Berkeley Heights, July 21 (AP/UNB) — A top White House adviser on Sunday claimed there was a "huge difference" between Donald Trump's criticisms of America during the 2016 presidential campaign and the critiques by four Democratic congresswomen of color with whom Trump is feuding over the direction of the country.
Trump's words, according to Stephen Miller, were part of a political campaign to put America first and were not intended to sow discord, while the first-term lawmakers are bent on expressing "anti-American sentiment."
Miller, during a television interview, was shown several video clips of then-candidate Trump lambasting the United States, calling Barack Obama "the most ignorant president in our history" and saying "nobody respects us." Criticizing Obama's leadership, the future Republican president said, "We don't know what we're doing."
Trying to explain why the lawmakers' complaints should be seen as worse than Trump's, Miller said there is no comparing agitating for stricter enforcement of immigration laws and better trade deals, as he said Trump was doing, and threatening to undermine the American way of life, as he asserted the lawmakers' want to do. "They detest America as it exists," he said.
To a senior House Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings, the congresswomen "love their country and they work very hard and they want to move us toward that more perfect union that our Founding Fathers talked about."
Miller, citing a Trump rallying cry in 2016, said, "There's a huge difference between America First and an ideology that runs down America."
Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan have pushed back against Trump and the White House, saying they're fighting to help make America live up to its promise.
The four, who call themselves "the squad," have also criticized Trump in personal terms, as he has done with Obama.
"Our squad includes any person committed to building a more equitable and just world and that is the work that we want to get back to," Pressley said at a news conference with her three colleagues last week. "And given the size of this squad in this great nation we cannot, we will not be silenced."
Pressley refused to refer to Trump by name and title, instead calling him "the occupant" because "he does not embody the grace, the empathy, the compassion, the integrity that that office requires and that the American people deserve."
Trump and some fellow Republicans are trying to turn the four lawmakers into the face of the Democratic Party as the 2020 presidential campaign heats up. Trump is also relying on divisive rhetoric on the issues of race and immigration that he used to stoke his political base in 2016.
Trump carried the feud with the lawmakers into a second week on Sunday, tweeting from his central New Jersey home: "I don't believe the four Congresswomen are capable of loving our Country."
Trump had ignited a firestorm of debate a week ago with earlier tweets in which he falsely said the black, Hispanic and Muslim congresswomen - all U.S. citizens - "came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world."
"Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done," he said. Three of the four House members were born in the U.S. Omar is a naturalized citizen who fled Somalia with her family when she was a child.
Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, defended the lawmakers. Three are committee members.
"When you disagree with the president, suddenly ... you're a bad person. Our allegiance is not to the president. Our allegiance is to the Constitution of the United States of America and to the American people," Cummings said.
"These are some of the most brilliant young people that I have met and I am honored to serve with them," Cummings said.
Miller appeared on "Fox News Sunday" and Cummings was on ABC's "This Week."
Washington, July 21 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, is returning to the Mideast at month's end to promote the administration's $50 billion economic support plan for the Palestinians that they've rejected because it ignores their political demands.
Kushner outlined the plan's ambitious investment and development goals at a Bahrain conference last month. It relies heavily on private sector investment in the West Bank, Gaza as well as Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.
The plan acknowledges its success depends on completing a long-elusive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
Trump has cut aid and political support to the Palestinians. Critics say that shows his administration's pro-Israel bias. The U.S. has also refused to endorse a two-state solution that's long been seen as the only viable path to peace.
Kushner's itinerary is being worked out.
Washington, July 21 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Six deaths have been attributed to a recent heat wave that swept through much of the United States.
Four people died in the Eastern state of Maryland, one in the Western state of Arizona and another in the central state of Arkansas, according to U.S. media.
Mitch Petrus, a 32-year-old American football player died Thursday from heatstroke after working outdoors in his family's shop.
In Arizona, an air conditioning technician, Steven Bell, died Thursday while working in an attic, according to local officials.
Temperatures peaked Saturday in Eastern United States with many metropolitan regions hitting 38 degrees Celsius, compounded by high humidity.
The heat wave prompted event organizers to cancel their events, such as the New York City Triathlon, which donated its 12 tons of prepared refreshments to residents.
In Washington DC, where a major celebration was held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11's moon landing, emergency vehicles were deployed as locals crowded the national mall after sundown to celebrate.
In a viral post which circulated on social media over the weekend, a police department in the state of Massachusetts appealed to local residents to hold off committing crimes until the heat wave passes.
"Due to the extreme heat, we are asking anyone thinking of doing criminal activity to hold off until Monday," the humorous notice issued by Braintree police said.
New York, Jul 21 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump's suggestion that four activist Democratic congresswomen of color "go back" to countries "from which they came" has excited some in his political base. Yet in many of America's workplaces and institutions, the same language would be unacceptable and possibly illegal.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces federal laws against workplace bias, explicitly cites comments like "go back to where you came from" as examples of "potentially unlawful conduct."
