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Bumper64

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  1. Growth in hourly pay slows a bit after reaching a 10-year high Employees take a break, but not for long. The U.S. added 196,000 new jobs in March, showing the labor market still has plenty of punch even though the economy has slowed. The numbers: The U.S. created 196,000 new jobs last month after a swoon in February, an encouraging gain that hints growth in the economy is ready for a revival. Hiring increased in most major segments of the economy, most notably health care and white-collar firms. The flush of new jobs kept the unemployment rate near a 50-year low of 3.8%, the Labor Department said. The rebound in hiring might temper unease about the economy after a rocky start in 2019. Although a spate of large companies have announced layoffs recently, most firms are still looking to hire. One of their chronic complaints: A shortage of skilled labor. The increase exceeded the 179,000 forecast of economists surveyed by MarketWatch. What happened: Health-care providers led the way again, adding 49,000 jobs. The industry has boosted hiring by almost 400,000 in the past year. Professional and technical firms hired 34,000 workers, restaurants increased staff by 27,000 and construction companies took on 16,000 new workers. A month earlier, builders cut employment by the most in a year and a half during a spell of severe cold and heavy snowfall. Pockets of weakness were found in manufacturing and retail. Manufacturers trimmed 6,000 jobs after barely any gain in February. And retailers eliminated 12,000 jobs. The amount of money the average worker earns rose 4 cents to $27.70 an hour last month. The increase in pay in the past 12 months slowed to 3.2% from 3.4%. Still, wages are rising near the fastest pace in a decade. Most economists think yearly pay will soon move closer to the 4% mark, underscoring just how tight the labor market is. The increase in jobs in February was revised up to 33,000 from 20,000. January job gains were little changed at 312,000. The U.S. added an average of 180,000 jobs in the first three months of 2019 — a solid if somewhat slower pace compared to the tail end of last year. Big picture: The boomerang in hiring in March should ease lingering worries about the economy after a sluggish start to the beginning of the year. The U.S. is growing more slowly, it’s clear, and the companies aren’t hiring as rapidly. Yet wages are rising while layoffs and unemployment remain near the lowest levels in a half century. The combination of stable growth and inflation is expected to keep the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates anytime soon. What are they saying?: “Markets can breathe a sigh of relief as the employment data show that the economy continues to expand, reducing recession fears,” economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch told clients. “The labor market is certainly strong enough to keep the economy moving forward, but it isn’t generating the sort of inflationary pressure that would push the Fed off of its patient stance,” said senior economist Eric Winograd of the investment-research firm AllianceBernstein. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/hiring-speeds-up-as-economy-adds-196000-jobs-in-march-unemployment-flat-at-38-2019-04-05
  2. A broken asylum system all but guarantees entry if you bring children. By The Editorial Board March 31, 2019 3:54 p.m. ET In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, migrants are seen inside an enclosure in El Paso after crossing the border between Mexico and the United States illegally and turning themselves in to request asylum. PHOTO: MANI ALBRECHT/U.S. CUSTOMS AND B/ZUMA PRESS Immigration politics is so polarized that right and left have a veto over any constructive policy. Yet a genuine crisis is building at the southern border as the perverse incentives of U.S. asylum law invite a surge of migrants that is overwhelming border security. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said last week that the border has hit “a breaking point” amid a rush of families from Central America. More than a strong U.S. economy is driving this influx. Between 2000 and 2017, apprehensions dropped 80% as Mexico’s economy improved and border security tightened. But immigration has picked up over the last year as word has spread that parents with children who claim asylum can stay for years and perhaps forever. More than 76,000 immigrants illegally crossed the border in February and about half came with families, a 10-fold increase over the past two years. Border apprehensions in March probably exceeded 100,000, the highest monthly total in a decade. At the current rate, border apprehensions will exceed one million this year—the most since 2006—as human smugglers become more ambitious and reduce prices to entice more migrants. Mr. Trump’s solution is to build a wall along the 1,900-mile border, and on Friday he said he may even close the legal points of entry with Mexico. He has also ordered U.S. aid cut to the Central American countries that are the source of the migrant waves. None of this will deter migrants increasingly drawn by the porous U.S. asylum system. Congress needs to build stronger legal barriers that migrants and judges can’t evade or bulldoze. One problem is that asylum claimants may avoid immediate deportation simply by convincing an immigration officer that they have a “credible fear” that they will be persecuted if they return to their home country. The Immigration and Nationality Act conditions asylum on a “well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” But immigrants complaining about abusive spouses and economic hardship have been waved through. Due to a shortage of detention beds, they are usually released and allowed to work in the U.S. while awaiting another hearing to determine if they qualify for asylum. The average hearing wait time is two years. Many disappear and don’t report for their hearing. The Trump Administration last year tried to make it harder to pass the credible-fear test by barring those fleeing social and economic unrest. Immigration law allows the President to “establish additional limitations and conditions, consistent with this section, under which an alien shall be ineligible for asylum” and temporarily “impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem” are in the national interest. But federal Judge Emmet Sullivan last year blocked the Administration from imposing asylum conditions. Last month the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals extended habeas corpus to asylum claimants, which means even those who fail the initial screening will have recourse in federal court. Almost anyone who claims asylum will now be able to avoid immediate deportation. The Ninth Circuit in 2016 created other opportunities for asylum arbitrage by extending to families the 1997 Flores settlement, which limits the time unaccompanied children may be detained to 20 days. This has encouraged parents to bring their children on a perilous journey in hopes of expediting their release into the U.S. A father of an eight-year-old boy who died in government custody last December while waiting to be processed had heard rumors that children are a fast-track entry ticket to the U.S. Border agents have identified 2,400 “false families” over the last year as smugglers pair adults with unrelated children. To relieve overburdened detention facilities and nonprofits, the Trump Administration has tried to steer more immigrants to ports of entry where they can wait in Mexico while their claims are processed. The Administration last year tried to limit asylum eligibility to immigrants who present themselves at ports of entry, but the Ninth Circuit blocked that too. Thus, the border chaos. Most migrants don’t want to wait years in Mexico so they pay smugglers thousands of dollars to bus them to the border. Some have been ambushed by gunmen. Many cross the border and surrender to government agents because they know they will be quickly released into the U.S. All of this promotes the perception that the border is out of control and increases support for more restrictionist immigration policies, which should give Democrats a political incentive to fix the asylum loopholes. Start by clarifying that migrants who aren’t being persecuted aren’t eligible for asylum. Lawmakers should also overrule unfounded court rulings including the Ninth Circuit’s expansion of Flores. More immigration judges are needed to reduce the backlog. Ditto detention beds to house immigrants while claims are processed. Democrats don’t want to make any concessions to Mr. Trump on immigration, but if they refuse to act they will be more to blame for the growing humanitarian and security crisis than the Administration. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-border-asylum-crisis-11554062066
  3. The news that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III “did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government” has left a lot of people in Washington with a lot of explaining to do. Put aside the rogues’ gallery of reporters and pundits who assured us that Donald Trump had conspired with Vladimir Putin to steal the presidency. What is most insidious are those who did have access to classified intelligence and led Americans to believe that they had seen what we could not: actual evidence of Trump-Russia collusion. Recall that in 2016, Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) released a letter to FBI Director James B. Comey claiming the FBI had proof of Trump-Russia collusion. “In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government,” Reid declared. When asked what information Reid was referring to, a spokesman said, “There have been classified briefings on this topic. That is all I can say.” Trump has called for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) to resign. He is absolutely correct. Schiff repeatedly said that his committee had dug up “plenty of evidence of collusion or conspiracy.” In March 2017, he said on “Meet the Press,” “I can’t go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now” and last May he told ABC that Trump’s Russia conspiracy is of “a size and scope probably beyond Watergate.” Schiff is a disgrace. But he is not alone. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, said, “In our investigation, we saw strong evidence of collusion” and declared Trump an agent “working on behalf of the Russians.” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) claimed, “It’s clear that the campaign colluded, and there’s a lot of evidence of that.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, assured us last year that “the evidence is pretty clear that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, said, “There is no longer a question of whether this campaign sought to collude with a hostile foreign power to subvert America’s democracy.” And recently, the committee’s vice chairman, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), declared that “enormous amounts of evidence” exist of collusion between Trump and Russia and that “there’s no one that could factually say there’s not plenty of evidence of collaboration or communications between Trump Organization and Russians.” Except for Mueller, of course. These comments by people with access to intelligence were shameful. But the most sinister of all is John Brennan, who used his authority as former CIA director to suggest that Trump was a traitor and a compromised Russian asset. After Trump’s Helsinki summit, Brennan declared “he is wholly in the pocket of Putin.” When challenged by Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press,” Brennan stood by his assessment. “I called [Trump’s] behavior treasonous, which is to betray one’s trust and aid and abet the enemy, and I stand very much by that claim.” Former CIA director John Brennan on Capitol Hill on May 23, 2017. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP) This month, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell told Brennan this investigation was “developing while you were still on the job” and asked, “Did you see enough at that stage to believe . . . that that would result in indictments?” Brennan replied, “I thought at the time there was going to be individuals who were going to have issues with the Department of Justice. Yes.” In a New York Times op-ed, he wrote that “Trump’s claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash.” Now, Brennan feigns contrition. “I don’t know if I received bad information, but I think I suspected there was more than there actually was,” he said, adding, “I am relieved that it’s been determined there was not a criminal conspiracy with the Russian government over our election.” Hogwash. He wanted it to be true, and he relied on his CIA credentials to convince Americans that it was. That is a violation of the public trust. Trump was right to revoke Brennan’s security clearance. He is among the worst of the worst, the Trump-Russia collusion hall of shame. We have long since passed the point where Americans expect objectivity from the press. But we should hold our elected and appointed officials handling sensitive national security issues to a higher standard. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-trump-russia-collusion-hall-of-shame/2019/03/28/306b5168-5173-11e9-a3f7-78b7525a8d5f_story.html?utm_term=.9dcd2bc3f0ee
