Giuliani assures Trump Ukraine ‘insurance’ comment was a joke

Giuliani said he had ‘insurance’ if Trump turned on him in the impeachment inquiry into their Ukraine dealings.

Rudy Giuliani assured the president he was only joking about 'insurance' if 'thrown under the bus' [Julio Cortez/AP]
Rudy Giuliani assured the president he was only joking about ‘insurance’ if ‘thrown under the bus’ [Julio Cortez/AP]

US President Donald Trump‘s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, called the president this week to reassure him he was joking when he told media outlets he had “insurance” if Trump turned on him in the Ukraine scandal at the heart of an impeachment inquiry into the president, Giuliani’s lawyer said on Wednesday.

The lawyer, Robert Costello, said Giuliani, “at my insistence”, called Trump “within the last day” to emphasise he had not been serious when he said he had an “insurance policy, if thrown under the bus”.

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“He shouldn’t joke, he is not a funny guy. I told him, ‘Ten thousand comedians are out of work, and you make a joke. It doesn’t work that way,'” Costello told Reuters News Agency.

Giuliani has already said he was being sarcastic when he made the comments. Trump, too, has brushed them off, telling reporters in the Oval Office this week that “Rudy is a great guy.” The White House declined to comment on Costello’s remarks.

WATCH

Has the Trump impeachment inquiry divided Americans even further?

Giuliani has emerged as a central figure in the Democrat-led House of Representatives impeachment inquiry against Trump. It is probing whether the president, for his personal political gain, pressed Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and his son, Hunter.

Several witnesses have testified that Giuliani, working in an unofficial capacity, led a shadow foreign policy on behalf of the president. His work, which blurred what was considered government objectives, rankled some Trump administration officials, according to testimony.

Giuliani and his associates also led a successful campaign to remove the former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who also testified at the inquiry.

Trump, in an interview with former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly on Tuesday, sought to distance himself from Giuliani’s activities on Ukraine, saying he had not directed him to work on Ukraine matters.

“No, I didn’t direct him but he is a warrior,” Trump told O’Reilly, adding Giuliani “possibly saw something” and “he’s done work in Ukraine for years.”

Costello declined to comment on what directions Trump had given Giuliani on Ukraine, citing attorney-client privilege.

The New York Times reported on Wednesday the former New York City mayor privately pursued hundreds of thousands of dollars in business from Ukrainian government officials during the same period he was working on behalf of the president, although he did not finalise any deals.

Racism and the black hole of gun control in the US

Would tighter gun laws help protect African Americans or make them more vulnerable to racism and police brutality?

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I will never forget the day in eighth grade when my friend pointed a pistol at my face and pulled the trigger.

I am old enough now that many of my childhood memories have faded into blurry black and white pictures, but 30 years later, that scene is a vivid colour film in my memory.

I can see the smirk in his brown eyes as he points the pistol at my forehead, the slightly blue shimmer of the metal in the afternoon light, the way that the flat side of the barrel reached a nipple of an opening, suddenly curving inward, and the explosion of sound as he pulled the trigger.

Time stretches in moments like these, and as time expanded before me, I thought about my teacher, Mr Levi, and what he told me about space. He had taken a piece of paper from a binder and, twisting it, folded it upon itself so the holes lined up. He drew an arrow going into the hole on one side, and another coming out of it on the other. Then he unfolded the paper, showing me an arrow going into a hole in the top of the page, and coming out of a hole in the bottom, on the other side.

“This is a black hole,” he said in his heavy German Jewish accent, sounding every bit like Albert Einstein. “Once you cross the event horizon, you cannot get out. The gravity is so strong not even light can escape. You are sucked into the black hole and you come out somewhere else in space entirely. And you can never come back.”

As I stared into the barrel of that pistol, the light of the room seemed to disappear into its curvature just like a black hole. I remember thinking that it looked like a place from which nothing could escape.

Latchkey kids

My friend, we will call him Ralph, was a “latchkey kid” like myself. We were young children left to our own devices between the time we got home from school and the time our parents returned from work.

Latchkey kids grow up fast, learning to do things for themselves at a young age. We learned to explore the world of our parents with a freedom other kids never know. The assurance of solitude provides many opportunities to experiment, and sometimes to hide the resulting mistakes.

I remember the meticulous care Ralph took in opening the top drawer of his father’s dresser, and how he intently noted the placement of everything before pulling out the key. I remember the way he brought the chair from his room to reach the shelf in the closet, smoothing clothes he had disturbed and rubbing down the marks on the carpet afterwards. Looking back, it is obvious he had practised this carefully for weeks, learning exactly how to remove and open his father’s gun safe so that he could show me the contents, the most magical talisman a James Bond fan could ever see.

ONLY FOR : Racism and the black hole of gun control in the US
[Illustration by Jawahir Al-Naimi/Al Jazeera]

When Ralph pointed his father’s Walther PPK at my face and pulled the trigger, when I heard the loud “CRACK” bounce off the walls in the room as the firing pin found an empty chamber, I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen.

