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Monday
Aug192019

Planned Parenthood drops out of federal program over fight with Trump administration

jetcityimage/IStock(WASHINGTON) -- Planned Parenthood announced on Monday that it will drop participation in a federal program that supports family planning services because of new restrictions placed by the Trump administration, calling a recent regulation an "assault on access to birth control and reproductive health care, especially for people struggling to make ends meet."

The announcement was the latest salvo in a long-running battle between the nationwide organization known for providing inexpensive health care for low-income women, including abortion, and conservatives who say more should be done to prevent taxpayer dollars from going to any groups that provide abortion services, even if that money is restricted to unrelated services.

The new rules prohibited participating clinics from providing abortion referrals and dictates a "clear financial and physical separation" between family planning services and abortion services.

Planned Parenthood has been fighting the regulation in court, but was supposed to submit by Monday a "compliance" plan with enforcement expected Sept. 18.

Alexis McGill Johnson, the acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement that Planned Parenthood clinics will remain open and urged Congress to act.

"We will do everything we can to make sure Planned Parenthood patients don’t lose care," she tweeted. "While the Trump-Pence administration may have given up on you, we never will."

Mia Heck, an official at the Department of Health and Human Services, said Planned Parenthood was "abandoning" its patients.

"HHS is grateful for the many grantees who continue to serve their patients under the Title X program, and we will work to ensure all patients continue to be served," she said in a statement.

The $286 million program, known as "Title X," started in 1970 to support family planning efforts for low-income women. Nearly 4,000 clinics in the U.S. now receive money through the program, providing care for some 4 million people, many of whom are uninsured. Planned Parenthood is among the biggest providers, serving 1.6 million of those clients.

Under previous rules for the program, participating clinics had to provide a pregnant women seeking an abortion with a referral and information about the procedure if she asked. The provider was not, however, allowed to promote abortion or help with the logistics such as scheduling an appointment or providing transportation.

Under new rules announced last February, any family planning clinic accepting federal money is prohibited from discussing where the woman might obtain an abortion.

Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said such a restriction is a "gag rule" because it prevents doctors from providing information a woman would need for legal medical care.

"The impact this will have on our most vulnerable populations will be significant," he said in a statement.

While Benjamin and other critics say the new rule restricts abortion referrals, it doesn’t go as far as an earlier proposal by the administration that would have prevented doctors from discussing the procedure at all. Under the latest plan, clinics are still allowed to answer a woman’s medical questions on the abortion procedure, so long as it is "nondirective."

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a political organization that opposes abortion services, said Planned Parenthood's actions show it's more focused on abortion services than family planning.

The rule "does not reduce family planning funding by a single dollar, it simply directs taxpayer funding to family planning providers who stay out of the abortion business," she said in a statement. "Women have the most to gain from this news."

In addition to Planned Parenthood dropping participation in the program, one impact of the new rule could be participation by faith-based organizations that would have balked at previous rules requiring they provide medical information on abortions.

The number of abortions in the U.S. has plummeted in recent years, dropping 24% from 2006 to 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the issue has remained a focus for the Trump administration, which also expressed concerns that the previous rule kept anti-abortion groups that promote natural family planning from accessing money under the program.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Aug192019

AG Barr appoints new Bureau of Prisons director amid controversy over suicide death of Jeffrey Epstein

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General William Barr on Monday announced the appointment of a new director for the Bureau of Prisons amid the scandal over Jeffrey Epstein's suicide while in federal custody.

Dr. Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, who previously served in the position for over a decade, between 1992-2003, will take over the role from acting director Hugh Hurwitz, who has been temporarily serving in the position since May of last year.

According to a Department of Justice press release, Hurwitz will remain in the BOP as Assistant Director of the bureau's Reentry Services Division.

Barr also announced the appointment of Dr. Thomas R. Kane as the Deputy Director of BOP.

The leadership announcement comes at a moment of crisis for the BOP, following the suicide death of Epstein in the Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center more than a week ago.

