Browsing articles from "June, 2019"

In Democratic Debates, Health Care, Immigration Emerge As Fault Lines

Jun 30, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on In Democratic Debates, Health Care, Immigration Emerge As Fault Lines



MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We’re going to go back to those two big debates earlier this week. Nineteen Democrats and Independent Bernie Sanders vying to challenge President Trump took the stage over two nights. And, by now, you’ve probably heard a lot of hot takes on who won and who lost and who had a breakout moment and who didn’t. Instead, we’d like to take a few minutes to dig into some of the differences over policy that emerged. We decided to do that because even though the candidates only had a few minutes – really, a minute or two on each topic – that minute or two represent some real differences on issues like health care, guns and immigration. Of course, we won’t be able to get to every issue that came up or that’s very important, but we’re going to start with health care.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ELIZABETH WARREN: “Medicare for All” solves that problem. And I understand. There are a lot of politicians who say, oh, it’s just not possible. We just can’t do it. It’s – have a lot of political reasons for this. What they’re really telling you is they just won’t fight for it.

MARTIN: That was Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren of course, talking about health care. Joining us to tell us more is Shefali Luthra. She’s a correspondent for Kaiser Health News. Welcome. Thanks for joining us.

SHEFALI LUTHRA: Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: So as you heard, you know, health care came up early in the debates. Is there a center of gravity that unites the Democratic field on this?

LUTHRA: Yes. It’s very clear – whether you hear Democrats talking about “Medicare for All”, “Medicare for All who want it” – that there is a strong desire for universal coverage of some form for broadly expanding access to health care. It’s very clear from voters that there’s a big concern about being able to afford health care. And candidates, in their own ways, are all trying to address that.

MARTIN: And we’ll ask you more about where the voters are versus where the candidates are on that in a minute. Is there a central dividing line among the Democratic field?

LUTHRA: Absolutely. And you saw that very clearly in the debate with the question of “Medicare for All”, specifically. And when we say “Medicare for All”, we mean the legislation put forth by Bernie Sanders that Elizabeth Warren just backed as well. It’s a very specific form of legislation.

You would have one program called Medicare but much more generous than the current Medicare program – no co-pays, no deductibles, no cost-sharing, whatsoever, would cover virtually everything, would leave minimal, at most, room for private insurance. It’s very popular amongst the left but gets other Democrats and even some voters a bit more nervous because of the very radical reforms that would implement.

MARTIN: And so what’s the other kind of center-of-gravity idea? This other center-of-gravity idea would be – what? – that there would be like a dual system, that you could keep your private insurance, and there would be a more robust sort of government-funded option alongside it? Is that the…

LUTHRA: Exactly. And…

MARTIN: Generally the two ideas in play?

LUTHRA: That’s something we heard, for instance, Pete Buttigieg talk about. He called it “Medicare for All who want it.” And we have what’s called a public option – right? – something very robust put forth by the government. Anyone has the option to buy into this public option if they choose to, or they can stick with the care that they have.

MARTIN: And, finally, where are the Republicans in attacking this? Because we see that, already, some of the third-party groups and the Republicans are attacking specific candidates, saying that they’ve flip-flopped and so forth. But is there a central line of Republican attack? Is it that these would elevate costs and wouldn’t improve care? Like, what are the Republicans saying about what the Democrats are putting forth?

LUTHRA: Republicans are very focused on attacking “Medicare for All”, specifically. And we’ve heard fewer attack lines on the public option. Although, I think if we saw more of that being discussed, it would become another talking point for Republicans. But they focus a lot on what one might hear about Canada.

Are there longer wait times? Is there trouble accessing the highest quality care. What about the taxes? How much would this cost? And those are talking points you’ll hear a lot more of, especially as the “Medicare for All” debate continues.

MARTIN: And now we’re going to turn to immigration.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JULIAN CASTRO: And this is an important point, you know? My plan – and I’m glad to see that Senator Booker, Senator Warren and Governor Inslee agree with me on this. My plan also includes getting rid of Section 1325 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

MARTIN: That was former housing secretary and former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro, who’s put forward the very straightforward proposal to decriminalize crossing the border. He says that that will make it easier to deal with the humanitarian crisis there.

We wanted to hear how this compares to other ideas on the table, so we’ve called Julia Preston. She’s a contributing writer for The Marshall Project. That’s a nonprofit journalism organization. And she spent many years covering immigration for The New York Times. Julia Preston, welcome. Thanks so much for joining us.

JULIA PRESTON: Thank you for inviting me.

MARTIN: So fair to say that all the Democrats and Bernie Sanders criticize the Trump administration’s approach to immigration, which was and remains a signature issue for President Trump and his supporters. That’s correct, right?

PRESTON: Yes, fair to say.

MARTIN: OK. So is there a core Democratic approach other than to say that President Trump’s methods are cruel and inhumane and unacceptable? So is there a core Democratic approach in opposition to that?

