Samsung to Investigate Reports of Galaxy Fold Screen Problems

South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. said it has received a few reports of damage to the main display of samples of its upcoming foldable smartphone and that it will investigate.

Some tech reviewers of the Galaxy Fold, a splashy $1,980 phone that opens into a tablet and that goes on sale in the United States April 26, said the phone malfunctioned after only a day or two of use.

“We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter,” Samsung said in a statement, noting that a limited number of early Galaxy Fold samples were provided to media for review.

Screen cracking, flickering

The problem seems to be related to the unit’s screen either cracking or flickering, according to Twitter posts by technology journalists from Bloomberg, The Verge and CNBC who received the phone this week for review purposes.

Samsung, which has advertised the phone as “the future,” said removing a protective layer of its main display might cause damage, and that it will clearly inform customers such.

The company said it has closed pre-orders for the Galaxy Fold because of “high demand.” It told Reuters there is no change to its release schedule following the malfunction reports.

From phone to tablet

The South Korean company’s Galaxy Fold resembles a conventional smartphone but opens like a book to reveal a second display the size of a small tablet at 7.3 inches (18.5 cm).

Although Galaxy Fold and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.’s Mate X foldable phones are not expected to be big sellers, the new designs were hailed as framing the future of smartphones this year in a field that has seen few surprises since Apple Inc. introduced the screen slab iPhone in 2007.

The problems with the new phone drew comparisons to Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 phone in 2016. Battery and design flaws in the Note 7 led to some units catching fire or exploding, forcing Samsung to recall and cancel sales of the phone. The recall wiped out nearly all of the profit in Samsung’s mobile division in the third quarter of 2016.

Samsung has said it plans to churn out at least 1 million foldable Galaxy Fold handsets globally, compared with its total estimated 300 million mobile phones it produces annually.

Reviewers puzzled

Reviewers of the new Galaxy Fold said they did not know what the problem was and Samsung did not provide answers.

Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman tweeted: “The screen on my Galaxy Fold review unit is completely broken and unusable just two days in. Hard to know if this is widespread or not.”

According to Gurman’s tweets, he removed a plastic layer on the screen that was not meant to be removed and the phone malfunctioned afterward.

Dieter Bohn, executive editor of The Verge, said that a “small bulge” appeared on the crease of the phone screen, which appeared to be something pressing from underneath the screen.

Bohn said Samsung replaced his test phone but did not offer a reason for the problem.

“It is very troubling,” Bohn told Reuters, adding that he did not remove the plastic screen cover.

Steve Kovach, tech editor at CNBC.com tweeted a video of half of his phone’s screen flickering after using it for just a day.

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US Trade Deficit Hits 8-Month Low on Weak Chinese Imports

The U.S. trade deficit fell to an eight-month low in February as imports from China plunged, temporarily providing a boost to President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda and economic growth in the first quarter.

The surprise second straight monthly narrowing in the trade gap reported by the Commerce Department on Wednesday was also driven by soaring aircraft exports, which are likely to reverse after Boeing halted deliveries of its troubled 737 MAX aircraft. MAX planes have been grounded indefinitely following two deadly crashes.

Economists warned the trade deficit would remain elevated regardless of whether the United States and China struck a trade deal that was to the White House’s liking because of Americans’ insatiable appetite for cheaper imports.

Talks between Washington and China to resolve the bitter trade war have been dragging. The United States is also embroiled in conflicts with other trading partners, including the European Union, contributing to big swings in exports and imports data in recent months.

“Even if trade negotiations are resolved in such a way as to reduce the bilateral trade deficit with China, one of the Trump administration’s stated goals, this would likely divert trade flows to other countries and have little impact on the top-line U.S. trade deficit,” said Emily Mandel, an economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

The trade deficit tumbled 3.4% to $49.4 billion in February, the lowest level since June 2018. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade shortfall widening to $53.5 billion in February.

The politically sensitive goods trade deficit with China – a focus of the Trump administration’s protectionist trade policy – decreased 28.2% to $24.8 billion in February as imports from the world’s No. 2 economy plunged 20.2%. U.S. exports to China jumped 18.2% in February.

Washington last year imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of goods imported from China, with Beijing retaliating with duties on $110 billion worth of American products. Trump has defended the duties as necessary to protect domestic manufacturers from what he says is unfair foreign competition.

Trump has delayed tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. The White House argues that substantially reducing the trade deficit would lift annual economic growth by at least 3% on a sustainable basis, a feat that economists have said is impossible because of low productivity and population growth.

The economy grew 2.9% in 2018.