  4. President Trump declared a national emergency to free up funding for his border wall between the U.S and Mexico. But declaring a national emergency isn’t new -- in fact, the use of emergency powers is older than the country itself. USA TODAY, Just the FAQs In declaring a state of emergency, President Trump is using pre-existing statutory authority to address a legitimate crisis, say attorneys general from Texas, Indiana and Louisiana. “President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration is a proper use of executive power to protect our country’s borders and keep Americans safe,” state Attorneys General Ken Paxton (R-TX), Curtis Hill (R-IN), and Jeff Landry (R-LA) write in USA Today. “Unfortunately, the crisis at the southern border is one that only the federal government may truly solve. With no solutions coming from Congress, the president is faithfully executing the duties of his office by invoking a law Congress already passed: the National Emergencies Act.” In declaring a state of emergency pursuant to the NEA, President Trump is using pre-existing statutory authority to address a legitimate crisis created by lawless conduct at and beyond our southern border. This emergency declaration is not a case of the president relieving himself of restrictions under the law. To the contrary, our president is protecting our country’s borders through means contemplated by Congress and used many times by past presidents for matters less directly threatening than those present on the southern border. The NEA gives the president broad authority. In fact, Congress did not define “national emergency” in the NEA, leaving it entirely at the president’s discretion to determine what constitutes such an emergency. But any president who makes such a declaration must tell Congress the statutory authority upon which he is relying, as President Trump has done here. The president’s action is neither new nor extraordinary. The NEA has been used by every president since its adoption in 1976 and has been invoked more than 50 times. Past administrations issued emergency declarations on a wide variety of issues with less direct impact on the safety and security of Americans — including the sale of blood diamonds (Clinton) and misconduct by multiple foreign governments like Burundi (Obama), South Sudan (Clinton, Obama), Venezuela (Obama) and North Korea (Bush). Many of these declarations have renewed annually for years or decades. The emergency declaration in response to the Iranian hostage crisis, for example, has been renewed each year since it was declared in 1979. (The hostages were released in 1981.) Everyone knows there is a massive problem with illegal immigration and international organized crime operating on our borders. Congress has been talking about the crisis at the southern border for decades. Up until recently, border security was a bipartisan issue. In 2005, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson — a Democrat who served in President Bill Clinton’s Cabinet — declared a state of emergency at his state’s southern border. In announcing the state of emergency, Richardson criticized the “total inaction and lack of resources from the federal government and Congress” in helping protect his state’s residents along the border. In describing the crisis, the 2005 declaration stated New Mexico has been “devastated by the ravages and terror of human smuggling, drug smuggling, kidnapping, murder, destruction of property and the death of livestock.” Obama unlawfully used executive power As state attorneys general, we are the chief legal officers of our states, with the duty to defend our sovereigns from federal overreach. We have been quick to challenge executive actions that exceed the president’s lawful authority. President Trump’s emergency declaration to address the crisis at the southern border is much different than the kinds of executive action we challenged in the past. Unlike President Barack Obama, who unlawfully used executive power to create new laws or rewrite laws Congress enacted, President Trump is lawfully using executive power to address a crisis worsened by congressional inaction. That is a stark difference but not the only one: This use of executive action is part of the core duties of the president — to protect the borders of our country. In doing so, he properly invoked power that Congress expressly granted him to deal with a national crisis. Astonishingly, multiple meritless complaints have been filed against the president’s emergency declaration. This is the first time ever in the history of the NEA that the president has faced a court challenge. In four decades and more than 50 emergency declarations, only now has anyone challenged the president’s determination that an emergency exists. The facts support Trump — Congress should, too The funding sources proposed by the president are also proper. Out of the $8 billion needed to address the crisis on the southern border, $4.5 billion does not depend on any declaration of a national emergency: $1.375 billion has already been appropriated by Congress, $600 million comes from the Treasury Department’s asset forfeiture fund and $2.5 billion stems from the Pentagon’s drug interdiction program fund, which specifically contemplates building a barrier that prevents drugs from crossing a border. It is only the $3.6 billion from the Pentagon’s military construction project budget that requires a national emergency declaration. Even then, the only funds that can be used are funds that have been appropriated but not otherwise obligated. Therefore, any argument that any particular state would otherwise have gotten some of these funds for military construction projects in their states is entirely speculative. The facts matter — these facts show the president has acted lawfully and within the scope of discretion Congress and the people vested in him. Congress should support President Trump. https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/03/14/donald-trump-border-national-emergency-declaration-constitutional-attorneys-general-column/3153552002/
  5. Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) signed a resolution to disapprove of President Donald J. Trump’s national emergency for the crisis on our southern border. The President had a one-word response for the Democrat-led bill: “VETO!” The stakes couldn’t be clearer, as Vice President Mike Pence laid out in an interview with Fox News. “A vote against the President's national emergency declaration is a vote to deny the humanitarian and security crisis that's happening at our southern border.” This morning, three state Attorneys General explained the Constitutional authority President Trump used in declaring the national emergency. “Unlike President Barack Obama, who unlawfully used executive power to create new laws or rewrite laws Congress enacted, President Trump is lawfully using executive power to address a crisis worsened by congressional inaction,” Ken Paxton (R-TX), Curtis Hill (R-IN), and Jeff Landry (R-LA) write. “The facts matter — these facts show the president has acted lawfully and within the scope of discretion Congress and the people vested in him. Congress should support President Trump.” Donald J. Trump‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump FollowFollow @realDonaldTrump More I look forward to VETOING the just passed Democrat inspired Resolution which would OPEN BORDERS while increasing Crime, Drugs, and Trafficking in our Country. I thank all of the Strong Republicans who voted to support Border Security and our desperately needed WALL! https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600daily/
  6. New rules, endless candidates and a front-loaded schedule. Pass the popcorn. By Karl Rove March 6, 2019 7:02 p.m. ET Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks on Capitol Hill With the addition of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, 14 Democrats are now running for president. Though Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg and—lest we forget—Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley this week demurred, the Democratic presidential field is likely to be even larger than the GOP’s rambunctious 17-person battle in 2016. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Texas Senate wünderloser Robert Francis O’Rourke and several congressmen you’ve never heard of could still jump into the race. In the resulting battle, expect the unexpected. The Democrats’ problem goes beyond the number of candidates. Changes to the electoral calendar and rules have introduced further complications. For one thing, the first Democratic debate is this June, while the first Republican debate in 2015 was Aug. 6. Planning for as many as 20 candidates, Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez says his party won’t follow the GOP in having an adult debate with the front-runners and a separate kiddie debate for those lagging in the polls. We’ll see if Mr. Perez has any secret sauce. Otherwise, a 20-podium stage may prove tough to manage. At minimum, some candidates will try to stand out by making (a) harsh attacks on fellow Democrats, (b) over-the-top assaults on President Trump, and (c) radical proposals to please the party’s hard-left base. Expect a few 2020 hopefuls to hit the trifecta. Major candidates will survive unless they commit mega-gaffes, but the televised political wrestling matches could make or break lesser lights. These candidates will either get a boost in name identification and fundraising from a standout performance or see hopes and money dwindle as they fade into the crowd. Then there’s the front-loaded delegate selection. Twice as many Democratic delegates could be chosen in this cycle’s first month of primary voting as in 2016. That year, the Democratic scramble started in Iowa on Feb. 1. Over the following month, 15 states and American Samoa held caucuses or primaries, selecting 1,024 delegates, nearly a quarter of the Democratic convention’s elected total. The first month of contests in 2020, between Feb. 3 and March 3, will select 1,597 delegates, 42.4% of the elected total. For the increase, thank California (495 delegates) and North Carolina (122), which have moved their 2020 primaries up from June and mid-March, respectively. The first-month elected delegate count will likely grow, since Georgia (105) and Colorado (67) have yet to set their 2020 primary dates. Both voted during the first month of primaries last time. If they choose March 3, 2020, or earlier, then nearly half of all elected delegates would be selected in the primary’s opening 29 days. More than 73% would be chosen by April Fool’s Day. This could go a couple of different ways. Early victories could set up one candidate to run the table. Or the votes in California, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas on March 3 could guarantee Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar and Mr. O’Rourke, respectively, big slugs of home-state delegates that cement them as long-term players, set apart from the rest. But if any of those four fail to meet expectations at home, expect a downward spiral. Most likely the delegate front-loading will quickly consolidate the Democratic field around four or five candidates, increasing the chances that no one wins on the first ballot at the convention. This is because Democrats award delegates proportionally to any candidate who gets 15% of votes in a state, limiting runaway victories. Republicans are less proportional: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio received 17.7% in the 2016 Texas GOP primary but only three of the state’s 155 delegates. If no Democratic candidate establishes dominance before March 3, watch out. Proportionality’s offspring—a fractured field—could force the Democratic convention into multiple ballots. Then it gets funky. The DNC ruled last August that the party’s House of Lords—its 765 permanent superdelegates—cannot vote on the first ballot unless a candidate already has a majority among elected delegates. If the convention goes to a second ballot, however, these former party leaders, current and retired officeholders, ex-campaign operatives and cable-news talking heads—all automatic delegates—will come screaming into the fray and decide the contest. Think a “Game of Thrones” battle, when the knights of the Vale arrive, nearly too late. The ensuing controversy and anger overpower the bad vibes left by the 2016 primaries, damaging the nominee and undermining the Democratic Party’s claim to be, well, democratic. But the chaos would be grand theater. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-democratic-primary-from-hell-11551916920?cx_testId=0&cx_testVariant=cx_1&cx_artPos=0#cxrecs_s
