Govt. shutdown looms 12/7

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The Capitol is seen in Washington, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, before Congress returns to work Tuesday for the first time following the midterm elections. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Capitol is seen in Washington, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, before Congress returns to work Tuesday for the first time following the midterm elections. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Government funding, border wall await lame-duck Congress


AP Congressional Correspondent

Tuesday, November 13

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress returns to a changed political landscape as newly elected lawmakers arrive in Washington, the parties elect new leadership and incumbents square off for one final legislative sprint before House Democrats take power.

Voters swept away eight years of House Republican control in last week’s election, creating a new political dynamic that’s challenging President Donald Trump even before the new 116th Congress begins in January.

For their last act, Republicans will try to deliver on Trump’s promise to fund the border wall, which could spark a partial federal government shutdown in weeks. Newly emboldened Democrats are in no mood to cooperate over wall money. Instead, they’ll be pushing to protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe from acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, who has criticized the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

All sides must agree to a federal funding bill to prevent a partial government shutdown from beginning on Dec. 7.

“House Democrats are anything but lame ducks,” Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi wrote Monday to colleagues, saying Democrats are “flying high and taking pride” in the greatest Democratic sweep of the House since the Watergate election of 1974. They picked up at least 32 seats, with several races still undecided.

“We have great opportunity, and therefore great responsibility to get results for the American people,” Pelosi wrote. Democrats “need to be unified, find common ground with Republicans in our legislative engagements, but stand our ground when we must.”

Against this backdrop, dozens of new House lawmakers and a handful of new senators arrived for a whirlwind orientation session. They will take their official photos, meet colleagues and take what could prove to be the toughest vote of their early careers — electing their leadership. Several new Congressional Progressive Caucus members held their first news conference Monday.

“I hope that we are ushering in a new era,” said Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.

Their majority lost, House Republicans will start the task of rebuilding. Retiring Speaker Paul Ryan will begin to transition out of power and next-in-line Kevin McCarthy of California is favored over conservative Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a leader of the Freedom Caucus, to win the job of incoming minority leader in leadership elections Wednesday. GOP Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana is expected keep his spot unchallenged. And new to leadership will be Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, in the No. 3 position of conference chair.

“We’ve got to change the way that we operate and really in some ways be more aggressive,” Cheney, running unopposed, told The Associated Press.

Senators will also select their leaders, but few surprises are expected. On the Democratic side, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York is set to return as leader, even though the party lost several seats in the election.

Schumer suggested Democrats would use the lame-duck session to fight to protect special counsel. “People are really concerned about this,” Schumer told CNN.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has predicted a “lively” lame-duck session. The Kentucky Republican has said legislation to protect Mueller is “unnecessary” because the investigation is “not under threat.”

McConnell is poised to again lead Republicans, but term limits are pushing GOP Whip John Cornyn of Texas out of the No. 2 spot, making way for South Dakota Sen. John Thune to move up. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso and Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri will round out the team, and Cornyn will still have a seat at McConnell’s table of counselors.

McConnell is also trying to add a female senator to a lower leadership spot, seeking to address the optics of having an all-male leadership slate in a year that brought a record number of women to Congress.

The biggest leadership race is Pelosi’s bid to return as the first female House speaker, a contest she says she’s “100 percent” confident she will win despite a public campaign by some incumbent and newly elected Democrats to oust her. Preliminary voting won’t unfold for House Democrats until after Thanksgiving.

Amid the leadership shuffle, lawmakers have several pieces of legislation they want to finish by year’s end, including a farm policy bill and legislation overhauling Congress’ handling of sexual harassment claims. The Senate will try to confirm more of Trump’s judicial and administrative nominees, including a vote this week on Michelle Bowman to be a member of the Federal Reserve’s board of governors.

But first they appeared headed toward a showdown over Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump spent weeks ahead of the midterm election rallying fears over a migrant caravan heading toward the border and promised voters that Republicans would bring tougher border security.

House Republicans have already approved $5 billion for Trump’s wall, but in the Senate, where Republicans need Democratic support to prevent a filibuster, a bipartisan bill allocates $1.6 billion.

McCarthy upped the stakes by introducing legislation for the full $25 billion the White House wants in border funds as he tries to shore up support from conservatives ahead of the GOP leadership election.

It’s unclear how hard Republicans will be willing to fight for the wall, given that dozens of House GOP lawmakers are serving their final days in Congress after retiring or losing their re-election races. Ryan had promised a “big fight” over the border money and McConnell said a mini-shutdown may be necessary to help Trump “get what he’s looking for” on the wall.

Rep. Nita Lowey of New York, who is set to chair the House Appropriations Committee, said Democrats “have our boxing gloves on” to spar with Trump and other Republicans.

The top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations panel, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, on Monday told reporters Trump is the only person in Washington who seems to want to a shutdown.