As I watch my own children grow, that memory haunts me. My children can take great care with the smallest details of toy trains, yet remain oblivious to the consequences of major actions like pushing their siblings while standing on a cliff. It was not until I had children that I realised how close that dichotomy between care and carelessness had brought me to the event horizon of death.

Despite the care with which Ralph removed the safe and covered the evidence of his passing, I have no memory of him checking the chamber. I am not even sure he knew how. With a minuscule change in the location of one small piece of metal, any light that I may have brought into this world could have been sucked into the black hole of that gun barrel, never to escape.

I am not a fan of guns. Whether it is the memory of the Walther PPK, my preference for a good bow, or some fundamental aspect of my character, I see no reason why we need to have access to guns at all. My inclination is to support restrictive gun laws and possibly even remove guns entirely.

But the more I consider the subject of guns, the more I find that the entire topic is, itself, a black hole. The closer I get, the more distorted it becomes, and nowhere is that more obvious or dangerous than at the intersection of guns and race.

A house full of guns

I do not think it is an exaggeration to suggest that lax gun laws and easy access to firearms are a fundamental reason for the success of the civil rights movement. Charles E Cobb Jr notes this eloquently in his excellent treatise on the subject titled This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed.

“The tradition of armed self-defense in Afro-American history,” writes Cobb, “cannot be disconnected from the successes of what today is called the nonviolent civil rights movement.”

This is something many people either forget or never learn: Guns protected the black people who were marching for freedom. If not for the threat of gunfire, many more peaceful protests – and possibly the movement itself – would have been silenced by violence.

“Simply put,” Cobb continues, “because nonviolence worked so well as a tactic for effecting change and was demonstrably improving their lives, some black people chose to use weapons to defend the nonviolent Freedom Movement.”

The tradition of armed self-defense in Afro-American history cannot be disconnected from the successes of what today is called the nonviolent civil rights movement.

CHARLES E COBB JR

Today, our view of the civil rights movement is far removed from the realities of the time. I never experienced the violence and bloodshed of white supremacy during that era, and I cannot even really imagine it. Even modern media representations of the civil rights movement make it seem as though success was all but inevitable, hardly a deadly and dangerous situation at all. As Julian Bond quipped: “Rosa sat down, Martin stood up, and the white kids came down and saved the day.”

Civil rights icons such as Martin Luther King, Jr, and W E B DuBois come across in our polished history as gentle pacifists, but Cobb notes that even Martin Luther King, Jr had a house full of guns, while W E B DuBois wrote after the 1906 Atlanta massacre: “If a white mob had stepped on the campus where I lived I would without hesitation have sprayed their guts over the grass.”

Black people’s access to guns was fundamental to the success of the Black Freedom Movement. This is in no small part because the main opponent of black freedom was the government itself. American history is written with the blood of black families killed by white people who found themselves protected by our government’s belief in the supremacy of its white citizens.

Unable to rely on the government for security, black people turned to the best protection they had: constitutionally protected access to firearms. In their practice of “copwatching,” the Black Panthers used open gun policies to protect innocent black people from victimisation by the authorities. This was so threatening to the white establishment that it resulted in the Mulford Act, a law repealing the public’s right to carry a loaded weapon in public. In fact, some of the first laws restricting gun rights in the US were specifically designed to limit black people’s access to firearms.

So, do we really want more restrictive gun laws in a society where the government has a history of being the largest threat to some people’s freedom? Do we want that government removing those people’s right to protect themselves?

ONLY FOR Racism and the black hole of gun control in the US
[Illustration by Jawahir Al-Naimi/Al Jazeera]

You’ll shoot your eye out

Of course, we are now blessedly removed from the brutality of the Civil Rights Movement. Still, it seems our country places a greater value on some lives than others. Few people listen to the choruses of “You’ll shoot your eye out” during A Christmas Story and assume young Ralphie will be shot by a police officer at the end of the movie. Yet this has happened in black communities for decades. Small Tamir Rice, model student, alumni of Space Camp, was by no means the first to fall.

And here we come to an event horizon: the lax gun laws that allowed the Civil Rights Movement to succeed are now applied unevenly.

Five years ago, on November 22, 2014, 12-year-old Tamir was shot less than two seconds after policemen arrived at the playground in Cleveland, Ohio, where he and his sister were playing. He was told to “drop the weapon,” and in less time than it takes to think “but I don’t have a weapon,” his life was sucked into the black hole of a gun barrel, never to escape.

Following a settlement by the city of Cleveland, the Police Officer’s Union issued a statement that essentially supported the shooting by saying: “Something positive must come from this tragic loss. That would be educating youth of the dangers of possessing a real or replica firearm.”