Similar phrases routinely show up in lawsuits that the EEOC files against employers alleging discrimination, harassment or retaliation based on race or national origin.
Apart from its legality in workplaces, Trump's language has ignited impassioned responses across racial, ethnic and political divides.
"It wasn't Racist!" tweeted Terrence Williams, a black comedian who supports Trump. "No matter what color you are YOU can go back home or move if you don't like America."
By contrast, Rachel Timoner, a senior rabbi at a Reform Jewish synagogue in Brooklyn, said such language would never be tolerated among members of her congregation.
"I'd want to sit down with them and ask them, where that's coming from?" she said. "If a person persistently degraded other human beings, I would need to say to them they could no longer participate. It's really important for us to create an environment where people of color and people of all identities feel welcome."
Facing an uproar from critics accusing him of racism, Trump has insisted that he wasn't being racist when he tweeted this week that the four Democratic members of Congress — all but one of them born in the United States — "originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe." Trump urged them to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."
Rather, his message, the president explained the next day was: "If you hate our country, if you're not happy here, you can leave."
Yet Trump's exhortation for the four minority congresswomen to "go back" to their countries of origin, if uttered by an employee in a workplace, could constitute a firing offense or cause for a costly lawsuit.
Sam P. Israel, a New York lawyer who handles harassment cases, noted that plaintiffs usually must prove that an offensive comment wasn't made in isolation but as part of a broader hostile environment. If Trump were an employer facing a lawsuit, Israel said, there would arguably be enough examples to suggest a pattern of racially or ethnically disparaging remarks.
"All of those things are actionable if you have enough of them, and it could be illegal," Israel said. "The EEOC teaches that all of these things are bad and should be avoided, and the president is making a mockery of it."
In the aftermath of Trump's "go back" tweet, a suburban Chicago gas station clerk was fired after a video posted on social media appeared to show him telling Hispanic customers to "go back to their country."
Stephen Kalghorn, general counsel for the parent company of Bucky's Mobil gas station in Naperville, said the employee's comments couldn't be clearly heard on a surveillance video. But he was fired for engaging in a verbal confrontation with the customers.
Elizabeth Tippett, a professor at the University of Oregon School of Law, suggested that Trump's comments could make things worse for anyone who tried to echo him in a workplace. Tippett explained that the president's rhetoric would make it difficult to argue that a similar comment was made innocuously or out of ignorance of its racist connotations.
"When you have these cultural environments, you might see repeated comments from multiple people," she said. "The more frequent the comments are, the stronger the harassment claim."
Most Republican leaders have declined to characterize Trump's comments as racist. And a few supporters have parroted his remarks, including some at a Trump rally in North Carolina this week who chanted "send her back!" in reference to Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
Donna Givens, an African-American neighborhood organizer who leads the Eastside Community Network in Detroit, said Trump's tweets were deeply hurtful.
"It immediately reminded me of being a child and being told to 'go back to Africa, (n-word)' — that got said to me repeatedly," she said. "My grandmother used to tell me to tell them to 'go back to their caves in Europe.' "
In light of the inflammatory rhetoric, "I don't think that we can pretend like the American workplace is a safe place for immigrants, for people of color or for women," Givens said. "The president has a bully pulpit. And the president sets the tone. And so there are people who feel justified in their hatreds now."
Andrew Pappas, a self-described conservative Republican who holds elective office in Anderson Township, Ohio, acknowledged that Trump's language, taken in a vacuum, was "not appropriate." Yet he expressed some understanding of it.
"I think that when you see Donald Trump react in a human way, it upsets a lot of people that are expecting maybe your true quintessential politician," Pappas said. "But it also resonates exponentially with the common American who says, 'You know what? I'd react that way, too.' "
The Rev. Tom Lambrecht, general manager of the conservative United Methodist magazine Good News, cautioned against any rush to declare certain forms of political rhetoric unacceptable
"The difficulty here is, who decides what is unacceptable?" Lambrecht said by email. "And how is that unacceptability enforced? Censorship?"
"At the same time," he added, "such despicable rhetoric is a teachable moment. It is incumbent upon Christians and others of good will to call out racism when we hear it in public debate or private conversation and to teach our children and grandchildren what is wrong with such attitudes."
Another pastor, E.W. Lucas of Friendship Baptist Church in Appomattox, Virginia, has firmly backed Trump, even posting sign outside the church declaring "America: Love or Leave It," explicitly echoing the president.
"People that feel hard about our president and want to down the president and down the country ... they ought to go over there and live in these other countries for a little while," Lucas told ABC 13 in Lynchburg.
Some advocates of free speech argued that censorship of political rhetoric should never be the solution, suggesting that there were better ways to combat it.
"Every American has the right to make up his or her own mind about what public officials say and how they say it —and if enough people disagree with a politician, they have the right make those opinions known in peaceful protest, or at the ballot box," said Robert Shibley, executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. "Censorship of political speech only serves to rob citizens of the right to make up their own minds, which is fatal to a democratic society."
Chris Finan, executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, agreed that attempts to ban racist rhetoric "will never solve the problem."