There are at least five ongoing federal investigations into the matter, after Barr last week singled out what he described as "serious irregularities" that investigators had already found surrounding the death of one of the government's most high-profile inmates.

Last Tuesday, Barr announced that two guards who had been responsible for observing Epstein had been placed on administrative leave, and that a new acting warden would serve at MCC until the conclusion of the investigations.

The move marks the second time that Barr has appointed Sawyer as the nation's BOP director. During his first time serving as Attorney General under President George H.W. Bush, Barr appointed Dr. Sawyer to the position, where she served until her retirement in 2003.

According to her bio on the BOP website, Dr. Sawyer started her career in 1976 as a psychologist at FCI Morgantown, West Virginia, and eventually became the leader of the prison system.

Thomas Kane, served as Deputy Director and then Acting Director during the Obama Administration and through the Trump administration and has had an over 40 year career at the Bureau of Prisons.

Like Dr. Sawyer, Dr. Kane is a psychologist.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Aug192019

Pentagon tests first land-based cruise missile after pulling out of INF Treaty

Scott Howe/Defense.gov(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon conducted a test of a land-based cruise missile on Sunday, the first such test since the U.S. pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty earlier this month.

"On Sunday, August 18, 2019 at 2:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, the Department of Defense conducted a flight test of a conventionally-configured ground-launched cruise missile at San Nicolas Island, California," the Pentagon said in a statement on Monday. "The test missile exited its ground mobile launcher and accurately impacted its target after more than 500 kilometers of flight."

A U.S. official said the missile was a variant of a Tomahawk Land Attack Missile, designed to carry a conventional, not nuclear, payload.

"Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense's development of future intermediate-range capabilities," the Pentagon said.

The U.S. officially withdrew from the INF Treaty on Aug. 2 after the Trump administration declared Russia had long been in material breach of the Cold War arms-control pact. While analysts have warned that the treaty's end could lead to a dangerous new arms race, senior administration officials argued the U.S. had no choice but to terminate a deal that only one side was abiding by.

The Pentagon began research and development efforts focused on mobile, conventional and ground-launched cruise and ballistic missile systems in 2017 that it described as being in the "early stages" due to America's compliance with the INF Treaty.

"Now that we have withdrawn, the Department of Defense will fully pursue the development of these ground-launched conventional missiles as a prudent response to Russia's actions and as part of the Joint Force's broader portfolio of conventional strike options," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement on Aug. 2.

Esper told reporters earlier this month that those weapons would be based in Asia but said the exact location requires further discussions with allies in the region.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Aug192019

White supremacy and white nationalism explained by experts

Devonyu/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The terms "racist", "white supremacist" and "white nationalism" have re-entered into the mainstream political conversations as a rising number of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates and lawmakers accuse President Donald Trump of using divisive identity politics, recent high profile violent acts and as law enforcement say crimes linked to white supremacy are on the rise.

Sen. Bernie Sanders said after the mass shootings El Paso and Dayton that Trump is a "racist" who is seeking to appeal to "white nationalist." So far, at least seven Democratic presidential contenders have escalated their criticism of Trump and his racist rhetoric, calling him a "white supremacist" outright.

Trump has denied being a white supremacist, repeatedly calling himself " the least racist person."

Experts say that amid the heated rhetoric of race, such inflammatory terms are often being incorrectly used interchangeably. Using the terms so broadly and generally can actually be harmful in that it desensitizes and normalizes what should--by most measures-- be considered abhorrent behavior, said Terrence Johnson, an associate professor of religion and politics at Georgetown University.

Law enforcement agencies are especially troubled and on alert when they notice self identified white nationalists active on websites and social media identified with hate groups and see it as a warning sign that violent acts might follow.

Here's what you need to know.

What does it mean to be a racist?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines racism as "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race."