The irony of this statement is astounding when we consider that in Ohio, a state where it is legal to openly carry a firearm, Tamir was shot for carrying a toy. His life was taken by a member of a police force that then justified the shooting by essentially saying that the law itself is dangerous.

We spend every Christmas romanticising the story of a young boy who wants to play with a rifle. Tamir was different from Ralphie in only in one respect: he was Playing While Black.

If black lives mattered

The US has always had an uneasy time with the idea of black agency. That is especially true when it comes to owning weapons. Even the National Rifle Association, arguably the strongest and most aggressively vocal lobby in the US, is eerily silent when black people are killed for legally possessing firearms, or toys. Yet, as uneasy as the US is with black gun ownership, it is apparently just as uneasy with black healthcare.

As many have already noted, it is easier to access a firearm than mental health services. This is especially true in black communities where mental health is most often treated as a criminal justice issue, the outcome too often being imprisonment or murder.

Black people are also more likely to be imprisoned (and to be imprisoned for longer) for the same offence as a white person. Black people are less likely to be given a job than a white counterpart, and more likely to be fired from that job. Even before adulthood, black children are subject to unfair disciplinary practices in school and suspended for infractions that are considered minor when committed by white children – and this happens as early as preschool.

It is easier to access a firearm than mental health services. This is especially true in black communities where mental health is most often treated as a criminal justice issue.

JOHN METTA

This is the situation in which guns wreak unspeakable damage, and herein lies another event horizon: “black on black crime,” a phrase which illustrates exactly how Black America is seen as “other.”

Our media never discusses “white on white” crime, and never suggests that lower-class white people will not be able to rise out of poverty until they stop fighting among themselves. Blacks (and Latinos, Muslims, etc.) are the other – outside the norm of our culture and society. Because of this, “black on black crime” is actually considered an intelligible phrase.

Because of the consistent view of them as “other,” many black people feel they need to protect themselves from the government itself, a government that has a great many guns. At the same time, the government has until recently refused to allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to even study the issue of gun violence. Suddenly, crackpot gun rights activists spouting theories about government overreach look a lot less crackpot. The police bombing of the compound of a black liberation group called MOVE, in which 11 people were killed, including five children, and an entire neighbourhood destroyed, in Philadelphia in 1985, and the siege of the Branch Davidians at their compound in Waco, Texas, in 1993, start looking much more similar than I want to admit.

The relationship between communities and their police force will never improve while the police see and treat the community as an “other”.

ONLY FOR Racism and the black hole of gun control in the US
[Illustration by Jawahir Al-Naimi/Al Jazeera]

We arrive again at the black hole. I want to believe a public disarmament could result in a de-escalation of the police force. If we had fewer guns on the streets, could police afford to appear less like an occupying army working in a war zone? Could our police forces become a part of our communities and learn to de-escalate violence instead of appearing to encourage it? With tougher gun laws, could healthcare and even just basic humanitarian concern become our primary mode of response rather than a tactical encounter?

Sadly, both history and current trends in the US government suggest otherwise.

When I was in Ralph’s house looking into the barrel of a Walther PPK, I had no idea that I really was staring into a black hole from which I would never escape.

Remembering that moment, I thought my answer to the question of gun control would be easy. Yet the more I look at the issue, the more the light bends and the picture distorts. Thirty years later, I’m still looking down that barrel into a black hole from which I feel I will never escape.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

Apple pledges $2.5bn to address US’s California housing crisis!

Apple pledges $2.5bn to address US’s California housing crisis

As homelessness reaches chronic levels in California, Apple and other tech companies pledge funds to fix the problem.

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Technology giant Apple says it will set aside $2.5bn to provide affordable homes in California which has more homeless people in the state than anywhere else in the United States.

Tech companies have been blamed for contributing to the state’s housing crisis as they set up shop there, pushing house prices up beyond the reach of many residents.

Trump renews attacks on Omar, praises ‘send her back’ crowd

After attempting to distance himself, Trump calls crowd that chanted ‘send her back’ at a campaign rally ‘incredible’.Trump answers a question from the news media about Ilhan Omar [Leah Millis/Reuters]

Trump answers a question from the news media about Ilhan Omar

A day after Donald Trump tried to distance himself from racist chants heard at one of his campaign rallies, the US president praised the crowd as one full of “incredible patriots”.

The president on Friday again ramped up his attacks against US Representative Ilhan Omar, saying he was “unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country”.

He also said the people at the North Carolina rally, many of whom chanted “Send her back” while Trump paused, are “incredible people” and “incredible patriots”.

On Thursday, however, Trump attempted to distance himself from the same crowd, saying he wasn’t “happy with” the chant and he disagreed with it. He falsely said he tried to stop the crowd.

His comments came just days after he attacked Omar and three other minority congresswomen – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley – in a series of racist tweets in which he told the four women to go back to where they came from. All four are United States citizens and all but Omar were born in the US. Omar came to the country as a Somali refugee when she was 12 years old.