  7. Vote on resolution condemning anti-Semitism is delayed; language condemning anti-Muslim bias is added to measure Rep. Ilhan Omar, center, stood with fellow Democratic Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee and Ben Ray Lujan on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. By : Natalie Andrews and Kristina Peterson Updated March 6, 2019 11:17 p.m. ET WASHINGTON—House Democratic leaders put on hold a vote to denounce anti-Semitism as divisions grew within the party over the response to a freshman lawmaker’s repeated criticism of U.S. policy toward Israel, the latest issue to roil the party since it gained a majority in November’s elections. At issue were comments from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), who last week spoke of people who “push for allegiance to a foreign country,” which many listeners viewed as referring to Israel. In a closed-door meeting of Democrats on Wednesday, some lawmakers defended Ms. Omar, one of two Muslim women in Congress, and objected to party leadership moving to vote on an anti-Semitism resolution that was an implicit rebuke of her comments. A draft of the resolution by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and other top Democrats, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, didn’t name Ms. Omar, but condemned “the myth of dual loyalty, including allegations that Jews should be suspected of being disloyal neighbors or citizens.” Rep. Jahana Hayes of Connecticut was among the Democratic lawmakers who said in the meeting that they objected to finding out about the resolution from news reports. An aide in the room said members also were concerned about how quickly leadership moved to set the vote and noted that Ms. Omar has faced anti-Muslim animus since arriving in Congress and shouldn’t be singled out. Others called Wednesday for the vote on the nonbinding resolution, saying that members coming to Ms. Omar’s defense were “trying to blur what is a clear line between historic anti-Semitic tropes and foreign policy—and we can’t let that go unchallenged,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D., N.J.). The fight over Ms. Omar’s comments interrupted a week when Democrats had hoped to keep the spotlight trained on their marquee bill, legislation that would change campaign-finance rules and government-ethics law while expanding voting rights. At a news conference aimed at highlighting the government-overhaul package, Democrats were instead peppered with questions about Ms. Omar. Ms. Omar isn’t the only newly elected House Democrat posing challenges for Democratic leaders. Many centrist freshmen Democrats have joined Republicans on procedural votes, leading to the derailment of legislation and internal clashes with Mrs. Pelosi, who wants the party to stick together. Meanwhile, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) said on Wednesday she planned to introduce later this month a resolution calling on the House Judiciary Committee to investigate grounds for impeaching President Trump, a Republican. Democratic leaders have repeatedly said they want to wait for special counsel Robert Mueller to complete his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and any ties between Moscow and the Trump campaign. The leaders immediately said talk of impeachment was premature. Ms. Tlaib and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) are members of the “Democratic Socialists of America” and their new ideas, such as the Green New Deal to combat climate change, aren’t always aligned with members of leadership, who are seeking to protect their new majority in the 2020 elections by appealing to districts in areas that Mr. Trump won in 2016. Some Democrats have called to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, spurred by the White House’s crackdown on illegal immigrants and asylum seekers. Centrists in the party don’t agree with getting rid of the agency. Republicans have seized on the positions taken by some Democrats to portray the party as socialist. The Congressional Leadership Fund sees its socialism narrative as key to winning back suburban seats that Republicans lost in 2018, according to the GOP super PAC’s president, Dan Conston. In response to the delayed resolution, Mr. Trump tweeted on Wednesday, “It is shameful that House Democrats won’t take a stronger stand against Anti-Semitism in their conference. Anti-Semitism has fueled atrocities throughout history and it’s inconceivable they will not act to condemn it!” Democratic lawmakers criticized Mr. Trump and rejected comments from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), who on Tuesday said anti-Semitic comments appeared to be becoming more “fashionable…among at least some members of the new class in the House.” “There is not a rise of anti-Semitism in the House of Representatives. There’s a rise of anti-Semitic behavior and activity and violence in the country, and it’s irresponsible for Mitch McConnell to try and politicize this issue,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D., N.Y.) said Wednesday. “When has he ever said anything about the hateful remarks that continue to flow out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?” Mr. Jeffries added, referring to the White House and Mr. Trump. The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment. Democrats’ struggle to unite an ideologically diverse group of lawmakers mirrors clashes that Republicans faced when they held the House majority. The GOP’s conservative wing at times derailed major legislation, including the farm bill and an early version of the GOP’s unsuccessful effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “I think right now this is reflective of the growing pains of a new majority. If it persists, it becomes much more problematic,” said Steve Israel, former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “In 2020, if House Democrats are running a campaign which is a referendum on themselves and not Donald Trump, it becomes a problem.” The measure would be the second in the current Congress on anti-Semitism implicitly aimed at Ms. Omar. The first measure, which was passed, was added by Republicans to a bill last month after Ms. Omar, 37 years old, suggested U.S. support for Israel was fueled by money from lobbyists and campaign donations. Ms. Omar apologized for those comments. A spokesman for Ms. Omar didn’t return a request for comment. Mrs. Pelosi told lawmakers Wednesday to not question other members’ patriotism and encouraged them to not have their debates in the media. “If you say the bacon is not crispy enough, they’ll have an article about this unrest and unease in the Democratic Party,” she said to laughter, a leadership aide said. Some Democrats said considering the anti-Semitism resolution was an unnecessary distraction when they should be focused on policy. “The American people want us to focus on economic development, investment in education, improving our infrastructure, and get beyond these resolutions that are continually dividing the Congress,” said Rep. Andre Carson (D., Ind.), one of three Muslim lawmakers. “To craft a resolution based off of Ilhan to me is unfortunate when the Congress has yet to condemn Republican members who have a history of anti-Jewish sentiment.” Some Jewish Democrats objected to singling out one new member. “I’ve been dealing with anti-semitism since early grade school,” said freshman Democratic Rep. Andy Levin of Michigan. “It’s painful and it’s part of the air and water in this country like racism and Islamophobia are. I have no tolerance for it, but I will not single out a new person who is just getting here.” Democratic leaders suggested Wednesday that they were more concerned by a rise in anti-Semitic behavior across the country since Mr. Trump was inaugurated in January 2017 and made comments labeled as racist by members of both parties. Write to Natalie Andrews at Natalie.Andrews@wsj.com and Kristina Peterson at kristina.peterson@wsj.com https://www.wsj.com/articles/house-democrats-split-over-measure-tied-to-ilhan-omars-comments-11551905728?cx_testId=0&cx_testVariant=cx_1&cx_artPos=0#cxrecs_s
  8. House leaders seem to be afraid of their radical backbenchers. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, and Representative Ilhan Omar (R), Democrat of Minnesota, in Washington, DC Don’t be surprised if either Paul Ryan or John Boehner has put in an empathy call to current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week. The former Republican House Speakers know all about willful backbenchers, and Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez make the GOP Freedom Caucus look like powder puffs. This week’s amazing House revolt involves a leadership attempt to discipline Ms. Omar for her latest “vile, anti-Semitic slur,” as Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel described the comments she made at a public forum last week. Referring to the U.S.-Israel relationship, Ms. Omar said, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” After New York Democrat Nita Lowey also criticized her remark, Ms. Omar doubled down, writing “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.” Accusing American Jews of putting allegiance to the Jewish state above loyalty to America is an anti-Semitic classic. This came a mere two weeks after House leaders leaned on Ms. Omar, who is Muslim, to apologize for earlier remarks that indulged in anti-Semitic tropes. So this time House leaders went further and decided to draft a resolution denouncing anti-Semitism that was supposed to get a vote on the House floor on Wednesday. The draft language didn’t mention Ms. Omar by name, but it did at least condemn smears such as “accusing Jews of dual loyalty.” But then came the backlash from the progressive left. “We need to have equity in our outrage,” said Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley. “Islamaphobia needs to be included in this. We need to denounce all forms of hate.” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said she supported Ms. Omar and alerted her 3.43 million Twitterfollowers: “One of the things that is hurtful about the extent to which reprimand is sought of Ilhan is that no one seeks this level of reprimand when members make statements about Latinx + other communities (during the shutdown, a GOP member yelled ‘Go back to Puerto Rico!’ on the floor).” House leaders promptly backed down. They postponed the floor vote on their resolution and on Wednesday were rewriting it to denounce not merely anti-Semitism but “hatred” of all kinds including “Islamaphobia.” An exercise that began with trying to distance Democrats from an anti-Semitic slur has evolved into a display of political cowardice that equates smears against Jews that have a horrific historical meaning with generalized “hate.” Thus does a specific hatred get consumed, and trivialized, in today’s Democratic identity politics. And Ms. Omar can keep her Foreign Affairs Committee seat. The most important question after this moral fiasco may be who’s really the Speaker of the House—Ms. Pelosi, or the young radicals led by Ms. Ocasio-Cortez? Appeared in the March 7, 2019, print edition. https://www.wsj.com/articles/speaker-ocasio-cortez-11551917962?cx_testId=16&cx_testVariant=cx&cx_artPos=0&cx_tag=pop&cx_navSource=newsReel#cxrecs_s
  9. The shortfall grew last year despite President Trump’s aim to reduce it U.S. pork producers have had to contend with a reduction in exports to China WASHINGTON—The U.S. trade deficit in goods hit a record in 2018, defying President Trump’s efforts to narrow the gap, as imports jumped and some exports, including soybeans and other farm products, got hammered by retaliation against U.S. trade policies. The deficit in goods grew 10% last year to $891.3 billion, the widest on record, according to Commerce Department data released Wednesday. U.S. trade gaps with China and Mexico, already the nation’s largest, reached new records. The picture looked less dire when services including tourism, higher education and banking are counted, though this deficit still deteriorated markedly. With services included, the trade gap grew 12% last year to $621 billion, the widest since 2008. Fast economic growth, driven in part by fiscal stimulus, led to a 7.5% increase in imports last year, marked by increased spending on consumer goods, industrial supplies and capital goods. Exports grew too, but by 6.3% and from a lower overall level. “The fact that the U.S. economy is doing very well is the main reason the trade gap has risen,” said Kenneth Rogoff, a professor at Harvard University and former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. Mr. Trump, a Republican, has imposed tariffs on about $300 billion worth of goods that the U.S. imports from other countries, particularly China, in hopes of giving U.S. producers an edge and narrowing a deficit he has described as bad for the economy. He has also publicly lambasted companies that outsourced jobs, renegotiated pacts with Mexico, Canada and South Korea, and rankled longtime European allies by deeming their steel and aluminum exports a threat to national security. “Policies that play around at the margins with tariffs are always going to get swamped by macroeconomic factors,” Mr. Rogoff said. “That’s what happened, as everyone predicted.” Mr. Trump’s combative policies did drive other countries to the table for intense trade negotiations. The president’s advisers argue they are playing a long game and the benefits to renegotiating trade deals will pay dividends over time if not right