2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class puts some fancy trim on your cowboy boots 2020 Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered first drive: Almost Super Trouper Enlarge ImageGood night, sweet prince, we hardly knew ye. Mercedes-Benz If you live in the US and don’t pay particularly close attention to car and truck models that aren’t sold here, you could easily be forgiven for not knowing that Mercedes-Benz makes a pickup truck. It’s called the X-Class, and it’s actually pretty cool.Unfortunately, it may not be long for this world if a report published Tuesday by Automotive News Europe is to be believed. The reason for the possible demise of the X-Class is the current worldwide sales slump for new vehicles. The X-Class, being kind of a niche product — and a badge-engineered one at that — is an easy target for cost savings. Yep, we said badge-engineered. The X-Class is based on a Nissan pickup (that we also don’t get in the US) called the Navara. Obviously, Mercedes being what it is, it changes a ton of stuff, so it’s not quite as bad as say, Volkswagen rebadging a Grand Caravan as the Routan.In any case, the X-Class (which has been around since 2017) hasn’t exactly been flying off of dealer lots. Automotive News Europe pegs the global sales for the model at just 16,700 units. By comparison, Mercedes shifted around 15,000 S-Class models in 2018 in the US alone.When you consider that the S-Class costs more than twice as much as an X-Class (based on German market prices) and sedan sales are in the proverbial terlet here, the model’s discontinuation starts to make some real sense.Now, we’ll shed no tears for the X-Class if and when it goes away, but we do like the idea of a Mercedes pickup. We just need to convince the folks back in Stuttgart to do some really wild stuff like make a Jeep Gladiatoresque version of the G-wagen and sell it in America. 0 Share your voice 48 Photos Mercedes-Benz Nissan 2019 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition first drive: Its roots are showing Tags 2020 Kia Soul review: Well-rounded box 8:42 Now playing: Watch this: Trucks Car Industry Post a comment 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT53 4-door: A fancy-pants muscle car Mercedes-Benz More From Roadshow
Donald Trump. Photo: AFPPresident Donald Trump is expected to sign executive orders starting on Wednesday that include a temporary ban on most refugees and a suspension of visas for citizens of Syria and six other Middle Eastern and African countries, according to several congressional aides and immigration experts briefed on the matter.Trump, who tweeted on Tuesday night that a “big day” was planned on national security on Wednesday, is expected to order a multi-month ban on allowing refugees into the United States except for religious minorities escaping persecution, until more aggressive vetting is in place.Another order will block visas being issued to anyone from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, said the aides and experts, who asked not to be identified.In his tweet late on Tuesday, Trump said: “Big day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY tomorrow. Among many other things, we will build the wall!”The border security measures likely include directing the construction of a border wall with Mexico and other actions to reduce the number of illegal immigrants living inside the United States.The sources have said the first of the orders will be signed on Wednesday. With Trump considering measures to tighten border security, he could turn his attention to the refugee issue later this week.Stephen Legomsky, who was chief counsel at US Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Obama administration, said the president had the authority to limit refugee admissions and the issuance of visas to specific countries if the administration determined it was in the public’s interest.“From a legal standpoint, it would be exactly within his legal rights,” said Legomsky, a professor at Washington University School of Law in St Louis. “But from a policy standpoint, it would be terrible idea because there is such an urgent humanitarian need right now for refugees.”The Republican president, who took office last Friday, was expected to sign the first of the orders at the Department of Homeland Security, whose responsibilities include immigration and border security.On the campaign trail, Trump initially proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, which he said would protect Americans from jihadist attacks.Both Trump and his nominee for attorney general, US Senator Jeff Sessions, have since said they would focus the restrictions on countries whose migrants could pose a threat, rather than placing a ban on people who follow a specific religion.Many Trump supporters decried former president Barack Obama’s decision to increase the number of Syrian refugees admitted to the United States over fears that those fleeing the country’s civil war would carry out attacks.Legal Challenges PossibleDetractors could launch legal challenges to the moves if all the countries subject to the ban are Muslim-majority nations, said immigration expert Hiroshi Motomura at UCLA School of Law. Legal arguments could claim the executive orders discriminate against a particular religion, which would be unconstitutional, he said.”His comments during the campaign and a number of people on his team focused very much on religion as the target,” Motomura said.To block entry from the designated countries, Trump is likely to instruct the State Department to stop issuing visas to people from those nations, according to sources familiar with the visa process. He could also instruct US Customs and Border Protection to stop any current visa holders from those countries from entering the United States.White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Tuesday that the State and Homeland Security Departments would work on the vetting process once Trump’s nominee to head the State Department, Rex Tillerson, is installed.Other measures may include directing all agencies to finish work on a biometric identification system for non-citizens entering and exiting the United States and a crackdown on immigrants fraudulently receiving government benefits, according to the congressional aides and immigration experts.To restrict illegal immigration, Trump has promised to build a wall on the US-Mexico border and to deport illegal migrants living inside the United States.Trump is also expected to take part in a ceremony installing his new secretary of homeland security, retired Marine General John Kelly, on Wednesday.
