Posts Tagged ‘Social affairs’

Winners and losers in Donald Trump’s first budget plan

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

Military spending would get the biggest boost in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. Environmental programs, medical research, Amtrak and an array of international and cultural programs — from Africa to Appalachia — would take big hits, among the many parts of the government he’d put on a crash diet.
The budget proposal out Thursday is a White House wish list; it’ll be up to Congress to decide where money goes. If Trump gets his way, there will be more losers than winners among government departments and programs.
Some programs would tread water: WIC grants — money to states for health care and nutrition for low-income women, infants and children — are one example. Monday for states grants for water infrastructure projects would be held level as well.
Some others would lose everything: Trump proposes to eliminate money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the national endowments for the arts and the humanities and more than a dozen other independent agencies financed by the government.
A sampling:
WINNERS
—The Pentagon. Trump proposes a 10 percent increase in the massive defense budget, adding $52 billion in military spending in one year top expand personnel, equipment and capability. Another $2 billion would go to nuclear weapons.
—Veterans Affairs. Up 5.9 percent. That’s an additional $4.4 billion, driven by ever-growing health care costs.
—Homeland Security. Up 6.8 percent. That’s $2.8 billion more. Most of the increase, $2.6 billion, would be to help kick-start Trump’s promised border wall. The president has repeatedly said Mexico would pay for the wall; Mexican officials are adamant that they won’t. Trump also wants an extra $1.5 billion for more immigration jails and deportations, and $314 million to hire 1,500 immigration enforcement and border patrol agents.
—The National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the maintenance and safety of the nuclear arsenal and its research labs. The agency would grow

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The new civics course in schools: How to avoid fake news

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Teachers from elementary school through college are telling students how to distinguish between factual and fictional news — and why they should care that there’s a difference.
As Facebook works with The Associated Press, FactCheck.org and other organizations to curb the spread of fake and misleading news on its influential network, teachers say classroom instruction can play a role in deflating the kind of “Pope endorses Trump” headlines that muddied the waters during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“I think only education can solve this problem,” said Pat Winters Lauro, a professor at Kean University in New Jersey who began teaching a course on news literacy this semester.
Like others, Lauro has found discussions of fake news can lead to politically sensitive territory. Some critics believe fake stories targeting Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton helped Donald Trump overcome a large deficit in public opinion polls, and President Trump himself has attached the label to various media outlets and unfavorable reports and polls in the first weeks of his presidency.
“It hasn’t been a difficult topic to teach in terms of material because there’s so much going on out there,” Lauro said, “but it’s difficult in terms of politics because we have such a divided country and the students are divided, too, on their beliefs. I’m afraid sometimes that they think I’m being political when really I’m just talking about journalistic standards for facts and verification, and they look at it like ‘Oh, you’re anti-this or -that.’”
Judging what to trust was easier when the sources were clearer — magazines, newspapers or something else, said Kean senior Mike Roche, who is taking Lauro’s class. Now “it all comes through the same medium of your cellphone or your computer, so it’s very easy to blur the lines and not have a clear distinction of what’s real and what’s

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Fed lawyers deciding next step in Donald Trump travel ban fight

Friday, February 10th, 2017

Government lawyers fighting to defend President Donald Trump‘s executive order on immigration said Friday that “all options” are being considered after a federal appeals court ruled against the president’s ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations.
A Justice Department lawyer who spoke at a hearing in Virginia said the administration was weighing whether to challenge a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld a temporary block on Trump’s ban, saying it was unlikely to survive a legal challenge.
“We may appeal. We may not,” attorney Erez Reuveni said. “All options are being considered.”
It could appeal the restraining order on Trump’s travel ban to the U.S. Supreme Court or it could attempt to remake the case in the district court.
Reuveni was appearing at a hearing before Judge Leonie Brinkema at which the state of Virginia was challenging the ban. The judge did not rule. She noted that “the status quo remains” because of the 9th circuit’s decision and suggested that a well-reasoned ruling would take time and could not be written “overnight.”
Michael Kelly, a spokesman for Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, said Friday’s hearing in a federal court in a Washington, D.C., suburb posed the most significant state challenge yet to Trump’s order. In a statement, he said it “will be the most in-depth examination of the merits of the arguments against the ban.”
Lawyers for Herring, a Democrat, are asking the judge for a preliminary injunction barring the Trump administration from enforcing that portion of the Jan. 27 executive order that bars anyone from those countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — from entering the U.S. for 90 days. The state is not challenging that portion of Trump’s order suspending entry of refugees for four months.
“If the Commonwealth is successful in securing a preliminary injunction, it

