Category Archives: World

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Duckworth Has Baby; 1st US Senator to Give Birth in Office

Senator Tammy Duckworth has given birth to a baby girl, making her the first U.S. senator to give birth while in office.

The Illinois Democrat announced she delivered her second daughter, Maile Pearl Bowlsbey, on Monday. Her office says Duckworth is recovering well and asked for privacy.

Duckworth, a 50-year-old veteran who lost her legs in the Iraq War, is one of only 10 lawmakers who have given birth while in Congress. Her first daughter, Abigail, was born in 2014.

Duckworth says Maile’s middle name is in honor of Duckworth’s husband’s great aunt, Pearl Bowlsbey Johnson, who was an Army officer and nurse in World War II.

She says she’s grateful to friends and family and “our wonderful medical teams for everything they’ve done to help us in our decades-long journey to complete our family.”

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Trump’s Tendency to Go Off Script Carries Risks

President Donald Trump seems to be relying more on his gut political instincts in recent weeks.  Whether it is sending U.S. troops to the border with Mexico or imposing tariffs on Chinese goods, Trump seems to be harkening back to his roots as a presidential candidate in 2016, eager to wear the badge of a political disrupter, much as he promised on the campaign trail.

Emblematic of this shift in style, Trump literally tossed away his prepared script during a recent discussion on tax reform in West Virginia, where he continues to enjoy high approval ratings.

“You know, this was going to be my remarks. It would have taken about two minutes. But the hell with it! That would have been a little boring, a little boring,” Trump told the crowd.

Cheered by his base

The audience seemed to delight in Trump’s decision to go off script, and it stands out as a symbolic moment that seems to frame the Trump presidency. After sifting through a long list of advisers, Trump seems more eager to return to his roots as a freewheeling candidate eager to please his hardcore base of supporters.

Trump’s decision to go after China on trade is a classic example of his desire to follow through on a campaign promise popular with much of his base.

“For many years, no president wanted to go against China economically, and we are going to do it,” Trump told the crowd in West Virginia.

Trump kept up his barrage Monday on Twitter, referring to “stupid trade” with China.

​Worried about retaliation

But as China responds with trade actions of its own, some American farmers are getting nervous about where all of this might lead.

“We are looking forward to more profits this year than last year because of the tax cut. Hopefully, we don’t have to give it all away due to the tariffs,” said Iowa hog farmer Jeff Rehder.

Whether it is expressing a desire for U.S. troops to be pulled out of Syria or using them to beef up the Mexican border to stop illegal immigration, Trump appears to be listening more to his gut political instincts.

“It signifies to me that Donald Trump believes that he can run the whole shebang [administration] and that he can do it from Twitter,” said University of Virginia analyst Larry Sabato via Skype. “And that includes whether it is declaring new policy or arranging for the firing of a secretary of state or any number of other things.”

Echoes of the campaign

Others see the latest shift as a natural evolution of the man who made bold promises on the campaign trail, especially his vow to be a political disrupter.

“He was a strong outsider, so I think you could argue he had to find his way. Look, I think the president is always going to be this way to some extent,” said John Fortier of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

Trump prefers to visit friendly states with lots of supporters, such as West Virginia, where his disruptive nature continues to play well. “He doesn’t seem tremendously interested in broadening his base for the most part,” said Michael Barone of the American Enterprise Institute. “He seems interested in pursuing policies, in rough form at least, that he advocated.”

Democrats plan a reckoning

But opposition Democrats have a different take on Trump’s reliance on his gut political instincts.

Ken Gude of the Center for American Progress said the president’s actions are helping to motivate Democrats, and that could lead to a political reckoning for Trump and his fellow Republicans in the congressional midterm elections in November.

“It seems as if Donald Trump is energizing Democrats like we haven’t seen in a very long time. And as a result of that, they are turning out in much, much higher numbers up and down the federal, state and local level.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan insists Republicans can limit the damage in November by emphasizing the Trump tax cuts. “We need to execute, we need to get our message and we need to make sure that our candidates are not massively outraised and outspent on TV,” Ryan said.

Like many Republicans, Ryan will be keeping a close eye on Trump’s public approval rating as the months tick down to the midterms. Trump’s approval has increased slightly in recent days in several polls, but his average approval is still around 41 percent, and that usually is a precursor to significant congressional losses for the party holding the White House during a midterm election.

