Feb 2, 2017

Microsoft pushes for Trump travel order relief

Swayne B. Hall / AP

Add this to your list of how tech is responding to President Trump's ban on refugees and immigrant travel from seven majority-Muslim countries: Microsoft has asked the administration to consider a process for making exceptions for certain individuals affected by the order.

The request came in a letter Microsoft exec Brad Smith sent to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly that emphasizes the impact the executive order has had on Microsoft's workforce and on other "responsible applications for entry into the country."

  • Microsoft has 76 employees — and 41 dependents — who have "nonimmigrant visas to live and work in the United States" and are affected by the order.
  • Smith said that "even among just our own employees, we have one individual who is unable to start her new job in the U.S.; others who have been separated from their spouses; and yet another employee who is confronted with the gut-wrenching decision of whether to visit her dying parent overseas."
  • Microsoft has been active in several venues in expressing concerns about the ban. "At the outset, we recognize that this proposal will not and should not end the broader debate and deliberations regarding last week's executive order," the company said in a blog post about the letter.

The bigger picture: Tech companies are under a lot of pressure, including from their own employees, to speak out against Trump's ban. In framing their response, they've toe'd the line between expressing concern for their own employees and the larger impact on migrants and U.S. permanent residents affected by the executive order.

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A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Stocks fell more than 4% on Thursday, extending the market’s worst week since the financial crisis in 2008 following a spike in coronavirus cases around the world.

The big picture: All three indices are in correction, down over 10% from recent record-highs, amid a global market rout. It's the S&P 500's quickest decline into correction territory in the index's history, per Deutsche Bank.

Coronavirus updates: California monitors 8,400 potential cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

33 people in California have tested positive for the coronavirus, and health officials are monitoring 8,400 people who have recently returned from "points of concern," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica, and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

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Watchdog opens probe into VA secretary over handling of sexual assault claim

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on Fox Business Network’s "The Evening Edit" on Jan. 7. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

The Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General Michael Missal said Thursday he had opened an investigation into VA Secretary Robert Wilkie after lawmakers demanded an inquiry into his handling of a sexual misconduct report, the Washington Post reports.

Context: Wilkie allegedly "worked to discredit" the credibility of Democratic aide and veteran Andrea Goldstein after she reported last fall "that a man groped and propositioned her in the main lobby of the agency's D.C. Medical Center," a senior VA official told the Post.