Firefighters battling California wildfires, police officers and other emergency responders all would be hurt by a shutdown, he said. If Republicans insist that “it’s the wall or nothing, then they are going to get nothing,” Leahy said.

Associated Press writers Matthew Daly, Mary Clare Jalonick, Alan Fram and Laurie Kellman in Washington contributed to this report.

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The Conversation

More American students are studying abroad, new data show

November 13, 2018


Chad M. Gasta

Professor of Spanish and Chair, Iowa State University

Disclosure statement

Chad M. Gasta does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Kelsey Hrubes knew she had a challenge on her hands when she visited Germany as a study abroad student back in 2015.

“I was forced to adapt to cultural norms I had never considered before and try to comprehend everything in a new language,” recalls Hrubes, a software engineer at Microsoft and 2017 Iowa State graduate in German and computer science.

Hrubes says if she hadn’t studied abroad and learned to adjust to new surroundings, she wouldn’t be nearly as confident as she is in her career.

Stories such as this are part of what’s behind the increasing number of university students who are studying abroad – many of whom are trying to gain valuable experience that will benefit them in their personal and professional lives.

According to new data released Nov. 13 by the Institute of International Education, more than 332,000 U.S. students studied abroad during the 2016-2017 academic year, an increase of 2.3 percent over the previous year.

The institute’s annual Open Doors data also show gains in study abroad among minority students, who now make up 29 percent of all American students abroad. A decade ago, that figure stood at just 18 percent.

As a scholar who specializes in cross-cultural knowledge, business practices and student learning by means of study abroad – and as co-director of a summer program in Valencia, Spain – I see a few factors that have likely contributed to these increases.

More options and motivating factors

First, there has been a huge increase in funding for students to go abroad. Many of those funds are directed at students with financial need or who have minority status.

Second, there are more options to study abroad in a variety of places and for different lengths of time.

Students are also beginning to recognize on their own the benefits of experiencing other cultures for professional reasons or future career advancement.

Research and experience demonstrate that students who are fully immersed in cultures abroad and who learn another language are better-equipped to function in the global workforce. They become strategic thinkers and problem solvers, and excellent communicators in more than one language.

Many programs connect students’ disciplinary interests with an understanding of other people and cultures in order to create well-prepared and competitive students who will be global leaders in their professional fields.

Such an interdisciplinary focus was not always the norm in study abroad. Decades ago, faculty-led study abroad programs focused on one area, usually language study, or a particular academic discipline in English-speaking countries. Today, more students are seeking ways to take coursework in their major by combining it with unique hands-on experience, such as international internships or service learning experiences abroad.

According to the 2018 Open Doors report, Europe remains a top destination of such programs, with around 32 percent of all students choosing the United Kingdom, Italy or Spain. However, other regions such as Asia, Africa and the Middle East continue to attract attention. In 2016-2017, interest in these regions together increased by 26 percent, according to Open Doors. Much of this interest comes from students interested in working on community-based sustainability projects in fields such as engineering or agriculture.

Employers value experience abroad

While students now have access to more funding to study abroad and a wider selection of destinations, corporate interest is factor driving the increase in students who study abroad.

Several major U.S. technology firms, such as Dell, Google and Microsoft, have stressed the need to find employees who are better-equipped to understand the global marketplace. Study abroad, particularly programs in which students learn another language, help achieve that end.

My own research over 10 years shows that students who study abroad are better critical thinkers and problem solvers, more entrepreneurial and have better communication skills. They are also more tolerant and understanding. They have a greater appreciation for the arts, social issues and world events. They gain more insight into themselves and their lives.

Study abroad makes students more marketable for top jobs. And students are now reporting that their experience abroad is one of the first things they are asked about in job interviews. In fact, students who study abroad for a meaningful period of time make as much as 20 percent more money over the course of their careers. Additionally, students in many fields are promoted at a faster rate, and they are likely to get prime international assignments, perhaps in more than one country.

College graduates routinely acknowledge that their time abroad was one of the most important and beneficial things they did as a student. The thought of an international career is almost too good to pass up. Given such factors, participation in study abroad programs, particularly by minority students and women, should continue to grow.

The Conversation

Why the history of messianic Judaism is so fraught and complicated

November 13, 2018


Ingrid Anderson

Associate Director of Jewish Studies, Lecturer, Arts & Sciences Writing Program, Boston University

Disclosure statement

Ingrid Anderson does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.


Boston University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.

When Loren Jacobs, member of the Shma Yisrael Congregation, offered a prayer for the victims of the Tree of Life congregation at a campaign rally attended by Mike Pence, it left many Jews feeling very upset. The vice president’s office later denied inviting Jacobs to the event.

Jacobs is a messianic Jew and part of a group called Jews for Jesus. Here is why their relationship with Jews is so fraught.