away. White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said the wider trade deficit is to be expected when the U.S. economy is growing faster than the rest of the world, as people with higher incomes in the U.S. buy more imported goods. Meanwhile, the president is making progress toward his goal of revamping U.S. trade agreements, Mr. Hassett said. “The president is right to try to improve trade deals, and a short-term fluctuation in the trade deficit doesn’t change that,” he said. The goods deficit widened most last year with China, the U.S.’s largest commercial partner and the main focus of White House trade efforts. The deficit widened by $44 billion to $419 billion in 2018. People in the U.S. bought more TVs, auto parts, videogames and furniture from China. Asked Wednesday about the status of negotiations to end the trade dispute with China, Mr. Trump expressed optimism, but didn’t address the trade deficit directly. “They’re moving along well, and we’ll see what happens,” he said. “They’re either going to be a good deal or it’s not going to be a deal. But I think they’re moving on very nicely.” Beijing slammed the brakes on purchases of key U.S. exports, especially agricultural products such as soybeans, wheat and sorghum. China’s purchases of those three crops dropped by nearly $10 billion last year. As part of the deal that Washington and Beijing are negotiating, China would agree to purchase more U.S. goods, a step that is aimed directly at bringing the gap back down. China’s move to cut off U.S. soybean purchases caused prices to drop midyear, when there is often a seasonal uptick, as China started buying a lot of soybeans from Brazil instead. That forced some U.S. farmers who had been holding on to their soybeans in hopes of better prices to sell at a loss, said Bill Gordon, who plants around 2,000 acres of soybeans and corn in Minnesota. “It’s really tough,” Mr. Gordon said. “There’s a lot of farms that are going bankrupt now.” The U.S. trade deficit in goods also widened with other trading partners that are the focus of Mr. Trump’s policies, including the European Union and Mexico. The gap widened by $18 billion with the EU and by $11 billion with Mexico. China, the EU and Mexico account for about 54% of U.S. goods imports but made up 86% of the increased deficit. In the past, Mr. Trump has described deficits as a result of bad policies. In a tweet last March, for instance, he wrote: “The United States has an $800 Billion Dollar Yearly Trade Deficit because of our ‘very stupid’ trade deals and policies. Our jobs and wealth are being given to other countries that have taken advantage of us for years. They laugh at what fools our leaders have been. No more!” Many economists argue that a large trade deficit reflects a dearth of national savings, though they generally disagree with the view that a deficit is a measure of a nation’s overall financial or economic success. Fast-growing economies can run large deficits, and vice versa. Moreover, trade deficits don’t represent a straight transfer of wealth from one nation to another. U.S. consumers and businesses receive goods and services in return for money they send overseas for imports. Economists have also been skeptical of the utility of tariffs as a policy tool. American consumers have been saddled with $69 billion in added costs because of tariffs the U.S. imposed last year, according to a study released by a quartet of economists working on a National Science Foundation grant. Wednesday’s report showed the trade gap worsened at the end of last year, suggesting the broader forces that are driving the deficit expansion are intensifying and not abating, even as tariffs kick in. The overall monthly trade gap in December was the widest since 2008, jumping 19% from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted $59.8 billion. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a $57.3 billion gap. Many economists believe the shortfall is fueled in part by another Trump administration policy: tax cuts and resulting capital-spending increases that juiced demand from U.S. consumers and businesses as growth in the rest of the world was slowing. Concern that the U.S. economy could overheat prompted the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates four times in 2018, contributing to a strong dollar in the second half of the year that made foreign goods relatively cheap for Americans “Higher take-home incomes for households have definitely proven to be very conducive to imports,” said Pooja Sriram, an economist at Barclays. “The outcome has been in almost the opposite direction of what the administration has wanted.” Andrew Hunter, an economist at Capital Economics, said the trends that drove the deficit in 2018 are likely to continue in early 2019, with imports set to grow while weaker global demand weighs on exports. “Trade now looks set to be a more serious drag in the first quarter,” Mr. Hunter said in a note to clients. He estimates annualized gross-domestic-product growth will slow to 1.5% in the first three months of 2019 from 2.6% in the fourth quarter. —Kate Davidson and Anthony DeBarros contributed to this article. https://www.wsj.com/articles/december-2018-trade-data-from-u-s-commerce-department-11551877494?mod=trending_now_
  10. By :Andrew Duehren Mar 5, 2019 8:33 am ET This item first appeared in the Capital Journal newsletter As investigations into President Trump and his associates begin in the House, Democrats may soon find themselves compelled to decide whether to go through with politically risky impeachment proceedings. The House Judiciary Committee, the body where an impeachment inquiry would begin, launched a wide-ranging investigation into possible obstruction of justice, public corruption and abuses of power in the Trump administration on Monday. The Democratic-led panel requested information from 81 entities and individuals, including members of Mr. Trump’s family. Party leadership has assiduously cautioned against moving forward with impeachment before the completion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, which is expected to wrap up soon. What portion of Mr. Mueller’s findings will become public, though, remains unclear, and a procedural battle with the Department of Justice over the records could potentially stall its release. Preparing for the worst, Democrats have said they are seeking to build a record of information before they decide to move forward with an impeachment inquiry. The clock is ticking. The central risk for the party in committing to an impeachment process is the potential backlash from Mr. Trump and Republican voters. An impeachment inquiry perceived as partisan could provide the president a potent political foil in his re-election effort. The longer Democrats wait and the closer election season looms, the more politically risky impeachment becomes if they ultimately decide to do it. “I think it’s wise to get it over with. I think this could be a very intense summer on that front,” said Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who served in Bill Clinton’s White House. Opening a series of inquiries before committing to impeachment provides Democrats with an alternative: unearthing damaging information about the president continuously for the next two years and hurting his re-election chances. But Democrats will still have to grapple with whether they feel they must move forward with impeachment based on the evidence they uncover and political pressure from their liberal base. “What they have to weigh is on the one hand they don’t want to do this because it would be cleaner and easier to mobilize to defeat him in 2020; the flip side is there are other considerations,” Ms. Kamarck said. https://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2019/03/05/democrats-impeachment-clock-is-ticking/
  11. U.S. crude prices are up 25% so far this year, recovering from last quarter’s rout By Amrith Ramkumar Updated Feb. 27, 2019 4:16 p.m. ET Oil prices are off to their best-ever start to a year as fears of a supply glut cool, part of a 2019 recovery in risky investments from stocks to commodities. U.S. crude-oil futures have rebounded 25% in the first two months of the year, according to Dow Jones Market Data, the best January-February performance in figures going back to 1984. Oil is also heading for its best two-month stretch generally since 2016—when prices recovered in April and May of that year after dipping below $27 a barrel. Oil rose 2.6% Wednesday to $56.94 a barrel after Saudi Arabia’s energy minister reiterated the country’s commitment to curbing output, the latest example of the de facto head of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries defying calls by President Trump to keep prices low. Crude had tumbled Monday after Mr. Trump tweeted prices were too high. Wednesday’s rebound puts prices near the highest level since November. This year’s rally comes after a punishing decline. Crude prices fell 44% from their multiyear peak in early October to a Christmas Eve trough as investors fretted that a global economic slowdown would weaken demand for a range of commodities. Working Its Way BackU.S. crude oil has clawed back some of itsfourth-quarter slide early this year.Source: Dow Jones Market Data .a barrel18-month lowHighest since November 2014Aug. ’18Oct.Dec.Feb. Energy investors have been among the biggest beneficiaries of the Federal Reserve signaling a cautious approach to further interest-rate increases and the U.S. and China moving toward a trade agreement. The S&P 500 energy sector has risen 14% so far this year, versus 11% for the broader index. On Wednesday, energy stocks were among the market’s best performers, with the S&P 500 energy sector rising 0.4%. Fears linger that demand for oil will stall. But the International Energy Agency still expects consumption to increase each quarter this year from a year earlier, albeit at a slower-than-usual pace in the first quarter. Additionally, Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members have curbed output, despite calls from President Trump for the cartel to keep prices low. Anxiety also remains about the impact of U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, fueling bets that prices can at least stay steady even if the rally stalls. “Too many international barrels have been taken off the market,” said Bob Yawger, director of the futures division at Mizuho Securities USA. “There’s a lot of uncertainty around production.” Because of the Venezuela sanctions, some analysts expect the U.S. will extend waivers to buyers of Iranian crude that were exempted from last November’s penalties to avoid significant market disruptions. The waivers allowed several countries to continue buying Iranian crude through April. Both Iran and Venezuela were exempted from the December OPEC agreement to lower output because of the sanctions on their respective oil industries. Saudi Arabia and others in OPEC are likely to back a continuation of production curbs when the group meets in April, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Saudi Arabia accounted for much of the cartel’s drop in January production, lowering output by 400,000 barrels a day, while Russian supply came down by just 78,000 barrels a day, IEA FlippedGlobal oil supply started exceeding demand last year, increasing pressure on large producers to curb output.Global crude production minus demand, quarterlySource: International Energy Agency .million barrels a day1Q20172Q3Q4Q1Q’182Q3Q4Q-1.5-1.0-0.50.00.51.01.52.02Q 2017x-1.2 million barrels a day Energy Information Administration figures on Wednesday showed U.S. crude imports fell to their lowest level since 1996 last week, a sign of steady domestic oil demand. But many analysts are keeping a close eye on output from Saudi Arabia and Russia because many expect steady U.S. shale production growth to continue. The EIA said Wednesday that U.S. oil production climbed to a record 12.1 million barrels a day during the week ended Feb. 22. That compares with January U.S. output of roughly 11.9 million barrels a day and 11.4 million barrels a day from Russia and 10.7 million from Saudi Arabia. Worries about steady U.S. supply pushed West Texas Intermediate futures, the U.S. oil benchmark, down more than 3% Monday, though they have recovered much of that slide. Crude-oil futures began trading in 1983. “I would be surprised if WTI got above $60,” Mr. Yawger said. “Domestic production is too great.” Some analysts also worry lockstep moves by stocks and commodities have set markets up for another rapid reversal if momentum changes and investors retreat from risk. U.S. crude and the S&P 500 have moved in the same direction 60% of the time so far this year. The rolling correlation between the S&P 500 and S&P GSCI commodity gauge—heavily weighted toward oil and other energy products—increased to 0.94 last week for the first time since March 2016, according to Dow Jones Market Data, which looked at time spans of 50 days. Correlation is measured on a scale of minus-1 to 1. A reading of minus-1 means two assets are moving perfectly in opposite directions, while a correlation of 1 means they are moving in tandem https://www.wsj.com/articles/oil-has-best-start-to-a-year-ever-as-opec-production-falls-11551272400?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=2
