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Officials In Sanctuary Cities Condemn Trump’s Proposal To Move Immigrant Detainees

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The president says he is considering sending detained immigrants in the country illegally to sanctuary cities. San Francisco is among the cities that have passed sanctuary city ordinances.

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Officials in sanctuary cities are largely condemning President Trump’s proposal to move immigrant detainees from the border to those cities. There are almost 200 sanctuary municipalities, states and counties across the U.S. San Francisco is one of them. City leaders there say that although they would welcome migrants, they don’t think transporting them to the city is the best option. Sonja Hutson from member station KQED reports.

SONJA HUTSON, BYLINE: San Francisco’s had a sanctuary policy since 1989. It limits the ability of law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. San Francisco Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer says it’s an ordinance the city is proud of.

SANDRA LEE FEWER: In San Francisco, we don’t know who’s documented and who isn’t. Actually, we just live amongst each other, and we live peacefully.

HUTSON: While Fewer and other officials are denouncing the proposal, they’re also saying they would welcome the migrants if it goes through.

FEWER: We will treat them as human beings. We respect them as people. And we want their families to have a livelihood here, too.

HUTSON: Critics of sanctuary policies say they endanger residents. They point to the fatal 2015 shooting of a woman in San Francisco by an undocumented immigrant. That instance garnered national attention as an example of violence enabled by sanctuary policies. The immigrant, however, was acquitted of murder and manslaughter.

But supporters of the policy, like San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, say they keep the city safe and help improve the well-being of immigrants.

RAFAEL MANDELMAN: It’s about immigrant communities being able to go to the police, be able to go to our public health resources. Our city will not be stronger if our immigrant communities feel that they can’t go to the police or can’t go see a doctor.

HUTSON: In addition to several major cities, including San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles, the entire state of California has a sanctuary policy. Kevin de Leon authored the sanctuary state law when he represented parts of Los Angeles in the state Senate. He says another concern is the cost of transporting these migrants.

KEVIN DE LEON: Wasting taxpayer dollars to put folks on a plane specifically to sanctuary cities is a non-starter.

HUTSON: San Francisco is more than 500 miles from the California-Mexico border. De Leon says the proposal has little to do with what’s best for immigration and more to do with agitating President Trump’s base in the run-up to the 2020 election.

DE LEON: It’s clearly not done to benefit the immigrants themselves, but rather to do everything within his power to embarrass elected official leaders throughout the state who have defended immigrants.

HUTSON: This isn’t the first time the Trump administration has singled out sanctuary cities. In 2017, it threatened to withhold law enforcement grants from nearly 30 jurisdictions. In the end, many courts determined the federal government could not withhold those grants.

But not everyone in California or San Francisco agrees with the elected leaders who put forth these policies. Harmeet Dhillon is the Republican National Committeewoman for California and a lawyer in San Francisco. She supports President Trump’s proposal to move immigrants to sanctuary cities. And she says the Democratic response to that suggestion has been hypocritical.

HARMEET DHILLON: Talk about political ploys and political pawns. Democrats have been using illegal aliens as political pawns and selling points and talking points for their pandering to the Hispanic vote for decades.

HUTSON: And Dhillon says city officials shouldn’t be welcoming large amounts of undocumented immigrants into places like San Francisco.

DHILLON: Actually, when you can’t take care of the health and welfare needs and educational needs of your own citizens, then you are a bad leader trying to dilute those resources amongst people who have not necessarily paid their dues to be here in this country.

HUTSON: Dhillon says sanctuary cities should focus on helping current residents, including large homeless populations in San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles. For NPR News, I’m Sonja Hutson in San Francisco.