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Trump’s Tendency to Go Off Script Carries Risks

President Donald Trump seems to be relying more on his gut political instincts in recent weeks.  Whether it is sending U.S. troops to the border with Mexico or imposing tariffs on Chinese goods, Trump seems to be harkening back to his roots as a presidential candidate in 2016, eager to wear the badge of a political disrupter, much as he promised on the campaign trail.

Emblematic of this shift in style, Trump literally tossed away his prepared script during a recent discussion on tax reform in West Virginia, where he continues to enjoy high approval ratings.

“You know, this was going to be my remarks. It would have taken about two minutes. But the hell with it! That would have been a little boring, a little boring,” Trump told the crowd.

Cheered by his base

The audience seemed to delight in Trump’s decision to go off script, and it stands out as a symbolic moment that seems to frame the Trump presidency. After sifting through a long list of advisers, Trump seems more eager to return to his roots as a freewheeling candidate eager to please his hardcore base of supporters.

Trump’s decision to go after China on trade is a classic example of his desire to follow through on a campaign promise popular with much of his base.

“For many years, no president wanted to go against China economically, and we are going to do it,” Trump told the crowd in West Virginia.

Trump kept up his barrage Monday on Twitter, referring to “stupid trade” with China.

​Worried about retaliation

But as China responds with trade actions of its own, some American farmers are getting nervous about where all of this might lead.

“We are looking forward to more profits this year than last year because of the tax cut. Hopefully, we don’t have to give it all away due to the tariffs,” said Iowa hog farmer Jeff Rehder.

Whether it is expressing a desire for U.S. troops to be pulled out of Syria or using them to beef up the Mexican border to stop illegal immigration, Trump appears to be listening more to his gut political instincts.

“It signifies to me that Donald Trump believes that he can run the whole shebang [administration] and that he can do it from Twitter,” said University of Virginia analyst Larry Sabato via Skype. “And that includes whether it is declaring new policy or arranging for the firing of a secretary of state or any number of other things.”

Echoes of the campaign

Others see the latest shift as a natural evolution of the man who made bold promises on the campaign trail, especially his vow to be a political disrupter.

“He was a strong outsider, so I think you could argue he had to find his way. Look, I think the president is always going to be this way to some extent,” said John Fortier of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

Trump prefers to visit friendly states with lots of supporters, such as West Virginia, where his disruptive nature continues to play well. “He doesn’t seem tremendously interested in broadening his base for the most part,” said Michael Barone of the American Enterprise Institute. “He seems interested in pursuing policies, in rough form at least, that he advocated.”

Democrats plan a reckoning

But opposition Democrats have a different take on Trump’s reliance on his gut political instincts.

Ken Gude of the Center for American Progress said the president’s actions are helping to motivate Democrats, and that could lead to a political reckoning for Trump and his fellow Republicans in the congressional midterm elections in November.

“It seems as if Donald Trump is energizing Democrats like we haven’t seen in a very long time. And as a result of that, they are turning out in much, much higher numbers up and down the federal, state and local level.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan insists Republicans can limit the damage in November by emphasizing the Trump tax cuts. “We need to execute, we need to get our message and we need to make sure that our candidates are not massively outraised and outspent on TV,” Ryan said.

Like many Republicans, Ryan will be keeping a close eye on Trump’s public approval rating as the months tick down to the midterms. Trump’s approval has increased slightly in recent days in several polls, but his average approval is still around 41 percent, and that usually is a precursor to significant congressional losses for the party holding the White House during a midterm election.

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Trump’s National Security Council Spokesman Michael Anton Resigns

Another key member of the Trump White House is leaving his job as the shakeup of his national security team continues.

National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton, one of Trump’s earliest supporters during his run for the presidency, said Sunday he is stepping down to become an author and college lecturer.

“I will be forever grateful to President Trump for the opportunity to serve my country and implement his agenda,” Anton said.

A White House official said the president telephoned Anton to thank him for his service and said he will be missed.

Anton was one of the fiercest defenders of Trump’s “America First” foreign policy and was frequently seen on television engaging in verbal sparring with journalists, and even with fellow conservatives who raised questions about the president’s motives. 

Anton’s departure comes a day before the controversial former U.N. ambassador John Bolton takes over from H.R. McMaster as Trump’s National Security Advisor.

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Trump’s National Security Council Spokesman Michael Anton Resigns

Another key member of the Trump White House is leaving his job as the shakeup of his national security team continues.