"A racist is someone who simply uses, I would say ordinary language and ordinary habits, to basically justify why they hate whoever the other is whether it is black, or the other is an immigrant or the other is a gay, and they use ordinary language to talk about difference as inferior," Johnson said.

“Racists don’t necessarily have the ideology of a white supremacy, but what they do have is a certain kind of bigotry towards other races based on characteristics of race,” said Marilyn Mayo, a director of Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism.

What is white supremacy?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a white supremacist as "a person who believes that the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have control over people of other races."

The essential difference between a racist and a white supremacist is that supremacists have an actual ideology, Mayo said.

“A racist is not always a white supremacist or white nationalist, but a white supremacist is always a racist,” John Cohen, a former senior Department of Homeland Security official and current ABC News contributor said.

Some of the key tenets of white supremacy according to the Anti-Defamation League, an international Jewish non-governmental organization focused on exposing extremism beliefs, are that white people of European descent are genetically superior to other non-white people, that their own "culture" is superior to other cultures and that the white race is in danger of extinction due to a rising “flood” or "invasion" of non-whites.

White supremacy as a concept has been around since the founding of America and dates back prior to and with the rise of slavery and the genocide of Native American groups in this country, Johnson said.

“As we look at the slave trade and European exploration, we see over and over again this idea that, whether its in the so called ‘orient’ or it’s in Africa, we keep hearing words like barbarian, uncivilized, lack of religion, grotesque,” Johnson said. "These terms really make up the overall framework for how white supremacy is defined as a nothing of Europeans seeing non-Europeans as inferior, intellectually, morally and aesthetically."

What is white nationalism

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines white nationalism as “one of a group of militant whites who espouse white supremacy and advocate enforced racial segregation.”

The first major signs of the phrase "white nationalism" appear in the early 1970s, according to Mayo. "The Turner Diaries,” a white-nationalist fantasy novel published in 1978 by William Luther Pierce, told the story of an armed uprising against the federal government by defenders of the white race.

Even though it’s a different name, many experts believe that white nationalism is being deliberately used as a euphemism for white supremacy -- a trend that has increased over the last 10 years in a concerted effort to soften and mainstream white supremacists' image in the public sphere.

“Generally, a lot of folks within this movement will say that they’re white nationalists and not white supremacist. They don’t like that term anymore,” Mayo said. “Their ultimate goal is to reach disaffected whites and bring them into the movement and white supremacy just isn’t going to cut it to do that.”

According to experts, leaders within the white supremacy movement recognized that their views were being seen as too fringe, so they decided to re-brand themselves as white nationalists instead in an effort to tap into the mainstream political rhetoric.

“It’s because there’s been such a recoil against the concept of white supremacy and the elements of white supremacy that are central to their beliefs that they just came to the conclusion of calling it something different,” Cohen said. “We’re going to try and frame it as a legitimate, ideological viewpoint that is connected to a belief in your country opposed to a belief in your race.”

According to the site Stormfront.org, which purports to be a white nationalist organization of " community of racial realists and idealists, white nationalists are a "community of racial realists and idealists." They claim that white nationalist "support true diversity and a homeland for all peoples, including ours."

The strategic re-branding of white supremacy is working in their favor according to Cohen.

"There are people who wouldn’t go out and commit an attack, but who are deciding how to vote based on the same rhetoric that’s being spread on white supremacist websites,” Cohen said.

How action separates a racist from a white supremacist

Action is an important aspect of the white supremacy doctrine according to experts.

“Racism is a belief maintained by an individual that may or may not influence behavior,” Cohen said. “But connected to what white supremacy is, it’s been used throughout our history to organize groups of people for action, whether it’s public displays through civil unrest in marches or actual acts of violence.” Cohen said.

In May, the FBI warned of the increasing threat of domestic terrorism, specifically saying that the number of the number of cases targeting white supremacists, white nationalists and other racially-motivated extremists has jumped in the past six months.

