Steve King: Rape and incest ‘aided population growth’

Steve KingSteve King is known for his incendiary comments

Democrats are calling for a Republican congressman to resign after he defended abortion bans by saying that humankind might not exist but for rape or incest.

Without rape or incest “would there be any population of the world left?” nine-term lawmaker Steve King asked the Des Moines Register newspaper.

Mr King was defending anti-abortion legislation that does not make exceptions for rape or incest.

Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders soon demanded he step down.

“You are a disgrace. Resign,” Ms Gillibrand wrote on Twitter. Her remarks were quickly echoed by other 2020 Democratic hopefuls Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro.

A Republican lawmaker, Iowa state Senator Randy Feenstra, also criticised Mr King’s remarks.

“I am 100% pro-life but Steve King’s bizarre comments and behaviour diminish our message,” he wrote on Twitter.

On Wednesday, Mr King told the Des Moines Register that the Republican leadership had stopped bills he sponsored banning abortions from advancing through the US House of Representatives.

“What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled out anyone who was a product of rape or incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?” Mr King said on Wednesday.

“Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages that happened throughout all these different nations, I know that I can’t say that I was not a part of a product of that.”

Trump official revises Statue of Liberty poem to defend migrant rule change

Statue of Liberty

A top US immigration official has revised a quote inscribed on the Statue of Liberty in defence of a new policy that denies food aid to legal migrants.

The head of Citizenship and Immigration Services tweaked the passage: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”.

The official added the words “who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge”.

It comes as Trump officials debuted a regulation that denies aid to migrants.

Ken Cuccinelli, the Trump administration’s acting head of Citizenship and Immigration Services, announced on Monday a new “public charge” requirement that limits legal migrants from seeking certain public benefits such as public housing or food aid, or are considered likely to do so in the future.

The New Colossus plaque and Emma LazarusThe New Colossus was written by New York-born poet Emma Lazarus in 1883

The new regulation, known as a “public charge rule”, was published in the Federal Register on Monday and will take effect on 15 October.

The rule change is intended to reinforce “ideals of self-sufficiency”, officials said. Critics argue that it will prevent low-income US residents from seeking help.

What did the official say?

On Tuesday, Mr Cuccinelli was asked by NPR whether the 1883 poem titled The New Colossus at the Statue of Liberty on New York’s Ellis Island still applied.

“Would you also agree that Emma Lazarus’s words etched on the Statue of Liberty, ‘Give me your tired, give me your poor,’ are also a part of the American ethos?” asked NPR’s Rachel Martin.

Ken CuccinellKen Cuccinelli, the acting head of US Citizenship and Immigration Services

“They certainly are,” Mr Cuccinelli responded. “Give me your tired and your poor – who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”

“That plaque was put on the Statue of Liberty at almost the same time as the first public charge [law] was passed – very interesting timing,” he added.

The actual passage reads in part: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

In the interview, he added that immigrants are welcome “who can stand on their own two feet, be self-sufficient, pull themselves up by their bootstraps, again, as in the American tradition”.

Top immigration official says public charge rule will not target “any particular group”

After the host asked if the policy “appears to change the definition of the American dream,” he said: “We invite people to come here and join us as a privilege.

“No one has a right to become an American who isn’t born here as an American.”

Who will be affected by the new rule?

Immigrants who are already permanent residents in the US are unlikely to be affected by the rule change.

It also does not apply to refugees and asylum applicants.

But applicants for visa extensions, green cards or US citizenship will be subject to the change.

Those who do not meet income standards or who are deemed likely to rely on benefits such as Medicaid (government-run healthcare) or housing vouchers in future may be blocked from entering the country.

Foreign-born population by legal status

Those already in the US could also have their applications rejected.

An estimated 22 million legal residents in the US are without citizenship, and many of these are likely to be affected.

President Trump has made immigration a central theme of his administration. This latest move is part of his government’s efforts to curb legal immigration.

What has reaction been?

The Democratic led House Homeland Security Committee condemned Mr Cuccinelli’s revision in a tweet, calling the words “vile and un-American”.

“It’s clear the Trump Administration just wants to keep certain people out,” the committee wrote, calling Mr Cuccinelli “a xenophobic, anti-immigrant fringe figure who has no business being in government”.

Others pointed to his background as the attorney general of Virginia, in which he led a conservative campaign against immigration and homosexuality.

Asked about Mr Cuccinelli’s remarks on Tuesday, President Trump did not directly respond to the Statue of Liberty quote, but said: “I don’t think it’s fair to have the American taxpayer pay for people to come into the United States.”

“I’m tired of seeing our taxpayer paying for people to come into the country and immediately go onto welfare and various other things.

“So I think we’re doing it right.”