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Copyright © 2019 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Boeing To Slow Production Of 737 Max Jets As It Works On Flight Control Software Fix

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A Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplane sits on the assembly line on March 27, in Renton, Wash. Boeing is slowing production of its grounded Max airliner while it works on fixing flight-control software in the wake of fatal crashes. Ted S. Warren/AP hide caption

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Ted S. Warren/AP

A Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplane sits on the assembly line on March 27, in Renton, Wash. Boeing is slowing production of its grounded Max airliner while it works on fixing flight-control software in the wake of fatal crashes.

Ted S. Warren/AP

Boeing says it is reducing production of its 737 Max planes, and the temporary slowdown will begin in mid-April.

CEO Dennis Muilenburg says the company will build 42 of the planes per month, down from the current 52, while keeping the same number of workers. Boeing still has an enormous backlog of orders — about 4,600 — for the Max planes. That will take years to fill.

Muilenburg says he now knows that two deadly crashes within five months of each other, involving Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines, had a common link of a malfunctioning flight-control software called MCAS.

He says he has asked Boeing’s board of directors to create a committee to review company policies for airplane development and recommend improvements.

Ethiopian Airlines released a preliminary report Thursday on the crash of its plane on March 10. Investigators say the pilots used procedures provided by Boeing but couldn’t stop the plane’s repeated nose dives. All 157 people on board died in the crash just after takeoff from Addis Ababa.

A Lion Air 737 Max jet crashed in a similar way on Oct. 9, with pilots frantically trying to stop the nose from dropping. The plane went down off the coast of Java, killing 189 people.

The 737 Max planes have been grounded worldwide for nearly a month as Boeing works on a software fix.

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Boeing 737 Max Software Fix And Report On Fatal Crash Expected This Week

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This Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8, seen last Saturday, is one of those grounded following the crash that killed 157 people. Mulugeta Ayene/AP hide caption

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Mulugeta Ayene/AP

This Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8, seen last Saturday, is one of those grounded following the crash that killed 157 people.

Mulugeta Ayene/AP

Boeing says it has a software fix ready for its 737 MAX airplanes that will be unveiled to airline officials, pilots and aviation authorities from around the world Wednesday, as the aircraft manufacturer works to rebuild trust among its customers and the flying public following two fatal crashes of the planes in recent months.

Meanwhile, those crashes and the relationship between Boeing and the federal agency charged with regulating it will be discussed at a U.S. Senate aviation subcommittee hearing on Wednesday. Scheduled to testify are the heads of the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, along with the Transportation Department’s inspector general, who is investigating the how the FAA went about certifying the 737 MAX as airworthy, and whether regulators relied too heavily on Boeing’s own safety assessments in their review.

Those developments come as transportation authorities in Ethiopia prepare to release preliminary findings on the cause of the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane earlier this month that killed all 157 people on board.

A spokesman for Ethiopia’s transport ministry told the Associated Press “a date has not been set but (the preliminary report) will be released later this week.” The spokesman says the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, France’s aviation investigative authority BEA, and Ethiopia’s Transport Ministry have been conducting the investigation jointly.

The investigators have said there were striking similarities between the March 10 crash outside of Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa and the crash of a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 into the Java Sea in Indonesia last October. Both planes crashed shortly after takeoff and both followed similar, erratic flight tracks in the air that indicate the pilots may have been struggling to try keep the planes from going into nosedives.

In the Lion Air jet crash October 29, which killed all 189 people on board, Indonesian investigators say an automated flight control system, acting on erroneous data from a faulty sensor, repeatedly forced the nose of the plane down. That system, called MCAS, for Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, is designed to prevent the airplane from stalling. But the Lion Air pilots apparently did not know how to counteract the system or disengage it, and were in a futile struggle to regain control of the plane.

After the Lion Air crash, many pilots complained that had not been made aware of the MCAS system, as it did not exist on previous versions of the 737, nor had they been trained on what to do when the system engages and forces the nose of the plane downward unexpectedly.

It still is not clear if something similar happened on the Ethiopian Airlines jet but the company’s CEO says pilots had been trained on how to handle the new system after the Lion Air crash.