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For Donald Trump, a solitary start to life in the White House

Friday, February 10th, 2017

Around 6:30 each evening, Secret Service agents gather in the dim hallways of the West Wing to escort Donald Trump home.
For some presidents, the short walk between the Oval Office and the White House residence upstairs is a lifeline to family and a semblance of normal life. Others have used the grand residence for late night entertaining and deal-making with lawmakers.
For Trump, life in the White House residence is so far a largely solitary existence. With his wife and youngest son living in New York, and his grown children busy with their young families, Trump’s first evenings have been spent largely alone, tethered to the outside world only by his phone and his television. The dramatic change of scenery has left the 70-year-old president, a known creature of habit, a little adrift in the evenings, according to one person who spoke with him recently.
Another regular contact described the president as still adjusting to this new digs and his somewhat more confined schedule. His advisers initially said they expected him to spend his evenings holding working dinners, like one scheduled Thursday with Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson.
While Trump has marveled at the history and beauty of his new home, “it’s still government housing,” said Christopher Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax and a friend of the president’s.
A half-dozen other friends, advisers and associates of the president spoke about his first weeks in the White House on the condition of anonymity in order to detail private conversations.
The interviews underscore the relatively large circle of people who have spoken with the new president, despite the busy schedule and enormous pressures of the job. Trump has been spending his nights making and taking calls to an expanding network of old friends, lawmakers and others.
Calls often come in to Trump’s personal cellphone, which he fought staff and

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Donald Trump nominee decried criticism of judges, senators agree

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

President Donald Trump insisted Thursday that comments by his Supreme Court nominee criticizing his own attacks on the judiciary were “misrepresented,” even as Republican and Democratic lawmakers vouched for the veracity of the remarks.
Trump responded after private rebukes from Judge Neil Gorsuch, who said in meetings with lawmakers on Wednesday that the president’s comments about federal judges were “disheartening.”
Gorsuch, who was nominated by Trump last week to the nation’s highest court, made the comments in meetings with senators after Trump accused an appeals court panel considering his immigration and refugee executive order of being “so political.” Over the weekend, he labeled a judge who ruled on his executive order a “so-called judge” and referred to the ruling as “ridiculous.”
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut first relayed Gorsuch’s remarks on Wednesday following a meeting with him. Trump’s own confirmation team for Gorsuch later confirmed he had made the remarks.
But Trump said during a Thursday luncheon with senators that Blumenthal had misrepresented Gorsuch. “His comments were misrepresented. And what you should do is ask Senator Blumenthal about his Vietnam record that didn’t exist after years of saying it did,” he said.
Blumenthal, who served in the Marine Corps Reserves during Vietnam, apologized in 2010 for saying he had served in Vietnam.
The president made the comments while making the case for Gorsuch during a luncheon with 10 senators, including six of Blumenthal’s fellow Democrats.
Blumenthal, a former state attorney general, argued Thursday that Gorsuch would need to go further to publicly denounce Trump’s verbal assault on judicial independence.
“He needs to condemn Donald Trump’s attacks publicly and it needs to be much stronger, more explicit and direct than has been done so far,” Blumenthal said. “Unless it is done publicly in a clear condemnation, it will not establish his independence.”
Lawmakers from both parties quickly vouched for

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Activists: Charities must move galas from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