Boston Red Sox see racial divide over White House visit

US President Donald Trump (C) poses with the 2018 World Series Champions Boston Red Sox at the White House in Washington, DC, on May 9, 2019
US President Donald Trump poses with the 2018 World Series Champions Boston Red Sox at the White House

US baseball champions the Boston Red Sox have visited the White House to celebrate their 2018 victory – without nearly all their non-white teammates.

At least 10 players and the World Series-winning team’s manager, all non-white, declined the president’s invitation.

In contrast, the dozen players who were due to attend were all white, except one who is Cuban-American.

US President Donald Trump celebrated the team on their “unstoppable” season.

But he did not comment at the White House on Thursday about the missing players.

“To all of the coaches and players of the Red Sox, congratulations on an incredible victory,” Mr Trump said.

Red Sox players Chris Sale and JD Martinez also made brief remarks, thanking the president for the invitation.

Mr Martinez called the trip a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.

Visiting the White House is a tradition for US championship teams. While certain players have opted out under past White House administrations, during Mr Trump’s presidency these visits – and those who decline – appear to have become more politicised.

US President Donald Trump (C) holds a Boston Redsox's jersey that was given to him as he welcomed the 2018 World Series Champions to the White House in Washington, DC, 9 May 2019
President Trump holds a Boston Redsox’s jersey that was given to him as he welcomed the team to the White House

Last year, Mr Trump cancelled the annual Super Bowl champions’ White House visit after most players said they did not want to attend.

In 2017, an invitation to the championship basketball team was cancelled for similar reasons.

The Red Sox, who won the World Series last year, told local media beforehand there was no ill will between the players who chose to meet Mr Trump and those who would skip the event.

Boston Red Sox manager Alex CoraBoston Red Sox manager Alex Cora was not at the White House

“We’re in a good place,” manager Alex Cora told WEEI radio.

Mr Cora is from Puerto Rico, and, in a rare move for a winning coach, said he would not be attending because it would not feel right to celebrate while people continued to struggle on the US island territory in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Mr Trump has been criticised for his handling of the US response to the hurricane, which devastated Puerto Rico and left nearly 3,000 dead.

Players Eduardo Rodriguez, David Price, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr, Rafael Devers, Sandy Leon, Eduardo Nunez, Christian Vazquez, and Hector Velazquez also stayed away.

Most of the players did not cite specific reasons for opting out. But as one local sports columnist tweeted: “So basically it’s the white Sox who’ll be going.”

The team’s owners also attended on Thursday. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy told the Boston Herald: “We fully support Alex [Cora] and respect his decision.”

Mr Kennedy added he was grateful for the Sox’s owners for fostering a team culture that encouraged “individual decision-making”.

Mitch Moreland, a white player who said he would attend, told the Washington Post that visiting the White House would be “very special”, but added that he respected his teammates’ choice.

Another player, Heath Hembree, said “it didn’t matter who was in the White House” – if there was a chance to meet the president, he would go.

A 2018 World Series Champions banner is unrolled before a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays during pregame ceremonies at Fenway Park.Image copyrightREUTERS/BRIAN FLUHARTY/USA TODAY SPORTS
Image captionThe Red Sox were the 2018 World Series champions

All the discussion about the team’s apparent racial divide has also brought up the Red Sox’s troubled history.

The Sox were the last Major League Baseball team to end racial segregation in 1957.

The team’s former owner, Tom Yawkey, was an alleged racist who reportedly shouted slurs at black players, including legend Jackie Robinson.

Meanwhile, the White House welcomed the team’s visit with a spelling error that saw immediate outcry from fans.

On the official White House schedule of events, the Red Sox were erroneously referred to as the Red Socks. The mistake has since been corrected.

California synagogue shooting leaves one dead, three wounded

Police say gunman opened fire on crowded Poway, California synagogue on the last day of Passover.

Two people hug as another talks to a San Diego County Sheriff''s deputy outside of the Chabad of Poway synagogue [Denis Poroy/AP Photo]
Two people hug as another talks to a San Diego County Sheriff”s deputy outside of the Chabad of Poway synagogue

A gunman walked into a southern California synagogue crowded with Sabbath worshippers on Saturday and opened fire with an assault-style rifle, killing one woman inside and wounding three others in a hate crime carried out on the last day of Passover, authorities said.

The suspect, 19-year-old John Earnest, fled the scene by car and was arrested a short time later when he pulled over and surrendered to police, authorities said.

There were indications that an AR-type assault weapon might have malfunctioned after Earnest fired numerous rounds inside the Congregation Chabad synagogue in the town of Poway, California, about 23 miles (37km) north of downtown San Diego, Sheriff William Gore said.