  12. “President Trump announced Sunday that he would hold off on implementing planned tariff hikes on hundreds of goods imported from China, citing ‘substantial progress’ in high-level trade talks between the two nations,” Samuel Chamberlain reports for Fox News. President Trump tweeted that he will be planning a summit meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida. On Friday, Chinese leaders committed to buying an additional 10 million metric tons of U.S. soybeans. President Trump’s trade “strategy is working,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue wrote on Twitter. "We're doing very well with China," Trump told an assortment of governors at the White House for a black-tie event Sunday evening. "If all works well, we’re going to have some very big news over the next week or two, and it’s really been terrific. We’ve put ourselves into a position of strength for the first time in about 35 years or probably a lot more than that, but China’s been terrific. We want to make a deal that’s great for both countries and that’s really what we’re going to be doing." Trump originally had warned he would escalate the tariffs imposed on $200 billion in Chinese imports, from 10 to 25 percent, if the U.S. and China failed to reach a deal by March 2. Negotiators held two days of talks starting Thursday in Washington and agreed to extend the negotiations through the weekend. "We're making a lot of progress," Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday. "I think there's a very good chance that a deal can be made." The Trump administration has argued that Beijing uses predatory tactics -- including cyber-theft and unfair use of government subsidies and regulations-- in a drive to make Chinese companies world leaders in such advanced industries as robotics and driverless cars. Trump previously imposed 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports and 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth. China has responded with import taxes of its own on $110 billion in U.S. goods. These tariffs have been aimed largely at soybeans and other agricultural products in an effort to pressure Trump supporters in the U.S. farm belt. In the first 10 months of 2018, U.S. soybean exports to China dropped to 8.2 million metric tons from 21.4 million metric tons a year earlier — a 62 percent freefall, according to the Agriculture Department. On Friday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue tweeted that Beijing had agreed to buy 10 million metric tons of American soybeans, adding: "Hats off to @POTUS for bringing China to the table." The president said Friday the two sides had reached some agreement on currency manipulation but offered no specifics. The administration has shown concerns that Beijing would blunt the impact of Trump's sanctions by manipulating its currency down to give Chinese companies a competitive edge in international markets. Trump also raised the possibility that the U.S. would drop criminal charges against Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, saying the issue would be discussed with Attorney General Bill Barr and U.S. attorneys. The Justice Department has charged the company with lying about violating sanctions against Iran and with stealing trade secrets. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-delays-china-tariff-hike-announces-xi-summit-citing-substantial-progress-in-trade-talks
  13. New migrant caravan making its way to the US CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico – Yet another caravan of more than 1,000 mostly Central American migrants has crossed Mexico’s southern border, according to officials. They clashed briefly with federal police and immigration agents (INM) but were able to overwhelm the officials and enter illegally. The new caravan begins the march north toward the United States as border cities like Ciudad Juárez are swelling with migrants already here from previous caravans – with more arriving from the closure of the shelter in Piedras Negras on Wednesday. There are two shelters here that are beyond maximum capacity, each holding more than 600 people. They give the migrants pink wrist bands marked with a number to wait their turn to apply for asylum at the El Paso ports of entry. A wheelchair-bound migrant named Jose whom we met in San Pedro Sula, Honduras on Jan 15 showed Fox News his number – 6,387. It’s unclear where they are in calling numbers. Jose guesses he may have to wait another three months before being called. A wheelchair-bound migrant named Jose whom we met in San Pedro Sula, Honduras on Jan 15 showed Fox News his number – 6,387. It’s unclear where they are in calling numbers. Jose guesses he may have to wait another three months before being called. (Fox News) Such pressures on U.S. border cities like El Paso, Texas, which is across from Ciudad Juárez, are evident in the number of apprehensions for illegal entry, which is up 478 percent this year. As of this week, there have been 43,238 apprehensions in the El Paso sector this fiscal year – compared to 7,481 at this same point last year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. And migrants here are well aware of comments from Democratic 2020 hopefuls, like Beto O’Rourke, who have suggested tearing down parts of the El Paso wall. “I am very comfortable with that... If you ask many people here what they feel about that, they are going to say that’s very comfortable for everyone. Take the wall down,” said Randy Davidson from the Honduran island of Roatan. Randy says there is fear amongst the migrants here not only of immigration officials on the U.S. side but also of the threat from cartels in Ciudad Juárez, once one of the most violent cities in the world, which is seeing a six-year high in murders, with more than 1,200 last year. There were more than 100 killings last month. Migrants are issued pink wrist bands marked with a number to wait their turn to apply for asylum at the El Paso ports of entry. (Fox News) Meanwhile, a delegation of House Democrats led by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, will travel to El Paso on Thursday to tour CBP facilities and examine the situation on the border. On Wednesday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen met with Central American leaders in El Salvador to address the continuous formation of caravans and discuss the development of a “regional compact” and action plan aimed at addressing the “security crisis of irregular migration.” https://www.foxnews.com/world/new-caravan-forms-as-mexican-cities-that-border-us-keep-swelling-with-migrants
  14. “The people of Venezuela are standing for freedom and democracy, and the United States of America are standing right by their side,” the president said Monday in Miami. President Donald Trump pauses speaks about the crisis in Venezuela during a visit to Florida International University in Miami on Feb. 18, 2019.Kevin Lamarque / Reuters Feb. 18, 2019, 5:53 PM EST By Jane C. Timm President Donald Trump condemned socialism and urged a peaceful transition of power to end the Venezuelan crisis on Monday. "We’re here to proclaim that a new day is coming in Latin America, it’s coming," Trump said at a speech at Florida International University in Miami. “The people of Venezuela are standing for freedom and democracy, and the United States of America are standing right by their side." Trump expressed strong support for Venezuela's self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidó and urged the Venezuelan military to abandon the country’s socialist president Nicolás Maduro, warning of financial repercussions and hinting at a military intervention in an speech aimed at rallying the Venezuelan-American community in support of the country’s opposition party. https://www.nbcnews.com/video/trump-addresses-venezuelan-situation-and-shows-support-for-juan-guaido-1444471875642 “You’ve seen the crimes and you’ve seen the corruption. You’ve seen the hunger and the suffering,” Trump said. “You have protested and protested with respect, but loudly, and you have prayed for the day we can now see which is just ahead — the day when all of the people of this region will at last be free.” Last month, the crisis in Venezuela came to a head after decades of mismanagement and corruption: on January 23, Guaidó declared himself the interim leader. The U.S. recognized Guaidó as the interim president immediately, but Maduro, the socialist president of the nation, vowed to fight back and sought to block international aid from entering the country. Trump's remarks were a sign of the growing pressure the U.S. is seeking to put on the socialist government there, with the president specifically calling on Venezuela's military to let aid into the country. “The socialists have done in Venezuelans all of the same things that socialists, totalitarians, communists, have done everywhere they have had a chance to rule,” he said. “Almost 90 percent of Venezuela now live in poverty. In 2018, hyperinflation in Venezuela exceeded 1 million percent. Crippling shortages of food and medicine plague the country, socialism has so completely ravaged this great country that even the world’s largest reserves of oil are no longer enough to keep the lights on. This will never happen to us.” https://www.today.com/video/venezuelan-president-maduro-blocks-humanitarian-aid-from-us-1440005699802 Trump called Maduro a "Cuban puppet" and argued that democracy in Venezuela would encourage its appearance in Cuba and Nicaragua. "We seek a peaceful transition of power, but all options are on the table," Trump added. Trump has repeatedly alleged that Democrats are trying to institute Venezuelan-style socialism in the U.S., and Monday's address included a few apparent references to what the president suggested was the threat of socialism on America. “To those who want to try to impose socialism on the United States, we again deliver a very simple message, America will never be a socialist country,” he said. "We were born free, and we will stay free now and forever." https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-vows-new-day-venezuela-n972891
  15. Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks to the Venezuelan-American community at Florida International University | February 18, 2019 A crowd of Venezuelan Americans stood before President Donald J. Trump in Miami yesterday, cheering as he put America squarely on the side of those fighting for freedom. “We’re here to proclaim a new day is coming in Latin America,” he said. “In Venezuela and across the western hemisphere, socialism is dying and liberty, prosperity, and democracy are being reborn.” His message to Nicolas Maduro: “Let your people go.” American leadership is making the difference. The United States and more than 50 countries across the world have recognized the rightful government of Venezuela. “Within 30 minutes, the United States was proud to be the first nation in the world to recognize President [Juan] Guaido” as the country’s interim leader, President Trump said. Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua offer a lesson to the world: Socialism always promises unity but delivers division and hatred. It promises a better future—and inevitably returns to the darkest chapters of the past. Not long ago, Venezuela was the richest country in South America. Today, after its tyrannical government nationalized industries and took over private business, nearly 90 percent of Venezuelans live in poverty. Americans know this history well, having witnessed socialism destroy countries throughout the 20th century. Nearly three-fifths of Americans have an unfavorable view of socialism; a majority have a favorable view of capitalism. Support for far-left schemes such as Medicare-for-All has plummeted as voters learn more about what’s in it. The extremist “Green New Deal” is beginning to suffer the same fate. “We know that socialism is not about justice. It’s not about equality; it’s not about lifting up the poor,” President Trump said yesterday. “Socialism is about one thing only: power for the ruling class. And the more power they get, the more they crave . . . All of us here today know that there is nothing less democratic than socialism.” The White House • February 19, 2019
  16. The Space Force is here President Trump signed Space Policy Directive-4 this afternoon, marking a bold step toward American space dominance by setting in motion the process of creating a U.S. Space Force as the sixth branch of our Armed Forces. The Directive calls on the Secretary of Defense to develop a legislative proposal for the Space Force, embodying President Trump’s vision for keeping Americans safe: Strengthen America’s ability to compete—and win—in an increasingly contested domain Organize, train, and equip our space warfighters with next-generation capabilities Maximize successful warfighting capability while minimizing bureaucracy Peace through strength has been President Trump’s foreign policy since day one, and this newest frontier is no exception. The United States is the best in space, and our adversaries know it. They want to restrict our access there to undermine our strategic advantage. With the U.S. Space Force up and running, that won’t happen.