The white supremacist movement has been extremely effective in spreading its doctrine on the Internet which has allowed leaders in the movement the ability to organize people at a faster pace, experts said.

However, Cohen noted that also provides justification for those looking for an excuse to act violently.

“We’re seeing an increase in violence by those who are inspired by or are using white supremacy as the justification for their act of violence, but it’s not because these groups are going out and recruiting people, training them and deploying them,” Cohen said. “It’s because more people have access to their hateful ideology and rhetoric online, and it’s resonating with them. And for those in our society who are angry and seeking something to justify the use of violence it’s there.”

Assistant Director of FBI’s counterterrorism division Michael McGarrity testified to a House panel in May echoing the same sentiments, warning that that the hatred and extremist ideology are increasingly being spread online, and “that mobilization to violence is much quicker” than it used to be.

Labeling is tricky and should not be done lightly

Johnson argued that while there is definitely a threat of white supremacy in the United States and abroad, that there is a risk de-legitimizing the harmful impact of white supremacy if it isn’t used properly.

Mayo agreed, saying that she has seen the term used to describe people who are exhibiting signs of racism, but not necessarily supremacist or nationalist viewpoints of organizing and action.

“We need to look at someone's ideology is, how they’re promoting that ideology, how they’re contextualizing it and what their end goal is,” Mayo said. “When we’re trying to define someone as a white supremacist, we’re not only going to look at the words that they say, but also what their actions are.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Aug192019

Trump appears to back away from stronger gun sale background checks

Kameleon007/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- After President Donald Trump appeared to respond to a groundswell of public support for tougher gun sale background checks following recent mass shootings, his language -- and possibly his stance -- on new gun control measures seems to be softening.

Just a few weeks ago, Trump told reporters “we have to have very meaningful background checks” as he left the White House just days following the shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

“We need intelligent background checks. This isn’t a question of NRA, Republican or Democrat,” he said on Aug. 9.

But now, as time has elapsed, and with Congress still away on its August recess, Trump on Sunday appeared to back off on any new push background checks, again calling mental health the actual problem.

"I'm saying Congress is going to be reporting back to me with ideas,” the president told reporters as he prepared to board Air Force One in Morristown, N.J.

“And they'll come in from Democrats and Republicans. And I'll look at it very strongly. But just remember, we already have a lot of background checks. OK?”

Congress passed legislation -- FIX NICS --in the aftermath of the Sutherland Springs Church shooting in Texas in November 2017 that claimed 26 lives. The measure was aimed at penalizing government agencies for not reporting into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

But whether there's political support in Congress for stronger background checks is still in question. A bill proposed by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and GOP Sen. Pat Toomey would significantly extend background checks to include gun shows, and even internet sales.

Trump previously said background checks would keep guns out of the hands of "sick" and "deranged" people, although medical experts say mental illness is not the main reason shooters carry out mass murders, such as the El Paso and Dayton shootings.

These are people that have to be in institutions for help,” he said. “I'm not talking about as a form of a prison I'm saying for help.”

Senior Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway on Monday doubled down on the president’s remarks, but made no mention of the racially motivated El Paso shooting that killed 21 people, given the president’s reversal on background checks.

“When the president says we need to fix the mental health system, ‘look at mental health, he's not saying everybody who's in treatment for mental health is a shooter,” Conway said.

“What he's saying is that we have specific incidences where that has been an issue and has been ignored.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Aug182019

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand chastises Israel over US congresswomen, but doesn't demand consequences

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand spoke out on ABC’s "This Week" against Israel’s initial decision to deny Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar the ability to visit the country, but stopped short of saying there should be repercussions.

“I don't know why Netanyahu wanted to deny members of Congress to come to Israel if they expect us to be that never-ending partner and friend," said Gillibrand.

ABC News' Martha Raddatz asked the New York senator, “Should there be repercussions for Israel?”

