Posts Tagged ‘United States’

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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House GOP health bill facing fresh House committee test

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

The White House and Republican leaders are talking to rank-and-file lawmakers about revising the GOP health care overhaul, hoping to keep a rebellion by conservatives and moderates from snowballing and imperiling the party’s showpiece legislation.
Four days after a congressional report projected the bill would pry coverage from millions of voters, signs of fraying GOP support for the legislation were showing. The measure would strike down much of former President Barack Obama‘s 2010 overhaul and reduce the federal role, including financing, for health care consumers and is opposed uniformly by Democrats.
In a fresh test of Republicans’ willingness to embrace the legislation, the House Budget Committee was considering the measure Thursday. Republicans expressed confidence the bill would be approved, but the vote could be tight. The panel can’t make significant changes but was expected to endorse non-binding, suggested changes to nail down votes.
The bill would eliminate the tax penalty that pressures people to buy coverage and the federal subsidies that let millions afford it, replacing them with tax credits that are bigger for older people. It would cut Medicaid, repeal the law’s tax increases on higher earning Americans and require 30 percent higher premiums for consumers who let coverage lapse.
Overt GOP opposition grew after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected Monday that the legislation would push 24 million Americans off coverage in a decade and shift out-of-pocket costs toward lower income, older people. Obama’s law has provided coverage to around 20 million additional people
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters Wednesday that leaders could now make “some necessary improvements and refinements” to the legislation. But he declined to commit to bringing the measure to the House floor next week, a schedule Republican leaders have repeatedly said they intended to keep.
At a late rally in Nashville Wednesday, President Donald Trump said: “We’re going

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Donald Trump embraces legacy of Andrew Jackson

Monday, February 20th, 2017

It was an ugly, highly personal presidential election.
An unvarnished celebrity outsider who pledged to represent the forgotten laborer took on an intellectual member of the Washington establishment looking to extend a political dynasty in the White House.
Andrew Jackson‘s triumph in 1828 over President John Quincy Adams bears striking similarities to Donald Trump‘s victory over Hillary Clinton last year, and some of those most eager to point that out are in the Trump White House.
Trump’s team has seized upon the parallels between the current president and the long-dead Tennessee war hero. Trump has hung a portrait of Jackson in the Oval Office and Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, who has pushed the comparison, told reporters after Trump’s inaugural address that “I don’t think we’ve had a speech like that since Andrew Jackson came to the White House.”
Trump himself mused during his first days in Washington that “there hasn’t been anything like this since Andrew Jackson.”
It’s a remarkable moment of rehabilitation for a figure whose populist credentials and anti-establishment streak has been tempered by harsher elements of his legacy, chiefly his forced removal of Native Americans that caused disease and the death of thousands.
“Both were elected presidents as a national celebrity; Jackson due to prowess on battlefield and Trump from making billions in his business empire,” said Douglas Brinkley, a professor of history at Rice University. “And it’s a conscious move for Trump to embrace Jackson. In American political lore, Jackson represents the forgotten rural America while Trump won by bringing out that rural vote and the blue collar vote.”
The seventh president, known as “Old Hickory” for his toughness on the battlefield, gained fame when he led American forces to a victory in the Battle of New Orleans in the final throes of the War of 1812. He did serve a term

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Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau to discuss women in workforce

Monday, February 13th, 2017

President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will participate in a roundtable discussion about women in the workforce Monday, showing the rising policy influence of the first daughter who has stressed her commitment to issues like child care.
A White House official said the two countries would launch a new task force called the United States-Canada Council for the Advancement of Women Business Leaders-Female Entrepreneurs. The official said Trudeau’s office reached out to discuss working on a joint effort, noting that this was seen as an area of shared interest between both leaders.
Ivanka Trump, who has been a vocal advocate for policies benefiting working women, was involved in recruiting participants and setting the agenda for the meeting and will attend, the official said. Ivanka Trump stressed the importance of maternity leave and child care on the campaign trail, and has recently been meeting with business leaders to discuss those issues.
The White House official said that Trump’s economic agenda will include a “focus on ensuring women enter and stay in the work force and addressing barriers facing female entrepreneurs.” The official requested anonymity to provide details in advance of the meeting.
Advancing women has been a clear priority for Trudeau. In late 2015, he drew attention for naming a Cabinet that was 50 percent women, saying that he chose a group that “looks like Canada.” Trump did not promise to appoint a gender-balanced Cabinet and has named a smaller number of women and minorities to top jobs.
“Our team reached out and suggested as it is an important part of the prime minister’s agenda and of our economic growth plan,” a Canadian official said. “It seemed like a natural fit given their commitments in their platform as well.” The official requested anonymity to discuss the meeting in advance.
Trump has offered a childcare