Boeing officials say the company has completed developing software upgrades for MCAS aimed at preventing such occurrences in the future. The system will no longer act repeatedly in forcing the nose of the plane and will act just once if detecting the plane entering an aerodynamic stall. And the MCAS system will rely on data from the two angle of attack sensors on the plane, instead of just one.

In addition, a warning light that alerts the pilot when the angle of attack sensors disagree will become standard instead of being a more expensive option for airlines to purchase, and it will be added to the entire fleet of 737 MAX aircraft for free.

A Boeing official says the software upgrades have undergone extensive lab and simulator testing, with pilots in a simulator facing a series of errors and failures, including sensor errors and other erroneous inputs.

The Boeing official says the FAA participated in the evaluation, even demonstrating the software upgrades during a test flight on March 12.

It is unlikely that the FAA will act quickly in certifying the software upgrades and other fixes, especially considering the scrutiny of the certification process coming from Congress and others. And regulators in Canada, Europe, China and other countries say they will no longer rely on FAA data and will conduct their own tests of the MCAS software updates before allowing Boeing’s 737 MAX planes in the air again. As a result, some experts say it could be months before the airplanes are allowed back into service.

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The Midwest Battles Historic Floods In The Aftermath Of ‘Bomb Cyclone’

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Tom Wilke, his son Chad, and Nick Kenny launch a boat into the swollen waters of the Elkhorn River to check on Witke’s flooded property, in Norfolk, Neb., on Friday, March 15. Nati Harnik/AP hide caption

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Tom Wilke, his son Chad, and Nick Kenny launch a boat into the swollen waters of the Elkhorn River to check on Witke’s flooded property, in Norfolk, Neb., on Friday, March 15.

Nati Harnik/AP

It’s the worst flooding parts of the Midwest have seen in decades, where several states are battling the aftermath of a powerful “bomb cyclone” which swept through the region last week, bringing blizzard conditions, hurricane-like winds, snow and heavy rain.

The powerful storm pushed some waterways, including the Missouri River, to record levels in South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota.

Marc Chenard, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told NPR many areas will remain water-logged for days.

“All the rivers respond differently, have different time scales that they flood and then recede. A lot of the rivers are going to remain in flood into the weekend, and some into next week,” Chenard said. “Eventually as we head into next week, we should see more and more of the rivers start to recede below flood stage.”

Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska have all declared states of emergencies.

As rivers spill over their banks and through local communities, the rising waters are setting records.

In Nebraska, Gov. Pete Ricketts said nearly every part of the state is experiencing historic flooding.

Nebraska has deployed helicopters to assist in rescuing those trapped by the high waters, and boats for travel across washed out roads. CNN reported that some people who were rescued suffered from hypothermia, and had to be transported to the hospital.

The Omaha-Valley Weather Service office said a levee was breached in Nebraska’s Dodge County. “This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation,” the weather service warned. “Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order.”

With flood waters rising, officials were monitoring for damage at the Cooper Nuclear Station, south of Omaha, which serves about half a million customers. Mark Becker, spokesperson for the Nebraska Public Power District told NPR the plant will continue operating for the foreseeable future. “If we get to the next threshold, the plant would go to a shutdown,” Becker said.

“A week ago, my backyard had a foot of snow in it. It’s warmed up. The ground is frozen still. The snow is melting, and we’ve had some torrential rains, and that’s created torrential flooding,” Becker told NPR.

In Wisconsin, Governor Tony Evers said flooding was impacting “homes, businesses, and cities and towns” across the state.

Lori Getter of the Wisconsin Emergency Management spoke with NPR. “We’re trying to get a handle on the situation with the flooding across the state, but two days ago, and even yesterday, we were evacuating people because of the rising waters,” Getter said.

A bomb cyclone occurs when there is a rapid drop in atmospheric pressure. The massive storm moved into Canada on Friday.

