Bloomberg Mulling a Run for President as a Democrat

Billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is actively thinking of running for president in 2020 as a Democrat.

 

“It’s impossible to conceive that I could run as a Republican – things like choice, so many of the issues, I’m just way away from where the Republican Party is today,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a New York Times report Monday.

 

“That’s not to say I’m with the Democratic Party on everything, but I don’t see how you could possibly run as a Republican,” Bloomberg said. “So if you ran, yeah, you’d have to run as a Democrat.”

 

Bloomberg served three terms as New York City mayor and has variously been a Democrat, Republican and independent. He twice flirted with running for president as an independent candidate, but ruled it out.

 

The 76-year-old founder and CEO of Bloomberg L.P., a global media company, has already lined up behind Democrats in the midterm elections and is using his money to attack Republicans on gun control, abortion and environmental issues.

 

Bloomberg did not say when he would make a decision on whether to run for president.

 

“I’m working on this Nov. 6 election, and after that I’ll take a look at it,” Bloomberg said.

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Tesla’s Musk Sued for Calling Thai Cave Rescuer Pedophile

Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, was sued for defamation on Monday for falsely suggesting that a British caver who helped save 12 boys and their soccer coach from a Thailand cave in July was a pedophile and child rapist.

Vernon Unsworth sued over Musk’s reference to him in a July 15 tweet as a “pedo guy,” a comment for which Musk later apologized. The suit also claims that Musk called Unsworth a child rapist and sex trafficker in an Aug. 30 email to BuzzFeed News.

Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Musk and the company.

The complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles seeks at least $75,000 of compensatory damages, plus unspecified punitive damages.

The case adds to a slew of litigation against Musk, including over his running of Palo Alto, California-based Tesla, which the billionaire has said has caused him severe stress.

Unsworth became a target for Musk after cave rescuers rejected Musk’s offer of a mini-submarine created by his rocket company SpaceX to rescue the soccer team, which was finally freed after 18 days in the cave on July 10.

Though Unsworth told CNN three days later Musk’s offer was a “PR stunt” that had no chance of working and that Musk could “stick his submarine where it hurts,” he said that did not justify Musk’s use of Twitter and the media to defame him.

The July 15 tweet by Musk touted the mini-submarine and then, referring to Unsworth with a shorthand description of pedophile, said, “Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.”

Musk apologized on July 18, referring to Unsworth in saying “his actions against me do not justify my actions against him,” and that “the fault is mine and mine alone.”

But the complaint said that in the August 30 email, Musk urged a BuzzFeed reporter to “stop defending child rapists,” and then said Unsworth spent decades in Thailand until moving to Chiang Rai, “renowned for child sex-trafficking,” to take a 12-year-old bride.

Unsworth said all of these accusations were false, and that the defamatory statements “were manufactured out of whole cloth by Musk out of a belief on his part that his wealth and stature allowed him to falsely accuse Mr. Unsworth with impunity” because he disagreed with him about the mini-submarine.

The case is Unsworth v Musk, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 18-08048.

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Tesla’s Musk Sued for Calling Thai Cave Rescuer Pedophile

Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, was sued for defamation on Monday for falsely suggesting that a British caver who helped save 12 boys and their soccer coach from a Thailand cave in July was a pedophile and child rapist.

Vernon Unsworth sued over Musk’s reference to him in a July 15 tweet as a “pedo guy,” a comment for which Musk later apologized. The suit also claims that Musk called Unsworth a child rapist and sex trafficker in an Aug. 30 email to BuzzFeed News.

Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Musk and the company.

The complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles seeks at least $75,000 of compensatory damages, plus unspecified punitive damages.

The case adds to a slew of litigation against Musk, including over his running of Palo Alto, California-based Tesla, which the billionaire has said has caused him severe stress.

Unsworth became a target for Musk after cave rescuers rejected Musk’s offer of a mini-submarine created by his rocket company SpaceX to rescue the soccer team, which was finally freed after 18 days in the cave on July 10.

Though Unsworth told CNN three days later Musk’s offer was a “PR stunt” that had no chance of working and that Musk could “stick his submarine where it hurts,” he said that did not justify Musk’s use of Twitter and the media to defame him.

The July 15 tweet by Musk touted the mini-submarine and then, referring to Unsworth with a shorthand description of pedophile, said, “Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.”

Musk apologized on July 18, referring to Unsworth in saying “his actions against me do not justify my actions against him,” and that “the fault is mine and mine alone.”