Messianic Jews

Messianic Jews consider themselves Jewish Christians. Specifically they believe, as do all Christians, that Jesus is the son of God, as well as the Messiah, and that he died in atonement for the sins of mankind.

There are approximately 175,000 to 250,000 messianic Jews in the U.S, and 350,000 worldwide. About 10,000 to 20,000 live in Israel. According to Dan Juster, a theologian who founded a major messianic Jewish congregation, there are currently about 300 congregations in the United States, and about half of the attendants are Gentiles, or ethnically non-Jewish.

And most of these groups consider the conversion of ethnic Jews specifically – that is, people with at least one Jewish parent – to messianic Judaism a central part of their mission.

Messianic Jews and Jewish messianism

Belief in a Messiah who will redeem the Jewish people and thereby usher in a new, more humane era is very much a Jewish concept. However, there are deep theological differences between Jews and Christians regarding exactly who is a Messiah, what a Messiah should do and even how central a Messiah should be to their traditions.

According to both the Hebrew Bible and Jewish oral tradition, a Messiah is a king, a warrior, a political figure or a revolutionary whose mission is divine and specific to the Jews. But the leader is neither divine nor a savior concerned with the afterlife of humanity. Neither is a Messiah worshiped as a deity.

This leader’s job is to facilitate the return of the Jews to the land of Israel, not in the afterlife but in the temporal world. Therefore, redemption does not entail atonement for sins, but is a liberation from exile and a return to self-rule in Israel.

One doesn’t need to be Jewish to be a Messiah. The Persian King Cyrus is referred to as a “Messiah” in the Hebrew Bible because he allowed the Jews to return to the land of Israel, signaling the end of what is known as the Babylonian Exile in the sixth century B.C.

And Cyrus is not the only figure to be called a Messiah. Bar Kohkbah, the warrior and revolutionary who led the Jewish revolt against Rome from A.D. 132 to 135, was also believed to be a possible Messiah because he sought to eject Roman rule from Israel and return the Jews to Jerusalem. The fact that Bar Kohkbah did not successfully defeat Rome ultimately meant he did not turn out to be a Messiah – but he certainly took on the job of a Jewish Messiah.

There are multiple forms of Jewish messianism, but none of them believe that a messianic figure – if such a person exists – will be divine.

Contemporary Judaism’s many branches do not agree on when or if a Messiah will appear at all, especially since the creation of the Israeli state in 1948. This is in large part because the traditional job of a Messiah – the restoration of the Jewish state – has already been accomplished. Some Jews do believe that a Messiah will come, but the signs that would foretell have not appeared yet.

Also, many Jews have rejected the idea of an individual Messiah in favor of the idea that humans themselves, through acts of social justice or tikkun olam, will mend the world and bring about a “messianic age” wherein life for Jews and in fact humanity improves for the better.

Christianity’s redefinition of the nature and role of a Messiah is its most important point of departure from Judaism, and has accounted for much of the tension between Jews and Christians historically.

Jews do not share the Christian belief that Jesus was divine. This difference in belief is grounded in the Jewish assertion that there is only one God, who can never be human, even though God may reveal himself in multiple ways. Historically, this created an insurmountable theological barrier between Jews and Christians.

Conversion of Jews

Although Jewish Christians have technically been around since the death of Jesus, the more modern form of the movement has its roots in late 19th-century Europe, when anti-Semitic persecution was on the rise in Russia and large numbers of Jews immigrated to the United States.

The sole focus of some missions based in England and the U.S. was the conversion of the Jews to Christianity. One such mission, the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews, writes scholar Patricia A. Power, met in Boston in 1816. Its objective, as she says, “was to encourage Gentiles to take the task of Jewish evangelism seriously.”

Jews for Jesus is an inheritor of this objective. It began, as Power explains, as a small group with dedicated followers and became “a multimillion dollar evangelistic machine that aggressively, and with savvy, marketed Jesus as the Jewish Messiah to an astonished and often hostile Jewish community.”

Jews for Jesus’s controversial founder, Moishe Rosen, who died in 2010, adopted some of the practices of the “Jesus People” movement – a religious movement of the 1960s that sought to return to the original life of early Christians – for the conversion of Jews. While appearing to reject anti-Semitism, he portrayed Judaism as an incomplete tradition practiced by people who misunderstand their own scriptures and needed to be saved through conversion to Christianity.

Misinterpreting scriptures?

According to Jews for Judaism, an organization that provides support and education for Jews who have been targeted for conversion, missionaries like Jews for Jesus are often aggressive and manipulative in their pursuit of Jewish conversions to Christianity.

On its website, Jews for Judaism alerts Jews to the most common form of misinformation that involves taking the Jewish scriptures out of context – tactics that have been denounced by Jews and Christians alike. Loren Jacobs was defrocked by the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations for accusations of libel 15 years ago “after becoming involved in a bitter theological debate with other members of the group.”