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Bay Area’s High Cost Of Living Squeezes Restaurant Workers, Chefs And Owners

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Every morning at around 5 a.m., Armando Ibarra wakes up in the back of his van. He has been living there for the past couple of years. On his dashboard rests a holy candle. A rosary hangs from the rearview mirror.

Ibarra walks over to his job at a chain hotel near San Francisco’s airport. He says that at least he can wash up there. “I take a shower, drink my coffee, smoke a cigarette and ready to work.”

Armando Ibarra, a hotel restaurant worker in San Francisco, lives out of his van to save money — and to avoid an hours-long commute from San Jose, Calif. A holy candle rests on his dashboard; a rosary hangs from the rearview mirror. Jasmine Garsd/NPR hide caption

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Jasmine Garsd/NPR

Armando Ibarra, a hotel restaurant worker in San Francisco, lives out of his van to save money — and to avoid an hours-long commute from San Jose, Calif. A holy candle rests on his dashboard; a rosary hangs from the rearview mirror.

Jasmine Garsd/NPR

The hotel restaurant where Ibarra works as a food runner boasts creative, artisanal and healthy meals. People in the San Francisco Bay Area are known for being foodies (the city now has the most Michelin three-star restaurants in the U.S.).

But behind kitchen doors, tension has been stewing for years: Service-industry workers like Ibarra say they can no longer afford to live in the Bay Area on their wages. And restaurant owners say the high cost of living has made it hard to retain staff and even to stay in business.

The Bay Area is notoriously expensive. As the tech industry grows, rents have soared. A one-bedroom apartment costs well over $3,000 a month. The minimum wage just went up to $15 an hour, but the cost of living also keeps rising.

Ibarra makes around $15 an hour. He used to commute from neighboring San Jose, one of the most expensive cities in the United States. He paid $800 a month for a room, but just slept there.

When traffic was bad, the drive back from work could take as much as three hours. “You would go bumper-to-bumper, bumper-to-bumper sometimes. You get crazy,” Ibarra says.

He considered renting near work. But he couldn’t afford it. He figured he was already spending as much as four hours a day in his vehicle, so he might as well just sleep there.

The plight of low-wage workers like Ibarra is affecting the restaurant business. Just last year, several high-profile eateries shut down. One of them was Camino, known for its wood-fired cuisine. Co-owner Allison Hopelain says the restaurant took a major hit when its chef moved to Seattle because he couldn’t afford to live in the Bay Area.

“[He] felt like he would have better opportunities there in terms of opening his own place, buying a home,” Hopelain says. She says things started unraveling when he left. Last year, after about a decade in business, Camino closed.

Hopelain went on to open The Kebabery in Oakland. It’s a small, cafeteria-style joint. You just pick your food and find a table. She says it’s a much more affordable business model, but she also thinks it’s what a lot of customers want.

Decades ago, eating out was a special occasion, but these days Hopelain says people want to grab a quick, affordable bite of good food and head back to their lives.

Allison Hopelain, owner of The Kebabery in Oakland, Calif., says the cafeteria-style restaurant reflects the changing tastes of customers who now want to grab a quick, affordable meal and head back to their lives. Allison Hopelain/Courtesy of The Kebabery hide caption

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Allison Hopelain/Courtesy of The Kebabery

Allison Hopelain, owner of The Kebabery in Oakland, Calif., says the cafeteria-style restaurant reflects the changing tastes of customers who now want to grab a quick, affordable meal and head back to their lives.

Allison Hopelain/Courtesy of The Kebabery

A few minutes north of Oakland, Peter Levitt says his restaurant, Saul’s, with waiters, hosts and food runners, is part of a dying breed. “Your old diners with booths and breakfast and lunch table service — it’s over,” he says.

Saul’s, a Jewish deli, is a landmark in Berkeley near the University of California campus. Professors and locals hold meetings in the cozy booths over bagels, blintzes, smoked fish and warm matzo ball soup.