Del. Jill P. Carter (D) and Sen. Christopher Shank (R) . (Courtesy Photos)The Maryland General Assembly is on the precipice of passing stronger shielding protections for persons with misdemeanor criminal records. Sen. Christopher Shank (R) and Del. Jill P. Carter (D) shared this news with an audience during a recent forum on shielding and expungement protections.At the forum, “How Long Is Too Long,” held at the University of Baltimore School of Law on Jan. 12, a panel of experts, including Shank and Carter, discussed the pros and cons of shielding and expungement protections for persons with criminal convictions. Shielding laws hide past criminal convictions from persons conducting background checks, while expungement wipes the convictions from their record.The Maryland Second Chance Act, which would shield certain misdemeanor criminal convictions from background checks after a specified period, comes before the legislature this session. Shank and Carter expressed optimism about its passage in the 2015 General Assembly.Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, spoke at the forum about the consequences of a criminal conviction that go beyond any court ordered sentence. “When the judge says, ‘I’m sentencing you to do five years in prison,’ he or she doesn’t say that I’m going to limit your right to receive public benefits, or live in public housing, or your right to vote for periods of time, or anything like that. Nobody in the courtroom talks about that, but that in fact is what’s happening,” Mauer said.Mauer called these consequences a “life-long sentence,” and noted that communities of color and the poor are disproportionately affected.Shank said, explaining his support for the Second Chance Act, we have to rethink our approaches to criminal justice, citing high costs to the state with limited results. “We spend over a billion dollars a year [on corrections in Maryland]. That is a lot of money. That is more money than we spend on higher education in this state, it’s crowding out a lot of other spending, and our recidivism rate is still hovering around 40 to 45 percent in this state. So if I am true to my [fiscal conservative] principles . . . I would say that continuing to spend a billion dollars and then seeing this rate of recidivism means that we should be doing some things a little bit differently,” Shank said.Shank said a study showed that the risk a convicted person will commit certain crimes again matches the risk of the general population after a certain amount of time. He said this information drives his support for shielding protections for those crimes after an allotted period.Carter said while the General Assembly prides itself for being a progressive institution, it has not been progressive on criminal justice matters. This is why she believes it is important to support an incremental change – like the one the Second Chance Act represents – when one might prefer a bill, for example, that did not require a waiting period before records eligible for shielding or expungement.“We’re talking about a legislature that still has not allowed persons to expunge non-convictions [arrests not resulting in convictions]. Given that, I think we have to push forward very forcefully, but I think we have to consider some kind of a wait-period. I know how far we have been from expanding expungement and how difficult it’s been to even get [the Second Chance Act] passed, which [shields] minor, misdemeanor convictions, of little to no consequence that really probably shouldn’t be convictions that bar people from opportunities anyway,” said Carter.