What makes the targeting of Jews for conversion to Christianity particularly painful and damaging is that for over a thousand years, Jews were persecuted, first at the hands of a Christian Roman Empire and then the Church, because Christians did not believe that Jewish scriptures contained truths claimed by another religion.

Prayers like the one said by Loren Jacobs are a powerful reminder of that long and violent history.

Trump suggests France would have been defeated without US


Associated Press

Tuesday, November 13

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump escalated his verbal assaults against France on Tuesday, suggesting that America’s stalwart European ally would have been vanquished in both world wars if not for the military firepower provided by the United States.

Trump tweeted about a suggestion by French President Emmanuel Macron that Europe build up its militaries because the continent can no longer depend on the U.S. for defense. Macron had also said Europe needs to protect itself against cyberthreats from China, Russia and the U.S.

Macron’s comments were inaccurately reported and Trump continues to misrepresent them, seemingly for political hay. The French leader’s office said Trump had lumped together Macron’s remarks on protecting against cyber-threats and “interference in our democracies” from “China, Russia and even the United States” with Macron’s later statement on military defense.

“Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia,” Trump tweeted. “But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two – How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!”

The president has long complained that NATO countries don’t pay their fair share of the defense alliance’s expenses, leaving the U.S. to carry much of the burden. He criticized Macron before and after attending a weekend ceremony in Paris to commemorate 100 years since the end of World War I.

Trump and Macron discussed defense, trade and other issues when they met Saturday at the Elysee Palace.

A top adviser to Macron said Tuesday that the French position has been “clarified.” The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with French customs, said Macron explained the European army issue to Trump, stressing that France was not making a choice between a European defense mechanism and multilateral organizations such as NATO.

Gerard Araud, France’s ambassador to the U.S., challenged Trump’s assertions. “For the sake of truth, Pres.EmmanuelMacron didn’t say that EU needed an army “against the US”. It was an erroneous press report,” Araud tweeted.

Trump also complained Tuesday about tariffs on U.S. wines sold in France, saying it’s “not fair, must change!” He also appeared to take a dig at Macron’s low public approval rating. Trump’s standing with the French is lower than Macron’s.

“On Trade, France makes excellent wine, but so does the U.S. The problem is that France makes it very hard for the U.S. to sell its wines into France, and charges big Tariffs, whereas the U.S. makes it easy for French wines, and charges very small Tariffs. Not fair, must change!”

Nearly all U.S. wine exports to major markets, including the European Union — of which France is a part — face tariffs, according to the Wine Institute, which represents California winemakers in Washington on matters of tax, trade and regulatory issues.

Trump, who built a career in business before he entered politics, opened a winery in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2011.

“The problem is that Emmanuel suffers from a very low Approval Rating in France, 26%, and an unemployment rate of almost 10%. He was just trying to get onto another subject. By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France, very proud people-and rightfully so! … MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!”

Macron is hovering at around 30 percent in popularity polls, while the unemployment rate is just above 9 percent.

Trump appeared to be referring to Macron’s comment Sunday during a speech for the World War I centennial in which he decried the rise of nationalism across Europe and elsewhere, calling it a “betrayal of patriotism.” The comments were widely viewed as a rebuke of Trump, who sat stone-faced with other world leaders as Macron spoke and who embraces the “nationalist” label despite the negative connotations associated with the term.

Trump’s continued complaints about France and Macron struck a nerve with some in the European nation, especially since the latest broadsides came on the third anniversary of the Paris terror attacks that killed 130 people in 2015.

It prompted French journalist Hugo Clement to tweet in response: “We are already great, especially on november 13th. Go back to your room and give the phone to an adult.”

The complaints were also another marker of the up-and-down relationship Trump has had with Macron since they first met last year.

Trump also defended his decision to cancel a trip Saturday to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery at Belleau Wood in Northern France after rainy weather grounded his helicopter. The White House later said that driving two-and-a-half hours to the cemetery would have required many Paris roadways to be closed on short notice to accommodate the president’s motorcade and that Trump didn’t want to cause that kind of disruption.

Trump did go ahead with a trip and speech in the rain Sunday at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial just outside Paris.

“By the way, when the helicopter couldn’t fly to the first cemetery in France because of almost zero visibility, I suggested driving. Secret Service said NO, too far from airport & big Paris shutdown. Speech next day at American Cemetary in pouring rain! Little reported-Fake News!” he tweeted.

Associated Press writer Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report.

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The Capitol is seen in Washington, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, before Congress returns to work Tuesday for the first time following the midterm elections. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Capitol is seen in Washington, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, before Congress returns to work Tuesday for the first time following the midterm elections. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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