“I think our obligation, as an ally and as a friend is to hold them accountable when they're wrong. And I think anytime you are undermining basic free speech rights and human rights you're going in the wrong direction,” Gillibrand said in response.

In a wide-ranging interview, Gillibrand also addressed her plan to combat gun violence, including her proposal for a federal assault weapons buyback program.

The senator's remarks follow two high-profile mass shootings earlier this month in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, in which dozens of people were killed.

President Trump has in the past accused Democrats of aiming to take away guns from law-abiding gun owners. Democrats, however, have stood united in the last few weeks in their call for stricter background checks and other safety reforms.

“You want to make it illegal to buy or sell these assault weapons, and as part of your efforts, you would offer money, a buyback,”said Gillibrand. “One of the biggest tools in your toolbox is buyback, because you want to give people the opportunity to be reimbursed for the money that they spent to own those weapons.”

Gillibrand said, if elected, she would ban assault weapons and large magazines. She also called for fingerprint technology to prevent unauthorized users from pulling the trigger on a particular weapon.

"I don't think we should be living in a world where our family can't go to Walmart to go back-to-school shopping," said Gillibrand. "I don't think we want to live in a world where young children are learning shelter-in-place drills, as opposed to math drills, that's the truth of where we are."

Gillibrand was also asked about the state of the economy and rumblings of a possible recession.

“I’m concerned because I think NAFTA 2.0 is a disaster. I think it was a giveaway to drug companies in Mexico. It's going to harm our jobs. President Trump said no bad trade deals, not only has he entered into them, but he started to trade war with China and it’s really harming producers,” said Gillibrand.

The senator has previously been outspoken against President Trump's trade war with China, and has called for holding China accountable for tactics she said undermine American manufacturing.

If elected president, Gillibrand said she would partner with other nations and consider using sanctions to pressure China over growing tensions with protesters in Hong Kong.

Over the weekend, tens of thousands again took the streets in Hong Kong, fighting against a bill that would allow for extradition to mainland China.

“I would back them because they expect a country where they have free speech, they don't expect to be extradited to mainland China,” she said. “They don't expect to be denied the ability to protest or speak for themselves.”

“You just have to use your power and especially your economic power to force different behavior,” said Gillibrand.

Gillibrand is currently on the campaign trail, and trying to drum up support ahead of the Aug. 28 deadline to earn a spot on the next primary debate stage. Gillibrand’s campaign has struggled to gain traction and hasn’t yet met the criteria to qualify.

For the September debate, candidates must receive 2% support or support in at least four national polls, or polls conducted in the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and/or Nevada, and must have received donations from at least 130,000 unique donors over the course of the election cycle, with a minimum of 400 unique donors per state in at least 20 states. Gillibrand’s campaign said it had reached 100,000 donors, but the New York senator has met the 2% requirement in only one qualifying poll.

When asked on This Week, Gillibrand was adamant that she’d earn a spot on the debate stage.

“I will qualify,” said Gillibrand.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Aug182019

'The right to vote is our most fundamental right': Stacey Abrams

ABC News(ATLANTA) -- Stacey Abrams, who captured national attention during her unsuccessful bid for Georgia governor in 2018, said she would be open to joining a 2020 ticket as the vice presidential nominee but will continue to make the fight against voter suppression her foremost mission.

“My responsibility in the primary is to ensure that we’re putting in place a fair fight structure that says in 2020, people will get to cast their ballots and have their voices counted,” she said in an interview with ABC News Correspondent Linsey Davis on "This Week".

Abrams said voter suppression is an issue that “has been baked into the DNA of America,” and one that has become more insidious over the last two decades, manifesting in subtle but still racialized ways, including voter I.D. laws, changes in registration requirements and varying absentee ballot procedures across communities.

“It’s no longer hoses and laws that say you cannot vote,” she said. “It is this insidious nature that says it’s race-neutral, that we’re just putting these laws in place for everyone. But we know that is has a disproportionate effect on the communities that have long been marginalized.”