But the complaint said that in the August 30 email, Musk urged a BuzzFeed reporter to “stop defending child rapists,” and then said Unsworth spent decades in Thailand until moving to Chiang Rai, “renowned for child sex-trafficking,” to take a 12-year-old bride.

Unsworth said all of these accusations were false, and that the defamatory statements “were manufactured out of whole cloth by Musk out of a belief on his part that his wealth and stature allowed him to falsely accuse Mr. Unsworth with impunity” because he disagreed with him about the mini-submarine.

The case is Unsworth v Musk, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 18-08048.

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Saudi Sovereign Fund Invests $1 Billion in US Electric Car Firm

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund invested $1 billion Monday in an American electric car manufacturer just weeks after Tesla CEO Elon Musk earlier claimed the kingdom would help his own firm go private.

Tesla stock dropped Monday on reaction to the news, the same day that the Saudi fund announced it had taken its first loan, an $11 billion borrowing from global banks as it tries to expand its investments.

The Saudi Public Investment Fund said it would invest the $1 billion in Newark, California-based Lucid Motors.

The investment “will provide the necessary funding to commercially launch Lucid’s first electric vehicle, the Lucid Air, in 2020,” the sovereign wealth fund said in a statement. “The company plans to use the funding to complete engineering development and testing of the Lucid Air, construct its factory in Arizona, enter production for the Lucid Air to begin the global rollout of the company’s retail strategy starting in North America.”

Lucid issued a statement quoting Peter Rawlinson, its chief technology officer, welcoming the investment.

“At Lucid, we will demonstrate the full potential of the electric-connected vehicle in order to push the industry forward,” he said.

The decision comes after Musk on Aug. 7 tweeted that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private. Investors pushed Tesla’s shares up 11 percent in a day, boosting its valuation by $6 billion.

There are multiple reports that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the disclosure, including asking board members what they knew about Musk’s plans. Experts say regulators likely are investigating if Musk was truthful in the tweet about having the financing set for the deal. Musk later said the Saudi Public Investment Fund would be investing in the firm, something Saudi officials never comment on.

Meanwhile Monday, the sovereign wealth fund known by the acronym PIF said it had taken its first loan, an $11 billion borrowing. It did not say how it would use the money, only describing it as going toward “general corporate purposes.”

The Las Vegas-based Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute estimates the Saudi fund has holdings of $250 billion. Those include a $3.5 billion stake in the ride-sharing app Uber.

Saudi Arabia’s 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has talked about using the PIF to help diversify the economy of the kingdom, which relies almost entirely on money made from its oil sales.

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Saudi Sovereign Fund Invests $1 Billion in US Electric Car Firm

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund invested $1 billion Monday in an American electric car manufacturer just weeks after Tesla CEO Elon Musk earlier claimed the kingdom would help his own firm go private.

Tesla stock dropped Monday on reaction to the news, the same day that the Saudi fund announced it had taken its first loan, an $11 billion borrowing from global banks as it tries to expand its investments.

The Saudi Public Investment Fund said it would invest the $1 billion in Newark, California-based Lucid Motors.

The investment “will provide the necessary funding to commercially launch Lucid’s first electric vehicle, the Lucid Air, in 2020,” the sovereign wealth fund said in a statement. “The company plans to use the funding to complete engineering development and testing of the Lucid Air, construct its factory in Arizona, enter production for the Lucid Air to begin the global rollout of the company’s retail strategy starting in North America.”

Lucid issued a statement quoting Peter Rawlinson, its chief technology officer, welcoming the investment.

“At Lucid, we will demonstrate the full potential of the electric-connected vehicle in order to push the industry forward,” he said.

The decision comes after Musk on Aug. 7 tweeted that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private. Investors pushed Tesla’s shares up 11 percent in a day, boosting its valuation by $6 billion.

There are multiple reports that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the disclosure, including asking board members what they knew about Musk’s plans. Experts say regulators likely are investigating if Musk was truthful in the tweet about having the financing set for the deal. Musk later said the Saudi Public Investment Fund would be investing in the firm, something Saudi officials never comment on.

Meanwhile Monday, the sovereign wealth fund known by the acronym PIF said it had taken its first loan, an $11 billion borrowing. It did not say how it would use the money, only describing it as going toward “general corporate purposes.”

The Las Vegas-based Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute estimates the Saudi fund has holdings of $250 billion. Those include a $3.5 billion stake in the ride-sharing app Uber.

Saudi Arabia’s 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has talked about using the PIF to help diversify the economy of the kingdom, which relies almost entirely on money made from its oil sales.