PRESTON: Well, I think it’s notable that every one of the Democrats embraced the idea of a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people. I didn’t hear any dissent on the idea of path to citizenship for DREAMers. There seemed to be general support for ending private detention in immigration. And so all of these are pretty straightforward positions for the Democratic Party after years when Democrats seem to be kind of running away from the immigration issue.

MARTIN: So is there a central dividing line among the candidates? Now, you heard Julian Castro say that a number of his competitors agree with him on some sort of key points. Is there a central dividing line among them?

PRESTON: Well, Julian Castro really shifted the terms of the debate with that proposal that you heard in the clip. He challenged everyone on the stage to support that idea, which is to repeal a law that had made it a federal crime to cross the border, illegally, without authorization. And the reason this debate came up was because the Trump administration sent to federal court and prosecuted everyone that they caught crossing the border, illegally. And so when those people were sent to federal court, they ended up being separated from their children. So that statute was at the center of the family separation issue that drew such outrage last summer.

So Julian Castro comes out with this proposal, and by the second night, everyone on the stage agreed with him that there should be decriminalization of border crossing, which is a remarkable shift to the left, I think, among the Democrats. So I think the answer to your question is the whole party seems to be moving to the left in response to the anti-immigrant rhetoric and very tough policies that are coming from President Trump.

MARTIN: And what about the public on this? And by this, I mean we know that President Trump’s core supporters seem to agree with him on this. That seems to be the case. But what about everybody else? What about the rest of the public? I mean, during the family separation crisis, when this first came to the fore, we even saw, say, former first lady Laura Bush write an op-ed saying that this is not the American way, that this is not what we want to see. Is there a center of gravity for the public on this? Do we have any sense of what the public thinks it wants to see?

PRESTON: Well, on the day of the first debate, the photo started to circulate of Oscar Martinez, the Salvadoran father who drowned with his young daughter in the Rio Grande. And that image, I think, crystallized where this debate has gone because I think many Americans are outraged and shocked when they see an image like that.

In general, the polling has shown for years that most Americans support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. And most Americans are in favor of immigration and see it as a plus for the nation and not an invasion of criminals, which is the way that President Trump has phrased the issue for his supporters. And so the problem has been that it hasn’t been an issue that has been top of mind for a lot of voters. It’s not the primary issue for a lot of voters.

And so I think Democrats are accepting the fact and expressing the fact that President Trump has really polarized this issue and made it much more salient for a lot of voters. But you noticed that at the end of the debate, when the candidates were asked what they would do on the first day, Kamala Harris was the only one who mentioned an immigration issue that she would take up on the first day of her administration.

MARTIN: And what was that issue?

PRESTON: She said she would reinstate the program called DACA, which is – gives temporary protection from deportation to DREAMers, to the young immigrants called DREAMers

MARTIN: Finally, let’s talk about gun policy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ERIC SWALWELL: Your plan leaves them on the streets. You leave 15 million on the streets.

BERNIE SANDERS: We ban the sale. We ban the sale, the distribution…

SWALWELL: Will you buy them back?

SANDERS: And that’s what I’ve believed for many years.

SWALWELL: Will you buy them back?

SANDERS: If people want to buy – if the government wants to do that and people want to…

SWALWELL: You’re going to be the government. Will you buy them back?

SANDERS: Yes. Yes.

MARTIN: That was Congressman Eric Swalwell challenging Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. To talk more about this, we’ve called James Burnett. He is the founding editor and managing director of The Trace. That’s a nonprofit, nonpartisan publication that reports on gun violence and gun safety measures in America. James Burnett, thank you so much for joining us.

JAMES BURNETT: Thank you.

MARTIN: So what exactly is Congressman Eric Swalwell talking about there? What exactly does he want to do?

BURNETT: So Congressman Swalwell is talking about his plan for a mandatory buyback on assault-style rifles like the AR-15. Virtually every candidate on the stage on both nights supports a renewed ban on assault weapons. Swalwell says we should have a mandatory buyback where the government gets those out of circulation.

MARTIN: And Senator – New Jersey Senator Cory Booker also has a buyback proposal. He wasn’t on the debate stage that night. He was there the night before. What’s the difference between those two plans?

BURNETT: Well, the breakdown comes to whether it’s a voluntary plan and a mandatory plan, where there would be a real push to pull these guns out of circulation. And Booker differs from the field in a couple of other policies as well.

MARTIN: Like what?

BURNETT: So Senator Booker has a proposal for mandatory licensing for gun purchasers – the idea that if you need a license to drive a car, you should have a license to buy and own a gun. Other contenders in the field – I believe Biden and Bennet, for example – they say that goes too far. They support universal background checks but don’t go as far as this licensing for gun owners.

MARTIN: Is there a kind of a center of gravity on the Democratic side about what federal policy should be when it comes to guns or not?