The dollar was little changed against a basket of currencies, while U.S. Treasury debt prices rose marginally.

Stocks on Wall Street fell.

Growth estimates raised

February’s smaller trade deficit suggests the economy will probably avoid a sharp slowdown in growth that had been feared at the start of the year. The goods trade deficit declined 1.7% to an eight-month low of $72.0 billion in February.

When adjusted for inflation, the overall goods trade deficit fell $1.8 billion to $81.8 billion, also the lowest since last June. Goldman Sachs raised its first quarter gross domestic product estimate by four-tenths of percentage point to a 2.1% annualized rate.

The Atlanta Federal Reserve bumped up its GDP forecast to a 2.4% pace from a 2.3% rate. The economy grew at a 2.2% rate in the fourth quarter.

“It sounds like pencils are being sharpened in order to revise up first-quarter GDP forecasts,” said Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto.

In February, goods exports increased 1.5% to $139.5 billion. The surge in goods exports is unlikely to be sustained given slowing global economic growth. The dollar’s strength last year means U.S.-manufactured goods are less competitive on foreign markets.

Shipments of civilian aircraft soared by $2.2 billion in February. Exports of motor vehicles and parts increased by $0.6 billion. There was a small rise in soybean exports. Economists expect soybean exports to remain moderate because of an outbreak of swine flu that has reduced demand for soybean meal in China.

In February, imports rose 0.2% to $259.1 billion.

Consumer goods imports increased by $1.6 billion in February, led by a $2.1 billion rise in imports of cellphones and other household goods.

Imports of industrial supplies and materials fell by $1.2 billion. Capital goods imports rose slightly, pointing to slower business spending on equipment.

Crude oil imports fell to 173.7 million barrels, the lowest since March 1992, from 223.1 million barrels in January. An increase in domestic production has seen the United States become less dependent on foreign oil.

“We see more potential for stronger imports in coming months, which would reestablish a trend toward wider deficits,” said Andrew Hollenhorst, an economist at Citigroup in New York.

 

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AP-NORC Poll: Many Aren’t Exonerating Trump in Russia Probe

Many Americans aren’t ready to clear President Donald Trump in the Russia investigation, with a new poll showing slightly more want Congress to keep investigating than to set aside its probes after a special counsel’s report left open the question of whether he broke the law.

About 6 in 10 continue to believe the president obstructed justice.

 

The poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research also finds greater GOP confidence in the investigation after Attorney General William Barr in late March released his letter saying special counsel Robert Mueller found no criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia but didn’t make a judgment on the obstruction question.

 

At the same time, the poll indicates that Americans are mostly unhappy with the amount of information that has been released so far. They’ll get more Thursday, when Barr is expected to release a redacted version of the nearly 400-page report.

 

Trump has repeatedly claimed “total exoneration,” after Barr asserted in his memo that there was insufficient evidence for an obstruction prosecution.

 

“It’s a total phony,” Trump said of all allegations to Minneapolis TV station KSTP this week. “Any aspect of that report, I hope it does come out because there was no collusion, whatsoever, no collusion. There was no obstruction, because that was ruled by the attorney general.”

 

Overall, 39 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, roughly unchanged from mid-March, before Mueller completed his two-year investigation.

 

But many Americans still have questions.

 

“It’s kind of hard to believe what the president says as far as exoneration,” said James Brown, 77, of Philadelphia, who doesn’t affiliate with either party but says his political views lean conservative. “And in my mind the attorney general is a Trump person, so he’s not going to do anything against Trump.”

 

The poll shows 35 percent of Americans think that Trump did something illegal related to Russia — largely unchanged since the earlier poll. An additional 34 percent think he’s done something unethical.

 

Brown says he remains extremely concerned about possible inappropriate contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia, citing Trump’s past interest in building a Trump Tower in Moscow, and believes the president committed crimes of obstruction to cover up financial interests. “He’s not going to jeopardize his pocketbook for anything,” he said.

 

Still, the poll suggests Barr’s summary helped allay some lingering doubts within the GOP. Among Republicans, more now say Trump did nothing wrong at all (65 percent vs. 55 percent a month ago) and fewer say he did something unethical (27 percent, down from 37 percent).

 

Glen Sebring, 56, of Chico, California, says he thinks the nation should put the Russia investigations to rest after reading Barr’s four-page summary of the Mueller report. The moderate Republican credits Trump with helping to “double the money” he’s now earning due to an improving economy and says Congress should spend more time on issues such as lowering health care costs.

 

“It’s like beating a dead horse,” Sebring said. “We’ve got a lot more important things to worry about.”