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Why Robots That Look Too Human Make Some People Uneasy

An increasing number of robots are being created and designed to work side by side with humans, in a human environment. That means robots have to be structured like a person, because some of them have to walk and sit like a person. Some robots are even being designed to look human.

But seeing an android, a robot that looks human, can make some people uneasy. That growing unsettling feeling or phenomenon as robots begin to look more like human beings is called the “uncanny valley.” 

Even researchers who work on robots are not immune to it. 

“I know how they work. I know they’re just machines, but something about something that looks like a person but doesn’t quite move like a person is disturbing,” said Jonathan Gratch, director for virtual human research at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Institute for Creative Technologies.

Gratch, who is a research professor of computer science and psychology, studies human-computer interaction.

He said there are many thoughts behind why the uncanny valley exists. One explanation is that it’s biological. People are hardwired to recognize when something seems wrong.

“In my research, I study emotion and how we use emotional cues to read each other’s minds, and I think a lot of the issue for me is if you try to make something very realistic, then you start trying to read all this information into what it’s portraying, and it is not the right information. So, it just communicates something is off. Something is wrong with this interaction,” Gratch said.

Another theory is that a robot that looks too human threatens what it means to be human.

“Initially, humans were seen as the only intelligent entity. And now, we know more and more that animals can do many of the things that we do, build tools. We know machines are starting to become intelligent. We hold on to the fact that we’re emotional, but now these machines are starting to be emotional as well, which is perhaps a threat. So, where does that lead people?” Gratch explained. 

A person’s religious beliefs and culture may also play into how an android is perceived, he suggested.

“In the Western tradition, coming from Christianity, humans are unique, perhaps uniquely possessing a soul. Whereas in Japanese Shinto culture, souls live everywhere, in rocks and machines,” Gratch said.

John Rebula is a postdoctoral fellow at USC and is working on making a humanoid robot walk like a person by being more coordinated and balanced. Applications include the ability to walk up a flight of stairs and sit in a chair made for a person. He said the robot’s face is not necessary and is clearly cosmetic.

“We really do think of these as research machines that we’re ripping apart and putting back together, ripping apart and putting back together. And so, it’s very easy for us to leave off the cosmetic bits,” Rebula said.

His robot does have cartoon-like eyes, ears and a nose. It could be considered cute. However, if it looked more human, Rebula said he would not necessarily want to be in the lab with it all the time.

“We have lots of late nights in labs. You start yelling at the robot a little bit as it is — ‘Oh, why aren’t you working?’ I don’t necessarily, myself, need that extra layer of weird,” Rebula said.

People who design machines to work with humans do keep the uncanny valley in mind as they think about the look of a robot, and how widely it will be accepted by humans.

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Why Robots That Look Too Human Make Some People Uneasy

An increasing number of robots are being created and designed to work side by side with humans, in a human environment. That means robots have to be structured like a person, because some of them have to walk and sit like a person. Some robots are even being designed to look human.

But seeing an android, a robot that looks human, can make some people uneasy. That growing unsettling feeling or phenomenon as robots begin to look more like human beings is called the “uncanny valley.” 

Even researchers who work on robots are not immune to it. 

“I know how they work. I know they’re just machines, but something about something that looks like a person but doesn’t quite move like a person is disturbing,” said Jonathan Gratch, director for virtual human research at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Institute for Creative Technologies.

Gratch, who is a research professor of computer science and psychology, studies human-computer interaction.

He said there are many thoughts behind why the uncanny valley exists. One explanation is that it’s biological. People are hardwired to recognize when something seems wrong.

“In my research, I study emotion and how we use emotional cues to read each other’s minds, and I think a lot of the issue for me is if you try to make something very realistic, then you start trying to read all this information into what it’s portraying, and it is not the right information. So, it just communicates something is off. Something is wrong with this interaction,” Gratch said.

Another theory is that a robot that looks too human threatens what it means to be human.

“Initially, humans were seen as the only intelligent entity. And now, we know more and more that animals can do many of the things that we do, build tools. We know machines are starting to become intelligent. We hold on to the fact that we’re emotional, but now these machines are starting to be emotional as well, which is perhaps a threat. So, where does that lead people?” Gratch explained. 

A person’s religious beliefs and culture may also play into how an android is perceived, he suggested.

“In the Western tradition, coming from Christianity, humans are unique, perhaps uniquely possessing a soul. Whereas in Japanese Shinto culture, souls live everywhere, in rocks and machines,” Gratch said.