BURNETT: The two big – the center of gravity, really, is around universal background checks and an assault weapons ban. I think probably the most consequential divide, though – and it’s early in this race – is whether the candidate has a comprehensive plan for dealing with community gun violence, right? So mass shootings are terrible. They still make up less than 1% of all gun deaths and injuries. It’s really community violence that make up the most homicides and injuries. And the question of whether a candidate has a comprehensive plan for that is probably the one that has the potential to make the most difference, you know, in the real world.

MARTIN: But so do they? Who does? I mean, one of the things that I notice is Elizabeth Warren, for example, the Massachusetts senator, has really made a name for herself throughout this campaign with detailed policies on a range of issues. What I heard her say Wednesday night seemed to be that she wanted more research, that she wanted to treat this as a public health crisis. Is there more to it than that, than she had time to say?

BURNETT: Well, we did a survey of the candidates. And, in fact, she left that question blank while answering, really, all of the rest. And so it seems that Senator Warren has yet to articulate a policy for community gun violence specifically, whereas Senators Booker and Harris have talked about directing federal dollars towards community-based interventions that have good evidence behind them, frankly. We have some evidence that shows that there are some things that can work. And maybe they can articulate a plan for putting some resources behind that.

MARTIN: And finally, former Vice President Joe Biden. I mean, he said something that kind of got some people – well, he said a lot of things that got people’s attention. But one of the things that he said was that it’s not – the NRA is not the problem, it’s the gun manufacturers that are the problem. What is he talking about there? He said that there need to be – that all guns sold in the country need to be smart guns. But as one of the moderators point out, there are already 300 million guns in circulation in the United States right now. What is he saying?

BURNETT: He did talk about smart guns. These are guns that would only fire for their owner, so that if a child got ahold of it, if it was lost or stolen and theft and entered the black market, it couldn’t be used. And he’s saying the gun manufacturers could make these products now. They’re not – they won’t. They’re the problem. You know, that’s a that’s a piece of it certainly, but I think it falls short of a comprehensive plan.

MARTIN: And so finally, can you say – do most of these candidates have what you call a comprehensive plan? Or is it really as individual as we have just discussed? I mean, we’ve really – this is the one area in which we seem to really go on person-by-person, and they all seem to really have nuances there.

BURNETT: You know, there’s this consensus around universal background checks, consensus around renewing an assault weapons ban. But they haven’t gone over that last mile. You know, again striking, though, just to hear candidates sort of interrupt each other and to say to the moderator, wait, wait, I want to talk about guns. That is a big difference from where we were just a few cycles ago in terms of presidential politics. So that seems pretty significant.

MARTIN: That is James Burnett, managing editor of The Trace. It’s a nonprofit journalistic organization that covers gun violence and gun safety issues. James Burnett, thank you so much for talking to us.

BURNETT: Thank you.

MARTIN: We also heard from Shefali Luthra, a correspondent for Kaiser Health News, and Julia Preston, contributing writer for The Marshall Project.

Copyright © 2019 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Troll Watch: In Rare Move, Reddit Flags Online Forum For Inciting Violence

Jun 30, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Troll Watch: In Rare Move, Reddit Flags Online Forum For Inciting Violence



MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Visitors to the social media site Reddit might have noticed a change in one discussion group this week. The online forum known as The Donald is under a quarantine. That means that anybody going to that page first encounters a big notification flagging the community as out of line with Reddit’s content policy – specifically, the rule against using the platform to incite violence. The group’s 754,000 subscribers can still access the forum, but only after clicking through the quarantine notice.

And that might not sound like much, but Reddit is famously hands-off when it comes to creating and enforcing content rules, and the site relies heavily on volunteers to monitor forums and take down problematic content. So we’re taking this to our regular segment, Troll Watch, to find out more.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: By day, Robert Peck is a lecturer in rhetoric at the University of Iowa. But in his spare time, he’s a volunteer moderator for Reddit. And he joins us now from member station WSUI in Iowa City.

Thanks so much for joining us.

ROBERT PECK: Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: And I said spare time in air quotes because…

PECK: (Laughter).

MARTIN: You put a lot of time into this. I just wanted to make that clear.

PECK: It’s true.

MARTIN: So to understand the significance of this quarantine, can you give us a brief idea of what Reddit is and how it’s different from other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter?

PECK: The main difference between a site like Reddit, which I would describe as a forum more than a traditional sort of social media site like Twitter or Facebook, is that Reddit’s ideas are organized around subjects and topics as opposed to on Facebook or Twitter, where you’re following an individual person – a friend, a celebrity. And that means that when Reddit wants to take action against harmful content, it’s harder for it to do it against any one individual person.

Among other things, Reddit users are pseudonymous. They don’t usually act under their real names. And they all collect around these social spaces called subreddits that are designed to talk about specific issues or groups.

MARTIN: The Donald is a – it’s a reference to Donald Trump. I mean, is it a political group? Is it primarily for his supporters? Or what’s the organizing principle of this group?