Abrams maintained that her narrow loss in the election to Republican Brian Kemp was a result of voter suppression, including aggressive purging of voter rolls and denying the registration of new voters, long waits at polling places and malfunctioning voting machines. She has called Kemp, who as Georgia's then-secretary of state was the state’s top elections official, the “architect of voter suppression.” Kemp vehemently denied doing anything improper.

Abrams' election reform organization, Fair Fight Action, created just days after the Georgia election, has sued the state for having "grossly mismanaged" the 2018 election. In May, a federal judge ruled the case could go forward.

“I was hurt because there were thousands of people who wanted to be heard in this election who were denied that right, and no one should have the ability to strip away one of our fundamental constitutional opportunities,” she said.

Abrams said where her campaign did win was in terms of voter engagement. Turnout among African American and Hispanic voters reached historic levels in 2018, and that, together with the fact that she was running to become the country’s first African American female governor, brought national attention to Georgia’s gubernatorial race. In February, she delivered the Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union address, in which she mentioned voter suppression.

“While I acknowledge the results of the 2018 election here in Georgia, I did not and we cannot accept efforts to undermine our right to vote,” she said in the response. “This is the next battle for our democracy, one where all eligible citizens can have their say about the vision we want for our country.”

A 2019 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research that analyzed the effects of voter I.D. laws found that they decrease neither voter turnout nor voter fraud, contrary to arguments made by politicians on both sides of the aisle. Previous research on voter suppression suggests that the magnitude of its impact on electoral outcomes is often minimal but that this impact tends to be more politically harmful for Democrats.

After months of speculation about her political future and whether she would join the crowded 2020 presidential field, Abrams announced on Wednesday she has decided against a run. Instead, Abrams launched a new voter protection initiative this week called Fair Fight 2020. It seeks to build the infrastructure she said is needed to ensure that the 2020 elections will be secure from foreign interference and voter suppression.

“If we do the work now, we will have an infrastructure in place, a network across this country that protects the right to vote,” she said on "This Week".

Abrams’s commitment to election integrity stems from her long history tackling voter suppression, beginning with her parents, who she said faced jail time as teenagers helping register African Americans to vote. They instilled in her the belief in the sanctity of voting.

“I was raised to believe that the right to vote is our most fundamental right and that you protect it, but more importantly, that you work for it,” she said. “For me, this is very personal.”

While many of the 2020 candidates don’t share the same personal devotion to election integrity, Abrams said they all have been responsive to calls for election reform and have the “bright ideas,” energy and passion necessary to secure the presidency. Her job, she said, is to use her experience and skills where they are most needed. And right now, she thinks where that is in the fight against voter suppression.

“Fundamentally, all of this is about opportunity,” she said. “I want to stand in office and do the work it takes to make sure that we have a fair fight in our elections, that we have a fair count about who's here, most importantly, that everyone has the freedom and the opportunity to thrive.”

Abrams said the Trump administration is threatening this freedom and opportunity.

“In America, we can choose to vote or not vote,” she said. “Good candidates give you a reason to vote, but good government makes certain you can cast that vote. And what I take exception to is that we do not have people in government who are living up to their obligations. In fact, they are thwarting the will of the people by denying them access. And that's just wrong.”

But the candidates’ primary objective, Abrams argued, should not be beating Trump so much as it should be achieving “victory for our values” and restoring America’s standing domestically and internationally. She said any of the Democrats in the race now has the ability to do so.

“No matter who the nominee is, we are going to have a cogent message that shows how effective we can be and how ineffective and incompetent the current president is,” she said.

Although she said she is not actively pursuing the vice presidency, Abrams remains a prominent Democratic voice and something of a political celebrity. In suburban Atlanta, she often cannot walk down a street without someone wanting to shake her hand or even break out into song.