  17. The White House urged “peaceful” behavior at campaign rallies Tuesday after a man attacked journalists at a Trump event in El Paso, Texas. “President Trump condemns all acts of violence against any individual or group of people — including members of the press,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “We ask that anyone attending an event do so in a peaceful and respectful manner.” The statement came after a prominent Democratic senator and the White House Correspondents Association urged Mr. Trump to rein in his supporters’ attacks on the media. “He should call off his supporters who are doing those kinds of things,” said Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. “Call them out and ask them to stop. We all are concerned there will be something worse happening at some time in the future.” A man wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat shoved a BBC cameraman on the media platform Monday night at a Trump border rally in El Paso, Texas. The cameraman, Ron Skeans, said the “very hard shove” came from his blindside. “I didn’t know what was going on,” Mr. Skeans told his network. He said the man almost knocked him over twice before the assailant was wrestled away by another member of the media. ‌ BBC producer Eleanor Montague, who was also on the platform, said the man had attacked other journalists but Mr. Skeans “got the brunt of it.” Olivier Knox, president of the WHCA, said the journalists’ group “condemns the physical attack on our colleague.” “We are relieved that, this time, no one was seriously hurt,” Mr. Knox said in a statement. “The president of the United States should make absolutely clear to his supporters that violence against reporters is unacceptable.” Mr. Skeans said the president saw the attack, and confirmed that the cameraman was OK with a thumbs-up gesture. The journalist returned the thumbs-up signal to Mr. Trump, who continued with his speech. Ms. Montague said the president had been criticizing the media before the incident occurred. Mr. Trump told his audience that the media wouldn’t accurately report the difference in crowd sizes between his rally and a rival event being held the same night in El Paso by former Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a possible 2020 presidential candidate. “They won’t mention the disparity tomorrow,” Mr. Trump said of the media. “When the media starts becoming honest, and maybe they will, because we’ve done something that’s never been done before. We have suffered a totally dishonest media and we’ve won, and it’s driving them crazy. It’s driving them crazy.” Mr. Brown, a potential candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, called on Mr. Trump “to stop the encouraging of violence at these rallies.” He added that physical attacks on the media by Trump supporters have “become too par for the course.” The senator is married to Connie Schultz, a columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I talk about this at home a lot with my wife about what’s happening in this country,” he said. “It’s important that the president at some point, sooner rather than later, goes on television — not just tweets but goes on television — and says that reporters and journalists are not enemies of the people.” https://m.washingtontimes.com/
  18. WASHINGTON ― In just over a month as speaker, Nancy Pelosi has deftly navigated Democrats through the shutdown and solidified her position atop the House Democratic Caucus. But at what point does the reluctance of progressives to hit back at Pelosi’s mounting slights start looking less like sophistication and more like an indication that “the resurgent left” is soft? When The Intercept revealed this week that Pelosi’s top health care staffer met with Blue Cross Blue Shield executives and criticized Medicare for All, progressives generally took a pass on attacking Pelosi. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) refused to take the bait. “Until I hear my speaker say that there’s an issue, I’m not ― for me, it has to come from her directly,” Tlaib said. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said she hadn’t read the story but wouldn’t criticize Democratic leadership when asked if they had done enough at this point to advance Medicare for All. And even though the sponsor of the Medicare for All bill, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), said she was “not happy, obviously,” she praised Pelosi’s support for hearings on the legislation. When Pelosi dismissively called the Green New Deal “the green dream or whatever they call it” — “nobody knows what it is,” Pelosi added — Ocasio-Cortez once again avoided criticizing Pelosi. “I think it is a dream,” Ocasio-Cortez said Thursday. Progressives are showing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi deference, even as she has lobbed slights at their causes. (Bloomberg via Getty Images) More Other progressives have shown Pelosi similar deference, despite the obvious mocking tone she used to describe the resolution. “I wasn’t there. I haven’t seen what she said. And honestly, I don’t really care,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) said Thursday, “because I know Nancy Pelosi, I know her commitment to doing something big on climate, and I know her record.” Pelosi seems to have avoided the sort of criticism conservatives would dish out to a Republican speaker if they felt dissed because progressives generally believe Pelosi is on their side. The speaker did clean up her comments a bit about the Green New Deal during her weekly press conference Thursday, though she also managed a certain backhanded condescension in doing so, saying she welcomed the “enthusiasm” of the Green New Deal as well as “the other proposals that are out there.” Meanwhile, progressives have gone out of their way to stay aligned with Pelosi. After the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis didn’t get the subpoena power progressives wanted, most liberals stayed quiet about it. When Ocasio-Cortez was asked why she didn’t join the committee on Thursday after Pelosi invited her to be on it, the New York lawmaker said it was because she was busy with her other committees ― and she didn’t mention the lack of subpoena power. Progressives have also stayed in line on a number of other potential flashpoints. When Democratic leadership decided not to censure Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) ― instead offering a resolution so watered down that King himself voted for it― hardly anyone spoke up. (One of the only members who did speak out was the only member who voted against the resolution, longtime Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois, who authored an actual censure resolution against King.) At the beginning of the Congress, all but three Democrats ― Ocasio-Cortez, Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) ― voted for a rules package that included pay-as-you-go provisions that progressives thought were harmful to the Medicare for All cause. And Democrats have stayed in line thus far on efforts to impeach President Donald Trump or even to just acquire his tax returns. But Pelosi owes much of her power to progressives. They never made an issue out of the California Democrat’s history of taking corporate PAC donations, and Pelosi quickly locked up their support during the speaker’s race, even though high-profile Democrats like Ocasio-Cortez had initially wavered on Pelosi. With the more liberal wing behind her, Pelosi was able to define her opposition as a group of white, moderate men, which in turn put pressure on those Democrats to get behind her. Obviously, the ability to frame issues so shrewdly is part of Pelosi’s power. But she often has such a strong hand because Democrats stick together. During the shutdown, there were hardly any Democrats demanding that Pelosi move away from her original demand that there be no money for a border wall. Again, progressives were key in making that the default Democratic position, though Pelosi also won because she was able to keep every other Democrat in line as well. But at what point do progressives start taking Pelosi’s shots personally? When do her efforts to protect vulnerable Democrats from a truly liberal agenda become a problem? And when are progressives going to demand more from their leadership than some placating hearings or a toothless select committee? For now, progressives look interested in playing the long game, knowing that none of the bills they really want to pass will become law with Trump in the White House and Republicans controlling the Senate. Progressives seem to have taken the view that even voting on their dream legislation would do more to divide Democrats than to advance their cause. Jayapal, the lead author of the Medicare for All bill, told HuffPost on Wednesday that she does have commitments to get hearings on her measure, starting with the Rules Committee under the control of longtime liberal champion Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and then moving to the Budget Committee. She hopes to eventually get hearings in the Energy and Commerce Committee as well as in Ways and Means, but she hasn’t asked for a vote. You could say the same about the Green New Deal. While Democratic lawmakers made a big show of their Green New Deal rollout on Thursday, the legislation at this point is just a nonbinding resolution with principles for future legislation. It’s a plan to come up with a plan ― and it may never get a vote either. But progressives aren’t complaining. They’re not slamming Pelosi, and they’re trying to focus on where there is consensus, like on shoring up Obamacare, lowering drug prices and building initial support for their environmental legislation. And while Pelosi may take an occasional shot or let them down legislatively, they’re not airing their grievances publicly ― at least not yet. (Asked for a comment about this story, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, offered: “We agree with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez that the caucus will not be ‘divided by whatever narrative.’”) Leadership is also looking to stay on the good side of the progressives, despite the occasional slip of the tongue from Pelosi. “What we all want is to get something done,” McGovern told HuffPost on Thursday. “And I think we want to move the ball forward. We don’t just want to do press conferences. I mean, we want to achieve things.” Daniel Marans contributed reporting. https://www.yahoo.com/huffpost/nancy-pelosi-keeps-testing-left-152256165.html