On Thursday, Omar called Trump “fascist” and said she was “not deterred” and “not frightened”.

“We are going to continue to be a nightmare to this president because his policies are a nightmare to us. We are not deterred. We are not frightened,” she told a crowd of supporters who greeted her as she arrived in her home state of Minnesota.

After the tweets, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives condemned Trump’s “racist comments that have legitimised and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of colour”.

‘Not deterred’: A defiant Ilhan Omar vows to fight Trump

Trump maintains his comments were “not racist”. He said that those who are not happy in the US can leave, despite Trump himself having repeatedly spoken out against past US policies and administrations.

Many have come to Omar’s defence under #IStandWithIlhan.

‘Millions of American in danger’

Responding to Trump’s racist tweets earlier this week, Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Pressley said they “will not be silenced“. They also said that as “the squad” they would continue to put the focus back on the issues they feel need attention, including immigration, healthcare and education.

“This is simply a disruption, a distraction from the callous, chaotic and corrupt culture of this administration,” Pressley said on Tuesday. “We want to get to the business of the American people and why were sent here: reducing the costs of prescription drugs, addressing the public health crisis and epidemic that is gun violence, addressing the racial wealth gap and yes, making sure that families stay together.

U.S. Reps Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) hold a news conference after Democrats in the U.S. Congress moved to formally condemn Pres
US Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib hold a news conference after Democrats in the US Congress moved to formally condemn President Donald Trump’s racist attacks [Erin Scott/Reuters]

Ocasio-Cortez warned on Thursday that Trump’s attacks “put millions of Americans in danger”.

“This is not just about threats to individual members of Congress, but it is about creating a volatile environment in this country through violent rhetoric that puts anyone, like Ilhan, anyone who believes in the rights of all people in danger and I think that he has a responsibility for that environment,” she said.

After Trump tweeted an edited video to suggest Omar was dismissive of the September 11, 2001, attacks earlier this year, the congresswoman reported an increase in death threats.

In April, a US man was arrested on suspicion of leaving racist, homophobic and Islamophobic messages filled with death threats on the voicemails of several Democratic members of Congress, including Tlaib.

 

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

Who are the 2020 US Democratic presidential candidates?

The pool of candidates vying for their party’s nomination in 2020 is among the largest and most diverse in US history.
2020 Democratic presidential candidates are seen in a combination of file photos [Files/Reuters/AFP]
2020 Democratic presidential candidates are seen in a combination of file photos

Less than two years out from the 2020 US presidential election, the pool of Democratic candidates vying for their party’s nomination is among the largest and most diverse in United Stateshistory.

With 21 candidates already in the race and a number of individuals yet to announce their campaign, the list is likely to grow as the US primary season gets closer.

Here is a look at who has thrown their name in the race so far:

Michael Bennet, 54

Michael Bennet has served as a US senator from Colorado since 2009. Bennet, a former head of the Denver school district, carved out a profile as a wonky, policy-oriented senator.

He gained internet fame this year for a harsh scolding of Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas over the government shutdown.

Bennet was close to launching a presidential campaign after that but had to pause it when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

In this file photo taken on April 10, 2019, US Senator Michael Bennet speaks during the North American Building Trades Unions Conference in Washington, DC [Zach Gibson/Getty Images/AFP]

Bennet’s office said last month that the senator was successfully treated. That cleared the way for his May 2 launch.

Joe Biden, 76

Joe Biden served as vice president under former President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017 after nearly four decades serving as a senator from Delaware.

Biden is the most experienced politician in the race, and the second oldest, after 77-year-old Bernie Sanders. This will be his third presidential run. His first White House bid in 1987 ended after a plagiarism scandal.

In a video announcement of his candidacy posted on Twitter on April 25, Biden focused on the 2017 deadly clash between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. Biden noted US President Donald Trump‘s comments that there were some “very fine people” on both sides of the violent encounter, which left one woman dead.

“We are in the battle for the soul of this nation,” Biden said. “If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation – who we are. And I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”

Last month, Biden struggled to respond to comments from Lucy Flores, a 2014 lieutenant governor nominee in Nevada, who said he made her uncomfortable by touching her shoulders and kissing the back of her head before a campaign event. Several other women have made similar claims.

In a video, Biden pledged to be “more mindful” of respecting “personal space”, but Flores told Fox News this week that the former senator’s jokes on the matter have been “so incredibly disrespectful”.

The incident is just a glimpse of the harsh vetting from both Democrats and Republicans expected for Biden, who has run for president twice before but never from such a strong political starting position.

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Biden Courage Awards last month in New York [Frank Franklin II/AP Photo]

In recent weeks, he was repeatedly forced to explain his 1991 decision, as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, to allow Anita Hill to face questions about her allegations of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas, then a nominee for the Supreme Court.

Biden has since apologised for his role in the hearing. But in the #MeToo era, it is another example of why critics believe he may struggle to catch on with the Democratic primary voters of 2020.