 

Even as Trump blasts the Mueller probe as a Democratic witch hunt, poll respondents expressed more confidence that the investigation was impartial. The growing confidence since March was driven by Republicans: Three-quarters now say they are at least moderately confident in the probe, and 38 percent are very or extremely confident, up from 46 percent and 18 percent, respectively, in March. Among Democrats, about 70 percent are at least moderately confident, down slightly from a month ago, and 45 percent are very or extremely confident.

 

Still, majorities of Americans say they believe the Justice Department has shared too few details so far with both the public (61 percent) and Congress (55 percent). About a third think the department has shared too little with the White House, which has argued that portions of the report should be kept confidential if they involve private conversations of the president subject to executive privilege.

 

Democrats have been calling for Mueller himself to testify before Congress and have expressed concern that Barr will order unnecessary censoring of the report to protect Trump. The House Judiciary Committee, led by Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, is poised to try to compel Barr to turn over an unredacted copy as well as the report’s underlying investigative files.

 

The poll shows that even with the Mueller probe complete, 53 percent say Congress should continue to investigate Trump’s ties with Russia, while 45 percent say Congress should not. A similar percentage, 53 percent, say Congress should take steps to impeach Trump if he is found to have obstructed justice, even if he did not have inappropriate contacts with Russia.

 

“We don’t even know what we found yet in the probe. Until we do, Congress should definitely continue to push this issue,” said Tina Perales, a 35-year-old small business owner in Norton, Ohio, who describes herself as Republican. “That little letter Barr sent out summarizing the report I think was completely BS. This Mueller thing is hundreds of pages, and he just sums it up like this? These things just don’t add up.”

 

Deep partisan divisions remain.

 

Democrats were much more likely than Republicans to believe Trump had done something improper and to support continued investigations that could lead to his removal from office. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has downplayed the likelihood of impeachment proceedings but isn’t closing the door entirely if there are significant findings of Trump misconduct.

 

On investigations, 84 percent of Democrats believe lawmakers shouldn’t let up in scrutinizing Trump’s ties to Russia, but the same share of Republicans disagrees. Similarly, 83 percent of Democrats say Congress should take steps to impeach Trump if he is found to have obstructed justice, even if he did not have inappropriate contacts with Russia, while 82 percent of Republicans say Congress should not.

 

The AP-NORC poll of 1,108 adults was conducted April 11-14 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods, and later interviewed online or by phone.

 

 

 

 

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AP-NORC Poll: Many Aren’t Exonerating Trump in Russia Probe

Many Americans aren’t ready to clear President Donald Trump in the Russia investigation, with a new poll showing slightly more want Congress to keep investigating than to set aside its probes after a special counsel’s report left open the question of whether he broke the law.

About 6 in 10 continue to believe the president obstructed justice.

 

The poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research also finds greater GOP confidence in the investigation after Attorney General William Barr in late March released his letter saying special counsel Robert Mueller found no criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia but didn’t make a judgment on the obstruction question.

 

At the same time, the poll indicates that Americans are mostly unhappy with the amount of information that has been released so far. They’ll get more Thursday, when Barr is expected to release a redacted version of the nearly 400-page report.

 

Trump has repeatedly claimed “total exoneration,” after Barr asserted in his memo that there was insufficient evidence for an obstruction prosecution.

 

“It’s a total phony,” Trump said of all allegations to Minneapolis TV station KSTP this week. “Any aspect of that report, I hope it does come out because there was no collusion, whatsoever, no collusion. There was no obstruction, because that was ruled by the attorney general.”

 

Overall, 39 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, roughly unchanged from mid-March, before Mueller completed his two-year investigation.

 

But many Americans still have questions.

 

“It’s kind of hard to believe what the president says as far as exoneration,” said James Brown, 77, of Philadelphia, who doesn’t affiliate with either party but says his political views lean conservative. “And in my mind the attorney general is a Trump person, so he’s not going to do anything against Trump.”

 

The poll shows 35 percent of Americans think that Trump did something illegal related to Russia — largely unchanged since the earlier poll. An additional 34 percent think he’s done something unethical.

 

Brown says he remains extremely concerned about possible inappropriate contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia, citing Trump’s past interest in building a Trump Tower in Moscow, and believes the president committed crimes of obstruction to cover up financial interests. “He’s not going to jeopardize his pocketbook for anything,” he said.

 

Still, the poll suggests Barr’s summary helped allay some lingering doubts within the GOP. Among Republicans, more now say Trump did nothing wrong at all (65 percent vs. 55 percent a month ago) and fewer say he did something unethical (27 percent, down from 37 percent).