PECK: It describes itself as, quote, unquote, “a never-ending rally for the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump.” And it’s a group for his supporters specifically. It formed around the time he announced his campaign back in 2015 into 2016 and has been growing ever since.

MARTIN: So what was the content posted in The Donald that led to this action?

PECK: Well, it’s hard to say, I suppose would be the answer to that, because the Reddit staff are opaque a lot of the time and what actions they take and why. The best guess we have is that a few days ago, there were several posts and comments on that subreddit that were – seemed to be calling for violent action against public officials in the U.S. state of Oregon – this in response to the Republican walkout over House Bill 2020 in that state, the Climate Change Act, that has caused the Republican delegation to flee the state rather than vote. There were posts – calling for things like taking up arms, flooding into the state of Oregon, defending these people with violence and going after public officials with violence.

MARTIN: I think many people will be familiar with Reddit because they’re interested in, you know, cat videos and things of that sort. But other people are aware that Reddit has come up a lot in the conversation around the spread of white supremacy and other extremist ideas. I mean, why is that?

PECK: I think that Reddit would have trouble dealing with these issues more than other social media sites would because of that focus on designing the site to center it around an idea or a group of people rather than an individual. That’s a change that allows people with common interests to come together and discuss, advocate and act on those interests more easily than they might be able to in other places. And, again, on Reddit, they can also often do so anonymously.

That combined with Reddit’s seeming dedication to what it would describe as free speech or free expression, its hesitance to limit things that are being said on the site – at least, from the perspective of the staff, the owners of the site – those two things together have allowed all manner of different sort of groups that you and I would probably describe as hate groups or at the very least problematic groups and discussions to arise on that side. And the Donald subreddit has become the most prominent of those.

So I’d say that the reason that we have that sort of association is that oftentimes, it’s true. It’s certainly not the entirety of the sites, just like these extreme views on other social media platforms aren’t the entirety of those sites that we use and enjoy.

MARTIN: That’s Robert Peck, volunteer Reddit moderator. And he’s a professor of rhetoric at the University of Iowa.

Professor Peck, thanks so much for talking to us once again.

PECK: Thank you very much for having me.

Copyright © 2019 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

After New Season Pick-Up, ‘One Day At A Time’ Showrunner Looks Ahead

Jun 30, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on After New Season Pick-Up, ‘One Day At A Time’ Showrunner Looks Ahead



MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And finally today, we’re going to talk about the sitcom “One Day At A Time.” It’s a reimagining of the Norman Lear classic. This time, though, the show is built around a Cuban American family. The cast features Justina Machado and Rita Moreno, and the show deals in an honest and funny way with real issues like immigration, sexuality and mental health.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, “ONE DAY AT A TIME”)

JUSTINA MACHADO: (As Penelope Alvarez) When did you – no, you talk.

ISABELLA GOMEZ: (As Elena Alvarez) It’s just I realized that if I was going to be into a boy, it would be Josh. I mean, he’s cute, and he’s sweet, and he’s such a gentleman. But I feel more when I look at a picture of Kristen Stewart than I do when I kiss him.

MACHADO: (As Penelope Alvarez) No wonder you saw those “Twilight” movies so many times.

(LAUGHTER)

MACHADO: (As Penelope Alvarez) Definitely wasn’t for the quality storytelling.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: The show won a passionate following, and there was a huge outcry back in March when Netflix was canceling the show after three seasons. Well, this week, the phoenix rises again. Basic cable channel Pop TV announced that they would pick up the show for a fourth season. Here to tell us more about the show and its future is “One Day At A Time” co-showrunner Gloria Calderon Kellett.

Welcome. Thank you so much for joining us.

GLORIA CALDERON KELLETT: Well, thank you for having me.

MARTIN: So I wasn’t sure whether it was condolences or congratulations.

KELLETT: (Laughter).

MARTIN: I guess it’s both.

KELLETT: Yeah.

MARTIN: It’s been kind of a roller coaster, huh?

KELLETT: It’s been an emotional roller coaster. But also, we felt so fortunate. I mean, shows are canceled every day, and no one cares. And it really speaks to our fanbase. And they really extended that love. They were relentless, and we’re so grateful.

MARTIN: Tell us a little bit about what you love about this show and why you think that it has achieved the following that it has. What do you think other people love about this show?

KELLETT: Well, I think initially for me, it was – I wanted to give a show to my 14-year-old self that never existed. Growing up, I did not see my family on television, and I had to see myself through the lens of other characters, which is what many people do, especially people of color in this country.

So at first, it was really just I wanted to provide a conversation with the Latinos in this country because I always felt like, oh, I could change some hearts and minds if people just came over and sat in my living room and talked to my family. And so this is really the way of doing that. And partnering with Norman was so essential because that’s what he’s been doing since the ’70s.