Cory Booker, 49

Cory Booker has served as a US senator from New Jersey – the first African American in the state’s history to hold the office – since 2013. He was the mayor of Newark from 2006 to 2013.

His entry into the Democratic primary was steeped in history and symbolism, befitting his status as the second black candidate in an historically diverse field. Invoking the legacy of the national movements for civil rights and for women’s suffrage, the New Jersey senator during his candidacy announcement urged a return to a “common sense of purpose”.

Cory Booker speaks to voters during a campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire [File: Steven Senne/AP Photo]

Booker could face difficulty winning the hearts of the progressive Democratic base due to his past financial ties to banking and pharmaceutical interests. He said he would stop taking contributions from pharmaceutical companies in 2017.

He announced his presidential bid on February 1.

Pete Buttigieg, 37

Pete Buttigieg has served as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, since 2012.

Before that, Buttigieg was a consultant for McKinsey and company.

He is the first openly gay Democratic candidate to run for president. He announced his presidential bid on January 23, 2019.

There are no policy positions on his website. He has virtually no paid presence in the states that matter most. And his campaign manager is a high-school friend with no experience in presidential politics.

Despite this, he has suddenly become one of the hottest names in the Democrats’ presidential primary season. On the campaign trail, he has frequently spoken about the struggle to legalise same-sex marriage.

Pete Buttigieg speaks during the US Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington [File: Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo]

He has also repeatedly criticised Vice President Mike Pence for his view that discredits LGBTQ rights.

“I’m not critical of his faith; I’m critical of bad policies. I don’t have a problem with religion. I’m religious, too. I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people and especially in the LGBTQ community,” the Indiana Democrat said in an interview with NBC’s The Ellen DeGeneres Show this month.

Buttigieg’s moment may pass if he does not take swift action to build a national organisation capable of harnessing the energy, he will need to sustain his surge in the nine months or so before the first votes are cast.

Julian Castro, 44

Julian Castro was elected mayor of San Antonio, Texas in 2009 and served until 2014.

He served as the 16th US secretary of housing and urban development (HUD) under US President Barack Obama from 2014 until 2017.

Castro, the grandson of Mexican immigrants, was raised by a local Latina activist, and after a brief career in law, he was elected mayor of the nation’s seventh-largest city at the age of 34.

Julian Castro listens as he is introduced at a gathering of Tri-City Young Democrats in Somersworth, New Hampshire, US, on January 15, 2019 [Brian Snyder/Reuters]

It was not long after that election that Democrats nationally embraced him as a star in the making, particularly one from Texas, where a booming Hispanic population is rapidly changing the state’s demographics and improving the party’s fortunes.

He announced his presidential run on January 12, 2019.

John Delaney, 56

John Delaney served as a US congressman for Maryland’s sixth district from 2013 to 2019.

Delaney, a former banking entrepreneur, is known as politically moderate with a willingness to reach across the aisle.

He has supported a measure to raise money to build infrastructure by allowing US corporations to avoid taxes when they repatriate profits overseas if they buy bonds that would be used to build infrastructure.

John Delaney stands in a food vendors building during a visit to the Iowa State Fair [File: Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo]

He announced his presidential run in a Washington Post op-ed published on July 28, 2017.

Delaney, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, was the first to announce he will seek his party’s nomination in 2020.

He said he was entering the presidential race early because he knows he will need time to build name recognition.

Tulsi Gabbard, 38

Tusi Gabbard has served as a US congresswoman from Hawaii’s second district since 2013.

Gabbard is the first Hindu member of Congress. At the age of 21, she became the youngest to be elected to a US state legislature serving on the Hawaii House of Representatives.

She has also served in the Hawaii Army National Guard in a combat zone in Iraq and was deployed to Kuwait.

She was a fierce opponent of same-sex marriage when she served in the state legislature in her 20s. But she has since disavowed those views and professes her support for LGBTQ rights.

Critics have pounced on her efforts to block the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Hawaii and a meeting she held with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Earlier this year, she penned an op-ed responding to media reports about her alleged ties to Hindu nationalists.

Tulsi Gabbard delivers a nomination speech for Senator Bernie Sanders on the second day at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia [File: Mike Segar/Reuters]

“While the headlines covering my announcement could have celebrated this landmark first, and maybe even informed Americans about the world’s third largest religion, some have instead fomented suspicion, fear and religious bigotry about not only me but also my supporters,” she wrote.

Gabbard officially launched her presidential campaign on February 2, 2019.

Kirsten Gillibrand, 52

Kirsten Gillibrand has served as a US senator from New York since 2009. Before that, Gillibrand served in the House of Representatives from 2007 to 2009.

Gillibrand has also worked for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. She worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2000 US Senate campaign.

She has been a vocal advocate for electing more women to office and a forceful critic of the Trump administration.