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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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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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Revelers bid adieu to a year of conflicts, celebrity deaths

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, revelers around the world are bidding a weary adieu to a year filled with political surprises, prolonged conflicts and deaths of legendary celebrities.
How people are ushering in the new year:
AUSTRALIA
Sydney sent up a dazzling tribute to 2016’s fallen icons with a New Year’s Eve fireworks display honoring the late singer David Bowie and late actor Gene Wilder, becoming the first major city to bid a bittersweet adieu to a turbulent year.
The glittering display over Sydney’s famed harbor and bridge featured Saturn and star-shaped fireworks set to “Space Oddity,” the classic song by Bowie — one of the seemingly endless parade of beloved entertainers who died in 2016.
Wilder was also honored as the bridge lit up in a rainbow of colors while a song from Wilder’s famed film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” played.
“This year, sadly, we saw the loss of many music and entertainment legends around the world,” fireworks show co-producer Catherine Flanagan said. “So celebrating their music as part of Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks displays is an opportunity to reflect on the year that has been and what the future may hold.”
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LAS VEGAS
More than 300,000 visitors are expected to descend on Las Vegas for an extravagant New Year’s Eve celebration.
Nightclubs are pulling out all the stops with performances from DJ Calvin Harris, rappers T-Pain and Kendrick Lamar and artists Drake and Bruno Mars. The city’s celebrity chefs have crafted elaborate prix fixe menus complete with caviar and champagne toasts.
An eight-minute fireworks show will kick off at the stroke of midnight, with rockets launching from the tops of half a dozen casinos.
Federal officials have ranked the celebration just below the Super Bowl and on par with the festivities in Times Square. FBI and Secret Service agents will work alongside local police departments

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Cuba’s Fidel Castro, who defied U.S. for 50 years, dies at 90

Saturday, November 26th, 2016

Fidel Castro, who led a rebel army to improbable victory, embraced Soviet-style communism and defied the power of 10 U.S. presidents during his half century rule of Cuba, has died at age 90.
With a shaking voice, President Raul Castro said on state television that his older brother died at 10:29 p.m. Friday. He ended the announcement by shouting the revolutionary slogan: “Toward victory, always!”
Castro’s reign over the island-nation 90 miles (145 kilometers) from Florida was marked by the U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis a year later that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. The bearded revolutionary, who survived a crippling U.S. trade embargo as well as dozens, possibly hundreds, of assassination plots, died 10 years after ill health forced him to hand power over to Raul.
Castro overcame imprisonment at the hands of dictator Fulgencio Batista, exile in Mexico and a disastrous start to his rebellion before triumphantly riding into Havana in January 1959 to become, at age 32, the youngest leader in Latin America. For decades, he served as an inspiration and source of support to revolutionaries from Latin America to Africa.
His commitment to socialism was unwavering, though his power finally began to fade in mid-2006 when a gastrointestinal ailment forced him to hand over the presidency to Raul in 2008, provisionally at first and then permanently. His defiant image lingered long after he gave up his trademark Cohiba cigars for health reasons and his tall frame grew stooped.
“Socialism or death” remained Castro’s rallying cry even as Western-style democracy swept the globe and other communist regimes in China and Vietnam embraced capitalism, leaving this island of 11 million people an economically crippled Marxist curiosity.
He survived long enough to see Raul Castro negotiate an opening with U.S. President Barack Obama on

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Donald Trump aggressive, Hillary Clinton steady in tense debate

