children’s books for hospital waiting rooms, or leaving teddy bears and rubber duckies in random places to brighten strangers’ days.

For her birthday, Ferrell also recruited her teenage granddaughters to paint signs with messages such as “Let your awesome out,” “You’re amazing” and “The world needs your light.” They planted them in people’s yards.

“One of the things that I see the most is posts about how hard it’s been for everyone, people struggling with sadness and with grief and not able to see their families and not able to worship together, celebrate together, grieve together,” Ferrell said.

“It’s just a very painful time for people, our family included. And I mean, if one random act of a yard sign can make someone smile at this time, then … it’s more than worth it.”

___

“One Good Thing” is a series that highlights individuals whose actions provide glimmers of joy in hard times — stories of people who find a way to make a difference, no matter how small. Read the collection of stories at https://apnews.com/hub/one-good-thing

___

Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through the Religion News Foundation. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

___


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Virginia woman does 53 acts of kindness for 53rd birthday

The pandemic didn’t allow Debra Ferrell to gather with her whole family for her birthday. So instead, she celebrated the day by giving back — with 53 gifts from her heart.

Ferrell went on social media and asked people for suggestions on acts of kindness that she could perform for others during her birth month, one for every year that she’s been alive.

“It’s one of the hardest times in my history, so I figured why not make other people smile,” said Ferrell, who is from Roanoke, Virginia.

The requests for her Oct. 4 birthday arrived from across the U.S.: Parents who hoped for words of encouragement for their kids on their first year of virtual school. A woman who wished for a gift basket for her fiancé, a doctor at a hospital’s COVID-19 unit. A friend of a family in Minnesota that lost their 4-year-old to cancer, who wanted them to feel that they were not alone.

For them, Ferrell found a memorial wind chime with a note on the clapper that says, “When you hear the wind, I am with you.”

“We just felt like that was appropriate to send to them with a letter about, you know, that someone hears and someone is there all the way from Roanoke, Virginia,” Ferrell said. “We just want you to know someone cares.”

This is not the first time she has shown her instinct for caring. On her birthday in 2014, she started “Love With Skin On,” an organization that she runs with family and friends. According to its Facebook page, the group aims to “share tangible acts of love and kindness.”

Its motto? “Be Love. Do Stuff.”

“I know that might sound cheesy, but it’s just one of my favorite things to do,” said Ferrell, who works as a resident service coordinator at a retirement community. “I just feel that if we live our life trying to make other people smile, I’m the one who gets the most out of it.”

Sometimes that includes taking donations of children’s books for hospital waiting rooms, or leaving teddy bears and rubber duckies in random places to brighten strangers’ days.

For her birthday, Ferrell also recruited her teenage granddaughters to paint signs with messages such as “Let your awesome out,” “You’re amazing” and “The world needs your light.” They planted them in people’s yards.

“One of the things that I see the most is posts about how hard it’s been for everyone, people struggling with sadness and with grief and not able to see their families and not able to worship together, celebrate together, grieve together,” Ferrell said.

“It’s just a very painful time for people, our family included. And I mean, if one random act of a yard sign can make someone smile at this time, then … it’s more than worth it.”

___

“One Good Thing” is a series that highlights individuals whose actions provide glimmers of joy in hard times — stories of people who find a way to make a difference, no matter how small. Read the collection of stories at https://apnews.com/hub/one-good-thing

___

Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through the Religion News Foundation. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

___


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Defendant whose jury hung on murder charges takes plea deal in East Bay rapper’s killing

MARTINEZ — A 25-year-old man who was implicated in two Richmond-area murders before his 18th birthday accepted a prison term of 20 years as part of a plea deal over charges related to the shooting death of the Richmond rapper Rene Garcia, also known as Lil G the Great.

Gabriel Schroeder accepted a conviction of manslaughter in the 2012 killing of 25-year-old Rene Garcia, who was gunned down at Shields Reid Park during a robbery attempt. Police have called Garcia’s homicide a gang killing, and prosecutors argued at Schroeder’s trial this year that Garcia’s rap lyrics had put him at odds with a Sureño subset gang called Varrio Frontera Locos, or VFL.

Schroeder’s 20-year sentence will run concurrently with a 10-year prison term he accepted in 2015 for the shooting death of 20-year-old Juan Medrano two years earlier. He will be formally sentenced in Garcia’s killing next month, according to court records.

Both of Schroeder’s co-defendants, Jonathan “Black” Barrera and Marcos Figueroa were convicted of murder charges and are expected to receive life sentences sometime next year. But jurors hung on murder charges against Schroeder, which put his attorneys and county prosecutors at the plea bargaining table.

Garcia was a rising rapper in West Contra Costa at the time of his death. Though a Pinole resident, he dubbed himself the “Prince of Richmond” and began collaborating with rappers in the central Richmond area. This angered some of his former friends in VFL, which exists in the North Richmond community, prosecutors said.

The night he was killed, Figueroa arranged for Garcia to purchase a gun at Shields Reid Park. When Garcia arrived with his girlfriend, the pair were robbed. Garcia ran off through the park, yelling at his girlfriend to drive away.

That’s when prosecutors say Barrera, Schroeder, and a third man — Jose “Vato” Rodriguez, pursued Garcia a short distance, stood in a line, and opened fire at him dozens of times. He was struck by gunfire and died there at the park. The following year, Rodriguez was killed in an unrelated shooting in Vallejo.


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Author: Nate Gartrell

Harriette Cole: Our teen spent a lot of time planning this party, and his father says no

DEAR HARRIETTE: My son’s 16th birthday is coming up, and he asked if he could gather a small group of friends in the park in our neighborhood to celebrate.

Harriette Cole 

He spent a lot of time planning something that would be safe. This includes having no food so that people would keep their masks on 100% of the time, presetting 6-foot markers in a circle so that the teens stay separated, and having me check in with parents in advance to make sure all kids have approval.

I thought it was a good idea, all things considered. My husband thinks it is too risky.

The group would be less than 10 kids. I think we should let him celebrate. The number is within the guidelines. How can I convince my husband to give a little?

Party Time

DEAR PARTY TIME: Do more research to make sure that the guidelines continue to allow for small gatherings of 10 or fewer outdoors. Since COVID-19 outbreaks are increasing, you want to make sure that the rules haven’t changed.

Suggest that the two of you attend the party — from a distance — so that you can monitor their distancing. Your son won’t like that, but this compromise might work for your husband.