 

Glen Sebring, 56, of Chico, California, says he thinks the nation should put the Russia investigations to rest after reading Barr’s four-page summary of the Mueller report. The moderate Republican credits Trump with helping to “double the money” he’s now earning due to an improving economy and says Congress should spend more time on issues such as lowering health care costs.

 

“It’s like beating a dead horse,” Sebring said. “We’ve got a lot more important things to worry about.”

 

Even as Trump blasts the Mueller probe as a Democratic witch hunt, poll respondents expressed more confidence that the investigation was impartial. The growing confidence since March was driven by Republicans: Three-quarters now say they are at least moderately confident in the probe, and 38 percent are very or extremely confident, up from 46 percent and 18 percent, respectively, in March. Among Democrats, about 70 percent are at least moderately confident, down slightly from a month ago, and 45 percent are very or extremely confident.

 

Still, majorities of Americans say they believe the Justice Department has shared too few details so far with both the public (61 percent) and Congress (55 percent). About a third think the department has shared too little with the White House, which has argued that portions of the report should be kept confidential if they involve private conversations of the president subject to executive privilege.

 

Democrats have been calling for Mueller himself to testify before Congress and have expressed concern that Barr will order unnecessary censoring of the report to protect Trump. The House Judiciary Committee, led by Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, is poised to try to compel Barr to turn over an unredacted copy as well as the report’s underlying investigative files.

 

The poll shows that even with the Mueller probe complete, 53 percent say Congress should continue to investigate Trump’s ties with Russia, while 45 percent say Congress should not. A similar percentage, 53 percent, say Congress should take steps to impeach Trump if he is found to have obstructed justice, even if he did not have inappropriate contacts with Russia.

 

“We don’t even know what we found yet in the probe. Until we do, Congress should definitely continue to push this issue,” said Tina Perales, a 35-year-old small business owner in Norton, Ohio, who describes herself as Republican. “That little letter Barr sent out summarizing the report I think was completely BS. This Mueller thing is hundreds of pages, and he just sums it up like this? These things just don’t add up.”

 

Deep partisan divisions remain.

 

Democrats were much more likely than Republicans to believe Trump had done something improper and to support continued investigations that could lead to his removal from office. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has downplayed the likelihood of impeachment proceedings but isn’t closing the door entirely if there are significant findings of Trump misconduct.

 

On investigations, 84 percent of Democrats believe lawmakers shouldn’t let up in scrutinizing Trump’s ties to Russia, but the same share of Republicans disagrees. Similarly, 83 percent of Democrats say Congress should take steps to impeach Trump if he is found to have obstructed justice, even if he did not have inappropriate contacts with Russia, while 82 percent of Republicans say Congress should not.

 

The AP-NORC poll of 1,108 adults was conducted April 11-14 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods, and later interviewed online or by phone.

 

 

 

 

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UN: Smartphones, Digital Technology Can Improve Health Care

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued its first guidelines on digital health intervention.

The U.N. agency said governments can improve the health of their citizens by using digital technology to make health systems more efficient and responsive to their patients.

The United Nations said 51 percent of the world’s population has access to broadband internet service.

Chief WHO scientist Soumya Swaminathan said increased availability and use of digital technology offers new opportunities to improve people’s health.

She told VOA the technology enables people, even in the remotest settings, to leapfrog into the development of a more effective, inclusive health system. With the use of mobile phones, computers and laptops, she said it is possible to bypass the intervening stages many countries have had to go through.

“So, a health worker in Congo can directly start using a mobile phone if the government is able to provide one to the health worker and get away from filling 30 paper registers, which occupy about one-third of front-line health workers time,” she added.

New recommendations

The new guidelines include 10 recommendations on how governments can use digital technology for maximum impact on their health systems.

A WHO scientist specializing in digital innovations and research, Garrett Mehl, said the recommendations deal with issues such as birth notification.

“Knowing that a baby has been born is critical to knowing how to provide vaccinations; knowing that the mother needs different post-natal care visits,” he said. “But without knowing that there was a birth that has happened, it is difficult to trigger those events in the health system.”

The guidelines also address privacy concerns.They have recommendations for ensuring that sensitive data, such as issues of sexual and reproductive health, are protected and not put at risk.

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Buttigieg to Democrats: Don’t Get Bogged Down Zinging Trump

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg says President Donald Trump is “kind of like a Chinese finger trap — you know, the harder you pull, the more you get stuck” and warns that Democrats shouldn’t get bogged down in trying to “knock him flat with some zinger.” 