Since President Donald Trump opened the gold-infused ballroom at his Mar-a-Lago resort almost 12 years ago, it has been a popular rental for the American Red Cross, hospitals, medical researchers and other charities for fundraising galas where the wealthiest donors are wined and dined, often netting $1 million or more.
But Trump’s election puts charities in an awkward position over choosing the resort — recently dubbed the president’s Winter White House — for events they may have planned more than a year in advance.
With Trump placing a moratorium on refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and his promises to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, activists are pressuring charities such as the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Cleveland Clinic to move or cancel their galas this month.
As the International Red Cross held a gala fundraiser Saturday at Mar-a-Lago, about three thousand demonstrators marched nearby to protest Trump’s now-blocked executive order temporarily limiting immigration. The event ended peacefully, and there were no arrests.
So far, no known Mar-a-Lago charity events have been moved or canceled.
More than 2,000 people, including faculty and students from Harvard Medical School, have signed an online petition demanding that Boston-based Dana-Farber move or cancel its Feb. 18 “Discovery Celebration,” featuring a performance by Grammy Award winner David Foster. The cheapest ticket is $1,250.
Petition organizer George Karandinos, a 30-year-old Harvard medical student from Houston, said he understands that canceling or moving the Dana-Farber event would be difficult, “but they can make a public moral stand that is in line with their stated values” of diversity and supporting scientific exchanges across borders. Plus, he said, a cancellation might attract additional donors.
A similar open letter, signed by more than 1,100 including doctors and medical students, demands that Cleveland Clinic move its Feb. 25 “Reflections of Versailles: A Night in the Hall of

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Amid Donald Trump’s shake-up, many wondering ‘what’s coming next’

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Days into an administration that promised to govern by upheaval, Donald Trump‘s White House has been the target of massive protests, defied reporters who questioned fact-challenged statements and issued a blur of lightning-rod executive actions. The speed and depth of it all have left many Americans apprehensive: Even some who longed for a shake-up are unsettled by a sense of chaos it has unleashed.
“We’re in a very fragile state right now,” said Margaret Johnson of Germantown, Maryland, who runs a small translation business. “We don’t know what’s coming next. The country’s divided. There’s a lot of fear. And I think we’re kind of at that point where things can go any kind of way, and it’s really hard to say which way they’re going to go.”
That uncertainty finds an echo in Pastor Mike Bergman‘s church in Adrian, Missouri, 40 miles south of Kansas City, where many congregants count themselves as conservatives and embrace the new administration’s order cutting off funding to international groups that provide abortions. But as church members consider another order — restricting refugees and pausing entry to the U.S. from several Muslim-majority countries — worries about security are tempered by concern about the needs of refugees and whether Trump’s rhetoric is widening the gulf between Americans, Bergman said.
“There is worry about how deep the divide is going to run. There is worry about some of the political rhetoric … about how all that is going to cause the divide in the community to deepen and more bitterness to spring up between the people of our country. I wouldn’t say we’re really optimistic right now,” he said.
Trump is hardly the first president to take office promising wholesale change in the face of substantial skepticism. But Kevin Boyle, a professor of American history at Northwestern University, said the new

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Promises, pomp and protests as Donald Trump sworn in

Friday, January 20th, 2017

Pledging to empower America’s “forgotten men and women,” Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States Friday, taking command of a deeply divided nation and ushering in an unpredictable era in Washington. His victory gives Republicans control of the White House for the first time in eight years.
Looking out over the crowd sprawled across the National Mall, Trump painted a bleak picture of the nation he now leads, lamenting “American carnage,” shuttered factories and depleted U.S. leadership. President Barack Obama, the man he replaced, sat behind him stoically.
Trump’s address lasted just 16 minutes. While his inauguration did draw crowds to the nation’s capital, the numbers appeared smaller than for past celebrations.
Demonstrations unfolded at various security checkpoints near the Capitol as police helped ticket-holders get through. After the swearing-in, more protesters registered their rage in the streets of Washington. Police in riot gear deployed pepper spray and made numerous arrests after protesters smashed the windows of downtown businesses, denouncing capitalism and Trump.
The new president’s first words as commander in chief were an unapologetic reprisal of the economic populism and nationalism that fueled his improbable campaign. He vowed to stir “new national pride,” bring jobs back to the United States, and “eradicate completely” Islamic terrorism.
“From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only, ‘America First,’” Trump said.
His address lasted just 16 minutes. While Trump’s inauguration did draw crowds to the nation’s capital, the numbers appeared smaller than for past celebrations.
In a remarkable scene, Trump ripped into Washington’s longtime leaders as he stood among them at the U.S. Capitol. For too long, he said, “a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.”
For Republicans eager to