Monday, October 10th, 2016

His candidacy spiraling out of control, Donald Trump faced Hillary Clinton on the debate stage Sunday night in the most critical moment of his political career.
Questions about Trump’s preparation, policy knowledge and temperament all were overshadowed by the political fallout from Friday’s release of a video that captured the Republican presidential nominee making predatory sexual comments about women a decade earlier.
With tensions high, the candidates refused to shake hands at the start of the debate at Washington University in St. Louis, then tangled repeatedly for 90 minutes.
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TRUMP GOES AFTER BILL CLINTON
After threatening for weeks to bring up Bill Clinton‘s sexual scandals, Trump finally went there.
Even before the debate began, Trump appeared alongside several women who had accused the former president of unwanted sexual advances decades earlier. It was a risky move that threatened to damage Trump’s already poor standing with women. But with his campaign in virtual freefall and his party in revolt, he may have had nothing to lose.
Once on stage, Trump pointed out the four women he had invited to attend the debate — among them Paula Jones and Juanita Broaddrick, who accused Bill Clinton of sexual impropriety decades ago. He called Bill Clinton’s actions “far worse” than Trump’s own words on the 2005 recording, where he bragged that he could “do anything” to women because of his fame.
“There’s never been anybody in the history of politics in this nation that’s been so abusive to women,” Trump said.
Trump also tried to link Hillary Clinton to her husband’s actions. “Hillary Clinton attacked those same women and attacked them viciously,” he said.
___
CLINTON TAKES THE HIGH ROAD
Clinton ignored Trump’s attacks on her husband’s infidelities, saying she was taking first lady Michelle Obama’s advice: “When they go low, we go high.”
The Democratic nominee stayed focused on her message, stressing Trump’s history of

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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.”
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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.
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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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Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump battle fiercely over taxes, race, terror

Monday, September 26th, 2016

In a combative opening debate, Hillary Clinton emphatically denounced Donald Trump Monday night for keeping his personal tax returns and business dealings secret from voters and peddling a “racist lie” about President Barack Obama. Businessman Trump repeatedly cast Clinton as a “typical politician” as he sought to capitalize on Americans’ frustration with Washington.
Locked in an exceedingly close White House race, the presidential rivals tangled for 90-minutes over their vastly different visions for the nation’s future. Clinton called for lowering taxes for the middle class, while Trump focused more on renegotiating trade deals that he said have caused companies to move jobs out of the U.S. The Republican backed the controversial “stop-and-frisk policing” tactic as a way to bring down crime, while the Democrat said the policy was unconstitutional and ineffective.
The debate was heated from the start, with Trump frequently trying to interrupt Clinton and speaking over her answers. Clinton was more measured and restrained, but also needled the sometimes-thin-skinned Trump over his business record and wealth.
“There’s something he’s hiding,” she declared, scoffing at his repeated contention that he won’t release his tax returns because he is being audited.
Trump aggressively tried to turn the transparency questions around on Clinton, who has struggled to overcome voters’ concerns about her honestly and trustworthiness. He said he would release his tax information when she produces more than 30,000 emails that were deleted from the personal internet server she used as secretary of state.
Tax experts have said there is no reason the businessman cannot make his records public during an audit.
Clinton was contrite in addressing her controversial email use, saying simply that it was a “mistake”. She notably did not fall back on many of the excuses she has often used for failing to use a government email during her four years as secretary of

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Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump buff foreign policy bona fides on debate eve

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were meeting separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday, giving the each candidate fresh bragging rights about their knowledge of foreign policy and readiness to lead the nation on the eve of their first presidential debate.
Trump and Netanyahu discussed “at length” Israel’s use of a fence to help secure its borders, an example Trump frequently cites when he’s talking about the wall he wants to build between the U.S. and Mexico.
“Trump recognized that Israel and its citizens have suffered far too long on the front lines of Islamic terrorism,” the campaign said in a statement. “He agreed with Prime Minister Netanyahu that the Israeli people want a just and lasting peace with their neighbors, but that peace will only come when the Palestinians renounce hatred and violence and accept Israel as a Jewish State.”
Clinton was expected to meet with the prime minister later in the day, also in New York.
The meeting was designed to put Israel on good footing with the next U.S. president. But it also served to showcase the candidates’ expertise in foreign policy in the shadow of their first debate Monday, six weeks before Election Day. Clinton, a former senator and secretary of state, often says that Trump does not know enough about the world and lacks the temperament to be president. Trump has argued that he has extensive experience with foreign policy through his career as a business executive and blames Clinton for many of the nation’s stumbles in foreign policy.
Meanwhile, the candidates deployed their top supporters to the Sunday shows to take early jabs at their opponents and lower expectations for a showdown expected to draw 75 million viewers — many of them disenchanted with both candidates, the least-popular presidential hopefuls in history.
Facts and who will determine them during

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Florida primaries eyed: Representation of few, or the many?