National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton, one of Trump’s earliest supporters during his run for the presidency, said Sunday he is stepping down to become an author and college lecturer.

“I will be forever grateful to President Trump for the opportunity to serve my country and implement his agenda,” Anton said.

A White House official said the president telephoned Anton to thank him for his service and said he will be missed.

Anton was one of the fiercest defenders of Trump’s “America First” foreign policy and was frequently seen on television engaging in verbal sparring with journalists, and even with fellow conservatives who raised questions about the president’s motives. 

Anton’s departure comes a day before the controversial former U.N. ambassador John Bolton takes over from H.R. McMaster as Trump’s National Security Advisor.

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Judge: State’s Assault Weapons Ban Doesn’t Violate 2nd Amendment

Assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are not protected by the Second Amendment, a federal judge said in a ruling Friday upholding Massachusetts’ ban on the weapons.

U.S. District Judge William Young dismissed a lawsuit challenging the 20-year-old ban, saying assault weapons are military firearms that fall beyond the reach of the constitutional right to “bear arms.”

Regulation of the weapons is a matter of policy, not for the courts, he said.

“Other states are equally free to leave them unregulated and available to their law-abiding citizens,” Young said. “These policy matters are simply not of constitutional moment. Americans are not afraid of bumptious, raucous and robust debate about these matters. We call it democracy.”

Attorney general praises ruling

State Attorney General Maura Healey said the ruling “vindicates the right of the people of Massachusetts to protect themselves from these weapons of war.”

“Strong gun laws save lives, and we will not be intimidated by the gun lobby in our efforts to end the sale of assault weapons and protect our communities and schools,” Healey, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Families across the country should take heart in this victory.”

AR-15 assault-style rifles are under increased scrutiny because of their use in several recent mass shootings, including the February massacre at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead.

Gun owners’ lawsuit

The Gun Owners Gun Owners’ Action League of Massachusetts and other groups that filed the lawsuit argued that the AR-15 cannot be considered a “military weapon” because it cannot fire in fully automatic mode.

But Young dismissed that argument, noting that the semi-automatic AR-15’s design is based on guns “that were first manufactured for military purposes” and that the AR-15 is “common and well-known in the military.”

“The AR-15 and its analogs, along with large capacity magazines, are simply not weapons within the original meaning of the individual constitutional right to ‘bear arms,”’ Young wrote.

Young also upheld Healey’s 2016 enforcement notice to gun sellers and manufacturers clarifying what constitutes a “copy” or “duplicate” weapon under the state’s 1998 assault weapon ban, including copies of the Colt AR-15 and the Kalashnikov AK-47.

State law mirrors federal one

Healey’s stepped-up enforcement followed the shooting rampage at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 patrons. She said at the time that gun manufacturers were circumventing Massachusetts’ ban by selling copycat versions of the weapons they claimed complied with the law.

The Massachusetts assault weapons ban mirrors the federal ban that expired in 2004. It prohibits the sale of specific and name-brand weapons and explicitly bans copies or duplicates of those weapons.

The National Rifle Association panned the ruling and pledged to help the groups fighting the case “in any way possible.”

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Judge: State’s Assault Weapons Ban Doesn’t Violate 2nd Amendment

Assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are not protected by the Second Amendment, a federal judge said in a ruling Friday upholding Massachusetts’ ban on the weapons.

U.S. District Judge William Young dismissed a lawsuit challenging the 20-year-old ban, saying assault weapons are military firearms that fall beyond the reach of the constitutional right to “bear arms.”

Regulation of the weapons is a matter of policy, not for the courts, he said.

“Other states are equally free to leave them unregulated and available to their law-abiding citizens,” Young said. “These policy matters are simply not of constitutional moment. Americans are not afraid of bumptious, raucous and robust debate about these matters. We call it democracy.”

Attorney general praises ruling

State Attorney General Maura Healey said the ruling “vindicates the right of the people of Massachusetts to protect themselves from these weapons of war.”

“Strong gun laws save lives, and we will not be intimidated by the gun lobby in our efforts to end the sale of assault weapons and protect our communities and schools,” Healey, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Families across the country should take heart in this victory.”

AR-15 assault-style rifles are under increased scrutiny because of their use in several recent mass shootings, including the February massacre at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead.