Kristen Gillibrand asks a question during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC [File: Aaron P Bernstein/Reuters]

Gillibrand, who has been a forceful public advocate for victims of sexual misconduct, came under fire for how her deputy chief of staff, Anne Bradley, handled a sexual harassment claim made by a female staffer against one of Gillibrand’s male aides.

She announced her presidential run on January 15, 2019.

Kamala Harris, 54

Kamala Harris has served as a US senator from California since 2017.

Before joining the Senate, Harris was the attorney general of California. She has also served as San Francisco district attorney.

Her track record as San Francisco’s district attorney and California’s attorney general has drawn scrutiny in a Democratic Party that has shifted in recent years on criminal justice issues.

Harris is the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India.

Senator Kamala Harris speaks to the media after announcing she will run for president of the United States [Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

She supports a middle-class tax credit, Medicare for All healthcare funding reform, the Green New Deal and the legalisation of cannabis.

She launched her presidential run on January 21, 2019.

John Hickenlooper, 67

John Hickenlooper served as the governor of Colorado from 2011 to 2019.

Before that, Hickenlooper served as the mayor of Denver from 2003 to 2011.

Hickenlooper, cofounder of the Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver, has positioned himself as a centrist and an experienced officeholder with business experience.

John Hickenlooper speaks at the United States Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington, DC [File: Yuri Gripas/Reuters]

He is the only Democratic presidential candidate so far to oppose the Green New Deal plan to tackle climate change, saying it would give the government too much power in investment decisions.

He announced his presidential run on March 4, 2019.

Jay Inslee, 68

Jay Inslee has served as the governor of the state of Washington since 2013.

He has also served in both the state legislator and US House of Representatives. He was the regional director for the US Department of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton.

Jay Inslee speaks on Friday, March 1, 2019, during a campaign event at A&R Solar in Seattle [Ted S Warren/ AP Photo]

Inslee, who announced his presidential run on March 1, 2019, has made fighting climate change the central issue of his campaign.

As governor, Inslee has moved to put a moratorium on capital punishment and fully implement the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, accompanying the expansion of Medicaid health coverage for the poor.

Amy Klobuchar, 58

Amy Klobuchar served as a US senator from Minnesota since 2007, becoming her state’s first elected female senator.

Before joining the Senate, she was the Hennepin County lawyer.

Amy Klobuchar waits to speak at the Ankeny Area Democrats’ Winter Banquet on Thursday, February 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa [Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo]

Klobuchar gained national attention in 2018 when she sparred with Brett Kavanaugh during Senate hearings for his Supreme Court nomination.

She announced her presidential run on February 10, 2019.

On the campaign trail, the former prosecutor and corporate lawyer supports an alternative to traditional Medicare healthcare funding and is taking a hard stance against rising prescription drug prices.

Wayne Messam, 44

Wayne Messam has served as mayor of Miramar, Florida, since 2015.

Messam grew up in South Bay, an agricultural town of 3,500 people, adjoining Lake Okeechobee. His parents emigrated from Jamaica.

Messam believes Miramar has much that the rest of the US would like to have: environmentally friendly development, high-end manufacturing and major corporate operations.

Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam poses for a portrait in Miramar [Brynn Anderson/AP Photo]

Pundits have said he is unlikely to win due to low name recognition and funding. No sitting mayor has ever won the presidency and he has a lack of political experience.

On March 28, 2019, he announced he was running for president.

Seth Moulton, 40

Seth Moulton has served as the US representative for Massachusetts’s sixth congressional district since 2015.

Moulton first came to prominence in 2014 when he unseated long-term incumbent Representative John Tierney in a Democratic primary to represent the sixth congressional district.

Moulton announced his presidential bid on April 22, 2019.

In a YouTube video announcing his presidential candidacy, he said: “Decades of division and corruption have broken our democracy and robbed Americans of their voice.”

Seth Moulton speaks at a Merrimack County Democrats Summer Social in Bow, New Hampshire [File: Brian Snyder/Reuters]

In the video, Moulton said he wants to tackle climate change and grow the US economy by promoting green jobs as well as hi-tech and advanced manufacturing.

Moulton served in the Marines from 2001 to 2008. During his 2014 congressional bid, he became a vocal critic of the war in Iraq in which he served, saying no more troops should be deployed to the country.

He has advocated stricter gun laws, saying military-style weapons should not be owned by civilians.

Beto O’Rourke, 46

Beto O’Rourke served Texas’s 16th congressional district in the House of Representatives from 2013 to 2019.

O’Rourke gained fame last year for his record fundraising and ability to draw crowds before of his unexpectedly narrow loss in the US Senate race against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.

His Senate bid generated a torrent of media attention and excited voters in a party desperate for fresh political faces. He lost the race by fewer than three percentage points, the tightest senate contest in the state in four decades.

O’Rourke announced a $6.1m fundraising haul for the first 24 hours of his campaign, bettering his Democratic opponents.