Peter Levitt, owner of Saul’s, a Jewish deli in Berkeley, says that as the minimum wage and housing prices climb, “the menu prices have to go up, because you have to pay more to retain your labor force.” Emunah Hauser/Courtesy of Saul’s Restaurant & Delicatessen hide caption

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Emunah Hauser/Courtesy of Saul’s Restaurant & Delicatessen

Peter Levitt, owner of Saul’s, a Jewish deli in Berkeley, says that as the minimum wage and housing prices climb, “the menu prices have to go up, because you have to pay more to retain your labor force.”

Emunah Hauser/Courtesy of Saul’s Restaurant & Delicatessen

Saul’s was established in the 1980s, and Levitt has seen a change in the cost of living here unfold before his eyes. With workers getting pushed out of the Bay Area, he says, “we’ve seen our staff coming from further and further away.” One of his cooks sleeps at his extended family’s house nearby, on workdays, to shorten his commute.

Levitt says Saul’s might have to adapt to the changing times. “As minimum wages go up, and particularly as housing prices go up, the menu prices have to go up, because you have to pay more to retain your labor force,” he says. “And at some point maybe there won’t be enough clientele out there to pay the cost of table service to sustain this kind of restaurant.”

Some restaurants in the area are even turning to automation. Located in San Francisco’s Financial District, Creator offers burgers created by local celebrity chefs.

But the burgers are made by a giant robot that slices the brioche bun, grates the cheese and cuts the tomatoes. The end result: a $6 burger.

The burger-making robot at Creator, an automated restaurant in San Francisco. Aubrie Prick/Courtesy of Creator hide caption

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Aubrie Prick/Courtesy of Creator

The burger-making robot at Creator, an automated restaurant in San Francisco.

Aubrie Prick/Courtesy of Creator

Alex Vardakostas grew up flipping patties at his parents’ restaurant, a burger joint in a little California surf town. He says the robot can flip burgers better, and more cheaply.

“The only way you can make a burger of this kind of quality at that price is using a device that’s going to grind meat to order. It’s going to slice the tomato to order, slice the bun to order,” Vardakostas says.

Meanwhile, at the hotel restaurant where Ibarra works, a burger costs about $20.

“You know, even when I get the discount, that’s too much,” he says.

He says he usually just goes to Burger King or Taco Bell or stops by a gas station to eat before heading back to his van to sleep.

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Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen On Trump Administration Title X Changes

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NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro talks with Leana Wen, a physician and the president of Planned Parenthood, about how a rule change from the Trump administration on Title X will affect her organization.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Planned Parenthood, long the target of social conservatives, could lose a significant portion of its funding under a new Trump administration rule released on Friday. The rule will cut federal funding from organizations that make referrals for abortions or provide the procedure. This is a win for anti-abortion activists who pressured lawmakers to defund organizations with ties to abortion.

But critics say it will hurt lower-income women who depend upon family planning centers that receive what are known as Title X funds. Leana Wen is a physician and the president of Planned Parenthood, and she joins us now.

Welcome to WEEKEND EDITION.

LEANA WEN: Thank you, Lulu – good to be with you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You call these changes to the Title X program a gag rule. Explain.

WEN: This is a gag rule because what President Trump is doing is to put a gag on doctors like me to prevent us from providing our patients with full and accurate medical information. So if you are a woman who goes to a health center that receives public funding, you cannot be referred to abortion care, even if your life depends on it. This gag rule is unethical and unconscionable.

I mean, imagine if the Trump administration issued a rule that forbid doctors from telling our patients about their options for any other aspect of health care. It’s a direct interference with the practice of medicine and with our ethical obligation to our patients. And this is why over 100 medical and public health organizations oppose the gag rule, including the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I’ve read that you won’t accept funds under the new rules.