John Rebula is a postdoctoral fellow at USC and is working on making a humanoid robot walk like a person by being more coordinated and balanced. Applications include the ability to walk up a flight of stairs and sit in a chair made for a person. He said the robot’s face is not necessary and is clearly cosmetic.

“We really do think of these as research machines that we’re ripping apart and putting back together, ripping apart and putting back together. And so, it’s very easy for us to leave off the cosmetic bits,” Rebula said.

His robot does have cartoon-like eyes, ears and a nose. It could be considered cute. However, if it looked more human, Rebula said he would not necessarily want to be in the lab with it all the time.

“We have lots of late nights in labs. You start yelling at the robot a little bit as it is — ‘Oh, why aren’t you working?’ I don’t necessarily, myself, need that extra layer of weird,” Rebula said.

People who design machines to work with humans do keep the uncanny valley in mind as they think about the look of a robot, and how widely it will be accepted by humans.

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Complexities of the Upcoming Election in One PA City

Residents of the small city of Hazleton, PA, face deeply personal choices in this November’s election which features a homegrown candidate with hardline-immigrant views in a city that has been changed in deep-rooted ways by… an influx of immigrants.

Hazleton’s “transformative decade,” is how former police chief Frank DeAndrea puts it.

And transformative it has been. About 130 kilometers (80 miles) northwest of Philadelphia, at the intersection of two major highways, Hazleton has some 25,000 residents. In 2000, 5 percent of them were Hispanic. Today, 50 percent of them are.

This remarkable surge of immigrants, mostly from the Dominican Republic, came to Hazleton after they discovered that both the cost of living and crime rate were lower in the former coal town.

“If a man and his wife both work, which they generally do here, if they’re both working in a plant… Where would you be better served for that $11, $12 an hour?” posits Bob Curry with the Hazleton Integration Project. “You want to try and do that in Newark? You want to try to do that in the Bronx? You want to try to do it anywhere near New York City? … Can’t do it.”

“It was a quiet, quiet town,” recalls Amilcar Arroyo, who moved to Hazleton from Peru 30 years ago. “Most people living here at that time were elderly people. At 6 o’clock [p.m.], it was quiet and during the day too.” Arroyo owns El Mensajero International, Hazelton’s Spanish language newspaper.

Yet, says former chief DeAndrea, who observed Hazleton’s transformation as a Pennsylvania state trooper, the influx sparked fear – fear of crime, fear of overrun schools and social services and simply, fear of the unknown. 

“And fear is an ugly thing. …it doesn’t only happen to a human being, it happens to a community. A community becomes so afraid they can’t move forward,” he said.

Hometown candidate

Challenging incumbent Bob Casey (D) for one of Pennsylvania’s two Senate seats, Hazleton native Congressman Lou Barletta is, according to his own website, “a national figure in the fight against illegal immigration.” He was an early supporter of President Donald Trump, who encouraged him to run for the Senate.

“We need Lou Barletta,” President Donald Trump told a packed arena in Wilkes Barre, PA, in early August.

Barletta is well known in Hazleton where he owned the largest pavement marking company in Pennsylvania before selling it in 2000 after he became Hazleton’s mayor.

During his time as mayor in 2006, he introduced the Illegal Immigration Relief Act after two undocumented immigrants from the Dominican Republic were charged with murdering a Hazleton father of three.

The act penalized and fined employers and landlords for hiring and renting to illegal immigrants. 

Arroyo recalls it as a dark time. “In one of the rallies of Mr. Lou Barletta, people were attacking me. Verbally attacking me. They called me traitor. They called me ‘Go back to your country,’ ‘Go back to Mexico,’ ‘Illegal,’ and I was an American citizen.” 

The ordinance was quickly challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The suit went up to the Supreme Court, which in 2014 refused to take the case, letting stand lower court decisions that struck down the measure.

Dorothy George is a longtime Hazleton resident who won’t reveal how she will vote. “When I look back 50 years ago, it was a safer community, and not necessarily that is caused by the Hispanic influx, but just I think the whole United States has changed in that respect,” she said when VOA caught up with her at her workplace.

Hazleton 

After the coal economy bottomed out in Hazleton, local lawmakers offered tax incentives hoping to attract manufacturing companies, distribution centers and warehouses. They began to set up plants near Hazleton and the warehouse economy was launched. 

“The new economy is based on warehousing because of the great dot com. All of the big major players selling things have warehouses and they want to ship it the most efficient way possible. Trucking is the way they do it. And we’re at an ideal location.” says Curry referring to Hazleton’s location at the intersection of interstates 80 and 81. 