MARTIN: Now, you know, on Netflix, the show could be binged. I mean, you could watch every episode in one sitting. Now that – am I right that it’s going to – that the…

KELLETT: Be once a week.

MARTIN: Yeah, be once a week…

KELLETT: Yeah, more traditional.

MARTIN: …In a more traditional consumption pattern. Do you – does that change anything for you – the way you’ll think about the show?

KELLETT: Well, I think what’s exciting about it is, you know, Norman’s big frustration with doing it on Netflix was that we would finish the show six to seven months before it was released. And he was so used to the old CBS model – because all of his shows were on CBS – where he could react much more quickly to things that were actually happening in the news.

So this allows us that opportunity, which I know Norman and Mike Royce and I – Mike Royce being my partner in this – we’re all very excited that we’re a little closer to air, so we can be a little bit more timely than we were in the past, which is exciting.

MARTIN: Which is kind of amazing because you’re going to be airing in the midst of the 2020 presidential election.

KELLETT: That’s right. That’s right.

MARTIN: Kind of might be some things going on, maybe…

KELLETT: Oh, I think so. I think…

MARTIN: …You might want to talk about. I don’t know.

KELLETT: I think this family will have things to say about that for sure.

MARTIN: Before we let you go, I just can’t help but wonder what this is like for you as a – you know, a woman, a Latina, you know, at a time when there are so many conversations that you probably have had in your head for years that are now playing out in real time and that other people are trying to participate in. And I just – I’m just kind of wondering if you think that what’s happened to “One Day At A Time” is some kind of a metaphor for something, and if so, what? I know that’s a lot to put on it. But I just wonder, does it – does what’s happened here say anything bigger, you know?

KELLETT: I think it does. I think it does. I think there has been a real starvation of representation in many communities of color, not just Latinx. And it’s important to not feel that you’re erased from the American narrative. It’s important for people to see themselves in some capacity represented.

And I think what people responded to in our show was that ultimately, it’s about love and acceptance. We have an LGBTQIA-plus character who is embraced by her family after some trials and tribulations that everyone goes through in an honest way. But that conversation – a lot of people saw themselves, a lot of people – not just like Latinx people – saw themselves represented in that show.

And also, the immigrant experience – Lydia is an immigrant from Cuba. She just became a citizen. And a lot of people had – from various backgrounds really saw their grandparents or their parents reflected in that character. And I think that representation is important when you’re feeling like there’s – you know, a country that’s not speaking to you completely, that your complete erasure makes you feel unseen.

So these types of shows, I think, carry a little extra water because it’s making people feel seen. And certainly, the return of the show makes the Internet feel like their tweets and their voice was heard. And I think that’s really empowering for a community to say, oh, my gosh. We – they hear us. Maybe they’ll see us, too.

MARTIN: That’s Gloria Calderon Kellett, co-showrunner for the Pop TV show “One Day At A Time.”

Gloria Calderon Kellett, thank you so much for joining us. Congratulations. Can’t wait to see what you do next.

KELLETT: Thank you so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “THIS IS IT”)

GLORIA ESTEFAN: (Singing) This is it. This is life, the one you get, so go and have a ball. This is it. Straight ahead, and rest assured you can’t be sure at all. So while you’re here, enjoy the view. Keep on doing what you do. Hold on tight, we’ll muddle through one day at a time. So up on your feet. Somewhere…

Copyright © 2019 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Trump Meets Kim Jong Un, Steps Into North Korea

Jun 30, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Trump Meets Kim Jong Un, Steps Into North Korea

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un walks with President Trump north of the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea, in the Joint Security Area (JSA) of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) on Sunday.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images


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Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un walks with President Trump north of the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea, in the Joint Security Area (JSA) of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) on Sunday.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 3:09 a.m. ET

President Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to step foot in North Korea Sunday, after he met leader Kim Jong Un at the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas.

It was the third time the two leaders have met.

“I never expected to meet you at this place” Kim told Trump through an interpreter as the two shook hands for cameras.

Our original story continues:

Earlier in the day in Seoul, Trump said “I’ll be meeting with Chairman Kim, I look forward to it very much,” Trump told reporters. “I look forward to seeing him, we’ve developed a very good relationship, and we understand each other, I do believe he understands me and I think I maybe understand him. And sometimes that can lead to very good things.”

Trump described the meeting as only a brief encounter to shake hands.

Speaking next to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump said the meeting was “just a step. It might be an important step, and it might not,” he said, adding that it’s “probably a step in the right direction.”

Moon said the meeting “will give hope to the peoples of the South and North Koreas and establish a milestone in the history of humanity’s pursuit of peace.”

Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to hold a summit with a sitting North Korean leader when he met with Kim in Singapore in June 2018. The summit ended with promises for North Korea to pursue denuclearization — but little in the way of details on how to get that done.