WEN: Planned Parenthood will never force our doctors and nurses to compromise their ethics. We will never let politicians censor our health care providers and erode the trust that our patients have placed in us, which is to provide them with compassionate, judgment-free and comprehensive care. That’s our promise to our patients.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But you could receive federal funds if you separated abortion services from family planning centers. The new rules say there needs to be clear physical and financial separation between government-funded services and abortion-related services.

WEN: This Title X gag rule isn’t about providing good medical care. It only does one thing, which is to restrict patients’ access to reproductive health care. It has no basis in medicine or science. And the only effect is going to be preventing 4 million Americans from receiving basic health care, including breast and cervical cancer screenings, affordable birth control and STI tests.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Religiously affiliated groups are hoping to get the money instead. Conservatives say this provides good alternatives to women.

WEN: We should talk about what is evidence-based, science-based methods for ensuring that all people have access to the health care that they need. Title X is our nation’s program for affordable birth control and health care. And this program is intended to ensure that people with low incomes who live in rural areas or who don’t have health insurance still have access to cancer screenings and preventive care.

And I think it’s important to talk about the individuals who it will affect the most. It will disproportionately affect those who already face the greatest barriers to care. It’s women of color and families of low income. And we need to talk about the discrimination involved here because if you are wealthy and you have private insurance, you can still get the best medical care.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But religious groups say they could provide those alternatives, that they feel like they too deserve these funds so that there isn’t a monopoly on care.

WEN: Look. I’m a doctor and a scientist. And I need to do what’s best for my patients based on medicine and science. And what we have done for nearly 50 years through Title X is to follow the best available medicine and science. Title X is recognized to be one of the most successful public health programs in reducing sexually transmitted infections and reducing unintended pregnancies. This is what works.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Leana Wen is the president of Planned Parenthood. Thank you very much.

WEN: Thanks so much, Lulu. And thank you for your time.

Copyright © 2019 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Americans Tightened Their Belts And It Might Hurt Economic Numbers Important To Trump

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Retail sales fell 1.2 percent in December, the most in nine years. The drop cut into forecasts for economic growth. David Zalubowski/AP hide caption

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David Zalubowski/AP

Retail sales fell 1.2 percent in December, the most in nine years. The drop cut into forecasts for economic growth.

David Zalubowski/AP

What started off as a strong holiday shopping season ended with a whimper, as consumers, rattled by a trade war and a government shutdown, tightened their belts. The Commerce Department said retail sales fell 1.2 percent between November and December, the sharpest drop in nine years.

The slowdown in consumer spending put a dent in overall economic growth. Forecasters at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta lowered their estimate of fourth-quarter growth to just 1.5 percent. If that holds, growth for all of 2018 would fall short of the Trump administration’s 3 percent target.

“It appears that worries over the trade war and turmoil in the stock markets impacted consumer behavior more than we expected,” National Retail Federation President Matthew Shay said in a statement. “It’s very disappointing that clearly avoidable actions by the government influenced consumer confidence and unnecessarily depressed December retail sales.”

Retailers had reported robust sales in the first half of the holiday season. But consumers grew more cautious when a political standoff over border wall funding temporarily shuttered parts of the federal government just before Christmas. This followed a roller-coaster ride on Wall Street, as investors worried that trade tensions between the U.S. and China would cut into corporate profits.

“The combination of financial market volatility, the government shutdown and trade tensions created a trifecta of anxiety and uncertainty impacting spending,” said National Retail Federation chief economist Jack Kleinhenz.

The 35-day government shutdown delayed the release of the retail figures. But the Commerce Department said the shutdown did not compromise the quality of the survey. Retailers were not so certain.

“This is an incomplete story,” Kleinhenz said. “We will be in a better position to judge the reliability of the results when the government revises its 2018 data in the coming months.”

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow shrugged off the downbeat numbers.

“The overall economy is very strong,” he told Fox News. “Investment is strong. Consumption is strong despite this number, which has so many glitches in it.”