Beto O’Rourke speaks during a campaign stop at a cafe on April 19, 2019, in Somersworth, New Hampshire [Scott Eisen/AFP]

Since his Senate bid ended, O’Rourke has worked to keep himself in the public eye, regularly staying in touch with his supporters and sitting for an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

But with progressive policies and diversity at the forefront of the party’s nominating battle, O’Rourke will face a challenge as a wealthy white man who is more moderate on several key issues than many of his competitors.

He announced his presidential bid on March 14, 2019.

Tim Ryan, 45

Ryan has served as a US House representative from Ohio’s 13th district since 2003.

He represents a northeastern Ohio area that has reportedly lost manufacturing jobs in the past few years and shifted to Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

Ryan has said Trump has turned his back on those blue-collar voters who fled to him in 2016 and failed to live up his promise to revitalise the manufacturing industry.

Tim Ryan speaks at the Heartland Forum on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa [File: Nati Harnik/AP Photo]

Ryan pledged to create jobs in new technologies and to focus on public education and access to affordable healthcare.

He first gained national attention when he unsuccessfully tried to unseat Nancy Pelosi as the House Democratic leader in 2016, arguing it was time for new leadership.

Ryan announced his presidential run on April 4, 2019.

Bernie Sanders, 77

Bernie Sanders served as a US representative for 16 years before being elected to the Senate in 2006 where he currently represents the state of Vermont.

A progressive and cofounder of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, he is the longest-serving Independent in the history of Congress.

Sanders announced his presidential run on February 19, 2019. Sanders ran an unsuccessful bid for president in 2016 after losing to Hillary Clinton.

In the 2020 race, Sanders will have to fight to stand out in a packed field of progressives touting issues he brought into the Democratic Party mainstream four years ago.

Bernie Sanders speaks as he holds one of his first campaign events in Chicago, Illinois, on March 3, 2019 [Joshua Lott/Reuters]

His proposals include free tuition at public colleges, a $15 minimum hourly wage and universal healthcare.

He benefits from strong name recognition and a robust network of small-dollar donors, helping him to raise $5.9m during his first day in the contest.

Eric Swalwell, 38

Eric Swalwell, an Iowa native, has served as a House representative from California’s 15th congressional district since 2013.

Since joining congress, Swalwell has advocated for raising the cap on the portion of salary that is subject to the Social Security payroll tax.

He has also proposed a “mobile congress” that would allow politicians to cast votes remotely from their districts.

Eric Swalwell speaks during a joint hearing of the House Committee on the Judiciary and House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform [File: Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo]

Swalwell announced his presidential bid on April 8, 2019.

He said tackling student debt and gun violence were among the reasons he jumped into the Democratic primary race.

Elizabeth Warren, 69

Elizabeth Warren has served as a US senator from Massachusetts since 2013.

Warren, known as a progressive, taught law in a number of universities and was a Harvard professor.

Warren is a leader of the party’s liberals and a fierce Wall Street critic who was instrumental in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Earlier this year, she apologised to the Cherokee Nation for taking a DNA test to prove her claims to Native American ancestry, an assertion that has prompted Trump to mockingly refer to her as “Pocahontas”.

Elizabeth Warren addresses the Rev Al Sharpton’s National Action Network during a post-midterm election at the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill [File: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP]

She announced her presidential run on February 9, 2019. She has promised to fight what she calls a rigged economic system that favours the wealthy.

She recently unveiled a student loan forgiveness proposal that would cancel up to $50,000 of debt for millions of Americans. She also supports free college tuition for students at two and four-year institutions.

Marianne Williamson, 66

Marianne Williamson is an author, entrepreneur and activist. Williamson is the founder of Project Angel Food, a volunteer food delivery programme serving home-bound people with life-changing illnesses.

She is also cofounder of the Peace Alliance, an education and advocacy organisation.

The Texas native believes her spirituality-focused campaign can heal the US.

Marianne Williamson meets with child care advocates at the Nevada State Legislature in Carson City, Nevada [Bob Strong/Reuters]

A 1992 interview on Oprah Winfrey’s show propelled her to make a name for herself as a “spiritual guide” for Hollywood and a self-help expert.

She is calling for $100bn in reparations for slavery over 10 years, gun control, education reform and equal rights for lesbian and gay communities. In 2014, she made an unsuccessful bid for a House seat in California as an independent.

She announced her presidential run on January 29, 2019.

Andrew Yang, 44

Andrew Yang is the founder of Venture for America. In 2012, the Obama administration selected him as a Champion of Change.

In 2015, he was selected as Presidential Ambassador of Global Entrepreneurship.

He filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for president in 2020 on November 6, 2017.

The entrepreneur and former tech executive is focusing his campaign on an ambitious universal income plan.

