Headlines: February 4, 2019
Listen to story:
Download: mp3 (Duration: 8:23 — 7.7MB)
President Donald Trump gave an interview to CBS’s Face the Nation that aired on Sunday ahead of the Super Bowl. Speaking with Margaret Brennan he addressed a number of topics including his dispute with the heads of Intelligence agencies, the US backing for a regime change in Venezuela, the Special Counsel’s investigation, Colin Kaepernick’s protests, and whether he will declare a national emergency during his State of the Union address on Tuesday. The interview aired on Sunday ahead of the Super Bowl.
In other news, Virginia’s embattled Democratic Governor Ralph Northam has dug in his heels and refused to resign after racist photos emerged from his medical school yearbook. The photo from the 1984 book shows a person dressed in the white robes of the Ku Klux Klan, standing next to a white person wearing blackface. At first Northam admitted that he was in the photo, saying on Friday that he was, “deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo.” Then on Saturday he denied it but admitted that he once darkened his skin as part of a dance contest at a party during his school years. The Democratic Party has been nearly unanimous in calling for his resignation but so far Northam continues to refuse. California Representative Karen Bass, the head of the Congressional Black Caucus said in an interview, “I think he’s been completely dishonest and disingenuous…He knew this picture was there, and he could’ve come clean and talked to African-Americans that he’s close to decades ago.” Interestingly Northam’s own Lieutenant Governor is an African American man named Justin Fairfax, who would assume the governorship if Northam were to resign.
Canadians watched a controversial ad during Sunday’s Super Bowl that US Americans did not get to see. A Canadian autoworkers union aired a 30-second commercial critical of US company GM, that GM tried and failed to get withdrawn. The ad accused GM of taking Canadian subsidies and then announcing the closing of a major auto plant in Oshawa, Ontario.
Democrats have introduced the Social Security 2100 Act in the House, an ambitious bill that goes on the offensive against relentless Republican efforts to cut the New Deal era safety-net program. The bill increases benefits across the board, cuts taxes on benefits, and also raises the cost-of-living increase. For those Americans who spent years in low wage jobs, it raises the minimum benefit so that people don’t fall through the cracks when they retire. The new bill would also make small changes that would increase the solvency of the program. It would be the biggest expansion of Social Security since 1972. Democratic Representative John B. Larson of Connecticut, who is the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee and who wrote the legislation, has promised to hold hearings around the nation to garner support for the bill.
The Pentagon announced on Sunday that it would be sending 3,750 more military troops to the US-Mexico Border, bringing the total number to 4,350. The primary task of the troops would be to put up 150 miles of concertina wire along the existing barriers at the border and to assist Customs and Border Protection officers. Critics have accused President Trump of wasting the time and resources of the Armed Forces to make a political point.
In other immigration news, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency on Sunday arrested the Grammy-nominated rapper 21 Savage in Atlanta. Authorities say he is a British citizen who overstayed his visa. The rapper, whose birth name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph was taken into custody in a major operation that included ICE agents as well as federal and domestic law enforcement. He is considered a role model for youth in the Atlanta-area and has two nominations for next week’s Grammy awards, including for record of the year.
And a hunger-striking detainee who has been among those being force-fed at an immigration detention center in El Paso, Texas, has gone public about his ordeal. Speaking through an interpreter to Associated Press, the man, who has only been identified by his last name Singh, said, “They tie us on the force-feeding bed, and then they put a lot of liquid into the tubes, and the pressure is immense so we end up vomiting it out. We can’t talk properly, and we can’t breathe properly. The pipe is not an easy process, but they try to push it down our noses and throats.” Singh, who is from Punjab, India, says he has lost 50 lbs since he started his hunger strike to protest the conditions of his detention.
The international banking institution, Deutsche Bank is in the news. On Friday it emerged that Donald Trump, when he was campaigning for President, turned to Deutsche Bank for a loan and was turned down. The loan request had not been previously reported and according to the New York Times, it, “set off a fight that reached the top of the German bank…Among their concerns was that if Mr. Trump won the election and then defaulted, Deutsche Bank would have to choose between not collecting on the debt or seizing the assets of the president of the United States.” Then on Saturday the Wall Street Journal reported that after Trump won the election Deutsche Bank in December 2016 rushed to sell off a loan it had made to a Russian state-owned bank. It succeeded in selling off part of the loan to another Russian bank. According to the Journal, the effort to shed the loan, “came as the German bank worried about its financial contacts with Russia, which U.S. intelligence officials accused of interfering in the 2016 presidential election while the campaign was still under way.”
And finally the news outlet Axios reported on Sunday how the President spends the majority of his time. A White House source leaked the details of the President’s private schedule which show that, “Trump has spent around 60% of his scheduled time over the past 3 months in unstructured ‘Executive Time.'” The first three hours of his day are spent largely, “in the residence, watching TV, reading the papers, and responding to what he sees and reads by phoning aides, members of Congress, friends, administration officials and informal advisers.” In response to the report, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders emailed Axois saying, “President Trump has a different leadership style than his predecessors and the results speak for themselves.”