While Kudlow maintained an outward show of confidence, he also said he’s pleased that the Federal Reserve has stopped raising interest rates for the time being. The sharp drop in December’s retail sales is likely to reinforce the Fed’s more cautious approach.

Boosting economic growth has been a top priority for the Trump administration. Growth accelerated to 4.2 percent in the spring of last year, thanks in part to the GOP tax cut and increased government spending.

While the White House argues faster growth can be sustained, many observers believe the effects are a temporary “sugar high” that will soon wear off. Growth in the third quarter slowed to 3.4 percent. A preliminary estimate of fourth-quarter growth will be released on Feb. 28.

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ICE Detention Beds New Stumbling Block In Efforts To Prevent Another Shutdown

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With some Democrats calling to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, congressional negotiators want to cap the number of the agency’s detention beds. Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption

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Scott Olson/Getty Images

With some Democrats calling to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, congressional negotiators want to cap the number of the agency’s detention beds.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Updated at 5:03 p.m. ET

As the clock ticks toward a Friday deadline to avert another partial government shutdown, a new stumbling block has emerged in talks between congressional Democrats and the White House: Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds.

The Trump administration said last month that it wanted $4.2 billion to support 52,000 detention beds. “Given that in recent months, the number of people attempting to cross the border illegally has risen to 2,000 per day, providing additional resources for detention and transportation is essential,” the White House said.

But Democrats are seeking to cap the number of detention beds. In a statement Sunday, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., asserted that “A cap on ICE detention beds will force the Trump administration to prioritize deportation for criminals and people who pose real security threats, not law-abiding immigrants who are contributing to our country.”

Roybal-Allard chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security and is a member of the House-Senate conference committee trying to reach an agreement on spending levels.

Democrats want to limit to 16,500 the number of beds used in the interior of the country, where ICE places people it arrests who have overstayed their visas or committed misdemeanor crimes. Roybal-Allard charges the Trump administration with

“pursuing an out-of-control deportation policy focused on removing immigrants with no criminal records, many of whom have deep roots in their communities. This approach is cruel and wrong. A cap on detention beds associated with interior enforcement will rein in the Trump administration’s deportation agenda.”

Democrats say a cap of 16,500 would restore immigration enforcement to levels in place at the end of the Obama administration. A House Democratic aide speaking on background said Democratic and Republican negotiators had agreed to reduce funding overall for ICE detentions to a range between 34,000 and 38,500 beds by the end of the year.

In a briefing call on Monday, ICE Deputy Director Matt Albence said any cap on detention beds would be “extremely damaging to public safety.” He said ICE is currently detaining 20,000 to 22,000 individuals in the interior of the country, away from the border.

In a Sunday interview on Fox Business, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said of the Democratic position, “Not only is it enough they want to abolish ICE. They want to abolish the bed spaces available to the country to house violent offenders so they can be held and deported.” Graham added, “I promise you this: Donald Trump is not going to sign any bill that reduces the number of bed spaces available to hold violent offenders who come across our border. He can’t do that. He won’t do that, and you can take that to the bank.”

President Trump tweeted on Monday that “The Democrats do not want us to detain, or send back, criminal aliens! This is a brand new demand. Crazy!”

But Democrats say they want nothing of the sort. Roybal-Allard said the cap will ensure that the Trump administration “targets violent felons and other people who pose security risks for deportation, instead of pursuing reckless mass deportation policies that actually make us less safe.”

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Why Period Activists Think The ‘Drop Of Blood’ Emoji Is A Huge Win

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The red drop of blood (left) was designated as an official emoji to symbolize menstruation, among other things, this year. The design at right, submitted in 2017, was not accepted. Unicode; Plan International UK hide caption

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Unicode; Plan International UK

The red drop of blood (left) was designated as an official emoji to symbolize menstruation, among other things, this year. The design at right, submitted in 2017, was not accepted.

