Saturday, November 17, 2018
News Roundup

Washington

On Trade, Trump says he’ll ‘make it up’ to farmers

President Donald Trump acknowledged Monday that farmers could be adversely affected by the escalating tariff dispute with China, but promised to make it up to them, saying they "will be better off than they ever were." Speaking at a Cabinet meeting, Trump addressed the Chinese threat to slap tariffs on soybeans and other agriculture staples grown in rural America, a move that could hit Midwestern farmers, many of whom are strong Trump supporters. "I tell you our farmers are great patriots," Trump said. "They understand that they’re doing this for the country. We’ll make it up to them. In the end, they’re going to be much stronger than they are right now." China is threatening the tariffs in response to Trump moving to enact protectionist measures as punishment for Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property. The U.S. bought more than $500 billion in goods from China last year and now is planning or considering penalties on some $150 billion of those imports. The U.S. sold about $130 billion in goods to China in 2017 and faces a potentially devastating hit if China responds in kind. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump was working with his team "to determine how best to respond to China’s attack on American farmers" and had asked the Agriculture Department to provide him with a plan to protect U.S. farmers.

Illinois

Duckworth delivers in historic Senate first

Sen. Tammy Duckworth has given birth to a baby girl, making her the first U.S. senator to give birth while in office. The Illinois Democrat announced she delivered her second daughter, Maile Pearl Bowlsbey, on Monday. Her office says Duckworth is recovering well and asked for privacy. The 50-year-old veteran who lost her legs in the Iraq War is one of only 10 lawmakers who have given birth while in Congress. Her first daughter, Abigail, was born in 2014. Duckworth said Maile’s middle name is in honor of her great aunt-in-law, Pearl Bowlsbey Johnson, who was an Army officer and nurse in World War II. She said she’s grateful to friends and family and "our wonderful medical teams for everything they’ve done to help us in our decades-long journey to complete our family."

Michigan

Deal aims to help kids in Flint exposed to lead

A deal was announced Monday to get more health screenings and education services to thousands of children who were exposed to lead in Flint’s drinking water. Families will be encouraged to get kids signed up on a registry, which will lead to tests and screenings to determine any unique education needs. The agreement partly settles a federal lawsuit against the state of Michigan, the Flint school district and a regional education agency. Participation will be voluntary, but more than 25,000 people could be eligible, including some young adults who haven’t graduated from high school, said attorney Greg Little of the Pennsylvania-based Education Law Center, who is leading a legal team that includes the American Civil Liberties Union. The state will provide $4.1 million to get the program started by fall, although the money still must be approved by Michigan lawmakers. There was no immediate comment about the agreement from the state Education Department. Lead-tainted water flowed in Flint for 18 months before a disaster was declared in 2015. The corrosive water wasn’t properly treated before it moved through old plumbing. Lead can cause behavior problems and a lower IQ.

Panama

Hotel spat highlights conflicts for Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump’s company appealed directly to Panama’s president to intervene in its fight over control of a luxury hotel, even invoking a treaty between the two countries, in what ethics experts say was a blatant mingling of Trump’s business and government interests. That appeal in a letter last month from lawyers for the Trump Organization to President Juan Carlos Varela was apparently unsuccessful — an emergency arbitrator days later declined to reinstate the Trump management team to the Panama City waterfront hotel once known as a Trump Tower. But it provides hard proof of exactly the kind of conflict experts feared when Trump refused to divest from a sprawling empire. "This could be the clearest example we’ve seen of a conflict of interest stemming from the president’s role as head of state in connection with other countries and his business interests," said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington ethics and good government organization. While never mentioning Trump or his role as president, the letter says lawyers representing the Trump Organization were aware of "the separation of powers" in Panama but essentially asks the country’s president to intervene in the judicial process anyway. It goes on to say that the eviction violates an investment treaty signed by the two countries and suggests the Panamanian government, not the hotel’s new management team, could be blamed for any wrongdoing.

West Bank

Threats, innuendo in questioning of teen

The family of prominent Palestinian protester Ahed Tamimi on Monday released excerpts from a video in which an Israeli interrogator threatens the then-16-year-old with the arrest of her relatives if she refuses to cooperate. The interrogator also, in sexual innuendos, comments on her body. Identified as an agent of the Israeli military intelligence branch, the interrogator at times moves within inches of the teenager, who doesn’t respond and repeatedly asserts her right to remain silent. The Israeli military said a complaint of improper conduct on the part of the investigator, filed by Tamimi’s lawyer, has been handed to the Justice Ministry and is being "thoroughly examined." Bassem Tamimi told reporters the video is evidence of Israel’s failure to break his daughter. He portrayed Ahed Tamimi, who has become a Palestinian icon, as a symbol of resistance to Israel’s 51-year-old military occupation. Her silence under pressure, he said, shows "we are not victims, we are fighters for the cause of freedom of our people." A West Bank rights group said a majority of minors have reported being verbally abused, intimidated or humiliated in Israeli custody. About 356 Palestinian minors are currently detained, according to Israeli figures. Tamimi is serving an eight-month prison term — the result of a plea deal — for slapping and kicking two Israeli soldiers outside her home in mid December after learning troops seriously wounded her teen cousin.

Times wires

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Published: 11/17/18
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