 

In Iowa for the first time since officially launching his campaign, Buttigieg discussed how to defeat Trump after drawing an audience of more than 1,600 people at a Des Moines rally Tuesday night.

“We’ve got to acknowledge — without giving an inch on the racism or xenophobia that played a role in that campaign — we’ve got to also pay attention to the things that make people susceptible to that message and make sure we’re addressing them,” said the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

The rally was one of the biggest campaign events yet for a 2020 contender in the Des Moines area, a particularly notable feat for a candidate who just over a month ago was barely registering in the polls. Buttigieg’s main task now is turning grass-roots energy into a real, sustainable movement.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Buttigieg said Iowa — its caucuses produce the first votes of the presidential nominating season — “will be really central to our strategy.”

“There’s a political style here that rhymes a lot with my home territory in Indiana,” he said. “I think that the mechanics of a caucus really favor a style that involves a lot of engagement, which is how I like to practice politics … of course there’s a simple logistical advantage of it being the one early state that’s within driving distance of my home.”

Asked whether Trump leaned on racial animus to win the White House, Buttigieg called the president out for playing “white guy identity politics.”

“By far the political movement that is most based on identity politics is Trumpism. It’s based on white guy identity politics. It uses race to divide the working and middle class,” he told the AP. “There are a lot of strategies to blame problems on people who look different or are of a different faith or even of a different sexuality or gender identity. … It’s a cynical political strategy that works in the short term but winds up weakening the whole country in the long term.”

White privilege

Buttigieg has argued that he’s uniquely positioned to take on Trump because he can appeal to the white working-class voters who left the Democratic Party for the Republican. But in recent days, he’s acknowledged he needs to address the lack of racial diversity among supporters at his events.

In the AP interview, Buttigieg said he plans to make sure that “our organization and our substance reflect our commitment to diversity.” He said he’ll do that by hiring a diverse staff and by addressing a range of policies that affect minorities, including but not limited to criminal justice reform, education, homeownership and entrepreneurship.

“I think any white candidate needs to show a level of consciousness around issues like white privilege,” he said. But when asked whether he had experienced white privilege, he said that “part of privilege is not being very conscious of it, right?” 

 

He added: “You’re much more conscious when you’re at a disadvantage than … when you are on the beneficial side of a bias. But there’s no question that that’s a factor that has impacted people in many different ways. And we need to be as alive to it as possible.”

Buttigieg said that to be able to create a diverse coalition without alienating white working-class voters, issues of racial justice need to be discussed in a unifying way. 

 

“I mean being pro-racial justice should not be skin off the back of any white voter,” he said. “I think there’s certainly an environment where sometimes these ideas are pitted against each other, where it’s suggested, for example, that connecting with white working-class voters somehow means that you have to walk away somehow from our commitment to racial justice — but our commitment to racial justice is part of the bedrock of the moral authority of the Democratic Party.”

Marriage equality

The South Bend mayor has surged from a relatively unknown candidate in the field to a media darling who’s gained support in nationwide polling and posted a stronger-than-expected fundraising number in the first quarter. He’s drawn attention for his plainspoken style, and the historic nature of his candidacy, as the first openly gay contender in a same-sex marriage.

During the Des Moines rally, an audience member asked what he should tell his friends who say America isn’t ready for a gay president. Buttigieg replied, “Tell your friends I said ‘hi.”‘

The impact of his personal life on the campaign was on striking display at both of his Iowa events Tuesday. During a town hall meeting in Fort Dodge, after Buttigieg spoke about the need for marriage equality, a protester stood up and shouted, “You betray your baptism!” He was escorted out.

Buttigieg joked to the crowd, “Coffee after church gets a little rowdy sometimes,” then added: “We’re so dug-in, in such passionate ways, and I respect that, too. That gentleman believes that what he is doing is in line with the will of the creator. I’d do it differently. We ought to be able to do it differently.”

In Des Moines, another protester shouted “Sodom and Gomorrah!” The crowd drowned him out with chants of “Pete! Pete! Pete!”

Asked by the AP how he would win over a protester like the one in Fort Dodge if he could sit down with him, Buttigieg said, “I’m not sure he would want to sit down with me,” but that he hoped others who have concerns about his candidacy would come to his events and ask a question, “so we could have a respectful exchange.”

“There are a lot of positions, there’s a wide range, with fringes, in our politics. That’s part of how politics works, and you shouldn’t be in this if you aren’t prepared to deal with that,” he said.