Unicode; Plan International UK

When Mashiyat Rahman, 22, texts her friends about her period, she sends them the “crying” emoji to describe her mood, the “knife” emoji to describe painful cramps and the “sweat” emoji — which looks like water droplets — to illustrate a heavy flow.

But there’s never been a specific emoji that she could use to represent menstruation — until now. The Unicode Consortium, the organization that decides which symbols get to be emojis, released its 2019 additions this week.

A “drop of blood” emoji has been added to the mix. According to Unicode, the symbol may be used to signify “menstruation” as well as “blood donations” and “medicine.” It should be available on many smartphones in the second half of the year, Unicode said.

While many menstrual health activists are excited about the new emoji, some have reservations about the design.

“Being able to express ourselves using this emoji could make it easier to talk about menstruation,” says Rahman, who runs a menstrual health organization in Bangladesh. “Even though it’s a small step, it’s one of many we should take to break down stigma.”

The emoji didn’t just pop up overnight. The international group Plan International UK, which advocates for children’s rights and girls’ rights — including reducing menstrual stigma in the developing world — has been fighting for what they’ve dubbed the #periodemoji over the past two years.

It’s not uncommon for nonprofits to lobby for emojis. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (which is a funder of this blog) proposed a mosquito emoji to help raise awareness for mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and malaria in 2017. It became an emoji in 2018.

“Emojis play a crucial role in our digital and emotional vocabulary, transcending cultural and country barriers. A period emoji can help normalize periods in everyday conversation,” said Carmen Barlow, digital strategy and development manager at Plan UK, in a statement.

In 2017, the group started a petition to make the period emoji a thing. The group came up with different designs — a pad with a blood stain, a calendar with blood drops and underwear with blood droplets, for example — and asked people to vote for them.

Plan UK’s petition garnered 54,600 signatures. And most of the supporters voted for the underwear with the blood droplets. But Unicode did not accept the design.

When asked why they rejected Plan UK’s original period design, Unicode did not answer the question directly but president and co-founder Mark Davis responded by email: “Emoji proposals are accepted based on the strength of the proposal alone and are not impacted by petitions and lobbying.”

Then in September 2018, Plan UK teamed up with NHS Blood and Transplant, the U.K. government’s blood and organ donations service, and submitted a new proposal for a blood drop emoji. Unicode selected it as an official emoji in February.

Many menstrual advocates love it. “I think it’s fantastic,” says Marni Sommer, a menstrual health researcher and a professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “It continues the process that many of us have been working on: normalizing the conversation around periods.”

Rahman can already see how she can use the emoji in infographics and digital presentations and in a new menstruation education app she’s working on. She is the head of a group called Resurgence Bangladesh, which aims to break stereotypes around menstruation by hosting workshops that teach girls, boys and their families about reproductive health in urban and rural slums around Dhaka.

She says most of the girls she works with — including those in rural settings — have access to mobile phones. “The emojis aren’t just a Western thing,” she says. “Middle-school and high school children here use their phones a lot — and I can see how they can use it in texting and communicating.”

Yet some researchers are annoyed that the new emoji also represents blood. “It’s not specifically menstrual fluid,” says Chris Bobel, a menstrual health researcher and author of a new book called The Managed Body: Developing Girls and Menstrual Health in the Global South. “It’s multipurpose — could be used for blood transfusions, nosebleeds.”

On Twitter, women shared what they wished the period icon could look like instead.

Still, it doesn’t dampen Bobel’s excitement for the emoji. “Change is a slow erosion,” she says. “I’m cheering for it.”

Provided By NPR

Protests Move To Alabama’s State Capitol After Officer Cleared In Shooting Death

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Residents of Hoover, Ala., have been protesting for months over the shooting death of Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. On Tuesday, a report by the state attorney general exonerated the police officer who shot Bradford.

On Thanksgiving night, Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. was shot and killed by a police officer responding to gunfire in the mall. Protesters are angry at a new report that exonerates the officer.

(Image credit: Kim Chandler/AP)