“It is an incredibly humbling thing that I don’t take credit for or take for granted,” Abrams said. “Hopefully, it’s a reflection that people know I am doing this for the right reasons, and they trust that I have their best interests at heart.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Aug182019

White House trade adviser: 'We're going to have a strong economy through 2020'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- White House trade adviser Peter Navarro declared the U.S. economy will be strong through 2020, and the Federal Reserve will be lowering interest rates again, “significantly,” going into the holiday season, in an interview with "This Week" on Sunday.

Navarro also pushed back against reports of an inverted yield curve, in which the yield on long-term bonds dips below the yield on short-term bonds, and warnings it could be a sign of a recession to come.

“We did not have a yield curve inversion right now, by technical standpoints. You have to have a significant spread between short and long rates,” Navarro said.

He went on to say the curve is actually flat.

The Dow dropped 800 points on Wednesday, the worst day for the stock market this year, after concerning indicators from Germany and China and signs of an inverted yield curve sparked fears of a recession.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also fell on Wednesday, and the markets closed flat on Thursday, retaining most of the losses.

Navarro also responded to recent Wall Street Journal editorials dubbing recent market turmoil “the Navarro recession.”

“When the 'Main Street Journal' starts attacking this administration, that is when we worry,” he said. “It's called The Wall Street Journal for a reason. Okay? It represents Wall Street.”

He also touched on the Trump administration’s decision to delay a 10% tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports until Dec. 15.

"One of the things the president does beautifully is engage with the business community, labor leaders and everybody in between," he said, adding that business leaders urged the president to delay the tariffs.

Trump, Navarro and other administration figures have insisted China would be hurt the most by the tariffs. “To date, China has borne virtually the entire burden of the tariffs, and frankly we're surprised at how aggressively they've been willing to bear that burden,” Navarro said Friday on CNN.

However, many economists have said American consumers are the ones who would pay instead of China, with an additional 10% cost added to the price of many items when tariffs go into effect.

When asked by Raddatz if he was optimistic about the administration’s ability to reach a deal with China on trade, Navarro responded, “I'm optimistic that the president will do the right thing for America and that we have some significant structural issues with China that we need to address.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Aug182019

Bernie Sanders and rapper 'Killer Mike' talk race, faith and hurt in America

Sasha Pereznik/ABC News(ATLANTA) -- Before he took the stage in front of thousands, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, wheeled his worn gym bag and suitcase into the Renaissance Marriott in Atlanta.

Meeting him there for an intimate talk was renowned rapper and activist "Killer Mike" Michael Render, who has long supported Sanders, and said he’s the only person who can defeat Donald Trump. Saturday, they walked down the hall side-by-side for a private discussion.

ABC News was one of the only media outlets to witness the one-on-one.

"I catch a lot of flak for supporting an old Jewish guy," Render half-joked. "And you’ve caught flak -- your campaign -- for supporting validation by a rapper from the South Point. We've both taken some nicks for each other."

The two met in an empty carpeted room, sounding like old battle buddies as they talked about some of the most prescient issues of the 2020 election: socioeconomic racial injustice, health care, millionaires and billionaires and white supremacy.

Render thanked Sanders wryly for not being "one of those white guys" like Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, who doesn't understand the continuing racial divide in America, according to Render. He said Republicans feel like, "We gave you Obama, and freedom. ... That's enough."

McConnell rejected the need for reparations for ancestors of slaves in June, saying, "We've tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation, by electing an African American president."

The pair's eloquence belied the rawness of the issues at hand. Sanders was keen to talk about his touchstone health care issues: Medicare for All, diabetics rationing their insulin and his recent trip to Canada.

"It's not just Trump and his policies. It's what he thinks, because he thinks human life is -- you rob, you steal, you cheat, you step on people -- and you make a billion dollars," Sanders said. "You're talking about a very, very different subset, right? We don't have to step over people sleeping on the sidewalk, our kids going to college education, that is what we are showing them."

"An opportunity!" Render said.

"Opportunity," Sanders said, "exactly."