At the same time, dozens of Latino-owned businesses have opened along the streets of Hazleton from restaurants selling homemade Mexican and Dominican food to small grocery stores. 

“My newspaper exists based on two kind of businesses: Latino businesses and American businesses, American businesses that want to get to that growing market, which is a Latino market,” Arroyo says. 

To Curry, whose Integration Project provides after school care for 1,000 children each week, the two communities are like a pair of railroad tracks, extending into the distance without ever meeting. The children, he thinks, might bring them together.

“And when Johnny goes to his little league baseball game and Jose gets a homerun and your team goes to the championship, you’re not so anxious to see Jose sent back to that ‘whatever he came from’ story. Life happens and when life happens, people’s mentality, their worldview, their outlook will change.” 

Referendum on immigration

“A lot of ethnic people don’t like Lou Barletta,” said Barry Chaskin from behind the counter of his retail establishment. He is a white Republican voter. “I think that everybody had a wrong concept of what he was trying to do. It wasn’t immigration. It was illegal immigration that he fought.”

Connie Cramey, a “Republican conservative Latina,” does like Barletta. VOA caught up with her as she was knocking on doors for her candidate. “I’m pro-America first and I believe that he’s too,” Cramey said.

Cramey says she moved to the U.S. at the age of 15 from El Salvador. 

“Nobody is closing the doors to diverse communities, different nationalities. I believe if the latino or the Hispanic community wants to be part of America, first of all, you’ve got to come here legally and then … learn English, and I don’t see that as anything discriminatory or racist,” she said.

Arroyo says that if the Latino population got more engaged in the political life of the city, a “sleeping giant,” would wake up. For now small percentages of the Latino community vote.

“We have to get more involved in local politics,” he says. 

Barletta is trailing Casey in the polls. Real Clear Politics’ average of polls gives Casey a comfortable 14.8% margin statewide. But how the vote will go in Hazleton, part of Luzerne County that went for Trump in 2016, is anyone’s guess. 

“I know them both,” Chaskin said of the two Senate candidates. “I would hope [Barletta] does have a chance and some people in town would agree with me. Others would not…” 

As much as anywhere in the country, the vote in Hazleton is also about President Trump’s unbending immigration policies – including his short-lived “zero tolerance” policy that separated immigrant families at the border. 

“I don’t know who’s right. That’s why we do these things,” Chaskin continued. “That’s why we vote – to see what the people really want.”

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Complexities of the Upcoming Election in One PA City

Residents of the small city of Hazleton, PA, face deeply personal choices in this November’s election which features a homegrown candidate with hardline-immigrant views in a city that has been changed in deep-rooted ways by… an influx of immigrants.

Hazleton’s “transformative decade,” is how former police chief Frank DeAndrea puts it.

And transformative it has been. About 130 kilometers (80 miles) northwest of Philadelphia, at the intersection of two major highways, Hazleton has some 25,000 residents. In 2000, 5 percent of them were Hispanic. Today, 50 percent of them are.

This remarkable surge of immigrants, mostly from the Dominican Republic, came to Hazleton after they discovered that both the cost of living and crime rate were lower in the former coal town.

“If a man and his wife both work, which they generally do here, if they’re both working in a plant… Where would you be better served for that $11, $12 an hour?” posits Bob Curry with the Hazleton Integration Project. “You want to try and do that in Newark? You want to try to do that in the Bronx? You want to try to do it anywhere near New York City? … Can’t do it.”

“It was a quiet, quiet town,” recalls Amilcar Arroyo, who moved to Hazleton from Peru 30 years ago. “Most people living here at that time were elderly people. At 6 o’clock [p.m.], it was quiet and during the day too.” Arroyo owns El Mensajero International, Hazelton’s Spanish language newspaper.

Yet, says former chief DeAndrea, who observed Hazleton’s transformation as a Pennsylvania state trooper, the influx sparked fear – fear of crime, fear of overrun schools and social services and simply, fear of the unknown. 

“And fear is an ugly thing. …it doesn’t only happen to a human being, it happens to a community. A community becomes so afraid they can’t move forward,” he said.

Hometown candidate

Challenging incumbent Bob Casey (D) for one of Pennsylvania’s two Senate seats, Hazleton native Congressman Lou Barletta is, according to his own website, “a national figure in the fight against illegal immigration.” He was an early supporter of President Donald Trump, who encouraged him to run for the Senate.