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

It took just 14,496 votes to win his closed Democratic primary for one of Florida’s 27 congressional seats. Now Darren Soto is virtually assured of going to Capitol Hill, unlikely to face a strong Republican challenge this November in his safely Democratic district.
The state senator snared the votes of just 2 percent of the Orlando area district’s 750,000 residents, beating three other candidates in last month’s closed-party, winner-takes-all primary. Only registered Democrats could cast ballots in Soto’s race and the small percentage of them likely decided the contest before the general election.
It’s a scenario repeated regularly in Florida’s state and congressional races in districts firmly controlled by one or the other of the two major parties. Now such outcomes are prompting calls to reform Florida’s primary system so more voters have a say in who represents them.
“That’s a question that comes up often,” said Pamela Goodman, president of the Florida League of Women Voters. Her group is studying the primary system and will make recommendations next year to lawmakers on broadening the electoral process.
Florida is one of only nine states with a strict closed primary system, which prevents independent and minor party voters from casting primary ballots. Proponents say political parties should have the sole say in who they nominate, but critics say closed primaries exclude a large swath of voters, particularly as the number of independent voters grows.
Until 16 years ago, Florida primaries weren’t even over until a candidate won a ballot majority. If no primary candidate received at least 50 percent plus one vote, the top two met in a runoff to decide who reached the general election.
But then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush eliminated the runoff in 2002, a year he was seeking re-election and two years after his brother George W. Bush carried the perennial swing state by

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Dr. Marc J. Yacht: Teen pregnancy rates down – so far

Monday, September 21st, 2015

Teen pregnancy rates for girls 15 to 19 years old have fallen in the United States in direct relation to extensive preventive efforts.
Those efforts include discussions about responsible sexual behavior, birth control pills, IUDs, the patch, abstention, vaginal rings, injectable birth control and the extensive network of family planning and women’s health services. Local health departments have played a large role in stemming teen pregnancy.
Although U.S. rates have dropped, we have a national rate of 57 teen pregnancies per 1,000 people. We have the highest rate among the industrialized nations. Switzerland, for example, has eight, France 25, and England and Wales have 47 teen pregnancies per 1,000. We still have a way to go to catch up to the success of other affluent nations. In Florida 59 percent of all 2010 pregnancies were unintended by adult or teen.
Blacks and Hispanics have significantly higher U.S. teen pregnancy rates that whites. Low-income families are more at risk of teen pregnancy than the affluent.  Intact families are at less risk for teen pregnancy than dysfunctional home environments. Abused girls are at far greater risk for pregnancy than girls living in safe environments.
About 47 percent of teens have sex before their 20th birthday. The vast majority (8 in 10) of all adolescent pregnancies are either unplanned or occurred before the teens were ready to become parents. Teens with babies are unlikely to finish high school, more likely to need welfare services, have poorer cognitive and educational outcomes, and are at risk for delinquency and mental health issues.
Teen moms face personal health risks as do the newborn. Younger teens have smaller wombs and fetal development can be compromised. Nine percent of teens have low-birth-weight babies. The young mother has a greater chance of premature labor, and complications during and after delivery. The young mother is

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Elizabeth Santiago: We must be that “shining city on the hill” for Syrian refugees

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

In our Declaration of Independence it’s written that all people have certain unalienable rights, including “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” As Americans, we strive for equality and opportunity. We are taught to treat everyone justly and with respect, for everyone is equal. We are taught to “ask not what your country can do for you …” and to extend open arms when help is needed.
I was taught these wonderful tenets about how we should act as Americans. However, when I turn on the TV or read the news all I see is “breaking news” about the latest celebrity updates, computer-product announcements, and hateful comments made by politicians.
As a student exposing myself to the diversity within the University of Central Florida, I have been submersed in the cultures of others and the issues that people of different backgrounds face. I find myself talking to people and getting perspectives on issues I didn’t even know were issues.
It wasn’t until I recently saw the heart-wrenching images of the tiny, lifeless body of a 3-year-old boy washed up on a Turkish beach that I found myself wondering how it’s possible for America to be silent on a crisis that counters its most basic foundations? Why did it take the life of an innocent little child, whose family was trying to escape turmoil in Syria, to get us talking about this “current” issue, including whether the Western world is living up to its democratic and humanitarian principles in light of the worst refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide of the 1990s?
Though this may be breaking news for some, the problem began in the spring of 2011. That’s when millions of Syrians and others across the Arab world staged massive protests against the repressive, authoritative government. They were met with fire and lead.
The government’s

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Pat Fowler: We’re all in this together