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Black Americans weep for the Obama era and uncertain future

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

On the night in 2008 when Barack Obama was elected the country’s first black president, many black Americans wept. Eight years later, they weep again for the end of an era some thought they would never live to see — and for the uncertain future they face without him.
In Obama, many African-Americans felt they had a leader who celebrated their culture and confronted their concerns. In his wife, Michelle, they saw a national role model who epitomized style and grace with brown skin.
Now some regard the election of his successor as the price of black progress and the culmination of years of racist rhetoric directed at the Obamas — at times stoked by President-elect Donald Trump himself.
“There’s a great deal of melancholy and fear and despair,” said Lester Spence, professor of political science and Africana studies at Johns Hopkins University. “This is a dynamic that the vast majority of black America has only read about or seen in movies. They don’t understand the potential of what’s coming.”
Not all African-Americans are sad to see Obama leaving the White House. But blacks overwhelmingly voted for the president in 2008 and 2012, and fewer than 1 in 10 black voters supported Trump.
For many, the events of the final days of Obama’s presidency added to the sense of gloom.
With his inauguration fast approaching, Trump took to Twitter last week to bash Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights legend who was nearly killed marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama in 1965. Trump said Lewis was “all talk, talk, talk — no action or results.”
On Monday, the president marked his last Martin Luther King Jr. holiday before he himself enters the annals of history. On Friday, he will be replaced by a chief executive who questioned Obama’s birthplace and offended many blacks during his campaign

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Evacuations underway in 2 Florida counties

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in Brevard County, and voluntary evacuations have been activated in St. Lucie County, but Gov. Rick Scott urged other coastal residents potentially in harm’s way not to wait to be told to leave.
The governor said during a Wednesday morning news conference that “if you’re able to go early, leave now.” The mandatory evacuations were scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.
The slow-moving storm was expected to drench the coast from the Keys through central Florida, storm surge up to 5 feet deep was expected along the Atlantic coast, and the hurricane could produce tornadoes. Even if Matthew doesn’t come ashore, its tropical storm-force winds could reach the state.
In his 5 a.m. analysis of the forecast models for Matthew’s track along the Atlantic coast, senior hurricane specialist Daniel Brown wrote, “Only a slight deviation to the west of forecast track could result in landfall in Florida.”
“We must prepare to be hit by a devastating hurricane,” Scott said.
“This is a dangerous storm and it’s never too early to evacuate,” Scott said. “If you live in a low-lying area or on a barrier island, go ahead and leave.”
Republished with permission of the associated Press.
The post Evacuations underway in 2 Florida counties appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Hurricane warning extended for Florida’s coast

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

The National Hurricane Center has extended the hurricane warning northward in Florida as Matthew heads toward the East Coast.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Matthew is heading toward the Bahamas after hitting Cuba hard.
The hurricane center says the hurricane was about 105 miles (165 kilometers) south of Long Island, Bahamas. It has maximum sustained winds of 120 mph (195 kph).
The hurricane center said there is a danger of life-threatening inundation during the next 36 hours along Florida’s east coast from North Palm Beach to the Flagler/Volusia county line. There is the possibility of life-threatening inundation during the next 48 hours from north of the Flagler/Volusia county line to Fernandina Beach.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Nicole is moving west-northwestward over the western Atlantic with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph). It poses no threat to land.
The U.S. government says its disaster assessment teams are working to evaluate the effects of Hurricane Matthew a day after the storm blew across a portion of southwestern Haiti with winds of 145 mph (233 kph).
USAID official R. David Harden told reporters in a conference call Wednesday that it had pre-positioned emergency food and other aid in advance of the storm. The assistant administrator for the bureau for democracy, conflict, and humanitarian assistance said the area was “hit pretty hard” but the agency has not yet completed an assessment.
Harden said the U.S. is offering $1 million in food assistance and $500,000 in non-foot items such as blankets, shelters and hygiene kits.
Western Hemisphere Affairs Deputy Assistant Secretary Kenneth Merten said on the call that it is up to Haiti whether it will go ahead with planned national elections on Sunday. He said the U.S. interest is only that they have fair and credible elections and that they be held either on Sunday or the “not too distant future.”
Republished with permission of