US President Donald Trump and other elected officials decried what they called an anti-Semitic attack exactly six months since 11 people were killed at a Pittsburgh synagogue in the deadliest assault on Jews in US history.

2018 saw most killings linked to US far right since 1995: ADL

Gore told reporters that four people were struck by gunfire and taken to Palomar Medical Center, where one of the victims, an “older woman”, died. The three other patients – “two adult males” and a “female juvenile” – were listed in stable condition, Gore said. The identities of the victims were not given.

Hate crime

Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, speaking from a police command centre, characterised Saturday’s shooting as a “hate crime“, saying his assessment was based on statements uttered by the gunman when he entered the synagogue.

Nothing else was disclosed about a possible motive. But Gore said investigators were reviewing the suspect’s social media posts and “his open letter”.

Earnest has no criminal record, but investigators were looking into a claim he made in an online manifesto about setting a fire at a mosque in nearby Escondido last month, Gore said. There was damage but no injuries.

Speaking with reporters at the White House, Trump said: “My deepest sympathies go to the people that were affected.” He added that “it looks like a hate crime” and that authorities will “get to the bottom of it”.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore, left, walks past the Chabad of Poway Synagogue

The attack occurred shortly before 11:30am local time (18:30GMT) in Poway, a suburb of about 50,000 residents, when the suspect walked into the synagogue and started shooting, Gore said. As he was making his getaway, an off-duty US Border Patrol agent opened fire on the suspect, striking the vehicle but apparently missing the suspect, according to Gore.

The gunman was arrested a short time later when he peacefully surrendered to police.

US: Synagogue massacre suspect pleads not guilty to new charges

A San Diego officer was en route to the shooting scene when he overheard a California Highway Patrol (CHP) radio dispatch “of a suspect who had called into CHP to report that he was just involved in this shooting and his location,” San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit recounted.

“The officer was actually on the freeway and he clearly saw the suspect in his vehicle. The suspect pulled over and jumped out of his car with his hands up and was immediately taken into custody,” Nisleit said.

He said the assault-style rifle believed to be the murder weapon was found on the front passenger seat of the car.

‘You can’t break us’

Local television channel KGTV 10News said the synagogue was hosting a holiday celebration beginning at 11 am local time and due to culminate in a final Passover meal at 7pm . Authorities said about 100 people were inside the temple, where Saturday services marking the Jewish Sabbath would have been under way or have just concluded.

San Diego television station KGTV reported a woman whose husband was still inside the synagogue as saying the rabbi was among those shot.

US activists confront Republican Party over white nationalism

Minoo Anvari, an Iranian refugee who said her husband was attending services inside when gunshots rang out, told KUSI-TV the wounded included a female friend and the rabbi, who was shot in the hand. “We are united. You can’t break us.,” Anvari told KUSI.

Cantor Caitlin Bromberg of Ner Tamid Synagogue, down the street from the shooting scene, said her congregation learned of the shooting at the end of their Passover services and that they were heading to Chabad of Poway to show support and help.

“We are horrified and upset, and we want them to know we are thinking of them,” Bromberg told The Los Angeles Times, adding that she has not heard from Chabad of Poway leadership because they would not normally use the phone during the Sabbath.

“They would only do that on emergency basis, if they do it at all,” Bromberg told the newspaper.

US synagogue shooting: One person dead in Poway, California

A San Diego County Sheriff's Deputy secures the scene of a shooting incident at the Congregation Chabad synagogue in Poway, north of San Diego, California, U.S. April 27, 2019Police quickly sealed off the scene of the shooting in Poway

A gunman has opened fire at a synagogue in California, leaving one woman dead and three other people injured, police say.

A 19-year-old man has been arrested after the attack at Poway, north of the city of San Diego.

The synagogue had been hosting a Passover celebration when the shooting took place, reports said.

Police have not suggested a motive but US President Donald Trump said the attack “looks like a hate crime”.

The shooting comes six months after a gun attack killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. It was the worst anti-Semitic attack in recent US history.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore told reporters that investigators were reviewing the suspect’s social media activity and examining an open letter published online.

“During the shooting, four individuals were wounded and transported to Palomar hospital,” he said. “One succumbed to their wounds. The other three are in stable condition.”

Mayor Steve Vaus said the rabbi had been shot in the hand.

“For this to happen only a week later at the end of the Passover, only a week after Easter is horrific,” he told MSNBC.

How did the attack happen?

Sheriff Gore said officers were called to the Chabad synagogue just before 11:30 (18:30 GMT) after the man opened fire with an “AR-15 type” assault rifle.

He said an off-duty border patrol officer fired at the suspect as he fled the scene in a vehicle, but did not hit him.