Trump’s second summit with Kim, in Vietnam in February, ended early after the two could not reach an agreement on moving forward. Trump said Kim insisted on sanctions being removed before dismantling key nuclear programs, to which he responded that “we couldn’t do that.”

The two leaders have since exchanged letters.

At the news conference Sunday, Trump and Moon were questioned about whether the meeting might help grease the wheels for a third formal summit between Trump and Kim on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, with the potential for the North to abandon its nuclear arsenal in exchange for a lifting of crippling international sanctions. Trump was uncharacteristically restrained about the notion. “Let’s see what happens today before we start thinking about that,” he said.

NPR’s Michael Sullivan contributed reporting.

This story will be updated.

Disney Heiress Calls For Wealth Tax: ‘We Have To Draw A Line’

Jun 29, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Disney Heiress Calls For Wealth Tax: ‘We Have To Draw A Line’

Honoree Abigail Disney speaks during the 2018 Women’s Media Awards at Capitale on Nov. 1, 2018, in New York City.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images


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Honoree Abigail Disney speaks during the 2018 Women’s Media Awards at Capitale on Nov. 1, 2018, in New York City.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images

It may come as no surprise that a strong majority of Americans support a wealth tax — a higher tax rate for a small number of millionaires and billionaires.

But what might be a surprise is that some of those millionaires and billionaires are calling for a wealth tax themselves.

Abigail Disney is one of those people.

Her grandfather was Roy Disney, co-founder of the multibillion-dollar entertainment conglomerate that bears her family name — though she currently has no formal role with the company.

The activist and filmmaker has been speaking out on the issue of income inequality, and specifically at Disney. She was one of 18 people in the top one-tenth of the wealthiest 1% who first signed a recent letter to the 2020 presidential candidates supporting a tax for households with $50 million or more in assets.

“Nothing in history ever moved forward just because people advocated for their own interests,” Disney tells All Things Considered. “Things really change when people are traitors to their class, and my class needs some really good traitors these days.”

Interview Highlights

On why she signed the letter

We’re not in a democracy all assigned with the task of advocating for ourselves. We’re assigned with the task of trying to create the best and strongest and fairest country we can create. And what I’ve watched over the last 30 years is rich people going from terribly rich to awfully rich to obscenely and insanely rich. And we have to draw a line.

On why she prefers a wealth tax over philanthropic spending

Here’s the world I want to live in: I want to live in a world that doesn’t need philanthropy. And if [Amazon CEO] Jeff Bezos earned less and paid his people more, and didn’t have $37 billion to put into a philanthropy and figure out what to do with [it], there really wouldn’t be that much philanthropy that was needed. I would rather not to be needed as a philanthropist, and I will never stop feeding the hungry and housing the homeless and all the other things that I want to do.

But I would so much prefer that public schools function, that roads don’t break your axle, that people have health care — which they have a right to have — that low-income people who work full time at minimum wage don’t need food stamps to get through their days. That’s the world I want to live in.

On the crux of why she’s speaking out against Disney

I know that company pretty well. … When you’re in what is setting up to be the largest media and entertainment conglomerate on the planet in the history of the world … and when you have record profits, when your stocks are at record highs, and you’re going home with obscene amounts of money — and I have no objection to obscene amounts of money in and of themselves — my objection is you have $15-an-hour workers who cannot buy enough food to eat. They are rationing their insulin; they are sleeping in their cars.

How do you jibe one thing with the other? When you’re running such an enormous conglomerate, can you not break from orthodoxy? What if you made less money and everybody else made some more? You don’t have to create a foundation to go feed those hungry people because you’ve paid them fairly. …

I have literally sat in a room with the people [at Disney] who pour your soda, and the people who clean your room and scrape gum off the sidewalks, who have told me, “I have to ration my insulin.” I have sat with them, and I have felt a kind of rage that I don’t even know how to describe to you.

Those were the people that I was taught to revere. So I’m not really, in fact, in the business of just attacking Disney because I can attack Disney. I know that if I say something about Disney, people pay more attention. I could say something about IBM. I could say something about Walmart. I could say something about a lot of things. Nobody would care. And the fact is, Disney is kind of the last shameable company in a lot of ways.

On why the critique of Disney has a different kind of power

It’s a different kind of brand. This is a brand people feel actual love for. I use the word love very mindfully here. Love. And when somebody loves something, they expect more of it than just the minimum allowable legal thing.

And so when you say to somebody about the Disney brand, the people pouring your soda cannot afford their insulin, and the man in charge of them is coming home with a nine-figure paycheck, they do feel an outrage that is very visceral. And I think that given that there are so few companies that can be shamed anymore, this is a really important place to start a bigger, broader conversation about all of these companies.