Monday, September 7th, 2015

Today is the U.S. Labor Day. It’s not, by the way, American Labor Day. People in other countries on the two American continents celebrate workers on other days in other ways.
But today is our Labor Day and I, like many of you, have received from a politician a peppy greeting of Happy Labor Day this morning. “Oh good,” I said to myself. “Let’s see what policies this politician is proposing in order to support workers.”
Oops, no. Just platitudes; things I call Bulworthian bromides of little value.
In the back window of my car there’s a “bumper sticker” that reads “Workers of the world, admit it.” It’s a request for unity across all identities and employment categories of those who work for a living to inadvertently or purposely enrich the most wealthy in our country and the world. It’s a request to acknowledge class politics as being crucial to progress for all of us.
Since the mid-‘70s, the investor class, industry leaders and global corporate executives have organized themselves to successfully dominate the political system. It creates laws and policies facilitating the redistribution of the largest share of gains of the economy to their control.
That wasn’t always so and isn’t some sort of inevitable result of a mythical invisible hand. It’s the result of organized political pressure using extreme wealth to pursue legal bribery in our corrupt political system.
Working people far outnumber those of extreme wealth and the super executive class. Their weakness, though, is caused largely through distraction, willful ignorance, lethargy and an unwillingness to prioritize issues in order to deal with the core problems of our political economic system.
If the oppressive wealthy and various types of bigots have any fear it has always been that people of all races, ethnicities, genders, orientations, ages, education levels and employment categories might organize together

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Tom Garcia: Grant concessions to the deserving: End ban on U.S. crude oil exports

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

Those of us who make it a point to stay up-to-date on foreign affairs took great interest in last month’s Iran deal aimed at stopping that volatile country from developing nuclear weapons.
One of the main concessions from the United States in the deal is to lift sanctions and allow Iran to export more goods, including that country’s most important commodity: oil. Not only does allowing Iran to sell oil to a broader global audience improve Iran’s economy, it puts American companies at a distinct disadvantage in the crude oil market. Perhaps more importantly to America, it puts our national security at risk.
The United State put a ban on its own crude oil exports in the 1970s at a time when there was a shortage of oil, although refined oil products could be sold overseas. You had to stay in line for hours to get a rationed amount of gasoline at the fuel pump amid fears of price spikes and a lack of supply. Middle Eastern countries put the United States in a position of weakness through an embargo because the oil-producing countries controlled the oil market.
Fast forward to 2015 and the United States is in the middle of an energy revolution, where the country is producing more natural gas and oil than it has in decades and has established itself as an energy powerhouse. We have enough energy that we are able to continue developing new technologies and new sources of energy to supplement traditional fossil fuels. This is good for our economy and we ought to be using that strength to our full advantage. If the U.S. crude oil export ban is lifted, the country then becomes able to sell another energy source globally, providing more of an influence on oil supply and pricing, giving us less of a

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Dr. Marc J. Yacht: Our country’s shameful legacy of poverty

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

Poverty’s narrow definition relates to income and consumption but a much broader meaning is necessary to understand America’s poor. Federal guidelines qualify individuals and families by addressing income, but don’t provide an accurate depiction of needy families and their living conditions.
The better understanding of the poor must look beyond income and at the larger community: the quality of education, water, electricity, pollution, sewage systems, and residential living conditions. Do after school activities exist for children? Are there parks, community centers, local libraries, street gangs, drug abuse, and violence both domestic and crime-related? Poor neighborhoods are at greater risk for substandard living conditions and all play a role in defining the broader conception of poverty.
There is a need to look the behavioral and health aspects along with literacy rates, sociopathic behavior, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and a host of psychiatric disorders. The overall health and nutritional well-being are affected by inadequate health care and neglected resources to poor families. Are basic living requirements met? The ability of the disenfranchised to do things of intrinsic worth, their isolation, joblessness, homelessness, and concerns for safety expand the narrow definition of poverty.
Collective anger expressed by the poor affects the affluent. Riots and dissatisfaction are triggered by any number of events most likely occurring in poor neighborhoods but can relate to crime and violence in any neighborhood.  Poverty is not just about money but the overall quality of life that poor people experience. Vented anger and destructive behavior are too often expressed by the communities’ poor, often by young people who have little difficulty expressing frustration. Their crimes relate directly to gross neglect.
Protests had been relatively dormant since the 1960s, but within the past decade protests and urban revolts have been making a comeback. According to a research brief, between 1958 and 1968, 329 urban rebellions

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