The turnout at the Des Moines event was unexpected, according to Polk County Democratic Party Chair Sean Bagniewski, who said Buttigieg’s team had predicted at most 200 people would show up. The campaign didn’t have any volunteers to take down information for enthusiastic supporters who wanted to be a part of the campaign.

“It’s a very narrow window to capture momentum and energy and attention, and if you miss the opportunity to match your staff and energy with the moment, you can miss your chance,” Bagniewski said.

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Buttigieg to Democrats: Don’t Get Bogged Down Zinging Trump

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg says President Donald Trump is “kind of like a Chinese finger trap — you know, the harder you pull, the more you get stuck” and warns that Democrats shouldn’t get bogged down in trying to “knock him flat with some zinger.” 

 

In Iowa for the first time since officially launching his campaign, Buttigieg discussed how to defeat Trump after drawing an audience of more than 1,600 people at a Des Moines rally Tuesday night.

“We’ve got to acknowledge — without giving an inch on the racism or xenophobia that played a role in that campaign — we’ve got to also pay attention to the things that make people susceptible to that message and make sure we’re addressing them,” said the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

The rally was one of the biggest campaign events yet for a 2020 contender in the Des Moines area, a particularly notable feat for a candidate who just over a month ago was barely registering in the polls. Buttigieg’s main task now is turning grass-roots energy into a real, sustainable movement.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Buttigieg said Iowa — its caucuses produce the first votes of the presidential nominating season — “will be really central to our strategy.”

“There’s a political style here that rhymes a lot with my home territory in Indiana,” he said. “I think that the mechanics of a caucus really favor a style that involves a lot of engagement, which is how I like to practice politics … of course there’s a simple logistical advantage of it being the one early state that’s within driving distance of my home.”

Asked whether Trump leaned on racial animus to win the White House, Buttigieg called the president out for playing “white guy identity politics.”

“By far the political movement that is most based on identity politics is Trumpism. It’s based on white guy identity politics. It uses race to divide the working and middle class,” he told the AP. “There are a lot of strategies to blame problems on people who look different or are of a different faith or even of a different sexuality or gender identity. … It’s a cynical political strategy that works in the short term but winds up weakening the whole country in the long term.”

White privilege

Buttigieg has argued that he’s uniquely positioned to take on Trump because he can appeal to the white working-class voters who left the Democratic Party for the Republican. But in recent days, he’s acknowledged he needs to address the lack of racial diversity among supporters at his events.

In the AP interview, Buttigieg said he plans to make sure that “our organization and our substance reflect our commitment to diversity.” He said he’ll do that by hiring a diverse staff and by addressing a range of policies that affect minorities, including but not limited to criminal justice reform, education, homeownership and entrepreneurship.

“I think any white candidate needs to show a level of consciousness around issues like white privilege,” he said. But when asked whether he had experienced white privilege, he said that “part of privilege is not being very conscious of it, right?” 

 

He added: “You’re much more conscious when you’re at a disadvantage than … when you are on the beneficial side of a bias. But there’s no question that that’s a factor that has impacted people in many different ways. And we need to be as alive to it as possible.”

Buttigieg said that to be able to create a diverse coalition without alienating white working-class voters, issues of racial justice need to be discussed in a unifying way. 

 

“I mean being pro-racial justice should not be skin off the back of any white voter,” he said. “I think there’s certainly an environment where sometimes these ideas are pitted against each other, where it’s suggested, for example, that connecting with white working-class voters somehow means that you have to walk away somehow from our commitment to racial justice — but our commitment to racial justice is part of the bedrock of the moral authority of the Democratic Party.”

Marriage equality

The South Bend mayor has surged from a relatively unknown candidate in the field to a media darling who’s gained support in nationwide polling and posted a stronger-than-expected fundraising number in the first quarter. He’s drawn attention for his plainspoken style, and the historic nature of his candidacy, as the first openly gay contender in a same-sex marriage.

During the Des Moines rally, an audience member asked what he should tell his friends who say America isn’t ready for a gay president. Buttigieg replied, “Tell your friends I said ‘hi.”‘

The impact of his personal life on the campaign was on striking display at both of his Iowa events Tuesday. During a town hall meeting in Fort Dodge, after Buttigieg spoke about the need for marriage equality, a protester stood up and shouted, “You betray your baptism!” He was escorted out.

Buttigieg joked to the crowd, “Coffee after church gets a little rowdy sometimes,” then added: “We’re so dug-in, in such passionate ways, and I respect that, too. That gentleman believes that what he is doing is in line with the will of the creator. I’d do it differently. We ought to be able to do it differently.”