The thing is, [Disney Chairman and CEO] Bob Iger is kind of a nice guy … and everybody around him are nice people. What has become thought of as normal — and the kind of thing nice people do — isn’t nice, and somebody has to say the emperor’s wearing no clothes. Somebody just has to say it. …

I’ve traveled everywhere in the world, and everywhere you go, you find a hand-drawn painting of Mickey Mouse on the side of a children’s school. … He has jumped out of the celluloid, and he exists, and he is a citizen of the world, and everybody understands what he means and what he’s for. This is not true of any other brand that I can think of.

And so we have a special responsibility and that’s why I feel the weight of this. When I went last year and met with the workers at Disneyland, I could not shed the weight I was carrying once I went home from there, I couldn’t say nothing.

On how her story would be told in a Disney film about the granddaughter of the co-founder turning against the empire

I’m turning against the empire itself. It’s like the empire went off in its own direction. It’s almost unrecognizable to me now. And we have no family engagement on the company anymore. There’s nobody from the family on the board. It’s still my name. I still use my credit card and I still feel all that comes with that and the expectations, and people still say to me, “You must have had such a happy childhood”; “Oh, how wonderful the gifts your grandfather and uncle gave to the world.” Those are very lovely feelings.

And if I am welcoming to those kinds of perceptions, I also have an obligation to attend to the rest of the ways in which it’s not engaging with the world in a good way, and it’s actively promoting something that’s really deleterious — not just to the low-income people; they’re destroying the middle class and they’re having a go at democracy itself.

The Walt Disney Co. has responded to Abigail Disney’s criticisms. In a statement to NPR, the company says:

“Disney is at the forefront of providing workforce education, which is widely recognized as the best way to create economic opportunity for employees and empower upward mobility. Our Disney Aspire initiative is the most comprehensive employee education program in the country, covering 100% of all tuition costs, books and fees so our hourly workers can pursue higher education free of charge, and graduate free of debt. Under Bob Iger’s leadership, Disney has made an initial commitment of $150 million to fund this program in the first five years, and will continue to make significant investments to make Disney Aspire available to as many employees as possible. Disney also provides flexible schedules and subsidized childcare to make it easier for employees to take advantage of this opportunity. American workers need meaningful change; they deserve smart policies and practical programs, like Disney Aspire, that empower them to achieve their goals and ensure they are part of the most competitive workforce in the world.”

Trump Tweets An Invitation To North Korea’s Kim — Meet In the DMZ?

Jun 29, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Trump Tweets An Invitation To North Korea’s Kim — Meet In the DMZ?

President Donald Trump at the G-20 economic conference in Osaka, Japan, Friday. He tweeted an invitation for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to meet him after the summit in the demilitarized zone between the Koreas.

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President Donald Trump at the G-20 economic conference in Osaka, Japan, Friday. He tweeted an invitation for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to meet him after the summit in the demilitarized zone between the Koreas.

Susan Walsh/AP

Updated at 9:55 p.m. ET

President Trump issued a surprise invitation to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a handshake meeting this weekend along the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.

The invitation came in a tweet, as Trump wrapped up meetings with other world leaders at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

Talks aimed at ending North Korea’s outlawed nuclear program broke down in February when Trump walked away from a summit with Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam, without an agreement. In recent days, however, Trump and Kim exchanged personal messages. Trump offered to meet with Kim during his upcoming visit to South Korea.

The president characterized the invite as a last-minute idea, and worked to limit expectations.

“I just thought of it this morning,” Trump told reporters, during a photo opp on the sidelines of the G20. “I just put out a feeler because I don’t know where he is right now. He may not be in North Korea.”

There had already been speculation Trump would visit the DMZ during his weekend trip to South Korea. He tried to visit the heavily guarded border in 2017 but was foiled by bad weather.

“We’ll see,” Trump said of the possible handshake with Kim. “If he’s there we’ll see each other for two minutes. That’s all we can. But that will be fine.”

While Trump gave the appearance of the kind of improvisational, seat-of-the-pants deal-making he championed in the business world, there may actually be more preparation behind his invitation than the president is letting on.

Trump discussed a possible meeting with Kim at the DMZ on Monday during an interview with The Hill newspaper. The White House asked the newspaper to withhold the information, citing security concerns.

California Is Poised To Ban Hair Discrimination

Jun 29, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on California Is Poised To Ban Hair Discrimination

California lawmakers have passed a bill banning discrimination against people who wear natural hairstyles such as braids.

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California lawmakers have passed a bill banning discrimination against people who wear natural hairstyles such as braids.

Westend61/Getty Images/Westend61

Afros, braids, dreadlocks and twists. California lawmakers have passed a bill to protect black employees and students by outlawing discrimination against people who wear those hairstyles.

“The history of our nation is riddled with laws and societal norms that equated ‘blackness,’ and the associated physical traits, for example, dark skin, kinky and curly hair to a badge of inferiority,” the bill notes.

It contends that professionalism was, and still is, tied to European standards — and that restrictive grooming policies have unfairly targeted black workers and students more than any other group.

White Lies

The measure, referred to as the CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair), passed Thursday in the state Senate, 69 to 0.