  19. It was the most unexpected moment of an otherwise dully divisive evening: a group of lawmakers taking a speech that wasn’t about them and insisting that in fact it was. MEGAN GARBER 11:36 AM ET Democratic female members of Congress cheer after President Donald Trump said there are more women in Congress than ever before during his second State of the Union address.JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS Share Tweet Email “You weren’t supposed to do that!” Donald Trump, midway through his State of the Union speech on Tuesday evening, did a rare thing: He applied his habit of rhetorical excess to someone other than himself. “No one,” he said, “has benefited more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58 percent of the newly created jobs in the last year.” The president had apparently not been expecting the line, the statistic bolstering the broader point about the “thriving economy,” to be met with applause. The Democratic women of the House of Representatives, however—nearly all of them clad in white, the symbolic shade of women’s suffrage, as a show of political unity—applauded it anyway. And then, even though they weren’t supposed to, they did something else: They rose to their feet. First a few of them, then several, and finally all of them, an eddy of brightness within a sea of dark suits, the women cheering, clapping, laughing, and pointing to themselves as job-fillers—reveling in the irony that their presence in the Congressional chamber was one thing a boast-prone president really could claim credit for: Many of the women, indeed, had ended up in their new jobs precisely as a reaction to the presidency and policies of Donald Trump. It was that most unexpected of moments in a State of the Union event that was otherwise dully divisive: unscripted, human, fun. The rote inertias of party politics colliding with the brief delights of, simply, a party. But the scene that erupted in the House chamber on Tuesday was also a moment of reclamation. Here was a line in a speech that, like most of the president’s lines, was meant to be about him; and here was a group of women—many of them newly elected to Congress and many of them women of color—insisting that it was, in fact, about them. There is politics as performance and there is politics as an intimate and urgent force in people’s lives; the State of the Union, a spectacle that is also a setting for declarations of presidential policy, summons both. The speech often hosts a series of uncomfortable collisions—between empowerment and exploitation, between people highlighted as fellow citizens and people used as props. The Democratic women of the House, their outfits all but demanding attention and comment, effectively weaponized those tensions: Knowing the power of the image—understanding the capabilities of the strategic spectacle—they effectively objectified themselves. But they didn’t exploit themselves: In their uniforms, instead, they were insistently joyful and insistently vocal and, perhaps above all, insistently there. Within an event designed to center itself on the chief executive, they effectively reclaimed their time. (“Thank you very much,” the president said, after the women first stood to be counted, perhaps attempting to restore the evening’s promised Trumpcentrism. “Thank you very much.”) The women’s choice of white as the outfit of unity was its own kind of reclamation. “Suffragette white,” after all, has an extremely fraught history, in large part because suffrage itself has an extremely fraught history. It wasn’t “women,” the collective, who in practice got the vote in the America of 1920, as Trump would later claim; it was merely white women who did. The suffragist agenda, in a decision whose errors would reverberate into a feminist movement that would go on to preach justice but too often fail to practice it, deliberately excluded women of color. But reclamation, as a political weapon but also as a broader ethic, allows a new kind of history to be made. (The white worn on Tuesday—a uniform chosen for the occasion by Representative Lois Frankel of Florida, the chair of the Democratic Women’s Working Group—echoed the all-white outfits Democratic women wore to Trump’s first State of the Union, in 2017, and the black they wore in 2018, as a visual nod to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.) The lawmakers who donned white on Tuesday found ways both to acknowledge the shamefulness of history and to repurpose it—but to do so, they made clear, on their own terms. As Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts tweeted on Tuesday evening: “The women of the #116th were asked to wear white tonight in tribute to the #suffragetes Tonight, I honor women like #AlicePaul who led the movement & women like #IdaB who were excluded from it. Kente cloth & the color white. Holding space for both #womanists & #feminists, always.” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York—acknowledging the fact that Shirley Chisholm, as well as Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton, wore white in ceremonial settings as a nod to suffrage—put it like this: “I wore all-white today to honor the women who paved the path before me, and for all the women yet to come. From suffragettes to Shirley Chisholm, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the mothers of the movement.” A broad coalition that makes space for individualized nuance: that complicated idea, it turned out, was part of the easy imagecraft of the evening. Nancy Pelosi, perched between the president and an American flag—and fresh off a political victory over Trump, as she refused to bend to his demands for a border wall—presided over the scene, herself clad in the all-white uniform, ensuring its visual harmony. The House speaker gave her caucus a slight nod when the president delivered a line they might applaud. She scowled when Trump lied, and spun, and preached division. As he concluded his speech, she offered him a rousingly petty and therefore exceedingly internet-friendly round of applause. At times on Tuesday, Pelosi resembled a conductor of a human orchestra, aware of the emotions of the audience and attuned to the rhythms of the score, using sweeps of her hands to convey to her musicians when, precisely, the crescendo should swell. She, too, had some repurposing to do. And her own approach to that work helped foment the other striking moment of an otherwise unstriking speech: a scene that came just a few lines after Trump found himself pleasantly surprised by applause from the Democratic side of the aisle. “Don’t sit yet, you’re gonna like this,” he said teasingly—flirtatiously—to the women who had just risen at his words. He paused dramatically. “Exactly one century after the Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote,” the president said, “we also have more women serving in the Congress than at any time before.” He was right, to an extent: The women did like it. The line may have been historically inaccurate, and it may have been delivered by a president who has been both accused of and known to brag about sexual assault—a president who has referred to women as horses and pigs and dogs—but in that moment, the women of the 116th Congress chose to focus on the message rather than the messenger. They rose again, cheering and applauding: not the president, but themselves. And then they took the celebration further: They started chanting. “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” they yelled, the sentiment spreading through the congressional chamber, thunderous and insistent and, against all odds, jubilant. And so, for a moment, that most basic cheer, which Donald Trump and his supporters had for so long co-opted as their own, was co-opted once again: The chant—one that, in political settings, has so often suggested swaggering jingoism and cowboy diplomacy and the polite fiction that politics are effectively indistinguishable from sporting events—took on a new kind of symbolism. On Tuesday, “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” echoed through the House, a cheer of progress and possibility, its syllables centered on women who were clad in history but looking to the future. As the president delivered his prepared remarks, the lawmakers engaged in an ad-lib that doubled as that most fundamental of American activities: being told you weren’t supposed to do that, and doing it anyway. https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2019/02/sotu-why-women-wore-white/582178/
  20. This image taken from video, shows a fuel tanker, cargo trailers and makeshift fencing, blocking the Tienditas International Bridge in an attempt to stop humanitarian aid entering from Colombia, as seen from the outskirts of Cucuta, on Colombia’s border with Venezuela, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019. Immigration authorities say the Venezuelan National Guard built the roadblock a day earlier. (Associated Press) By Christine Armario and Scott Smith | AP February 6 at 7:04 PM CUCUTA, Colombia — The Venezuelan military barricaded a bridge at a key border crossing with Colombia, issuing a challenge Wednesday to a U.S.-backed effort by the opposition to bring humanitarian aid into a nation plagued by shortages of food and medicine. The Tienditas International Bridge was blocked the day before with a giant orange tanker, two large blue containers and makeshift fencing near the border town of Cucuta, Colombian officials said. The bridge is at the same site where officials plan to store humanitarian aid that opposition leader Juan Guaido is vowing to deliver to Venezuela. The Trump administration has pledged $20 million in aid and Canada has promised another $53 million. The aid squabble is the latest front in the battle between Guaido and President Nicolas Maduro, who is vowing not to let the supplies enter the country. Maduro argues Venezuela isn’t a nation of “beggars” and has long rejected receiving humanitarian assistance, equating it to a foreign intervention. Venezuelan Jose Mendoza stood at the entrance to the Colombian side of the bridge holding a sign that said: “Humanitarian aid now.” Mendoza, 22, said he is tired of seeing Venezuelans suffer from food and medical shortages and that the military should stand on the side suffering Venezuelans. “They have to be by the side of the people and support us,” Mendoza said. “They have family members who are dying of hunger. The call is for them too.” Roughly 40 countries around the world have backed Guaido, who swore himself in as president in late January contending that as head of the opposition-led National Assembly he is Venezuela’s rightful leader because Maduro’s re-election last year was a sham. Guaido says the emergency shipment is a “test” for Venezuela’s armed forces, which will have to choose if they allow the much needed aid to pass, or if they instead obey orders. No details have been released on exactly how the opposition plans to get the shipments into Venezuela. Soaring hyperinflation has forced millions of Venezuelans to flee or go hungry as they struggle to find or afford basic goods and medicine. Maduro appeared on state TV Wednesday evening wearing a white lab coat demonstrating what he considers Venezuela’s modern health care system in clinics countrywide — without mentioning attempts to block medical supplies at the border. “The revolution is more alive than ever,” Maduro said. “We’re advancing in the development of health care for the good of the people.” An emphatic U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Venezuelans desperately need the emergency supplies that the U.S. and other countries are preparing to provide. “Venezuela’s military under Maduro’s orders is blocking aid,” Pompeo tweeted. “The Maduro regime must LET THE AID REACH THE STARVING PEOPLE.” Guaido on Wednesday accused Maduro’s government of rejecting the assistance because officials often handed out imported food and medicine in exchange for bribes. Speaking to farmers, Guaido said the transitional government he’s mounting to replace Maduro is taking steps to make Venezuela self-reliant. “We don’t want to depend more on a food subsidies than is necessary today,” he said, calling the blockade an “absurd reaction from a government that doesn’t have the interest and well-being of Venezuelans” in mind. Maduro has clung to power with the support of Venezuela’s highest-ranking military officers. He dismisses Guaido as a puppet of the United States, which he says is seeking to colonize Venezuela and exploit its vast oil resources. In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Donald Trump vowed to ratchet up pressure on Maduro, saying that the U.S. stands with the people of Venezuela. “We condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair,” Trump said. In a trip to Washington on Wednesday, Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said that any attempt to block aid from entering Venezuela is tantamount to “a crime.” “Committing such a crime would give even more reason for the unified countries to ask the International Criminal Court to investigate Maduro,” Trujillo told reporters after a meeting with the head of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro. Colombia shares a 1,370-mile (2,200-kilometer) border with Venezuela and is backing Guaido. The neighboring Andean nation has received over one million Venezuelan migrants in the last three years. Looking up at the giant containers blocking the bridge Wednesday, aid worker Alba Pereira shook her head and dismissed the barricade as another government ploy. She said that humanitarian volunteers would find a way to get the aid into the country regardless. “It’s a means of intimidation,” said Pereira, director of the nonprofit Entre Dos Tierras, which aids Venezuelans migrants. “But I don’t think it will accomplish anything.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/venezuela-military-barricades-bridge-in-attempt-to-block-aid/2019/02/06/fac9b71c-2a6b-11e9-906e-9d55b6451eb4_story.html?utm_term=.32c3571f18fa