Andrew Yang arrives at a town hall meeting in Cleveland on Sunday, February 24, 2019 [Phil Long/AP Photo]

Yang wants to guarantee all American citizens between the ages of 18 and 64 a $1,000 cheque every month.

The son of immigrants from Taiwan, Yang also is pushing for Medicare for All and proposing a new form of capitalism that is “human-centred”.

Florida teachers can arm themselves under new gun bill!

Critics question if the solution to gun violence is the presence of more guns, warn of the danger of teachers misfiring.
Firearms instructor Mike Magowan uses a rubber training pistol to demonstrate a shooting stance ,during a teachers-only firearms training class offered for free at the Veritas Training Academy in Sarasota, Florida  [File: Brian Blanco/Reuters]
Firearms instructor Mike Magowan uses a rubber training pistol to demonstrate a shooting stance ,during a teachers-only firearms training class offered for free at the Veritas Training Academy in Sarasota, Florida

Florida’s legislature on Wednesday passed a bill allowing teachers to carry guns in the classroom, expanding a programme launched after the deadly high school shooting in Parkland with the aim of preventing another such massacre.

Florida’s House of Representatives voted 65 to 47 to pass the bill after hours of debate over two days in which the Republican majority thwarted Democratic efforts to amend, stall or kill the measure. Florida’s Senate approved it 22 to 17 last week.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign the bill into law, enabling school districts wishing to take part in the voluntary Guardian programme to arm those teachers who pass a 144-hour training course.

On February 14, 2018, a former student armed with a semiautomatic rifle opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people and wounding 17 others.

President Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association have argued an armed teacher could provide the best defence against a shooter bent on mass murder.

Gun control

Opponents questioned whether the solution to gun violence should be the presence of even more guns and warned of the danger of a teacher misfiring during a crisis or police mistaking an armed teacher for the assailant.

More than 1,200 children in US killed by guns in the last year

Its passage marks a victory for gun-rights advocates, who were on the defensive a year ago when Parkland students inspired nationwide protests in favour of gun control.

After the Parkland shooting, Florida politicians rushed through legislation that required schools to place at least one armed staff member or law-enforcement officer at each campus.

The law also imposed a three-day waiting period for gun purchases and raised the age limit for buying rifles from 18 to 21.

Although last year’s law allowed some school personnel to carry weapons, guns were still banned from the classroom.

Backers of arming classroom teachers revived the issue this year, arguing that school shootings often erupt too quickly for law enforcement to respond.

Florida remembers Parkland high school shooting victims

In anticipation of passage, school employees in 40 of Florida’s 67 counties already enrolled in or planned to take the 144-hour course, a spokesman for the Speaker of the House said. Some counties have resolved not to participate in the Guardian programme.

Florida’s gun-control advocates had made stopping the proposal a top priority, among them Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense, which is funded by billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

 

The Aftermath: Mass Shootings in the US

Two dead in shooting at North Carolina university campus

Police say one suspect in custody after attack that also left four people wounded.

Television station WBTV reported that gunfire erupted about 5:45 pm local time near the university's Kennedy Hall administrative building. [Logan Cyrus/AFP]
Television station WBTV reported that gunfire erupted about 5:45 pm local time near the university’s Kennedy Hall administrative building.

Two people have been killed and four others wounded – two with life-threatening injuries – in a shooting at the University of North Carolina.

UNC Charlotte issued a campus lockdown late on Tuesday afternoon, saying shots had been fired. Later in the evening, the campus was declared secure after a suspect was taken into custody.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said in a statement on Twitter that one person was in custody and no one else is believed to be involved.

Television station WBTV in Charlotte reported that gunfire erupted about 5:45 pm local time (2145 GMT) near the university’s Kennedy Hall administrative building.

The Mecklenburg EMS, an independent agency that handles emergency services for the county, confirmed that two people were dead on the scene and that four others were taken to a nearby hospital, two of them with life-threatening injuries.

Embedded video

Breaking News Global@BreakingNAlerts

BREAKING: Video shows police responding to active shooter at UNCC Charlotte – 6 shot, one in custody.

Aerial shots from local television news outlets showed police officers running toward a building, while another view showed students running on a campus sidewalk.

The police later said that the campus had been secured and that officers were going through buildings to let people who had sheltered in place know that it was safe.

Sam Rice, a senior on UNC Charlotte’s tennis team, told Spectrum News that he was in the library studying for a final exam when he heard people yelling “shooter, shooter”.

He said he heard police yelling for people to stay down and stay on the floor.

He was “waiting for someone to tell us everything was going to be OK”.

When people were told to leave, he ran out in his socks, running over glass on the floor.

Students and faculty file out of buildings with their hands up during a lockdown after a shooting on the campus of University of North Carolina. [Logan Cyrus/AFP]

“We are in shock to learn of an active shooter situation on the campus of UNC Charlotte. My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives, those injured, the entire UNCC community and the courageous first responders who sprang into action to help others,” Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said on Twitter.