San Diego Police secure the scene of a shooting incident at the Congregation Chabad synagogue in Poway, north of San Diego, California, U.S. April 27, 2019The synagogue had been marking the final day of Passover
San Diego Sheriff deputies look over the Chabad of Poway Synagogue after a shooting on Saturday, April 27, 2019 in Poway, California

The suspect was later arrested by another officer, added San Diego chief of police David Nisleit.

“He clearly saw the suspect’s vehicle, the suspect jumped out with his hands up and was immediately taken into custody.” he said.

“As the officer was placing this 19-year-old male into custody, he clearly saw a rifle on the front passenger seat of the suspect vehicle.”

What has the reaction been?

US Vice-President Mike Pence condemned the “evil and cowardly” shooting.

Speaking outside the White House, President Trump offered his “deepest sympathies”.

“At this moment it looks like a hate crime, but my deepest sympathies to all those affected and we’ll get to the bottom of it,” he said.

Minoo Anvari, whose husband was inside the synagogue, told the local CNN affiliate that the congregation was “standing together” in the wake of the attack.

“We are strong. You can’t break us,” she said.

Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter that she was “heartbroken” by the news.

As Comcast Lobbyist Hosts Biden’s First Fundraiser, Campaign Boasts of Support from “Top 1%”

APR 26, 2019

H3 biden fundraiser comcast lobbyist philadelphia david cohen

In other campaign news, Biden marked his first day on the campaign trail by attending a $2,800-per-person fundraiser in Philadelphia at the home of Comcast’s top lobbyist, David Cohen. Attendees included Daniel Hilferty, chief executive of Independence Blue Cross, the largest health insurer in the Philadelphia area. Senator Bernie Sanders criticized Biden for holding a fundraiser in the home of a corporate lobbyist. Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who co-hosted the Biden fundraiser, appeared on CNN this morning, and said the fundraiser attracted the top 1%.

Ed Rendell: “For 90% of the people who attended last night’s fundraiser, they’re contributing against their own financial interest. They will do better with a Republican president, because they’re in the top 1%. So they’ll do better with a Republican president. It will probably cost them money if Joe Biden wins, because I think he’ll bring some sense to the tax cut and he’ll probably raise rates on the top 1%. So, all these people gave money even though it was against their own financial interest.”

US: Convicted ringleader in Texas dragging death to be executed

John William King was convicted of killing James Byrd Jr in 1998 by dragging the Texas black man behind a truck for 5km.

  • This undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows John William King [Handout/Texas Department of Criminal Justice/AP Photo]
This undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows John William King 

A white supremacist convicted of killing James Byrd Jr in 1998 by dragging the 49-year-old black man behind a truck in one of the most notorious hate crimes in modern times is scheduled to be executed in Texas on Wednesday.

John William “Bill” King, 44, is scheduled to be killed by lethal injection at the state’s death chamber in Huntsville at 6pm local time (23:00GMT).

King along with Shawn Berry and Lawrence Brewer were accused of kidnapping Byrd while he hitchhiked in Jasper, Texas, on June 7, 1998.

Prosecutors said the men dragged him behind their 1982 gray Ford pickup truck for three miles (5 km) before dumping his body in front of an African-American church.

A “KKK” engraved lighter was among the evidence police found at the scene, court documents showed.

Hate crimes

The gruesome killing spurred the passing of the James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Act, strengthening punishments for hate crimes in Texas.

US man pleads guilty to hate crimes in Charlottesville car attack

The murder, along with the killing of Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student who was beaten and left to die tied to a fence, was also the genesis of the federal hate crimes prevention act passed in 2009.

King was found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to death in 1999.

He was a member of a white supremacist gang and spoke of starting a race war while in prison for a previous crime.

Ricky Jason wears a photograph of James Byrd Jr outside the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Huntsville Unit before the execution of Lawrence Russell Brewer [File: David J Phillip/AP Photo]

He also talked about initiating new members by having them kidnap and murder black people, court documents showed.

“Regardless of the outcome of this, we have made history,” King wrote in a letter to Brewer obtained by jail officials after they were convicted of killing Byrd, CNN reported.

“Death before dishonour. Sieg Heil!” the letter continued, using a Nazi salute.

‘You can’t fight murder with murder’

King has always maintained his innocence, saying that he left the two other men before Byrd was killed.

His lawyers filed an appeal to the US Supreme Court after a Texas appeals court denied a request to halt the execution on Monday.

Berry and Brewer were also convicted of murder.

Berry was sentenced to life in prison while Brewer, also a white supremacist, was sentenced to death.

Some of Byrd’s family members have said they would have rather seen the men spend the rest of their lives in prison.

“You can’t fight murder with murder,” his son Ross Byrd told Reuters the night before Brewer’s execution in 2011.

King will be the third inmate in Texas and the United States to be executed in 2019, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.