In Des Moines, another protester shouted “Sodom and Gomorrah!” The crowd drowned him out with chants of “Pete! Pete! Pete!”

Asked by the AP how he would win over a protester like the one in Fort Dodge if he could sit down with him, Buttigieg said, “I’m not sure he would want to sit down with me,” but that he hoped others who have concerns about his candidacy would come to his events and ask a question, “so we could have a respectful exchange.”

“There are a lot of positions, there’s a wide range, with fringes, in our politics. That’s part of how politics works, and you shouldn’t be in this if you aren’t prepared to deal with that,” he said.

The turnout at the Des Moines event was unexpected, according to Polk County Democratic Party Chair Sean Bagniewski, who said Buttigieg’s team had predicted at most 200 people would show up. The campaign didn’t have any volunteers to take down information for enthusiastic supporters who wanted to be a part of the campaign.

“It’s a very narrow window to capture momentum and energy and attention, and if you miss the opportunity to match your staff and energy with the moment, you can miss your chance,” Bagniewski said.

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Stars from Susan Sarandon to Ben Affleck donate to 2020 Dems

From Ben Affleck and Susan Sarandon to Anna Wintour and Willie Nelson, celebrities lined up to give money — and a dash of star power — to their favorite Democratic presidential candidates ahead of this week’s first quarter fundraising deadline.

For months, candidates in the crowded field of more than a dozen contenders have aggressively courted key figures in music, television, publishing and film, who are one of the party’s most reliable sources of campaign cash. Although many donors remain on the sidelines, contributing to lackluster fundraising hauls, an early snapshot included in the campaign finance reports submitted to the Federal Election Commission this week offers a glimpse of who is drawing attention from entertainment industry in the early stages of the race.

“When you talk about Hollywood, yes, we are talking about movie stars and writers and directors, but we are also talking about people with decades of experience with presidential campaigns,” said Yusef Robb, a longtime California political strategist. “Earning support from somebody with a lot of connections in the political world couples with their star power, which people in the chattering classes notice.”

California Sen. Kamala Harris has long-standing relationships with major entertainment industry figures in her home state. But former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke , Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg are also among the candidates who count celebrities as donors.

So far, few donors are bundling large sums of money for candidates by asking their friends, family and colleagues to give, too. But many have given individually, which is limited under campaign finance law to a $2,800 contribution during the primary election, followed by another $2,800 earmarked for the general election campaign.

Last month, Harris was feted at the Pacific Palisades home of director J.J. Abrams and his wife, Katie McGrath, in a gathering attended by Hollywood powerbrokers, including TV hitmaker Shonda Rhimes. Harris also has received money from Affleck, who gave $2,800; actress Eva Longoria, who gave $5,400; composer Quincy Jones, who gave $2,800; and former “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm, who gave $1,000.

O’Rourke, a former punk rocker, received $2,800 from a fellow Texan, country music icon Nelson, as well as $1,850 from Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh and $2,800 from Dave Matthews Band violinist Boyd Tinsley. He also took in $5,600 from Vogue editor-in-chief Wintour, $1,500 from comedian and “Breaking Bad” actor Bob Odenkirk, $2,500 from Texas film director Richard Linklater and $350 from “Saturday Night Live” star Cecily Strong.

Sanders received $2,700 from actor and comedian Danny DeVito, $2,800 from actress Susan Sarandon, $2,500 from piano player Norah Jones and $1,000 from Foo Fighters guitarist Christopher Shiflett. Jonathan Fishman, drummer for the jam band Phish, which was formed in Sanders’ home state of Vermont, gave $1,000, while Thomas Middleditch from HBO’s “Silicon Valley” gave $500, records show.

Buttigieg, whose campaign raked in $7 million after emerging as an unexpected hit, has also started to draw celebrity attention. “West Wing” star Bradley Whitford gave $2,000, actor Ryan Reynolds donated $250, NFL network broadcaster Rich Eisen gave $500 and “Game of Thrones” executive producer Carolyn Strauss chipped in $250.

Buttigieg also drew at least one contribution from an unusual source. James Murdoch, the son of conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose Fox News is closely allied with President Donald Trump, cut Buttigieg a $2,800 donation, records show.

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Long-Hidden Kafka Trove Within Reach After Series of Trials

A long-hidden trove of unpublished works by Franz Kafka could soon be revealed following a decade-long battle over his literary estate that has drawn comparisons to some of his surreal tales.

A district court in Zurich upheld Israeli verdicts in the case last week, ruling that several safe deposit boxes in the Swiss city could be opened and their contents shipped to Israel’s National Library.