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Updates from the 1st presidential debate

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

The Latest on the first of three presidential debates between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump (all times EDT):
10:45 p.m.
Both candidates concluded the first presidential debate by saying they will accept the outcome if the other wins.
Hillary Clinton spoke directly to viewers and said, “It’s not about us, it’s about you.”
Donald Trump initially dodged the same question, saying he would make a “seriously troubled” America “great again.” He added: “I’m going to be able to do it. I don’t believe Hillary Clinton will.”
But Trump finished his answer by saying that if Clinton wins, “I will absolutely support her.”
___
10:43 p.m.
Hillary Clinton is punching back at Donald Trump’s assertions that she doesn’t have the “stamina” to be president.
Trump has questioned whether Clinton has the physical fitness to be president and he repeated the criticism to her directly during the debate. Clinton’s response? Trump shouldn’t talk about stamina until he’s tried out the busy schedule she kept up as secretary of state.
Trump didn’t answer moderator Lester Holt’s original question about his past comments that Clinton doesn’t have the “presidential look.”
Clinton suggested the remarks were about gender, and she reminded the crowd of Trump’s past comments calling women “pigs” and other derogatory names.
___
10:42 p.m.
Donald Trump says NATO needs to “go into the Middle East with us” to combat the Islamic State group. And he is taking credit for NATO focusing resources on combating terrorism.
In fact, the alliance agreed in July to contribute aircraft and conduct training in Iraq and has increased intelligence coordination there. And NATO set up an anti-terrorism program in 2004 — years before Trump criticized them as a presidential candidate.
Earlier this year, Trump criticized NATO for not focusing on terrorism. He said that afterward, he saw an article reporting that NATO was opening a new, major anti-terrorism division.
He said Tuesday

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Donald Trump signed improper charity check supporting Pam Bondi

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Donald Trump‘s signature, an unmistakable if nearly illegible series of bold vertical flourishes, was scrawled on the improper $25,000 check sent from his personal foundation to a political committee supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
Charities are barred from engaging in political activities, and the Republican presidential nominee’s campaign has contended for weeks that the 2013 check from the Donald J. Trump Foundation was mistakenly issued following a series of clerical errors. Trump had intended to use personal funds to support Bondi’s re-election, his campaign said.
So, why didn’t Trump catch the purported goof himself when he signed the foundation check?
Trump lawyer Alan Garten offered new details about the transaction to The Associated Press on Thursday, after a copy of the Sept. 9, 2013, check was released by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Garten said the billionaire businessman personally signs hundreds of checks a week, and that he simply didn’t catch the error.
“He traditionally signs a lot of checks,” said Garten, who serves as in-house counsel for various business interests at Trump Tower in New York City. “It’s a way for him to monitor and keep control over what’s going on in the company. It’s just his way. … I’ve personally been in his office numerous times and seen a big stack of checks on his desk for him to sign.”
The 2013 donation to Bondi’s political group has garnered intense scrutiny because her office was at the time fielding media questions about whether she would follow the lead of Schneiderman, who had then filed a lawsuit against Trump University and Trump Institute. Scores of former students say they were scammed by Trump’s namesake get-rich-quick seminars in real estate.
Bondi, whom the AP reported in June personally solicited the $25,000 check from Trump, took no action. Both Bondi and Trump say their conversation had

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