  21. Wow!!! This is exciting news!! Thanks Adam and I'm definitely looking forward to more
  22. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announces he will not resign during a news conference in Richmond, Va. on Feb. 2, 2019. (Yahoo News illustration. Photo: Jay Paul/Reuters) Speed Read Who: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam What: The Democratic governor is facing a barrage of calls for his resignation from both parties over a racist photo that appeared in his 1984 medical school yearbook — and for his muddled response to the controversy it sparked. The image, published on a page dedicated to Northam, shows a pair of men, one in blackface and the other in a Ku Klux Klan-style robe and hood. Northam first admitted he was one of the men in the picture, then later said he wasn’t. He further stoked the outrage against him by revealing that in a separate incident he appeared in blackface while dressed as Michael Jackson for a dance contest. When: The image is from a 1984 yearbook and first surfaced last week. Northam first apologized on Friday, then held a puzzling news conference Saturday where he denied being in the photo, and by Sunday dozens of political leaders were demanding he resign. Why: Critics say Northam has lost the trust of his party and the public, and therefore can no longer effectively accomplish the duties of his office. The image is also a fresh reminder of the country’s long and painful history of racism and the legacy of the Jim Crow laws. What's next?: Northam, who took office in January 2018, has refused to step down and says he intends to serve the remainder of his term. Politicians, the Democratic National Committee chair, the CEO of the NAACP, and the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus — along with several Democratic 2020 contenders — have demanded he resign. If he doesn’t do so voluntarily, Virginia lawmakers could pull legal levers to oust him. Northam met with staff Sunday night to consider his options. Ad: 26 seconds Perspectives He has to resign. He has lost the public trust and can’t fulfill the duties of the office. “He is by all accounts a decent and considerate man. And yet, his poor judgment has undermined his standing with Virginians in ways that we believe will permanently impair his ability to act as an effective governor. He should resign and return to his profession as a physician, with the thanks of those he has served as a state senator, lieutenant governor, and for the past year, governor.” — Editorial, Richmond Times-Dispatch “Ralph Northam is soon to be the former governor of Virginia. And that is how it should be. His governorship ended, as a practical matter, on Friday night, when he acknowledged he was in a just-surfaced 1984 photograph from his medical school yearbook of one man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood.” — Columnist Dana Milbank, Washington Post “Northam’s flip-flop on whether he was in the picture makes the situation even worse and demonstrates very clearly the need for him to effectively atone for his actions, but this atonement must occur after Northam leaves the governor’s mansion. Now it is clear that there is no salvaging Northam’s governorship, and he should not disgrace himself or the office by trying to remain as Virginia’s governor. Northam should listen to his constituents and his party and resign from his position immediately.” — Editorial, UVA Cavalier Daily “If the governor I elected is, in fact, a man of integrity, he would step down. Accountability needs to be taken and an apology will not suffice. While I believe him to be sincere in his apology, the cycle of forgetting the transgressions of white men on stolen land in a country built on the backs of the enslaved and oppressed cannot continue.” — Columnist Jarrodd Davis, Collegiate Times “His contemporaries have spoken. Men and women of high position on both sides of the political aisle have endorsed resignation. They have said in unmistakable language that Mr. Northam cannot now lead Virginia. The results are regrettable. But the damage is done. And it cannot now be undone.” — Editorial, The Daily Progress He will do the right thing and step down. “Ralph will do the right thing for the commonwealth of Virginia. He will put Virginia first. And I think that will happen relatively soon. … I know in his heart, he’s going to do the right thing.” — Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, CNN’s “State of the Union” He deserves a chance to redeem himself. “While it’s clear that Northam should step down as governor, it doesn’t mean that he and others like him should not be encouraged to change their minds. In the long run, it’s vital for our nation’s future.” — Dean Obeidallah, CNN “It is a rush to judgment before we know all of the facts and before we’ve considered all of the consequences. … Even if the worst case scenario is true … there is an issue of redemption. … It was 400 years ago to this year when the first African-Americans were brought (here) as slaves. … And he understands that legacy better than many people are able to, and I think we ought to give him an opportunity to redeem himself.” — Former Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., on ABC’s “This Week” via USA TODAY Fodder for difficult questions. “About where youthful indiscretion ends and adult accountability begins. About why reporters and opposition researchers never turned up the photo until now. About the fate of monuments honoring the Confederacy. About Democrats who made a former KKK officer, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, their Senate leader in the 1970s and 1980s. About Republicans quick to condemn Northam but who give President Donald Trump a pass for racist rhetoric and actions.” — Editorial board, USA Today Controversy is a reminder of country’s deep-rooted racism. “It doesn’t matter if the photo was from 1984, 1974 or 2004. He defined what he meant when he paired blackface with a Klan hood. Racial segregation. Racial supremacy. When you have a symbol associated with hate from the beginning, you are saying exactly what you mean.” — Daryl Davis, a black blues musician known for trying to convert members of the KKK, Washington Post Tweets “My fellow Virginians, earlier today I released a statement apologizing for behavior in my past that falls far short of the standard you set for me when you elected me to be your governor. I believe you deserve to hear directly from me.” — @GovernorVA “The photo is racist and contrary to fundamental American values. I join my colleagues in Virginia calling on Governor Northam to do the right thing so that the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia can heal and move forward.” — @SpeakerPelosi “Democrat Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia just stated, ‘I believe that I am not either of the people in that photo.’ This was 24 hours after apologizing for appearing in the picture and after making the most horrible statement on ‘super’ late term abortion. Unforgivable!” — @RealDonaldTrump “This has gone on too long. There is nothing to debate. He must resign.” — @Hillary Clinton “VA Governor Ralph Northam’s past racist behavior caps a week where he displayed an egregious lack of respect for human dignity and the American values that we fight every day to uphold. Staying in office only poisons efforts to grow together as one nation. He should resign” — @GOPLeader “Leaders are called to a higher standard, and the stain of racism should have no place in the halls of government. The Governor of Virginia should step aside so the public can heal and move forward together.” — @KamalaHarris “It doesn’t matter if he is a Republican or a Democrat. This behavior was racist and unconscionable. Governor Northam should resign” — @JulianCastro https://www.yahoo.com/news/virginia-gov-ralph-northam-resign-164355445.html
  23. Baghdad has found itself in a tricky position as relations deteriorate between Washington and Tehran. a American troops do not have the right to use his country to “watch Iran,” Iraqi President Barham Salih said Monday after President Donald Trump indicated a day earlier they were there to do just that. “We are surprised by the statements made by the U.S. president on the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq,” Salih said at a forum in Baghdad, “Trump did not ask us to keep U.S. troops to watch Iran.” In an interview with CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that aired Sunday, Trump said it was important to keep a military presence in Iraq so Washington could keep an eye on Tehran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Iraq's President Barham Saleh in Baghdad, Iraq, during a Middle East tour in January. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / Reuters file nd Salih said that under the agreement between the two nations, the specific mission of American troops was to combat terrorism — not monitor neighboring Iran, according to Reuters. He added that he would wait for clarifications from Washington on the numbers of troops and the nature of their mission in his country. "Those forces do not have the right to monitor many things, including watching Iran. We will not allow this," he added. Trump's tough stance toward Iran is a hallmark of his foreign policy. Since pulling out of the landmark Iran nuclear deal agreed to by his predecessor, President Barack Obama, Trump has publicly shown an uncompromising attitude toward Iran and reimposed sanctions on the country. In the interview Sunday, Trump said the U.S. had spent a “fortune” on the Al-Asad Air Base in western Iraq, which he visited in December, and that it was "perfectly situated" to watch different parts of the Middle East. “One of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem,” he said. Asked if he meant he wanted to be able to strike Iran, Trump replied: “No, because I want to be able to watch Iran. All I want to do is be able to watch.” Iraq has found itself in a tricky position as relations deteriorate between Tehran and Washington. Iran has been deepening its influence in Iraq since the 2003 U.S. invasion. First Deputy Speaker Hassan al-Kaabi issued a statement Sunday saying the Iraqi parliament would work on a bill in its next session to end the presence of U.S. troops in the country. “All parties need, as soon as possible, to stop the U.S. presence and not allow Iraq to be used as a springboard for aggression or surveillance of any state,” the statement read. This is not the first time an Iraqi lawmaker has called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Other lawmakers used Trump’s visit to the Al-Asad Base to call on U.S. forces to leave the country. At the time of his visit, there were 5,000 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq as part of the coalition against the Islamic State militant group. Earlier that month, Trump announced that American troops would be withdrawn from Syria, claiming that the U.S. had defeated ISIS in the country. He also ordered the Pentagon to draw up plans for a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. But during his visit to the Iraqi air base, Trump said he had “no plans at all” to remove U.S. forces from Iraq. Iraq announced the fight against ISIS was over Dec. 9, 2017, after an Iraqi military campaign backed by the U.S.-led coalition defeated the group which had seized the country's second-largest city of Mosul, as well as one-third of the rest of the nation. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/iraqi-president-says-u-s-has-no-right-watch-iran-n966466 Tehran.
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