They spoke on health care, the private prison complex, education and casting an eye around the world for inspiration in America.

Render sympathized with Sanders, saying the candidate's been called a socialist and it’s easy for Trump and the GOP at large to hang the albatross label around much of the progressive left’s neck.

"You have inspired me," Render said.

"You’re gonna have to reinspire me! 'Cause I like this stuff," Sanders said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Aug172019

2020 hopeful Beto O'Rourke visited an Arkansas gun show to talk about gun control

Jeffrey Cook/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Two weeks after his hometown of El Paso was the site of a mass shooting, 2020 presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke made an unannounced visit to a gun show in central Arkansas to speak with gun buyers and sellers about what can be done to stop gun violence in America.

O'Rourke, who was in between campaign events in Arkansas on Saturday, paid $10 to enter the event, and walked through aisles lined with handguns, AR-15s, stun-guns, hunting rifles, scopes, magazines and knives before striking up a conversation with Preston Linck, who was selling handguns and rifles.

Linck, who later said he doesn't identify with either political party, supports closing the so-called gun-show loophole and requiring background checks for all gun sales.

"I have tables here, but there's no background check," Linck told O'Rourke, a former Texas congressman.

O'Rourke asked him whether Linck would accept a requirement that gun-show sellers like him get a federal firearms license, and Linck responded he would. "Just the only little problem I see, there's so many guns out there, even if you tried to stop selling, they're already out there," Linck told O'Rourke.

But he was skeptical of a proposal O'Rourke made a few days ago -- a mandatory assault weapons buy-back because he doesn't think people would willingly participate.

Larry Beaver, another attendee at the show and a self-described Republican Trump supporter, said he owns many firearms, including assault rifles.

"If you want votes, you're not going to get them by talking about taking this away from people," Beaver told O'Rourke. "People are going to find a way to kill people."

O'Rourke said he is not anti-gun, that he learned to handle a firearm growing up from a sheriff's deputy and has handled an assault weapon. But he wants weapons of war out of the hands of the public and to find ways to prevent rampages like the one in El Paso on Aug. 3, when a man opened fire at the El Paso Walmart killing 22 people and wounding two dozen more.

The El Paso shooting, along with another mass shooting that same night in Dayton, Ohio, that left 10 people dead, and a third incident this week in Philadelphia, where a gunman fired a barrage of bullets at a crew of police officers, injuring six of them, has led to a renewed call to both limit the number and variety of firearms in the country, and increase safeguards that could help keep guns out of the hands of would-be criminals.

The shootings have also meant that the issue of gun violence has taken center stage in the race for president. Candidates have called on Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring senators back from their August recess to vote on a background check bill that the Democrat-controlled House passed earlier this year. At least six candidates have also added to mounting pressure on Walmart, one of the nation's biggest gun sellers, to take guns off its shelves until a series of safeguards, including a ban on assault weapons, has been put in place.

O'Rourke, who rushed back to his family in El Paso after the attack, has since vowed to reboot his floundering presidential campaign and seek out tough conversations with voters across the country about immigration, gun violence and racial divisions.

"Those places where Donald Trump has been terrorizing and terrifying and demeaning our fellow Americans, that's why you will find me in this campaign," he told a group of supporters on Thursday in El Paso. He then headed to an area outside Jackson, Mississippi, where federal agents last week rounded up about 680 people accused of violating immigration laws.

Their political differences aside, Beaver said he told O'Rourke, "I respect you for talking to me."

"I saw him walk by and said 'wow what's he doing here?" Beaver said as he recounted their conversation.

He even said he might be willing to support O'Rourke's assault weapons buy-back plan -- so long as he got a fair rate and "the rest of America takes a part in it" too.

For his part, O'Rourke told ABC News, he felt he "learned something by listening to him."

"We're not going to get this done until we include everyone in this conversation," O'Rourke said. "You're never allowed to write anybody off because they're a Republican, because they're a gun seller, because they're at a gun show."

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