Headlines: February 11, 2019
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Just days away from the February 15th deadline to pass a government spending bill, Congress has still not come up with a deal that Republicans and their President can agree on with the Democrats. Late last week there were glimmers of hope that a deal was taking shape but on Sunday one of the central lawmakers in the bi-partisan committee tasked with arriving at a deal, Republican Senator Richard Shelby, admitted that they were “stalled,” in an interview. Among the differences that have now emerged between the two parties is disagreement on whether to limit the number of undocumented immigrants the government can detain. In the absence of a deal Democrats plan to pass a continuing resolution in the House to fund the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies through September.
Mick Mulvaney, acting White House Chief of Staff appeared on Sunday talk shows declaring that the President was still willing to shut the government down for a second time over his demand for border wall funding. Meanwhile, members of Congress are planning a meeting on Monday afternoon in a late attempt to come to an agreement.
The flight attendants’ union, whose threat of a general strike is credited with helping to end the last shut down, has called for a mass protest by the end of this week if a second shutdown commences. Sara Nelson is the president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, and she told New York Magazine that her union is working with other labor unions to launch mass protests at airports on Saturday February 16th in the event that no deal is reached.
In Virginia where the top three elected officials are roiled in accusations of racial and sexual wrongdoing, a second woman emerged to say that Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax assaulted her. Last week a California professor named Vanessa Tyson accused Fairfax of sexual assault at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. On Friday a woman named Meredith Watson said Fairfax raped her at Duke University in 2000 while they were both students. Fairfax has denied both accusations saying, “in both situations I knew at the time, and I know today, that the interactions were consensual.” Fairfax has asked the FBI to fully investigate the complaints made against him.
Meanwhile a Democratic state lawmaker Patrick Hope introduced a fast track impeachment process against Fairfax, but then backed off from his plans on Monday. Fairfax is the only African American among the group that remains accused of wrongdoing. And, Governor Ralph Northam, whose history with blackface was the first controversy to break, gave an interview to CBS’s Gayle King to try to clear the air. During the interview he once more revealed an ignorant position on race calling enslaved Africans, “indentured servants.” Northam says he won’t resign.
An Ohio city has decided to make voting day a paid holiday, swapping out Columbus Day for it. City officials at Sandusky, Ohio passed the law in the name of promoting diversity. City Manager Eric Wober told the Washington Post, “Ultimately, we knew that Columbus Day was a day that all of our citizens couldn’t necessarily be proud of celebrating. One of the things we’re doing is to begin to celebrate and build on the strength that is our diversity.” The small city of about 25,000 is heavily Democratic, and nearly 70% white. Nearly a quarter of the residents are Black, and 7% are Latino. The city’s employees will now get the first Tuesday of November off instead of Columbus Day. The city is hoping private companies will follow suit.
President Trump mocked two women Democrats who were kicking off Presidential campaigns over the weekend. Trump, who lost the popular vote by about 3 million to a woman in 2016, once more dredged up his racist name-calling against Senator Elizabeth Warren. He tweeted on Saturday, “Today Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to by me as Pocahontas, joined the race for President. Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate, or has she decided that after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore? See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!” In capitalizing the word “trail,” some speculated that he was mocking the genocidal historical incident known as the Trail of Tears. Warren formally launched her presidential bid on Saturday.
Senator Amy Klobuchar also announced her Presidential aspirations over the weekend. Trump, apparently threatened by her too, tweeted that she looked like a Snowman for giving her speech in outdoor wintry conditions. He also made fun of her position on global warming. On another note, some of Klobuchar’s former staffers have accused her of mistreating them.
Teachers in Denver, Colorado are preparing to strike on Monday. The Denver Classroom Teachers Association has been in negotiation with Denver Public Schools for more than a year in a now-familiar turn of events that have been playing out in cities across the country. Teachers Union President Henry Roman said over the weekend, “We will strike Monday for our students and for our profession, and perhaps then DPS will get the message and return to the bargaining table with a serious proposal aimed at solving the teacher turnover crisis in Denver.” It would be the first time in 25 years that Denver teachers will go on strike.
And finally the rapper Childish Gambino made history at the Grammy awards on Sunday, winning Best Song of the Year for his groundbreaking “This is America.” It was the very first time that a rap song has ever won Song of the Year. Gambino, who is known as the musical alter ego of actor Donald Glover, also took home Best Song Video and Best Rap/Sung Performance for the song. The song is a dark commentary on police brutality and racism in the US. The Grammys have had declining viewership for years in part because of accusations over a lack of diversity.