“We need Lou Barletta,” President Donald Trump told a packed arena in Wilkes Barre, PA, in early August.

Barletta is well known in Hazleton where he owned the largest pavement marking company in Pennsylvania before selling it in 2000 after he became Hazleton’s mayor.

During his time as mayor in 2006, he introduced the Illegal Immigration Relief Act after two undocumented immigrants from the Dominican Republic were charged with murdering a Hazleton father of three.

The act penalized and fined employers and landlords for hiring and renting to illegal immigrants. 

Arroyo recalls it as a dark time. “In one of the rallies of Mr. Lou Barletta, people were attacking me. Verbally attacking me. They called me traitor. They called me ‘Go back to your country,’ ‘Go back to Mexico,’ ‘Illegal,’ and I was an American citizen.” 

The ordinance was quickly challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The suit went up to the Supreme Court, which in 2014 refused to take the case, letting stand lower court decisions that struck down the measure.

Dorothy George is a longtime Hazleton resident who won’t reveal how she will vote. “When I look back 50 years ago, it was a safer community, and not necessarily that is caused by the Hispanic influx, but just I think the whole United States has changed in that respect,” she said when VOA caught up with her at her workplace.

Hazleton 

After the coal economy bottomed out in Hazleton, local lawmakers offered tax incentives hoping to attract manufacturing companies, distribution centers and warehouses. They began to set up plants near Hazleton and the warehouse economy was launched. 

“The new economy is based on warehousing because of the great dot com. All of the big major players selling things have warehouses and they want to ship it the most efficient way possible. Trucking is the way they do it. And we’re at an ideal location.” says Curry referring to Hazleton’s location at the intersection of interstates 80 and 81. 

At the same time, dozens of Latino-owned businesses have opened along the streets of Hazleton from restaurants selling homemade Mexican and Dominican food to small grocery stores. 

“My newspaper exists based on two kind of businesses: Latino businesses and American businesses, American businesses that want to get to that growing market, which is a Latino market,” Arroyo says. 

To Curry, whose Integration Project provides after school care for 1,000 children each week, the two communities are like a pair of railroad tracks, extending into the distance without ever meeting. The children, he thinks, might bring them together.

“And when Johnny goes to his little league baseball game and Jose gets a homerun and your team goes to the championship, you’re not so anxious to see Jose sent back to that ‘whatever he came from’ story. Life happens and when life happens, people’s mentality, their worldview, their outlook will change.” 

Referendum on immigration

“A lot of ethnic people don’t like Lou Barletta,” said Barry Chaskin from behind the counter of his retail establishment. He is a white Republican voter. “I think that everybody had a wrong concept of what he was trying to do. It wasn’t immigration. It was illegal immigration that he fought.”

Connie Cramey, a “Republican conservative Latina,” does like Barletta. VOA caught up with her as she was knocking on doors for her candidate. “I’m pro-America first and I believe that he’s too,” Cramey said.

Cramey says she moved to the U.S. at the age of 15 from El Salvador. 

“Nobody is closing the doors to diverse communities, different nationalities. I believe if the latino or the Hispanic community wants to be part of America, first of all, you’ve got to come here legally and then … learn English, and I don’t see that as anything discriminatory or racist,” she said.

Arroyo says that if the Latino population got more engaged in the political life of the city, a “sleeping giant,” would wake up. For now small percentages of the Latino community vote.

“We have to get more involved in local politics,” he says. 

Barletta is trailing Casey in the polls. Real Clear Politics’ average of polls gives Casey a comfortable 14.8% margin statewide. But how the vote will go in Hazleton, part of Luzerne County that went for Trump in 2016, is anyone’s guess. 

“I know them both,” Chaskin said of the two Senate candidates. “I would hope [Barletta] does have a chance and some people in town would agree with me. Others would not…” 

As much as anywhere in the country, the vote in Hazleton is also about President Trump’s unbending immigration policies – including his short-lived “zero tolerance” policy that separated immigrant families at the border. 

“I don’t know who’s right. That’s why we do these things,” Chaskin continued. “That’s why we vote – to see what the people really want.”

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Complexities of the Upcoming Election in One PA City

In rural Pennsylvania, the small city of Hazleton has come out of a “transformative decade,” the former police chief says. In the early 2000s, a wave of immigrants and first generation Americans moved to the area, seeking jobs and a better way of life. In the 2016 election, Donald Trump narrowly edged out Hilary Clinton. Now, a native son is Trump’s hand-picked candidate to challenge Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey. VOA’s immigration reporter Aline Barros has more.

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