News & Analysis of Economic, Racial, Gender Justice and More

President Donald Trump gave his second State of the Union address on Tuesday night. It was the third time he had addressed a joint session of Congress and his annual speech came one week late due to the federal government shutdown. Early in his speech he called for unity despite being the most divisive President in memory.

Trump also touted the economy and ridiculed the Special Counsel’s investigation.

News outlets responded to the lengthy and rambling speech filled with contradictions with numerous fact checking. Trump’s claims of an economic miracle in particular stood in stark contrast to the facts.  The New York Times explained that, “The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that since January 2017, when Mr. Trump took office, the economy has added 4.9 million jobs, including 454,000 manufacturing jobs. Far from being ‘impossible,’ that is closely comparable to the pace of job creation during some two-year periods during the Obama administration, and significantly slower than the pace of job creation in manufacturing in the 1990s.”

Trump also boasted about the state of the US economy compared to the rest of the world. But the New York Times explained that in fact, “The American economy expanded at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2018. Growth in Latvia and Poland was almost twice as fast. Same for China and India. Even the troubled Greek economy posted stronger growth.”

Stacey Abrams, the former Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia was picked to deliver her party’s official response to the State of the Union. She became the first black woman to ever deliver the official Democratic Party response.  Her speech drew widespread praise and even speculation about a Presidential run.

Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders also issued his own response, as he has done for the previous two years. While most of his speech focused on fact checking Trump on the economy, he also singled out Trump’s demonization of immigrants.

In other news, David Duke, the founder and former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, has endorsed Democratic hopeful Tulsi Gabbard for President. He tweeted, “Tulsi Gabbard in 2020. Finally a candidate for President who will really put America First?” The Guamese American who hopes to be the nation’s first Hindu President, rejected the endorsement. Gabbard said, “I have strongly denounced David Duke’s hateful views and his so-called ‘support’ multiple times in the past, and reject his support.” Gabbard has come under criticism from the left for cozying up to the Hindu fundamentalist Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, and for Islamophobia and homophobia.

Another Presidential hopeful who is struggling with perceptions is Senator Elizabeth Warren, who on Tuesday apologized for identifying as Native American for two decades. The Washington Post had obtained a registration card that she filled out by hand for the State Bar of Texas where she identified her race as “American Indian.” Warren had apparently called the chief of the Cherokee Nation last week to apologize for taking a DNA test late last year in order to prove that she had a distant Native American relative. She also apparently apologized for identifying herself as indigenous. According to the Post, “Warren will be vying to lead a party that has become far more mindful of nonwhite voters and their objections to misuse of their culture.”

Neomi Rao, who has been nominated by President Trump for Brett Kavanaugh’s vacated seat on a Federal Appeals court, has come under scrutiny from both parties over controversial remarks she made on victims of date rape. About a dozen women protested outside the committee hearing room on Tuesday wearing T-shirts with quotes from Rao’s years as a columnist at Yale’s college newspaper. Among the things she had written was this: “It has always seemed self-evident to me that even if I drank a lot, I would still be responsible for my actions. A man who rapes a drunk girl should be prosecuted. At the same time, a good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober.” Civil rights groups and Democrats are also deeply concerned about her views on broad presidential powers and deregulation.

A police officer in Alabama will face no charges in the fatal shooting death of an African American soldier whom he mistook for an active shooter at a mall in Hoover. Twenty one year old Emantic F. Bradford Jr. was visiting family when an as-yet unnamed officer fatally shot him. The Alabama Attorney General issued a report saying, “Officer 1’s actions were reasonable under the circumstances and were consistent with his training and nationally accepted standards for ‘active shooter’ scenarios.” Bradford’s death prompted major protests in Alabama by activists enraged at the officer’s assumption of the black man as the shooter.

Pope Francis acknowledged on Tuesday that the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal was not limited to child victims, and that bishops and priests had also victimized nuns. According to the New York Times, “Catholic nuns have accused clerics of sexual abuse in recent years in India, Africa, Latin America and in Italy, and a Vatican magazine last week mentioned nuns having abortions or giving birth to the children of priests.” It was the first time the Pope publicly acknowledged the adult women victims.

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