Instead, Finan said, "It has to be challenged and refuted wherever it occurs."
Retired college football coach Bill Curry, who grew up in the segregated South, had some advice based on playing in the NFL under legends Vince Lombardi at Green Bay and Don Shula in Baltimore.
"One racist word out of your month and you were gone," said Curry, 76. "It didn't matter who you were. Period."
During college coaching stints at the University of Alabama and elsewhere, Curry followed the same policy.
"When you put down those rules like those great coaches did, it doesn't become a problem," he said. "You cannot let that racist thing get started. It will destroy unity, just like is going on in our country now."
New York, Jul 21 (AP/UNB) — Americans from Texas to Maine sweated out a steamy Saturday as a heat wave canceled events from festivals to horse races, chased baseball fans out of their seats and pushed New York City to order steps to avoid straining the electrical system.
The National Weather Service said "a dangerous heat wave" sent temperatures into the 90s, with high humidity that made it feel considerably hotter. It was expected to stay warm at night, in the upper 70s to low 80s, with more heat on the way Sunday for the East Coast.
"It's brutal," Jeffrey Glickman said as he paused during a run in Washington.
The 37-year-old got out early to try to escape the worst of the heat but still planned to cut his route short on an already 90-degree (32-degree Celsius) morning.
"You just have to power through it the best you can," he said.
Many people in areas facing excessive heat this weekend have no air conditioning, and cities opened shelters for people to cool off. With record- or near-record-high temperatures at night when many air conditioned places are closed, the weather can become especially dangerous for people who don't get a chance to cool down, experts say. The risks are greater for young children, the elderly and the sick.
Over three days in July 1995, more than 700 people died during a heat wave in Chicago as temperatures rose above 97 degrees (36 degrees Celsius). Many of the dead were poor, elderly and lived alone.
While the Midwest will get some relief Sunday as a cold front brings storms and lower temperatures, the East won't be so lucky until Monday, the weather service warned. The heat will be the worst from the Carolinas to Maine.
In Norwich, Connecticut, Larry Konecny watched as one of his workers a couple of stories up in a boom lift cleaned the outside of an office building. The pair had no choice but to work in 90-degree heat and stifling humidity because the job needed to be done when office workers were away, Konecny said.
"He's pressure-washing, so the water is splashing. So at least there's some degree of refreshment," he said.
New York City authorities canceled a Times Square commemoration of the 1969 moon landing and an outdoor festival featuring soccer star Megan Rapinoe, musician John Legend and "Daily Show" host Trevor Noah.
Still, Megan Vallerie ran 5 miles (8 kilometers) in Brooklyn's Prospect Park.
"It's not the day to be out here. I should have been up much earlier," she said Saturday morning. "You've got to take your time and drink a lot of water and survive, not enjoy. That's the goal."
The city also directed owners of many office buildings to set thermostats no lower than 78 degrees (26 degrees Celsius) through Sunday to reduce strain on the electrical grid.
The measure came after a power outage related to an equipment failure, not heat, caused a roughly five-hour blackout July 13 that affected a 40-block stretch of Manhattan, including Times Square and Rockefeller Center.
Storms have knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people in parts of Michigan and Wisconsin, heightening the misery. Strong wind and rain were expected to persist Saturday night and into Sunday in the Midwest and Central Plains.
In Philadelphia, several hundred people were evacuated from a retirement community due to a partial power outage, though it wasn't immediately clear whether the problem was heat related. Residents were taken to a nearby shelter, and police said some went to a hospital for evaluation.
In Chicago, heat nixed several outdoor events, including a 5k run in Grant Park and a morning workout at Millennium Park.
It hit 94 degrees (34 degrees Celsius) by first pitch at the San Diego Padres-Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field, but some fans didn't want to stay away, largely watching from shaded concourses as the Cubs won 6-5.
"We're sticking to water and not having beer. It's helping a little bit," said Jaclyn Jendrisak of St. Louis.
In New Jersey, operators of the Monmouth Park horse racing track canceled six races and pushed back others, including the $1 million Haskell Invitational, until early evening. Maximum Security, the horse that crossed the finish line first in this year's Kentucky Derby and then was disqualified, headlines the Haskell field.
Races were set to resume just before sunset.
Animal rights activists protested outside the New Jersey Shore track, where temperatures hit the high 90s.
The track set up misting fans in the paddock and saddling areas for the 14-race card, shortened post parades before the race to limit track time for the horses and hosed them down after they ran.
Amid pressure over a series of horse deaths in California, several tracks canceled their Saturday races, including Saratoga Race Course and Finger Lakes in New York and Laurel Park in Maryland.
At New York's Yankee Stadium, the temperature hit 94 degrees when the home team and Colorado Rockies took the field for what turned into an 11-5 Yankees romp. Extra hydration stations were set up in all three decks and the bleachers. Announcements reminded fans to keep drinking water.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he was mindful of the heat, too.
"You tend to monitor guys a little more closely, want to see how your pitchers are doing," he said.