“While we got no No votes, there were some people who chose to abstain,” Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, told NPR. She added, “I have no idea why they abstained.”

Mitchell says she has received numerous letters from distraught constituents. “The sheer volume of women and men and parents of students who have been sent home because someone deems their braids, twists or locks were inappropriate for workplace settings, the sheer volume of people, suggests this clearly is a law whose time has come,” Mitchell said (while she was getting her hair groomed).

She recalled the viral video of a black high school wrestler in New Jersey who was forced to cut his dreadlocks or forfeit a match.

And then there is Chastity Jones, a black woman who said she lost a job opportunity in Alabama because she refused to cut off her dreadlocks. A federal appeals court ruled in her case that dreadlocks were not an immutable characteristic of black people.

California’s bill contends that the definition of race would include “traits historically associated with race,” such as hair texture and “protective styles,” like twists and braids.

The beauty brand Dove, which was widely criticized in 2017 for a body lotion ad featuring a black woman who took off her shirt to become a white woman, has supported the measure.

New York and New Jersey have proposed similar legislation. And New York City enacted its own policy in February which protects cornrows, Afros, fades and other hairstyles. “Black hairstyles are protected racial characteristics under the [New York City Human Rights Law] because they are an inherent part of Black identity,” New York’s Commission on Human Rights said.

Now passed, the California bill heads to the governor to be signed.

Federal Judge Rules Against Border Wall Construction With Military Funds

Jun 29, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Federal Judge Rules Against Border Wall Construction With Military Funds

President Trump participates in a roundtable on border security at a U.S. Border Patrol station in Calexico, Calif., in April. On Friday, a federal judge ruled against the use of military funds for the president’s border wall.

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President Trump participates in a roundtable on border security at a U.S. Border Patrol station in Calexico, Calif., in April. On Friday, a federal judge ruled against the use of military funds for the president’s border wall.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Updated at 11:30 p.m. ET

A federal judge has ruled against the use of military funds by the Trump administration for barrier construction at the southern border.

Judge Haywood Gilliam ruled Friday in two lawsuits — one filed by the ACLU on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, and one filed by California on behalf of 20 states.

The plaintiffs argued that the funds had been denied by Congress already, were not needed for “unforeseen military requirement,” and would raise constitutional questions.

The administration had intended to transfer Defense Department funds intended for anti-drug activities.

‘That Little Girl Was Me’: Harris, Biden Clash Over Busing In Democratic Debate

Jun 28, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on ‘That Little Girl Was Me’: Harris, Biden Clash Over Busing In Democratic Debate

During the second night of the first Democratic presidential primary debate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California and former Vice President Joe Biden (left) exchanged words about Biden’s record on racial justice.

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During the second night of the first Democratic presidential primary debate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California and former Vice President Joe Biden (left) exchanged words about Biden’s record on racial justice.

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Sen. Kamala Harris of California directly challenged former Vice President Joe Biden over his past opposition to federal busing policy, in a heated exchange on the second night of the first Democratic presidential primary debate.

This issue, from early in Biden’s lengthy career in Congress, has hung over his campaign for president, creating a clear target for challengers to his front-runner status.

Recap: Night 2 Of The Democratic Primary Debate In 100 Words (And 7 Videos)

Harris took aim at Biden during a discussion about race and policing. First, she called out Biden over comments he recently made about his “civil” working relationship with two segregationist lawmakers decades ago.

“It was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country,” Harris said. “And it was not only that — you also worked with them to oppose busing.”

Harris then went on to describe the experience of “a little girl in California” who was bused as a part of the second class to integrate public schools in her county.

“And that little girl was me. So I will tell you that on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among Democrats. We have to take it seriously. We have to act swiftly,” Harris said.

Biden called Harris’ remarks “a mischaracterization of my position across the board.”

He said he did not praise segregationists, and he defended his record on civil rights.

Why Busing Didn't End School Segregation

Looking Back On 50 Years Of Busing In Boston

“Everything I’ve done in my career, I ran because of civil rights. I continue to think we have to make fundamental changes in civil rights,” Biden said.

Pressed by Harris on whether he regretted his position on busing, Biden argued that he did not oppose busing generally.

“I did not oppose busing in America. What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education,” he said.

Black Women, Motivated To Oust Trump, Aren't Convinced Of Any Democrat Yet

Early polls show Biden drawing strong support from black voters, but in the past week he has had to contend with criticism of his comments about the segregationist lawmakers.

He has also faced heat for his role in crafting the 1994 crime law that critics say swelled U.S. prison populations and disproportionately affected African Americans.

Joe Biden Is Democrats' Past, But New Allegations Mean He Might Not Be Their Future

While Biden did oppose federal involvement in busing, he backed the extension of the Voting Rights Act and other major civil rights legislation.

As vice president during the Obama administration, Biden helped push for changes to some drug-sentencing laws.

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