At stake are untouched papers that could shed new light on one of literature’s darkest figures, a German-speaking Bohemian Jew from Prague whose cultural legacy has been hotly contested between Israel and Germany.

What’s in the vaults?

Though the exact content of the vaults remains unknown, experts have speculated the cache could include endings to some of Kafka’s major works, many of which were unfinished when they were published after his death.

Israel’s Supreme Court has stripped an Israeli family of its collection of Kafka’s manuscripts, which were hidden in Israeli bank vaults and in a squalid, cat-filled Tel Aviv apartment. But the Swiss ruling would complete the acquisition of nearly all his known works, after years of lengthy legal battles over their rightful owners.

Kafkaesque saga

The saga could have been penned by Kafka himself, whose name has become known as an adjective to describe absurd situations involving inscrutable legal processes. Kafka was known for his tales of everyman protagonists crushed by mysterious authorities or twisted by unknown shames. In “The Trial,” for example, a bank clerk is put through excruciating court proceedings without ever being told the charges against him.

“The absurdity of the trials is that it was over an estate that nobody knew what it contained. This will hopefully finally resolve these questions,” said Benjamin Balint, a research fellow at Jerusalem’s Van Leer Institute and the author of “Kafka’s Last Trial,” which chronicles the affair. “The legal process may be ending, but the questions of his cultural belonging and inheritance will remain with us for a very long time.”

Manuscripts not burned

Kafka bequeathed his writings to Max Brod, his longtime friend, editor and publisher, shortly before his death from tuberculosis in 1924 at the age of 40. He instructed his protege to burn it all unread.

Brod ignored his wishes and published most of what was in his possession — including the novels “The Trial,” “The Castle” and “Amerika.” Those works made the previously little-known Kafka posthumously one of the most celebrated and influential writers of the 20th century.

But Brod, who smuggled some of the manuscripts to pre-state Israel when he fled the Nazis in 1938, didn’t publish everything. Upon his death in 1968, Brod left his personal secretary, Esther Hoffe, in charge of his literary estate and instructed her to transfer the Kafka papers to an academic institution.

Instead, for the next four decades, Hoffe kept the papers stashed away and sold some of the items for hefty sums. In 1988, for instance, Hoffe auctioned off the original manuscript of “The Trial” at Sotheby’s in London. It went for $1.8 million to the German Literature Archive in Marbach, north of Stuttgart.

When Hoffe died in 2008 at age 101, she left the collection to her two daughters, Eva Hoffe and Ruth Wiesler, both Holocaust survivors like herself, who considered Brod a father figure and his archive their rightful inheritance. Both have since also passed away, leaving Wiesler’s daughters to continue fighting for the remainder of the collection.

Legitimate inheritance or cultural assets?

Jeshayah Etgar, a lawyer for the daughters, downplayed the significance of the potential findings in Zurich, saying they were likely replicas of manuscripts Hoffe had already sold. Regardless, he said the ruling was the continuation of a process in which “individual property rights were trampled without any legal justification.” He said his clients legitimately inherited the works and called the state seizure of their property “disgraceful” and “first degree robbery.”

Israel’s National Library claims Kafka’s papers as “cultural assets” that belong to the Jewish people. Toward the end of his life, Kafka considered leaving Prague and moving to pre-state Israel. He took Hebrew lessons with a Jerusalem native who eventually donated her pupil’s vocabulary notebook to the library. In recent years, the library also took possession of several other manuscripts the courts had ordered Hoffe’s descendants to turn over.

“We welcome the judgment of the court in Switzerland, which matched all the judgments entered previously by the Israeli courts,” said David Blumberg, chairman of the Israel National Library, a nonprofit and non-governmental body. “The judgment of the Swiss court completes the preparation of the National Library of Israel to accept to entire literary estate of Max Brod, which will be properly handled and will be made available to the wider public in Israel and the world.”

Other scholars question Israel’s adoption of Kafka, noting that he was conflicted about his own Judaism. The German Literature Archive, for instance, has sided with Hoffe’s heirs and aimed to purchase the collection itself, arguing the German-language writings belong in Germany. Dietmar Jaegle, an archive official, said he would not comment on the Zurich verdict as he had not yet seen it.

Balint cautioned that the contents of the hidden archive may not live up to everyone’s expectations.

“It is very unlikely we are going to discover an unknown Kafka masterpiece in there, but these are things of value,” Balint said, noting the fierce competition over any original Kafka material. “There is something about the uncanny aura of Kafka that is attracted to all this.”

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