Gun owners’ lawsuit

The Gun Owners Gun Owners’ Action League of Massachusetts and other groups that filed the lawsuit argued that the AR-15 cannot be considered a “military weapon” because it cannot fire in fully automatic mode.

But Young dismissed that argument, noting that the semi-automatic AR-15’s design is based on guns “that were first manufactured for military purposes” and that the AR-15 is “common and well-known in the military.”

“The AR-15 and its analogs, along with large capacity magazines, are simply not weapons within the original meaning of the individual constitutional right to ‘bear arms,”’ Young wrote.

Young also upheld Healey’s 2016 enforcement notice to gun sellers and manufacturers clarifying what constitutes a “copy” or “duplicate” weapon under the state’s 1998 assault weapon ban, including copies of the Colt AR-15 and the Kalashnikov AK-47.

State law mirrors federal one

Healey’s stepped-up enforcement followed the shooting rampage at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 patrons. She said at the time that gun manufacturers were circumventing Massachusetts’ ban by selling copycat versions of the weapons they claimed complied with the law.

The Massachusetts assault weapons ban mirrors the federal ban that expired in 2004. It prohibits the sale of specific and name-brand weapons and explicitly bans copies or duplicates of those weapons.

The National Rifle Association panned the ruling and pledged to help the groups fighting the case “in any way possible.”

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Kansas Lawmakers Boost School Funding Over GOP Objections

Kansas legislators approved an increase in spending on school funding early Sunday, with Republicans pushing the measure to passage over the bitter objections of some GOP colleagues in hopes of meeting a court mandate.

Dozens of teachers, many wearing red shirts, converged on the Statehouse, camped out for hours and cheered after the Senate approved a bill, 21-19, to phase in a $534 million increase in education funding over five years. The House passed the bill Saturday, 63-56, and GOP Gov. Jeff Colyer endorsed it publicly.

“I am pleased that we were able to compromise and pass a bill that ensures our schools will remain open and are funded adequately and equitably,” Colyer said in a statement.

Court ruling

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled last fall that the state isn’t spending enough money on its public schools. Colyer and some members of the Republican-controlled Legislature worried that a frustrated high court would take the unprecedented step of preventing the state from distributing dollars through a flawed education funding system, effectively closing schools statewide.

Many Democrats had argued that the plan, drafted largely by top House Republicans, would not satisfy the Supreme Court. Most Democrats in the House voted against it.

But the measure had bipartisan support in the Senate. The state’s largest teachers union put aside its own misgivings that the plan was too small and had members pack the Senate gallery and hallways outside the chamber.

“It is certainly the best bill we’ve seen,” said Kansas National Education Association lobbyist Mark Desetti. “It’s time to get something before the court.”

 

WATCH: Teacher Strikes Spread Across the US

Education underfunded

The Supreme Court declared in October that the state’s current funding of more than $4 billion a year isn’t enough for lawmakers to fulfill their duty under the Kansas Constitution to finance a suitable education for every child. It gave Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican, until April 30 to report on how lawmakers responded.

Lawmakers had been scheduled to start an annual spring break Saturday and return April 26 — four days before Schmidt’s deadline. He and Colyer urged legislators to delay the break until a school funding bill passed.

Senate GOP leaders had excoriated a previous, similarly sized plan from the House as likely to force higher taxes within two years. The Senate approved a plan to phase in a $274 million increase over five years and top Republicans hoped in negotiations to talk the House down from its big plan.

“We know — absolutely know — if we’re going to pay this bill, we’re going to have to increase taxes,” said Senate President Susan Wagle, a conservative Wichita Republican.

Later, she said, “I’m here for the people who are footing the bill.”

Colyer argued in a statement Saturday that the new plan could be sustained without increasing taxes. Supporters believe the annual growth in tax revenues will cover the new spending.

The House and Senate had passed rival plans earlier in the week. Their negotiators made little progress Friday on how much school spending should increase.

Besides objecting to the level of spending, some conservative Republicans said the court is improperly encroaching on the Legislature’s power to determine the state budget.

Conservative GOP Rep. Randy Garber, of Sabetha, argued that problems with public education stem from U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the early 1960s declaring school-sponsored prayer and Bible reading as unconstitutional.

“If we don’t fix society, we won’t fix our schools,” Garber said in concluding a 13-minute speech. “I say the way to fix our schools is to put prayer and the Bible back and give it a chance.”

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