Klobuchar taking campaign to Midwest states that Trump won
By SARA BURNETT
Monday, February 11
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — With snow falling steadily and the temperature well below freezing, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said she’s joining the group of Democrats running for president and would take her campaign — and her Midwest sensibilities — directly to parts of the region Donald Trump won and that her party wants to recapture in 2020.
“For every American, I’m running for you,” she told an exuberant, snow-covered crowd gathered Sunday at a park along the Mississippi River with the Minneapolis skyline in the background. “And I promise you this: As your president, I will look you in the eye. I will tell you what I think. I will focus on getting things done. That’s what I’ve done my whole life. And no matter what, I’ll lead from the heart.”
Klobuchar, who easily won a third-term last year, is the most prominent candidate from the Midwest to enter the race. She’s pointed to her broad appeal across Minnesota — where she’s drawn support from voters in urban, suburban and rural areas, including in dozens of counties Trump won in 2016 — and says that success could translate to other Midwestern states such as Michigan and Wisconsin, reliably Democratic in presidential races for decades until Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton.
Klobuchar said she would travel next weekend to Iowa, home to the nation’s first caucus, joking it’s “a place where we in Minnesota like to go south for the winter.” That trip will be followed by stops in Wisconsin, where Clinton was criticized in 2016 for not spending enough time.
“We’re starting in Wisconsin because as you remember there wasn’t a lot of campaigning in Wisconsin in 2016. With me, that changes,” Klobuchar told reporters after the event, noting her mother grew up in the state. “I’m going to be there a lot.”
Klobuchar, who has prided herself for achieving results through bipartisan cooperation, did not utter Trump’s name during her kickoff speech. But she did bemoan the conduct of “foreign policy by tweet” and said Americans must “stop the fear-mongering and stop the hate. … We all live in the same country of shared dreams.” And she said that on first day as president, she would have the U.S. rejoin an international climate agreement that Trump has withdrawn from.
Trump responded to Klobuchar’s announcement with a tweet mocking her stance on global warming, a phenomenon he has disputed in the past. He wrote that Klobuchar talked proudly “of fighting global warming while standing in a virtual blizzard of snow, ice and freezing temperatures. Bad timing. By the end of her speech she looked like a Snowman(woman)!” Trump often overlooks evidence of record global warming and conflates cold spells and other incidents of weather with climate, which is long-term.
Asserting her Midwestern values, she told a crowd warmed by hot chocolate, apple cider, heat lamps and bonfires: “I don’t have a political machine. I don’t come from money. But what I do have is this: I have grit.” She said the country’s “sense of community is fracturing” today, “worn down by the petty and vicious nature of our politics. We are all tired of the shutdowns and the showdowns, the gridlock and the grandstanding.”
The list of Democrats already in the race features several better-known senators with the ability to raise huge amounts of money — Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Cory Booker of New Jersey, who welcomed Klobuchar to the race during a campaign stop in South Carolina.
The field soon could expand to include prominent Democrats such as former Vice President Joe Biden of Delaware and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
A Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom poll conducted by Selzer & Company in December found that Klobuchar was largely unfamiliar to likely Iowa caucus-goers, with 54 percent saying they didn’t know enough about her to have an opinion, while 38 percent had a favorable opinion and 8 percent had an unfavorable opinion.
“She starts out perhaps with a better understanding of Midwestern voters, but I think she faces the same hurdles every one of them face, which is: Are Iowans going to find them either the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump or the candidate that most aligns with their ideologies and issues?” said John Norris, a longtime Iowa-based Democratic strategist. “I don’t know that coming from Minnesota gives her any advantage with Iowans.”
Klobuchar, 58, is known as a straight-talking pragmatist willing to work with Republicans, making her one of the Senate’s most productive members at passing legislation.
Cindy York, a retired teacher who attended the rally, said she’s always respected Klobuchar for her “ability to get at the hard questions in a polite and respectful way,” adding “I think we need a lot more of that in this country.”
She said she has friends of all political leanings who have supported Klobuchar, and she sees that as an advantage over the rest of the Democratic field.
“Many of the others are probably a little too liberally perceived or left-leaning,” York said. “I think Amy is perceived as more of a centrist, always has been, and I have tremendous respect for that. She’s a consensus builder and we need that.”
The rally took place not far from the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi. The span was built after the previous bridge collapsed in 2007, killing 13 people. Klobuchar had worked with then Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., to help fund the new bridge and get it completed at a faster-than-usual pace.
“We worked across the aisle to get the federal funding and we rebuilt that I-35W bridge — in just over a year. That’s community. That’s a shared story. That’s ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” she said.
Klobuchar’s focus in recent months has included prescription drug prices, a new farm bill and election security. She supports the “Green New Deal,” a Democratic plan proposed this past week to combat climate change and create thousands of jobs in renewable energy.
But her legislative record has drawn criticism from both the GOP and some fellow Democrats. Some Republicans say Klobuchar is able to get things done because she pushes smaller issues. Some progressives say she lacks the kind of fire and bold ideas needed to bring significant change and excite voters.
Klobuchar on Sunday also responded to news reports that she has mistreated staff, saying she “can be tough” but has many staff members who’ve worked for her for many years.
“I can push people. I know that,” she told reporters after the event. “I have I’d say high expectations for myself, I have high expectations for the people who work for me, but I have high expectations for this country. And that’s what we need. We need someone who is focused on getting things done for this country.”
Klobuchar, a lawyer and the former prosecutor in Minnesota’s largest county, raised her national profile during a Senate Judiciary Committee last fall for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexually assaulting a woman when they were both in high school.
When Klobuchar asked Kavanaugh whether he ever had had so much to drink that he didn’t remember what happened, he turned the question around. He asked Klobuchar, “Have you?”
Unruffled, Klobuchar continued as Kavanaugh asked again. Kavanaugh later apologized to Klobuchar, whose father is an alcoholic.
“When you have a parent who’s an alcoholic, you’re pretty careful about drinking,” she said. “I was truly trying to get to the bottom of the facts and the evidence.”
Among the other Midwestern lawmakers who could seek the nomination are Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who has been visiting early voting states, and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who established an exploratory committee last month.
AP Polling Editor Emily Swanson in Washington contributed to this report.
Reckoning time: Trump checks in for another medical checkup
By KEVIN FREKING
Saturday, February 9
BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — It’s reckoning time: President Donald Trump had his annual medical exam Friday, a year after his doctor advised him to up the exercise and cut the calories.
Trump spent more than four hours at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for a checkup supervised by Dr. Sean P. Conley, his physician, and involving a panel of 11 specialists.
“I am happy to announce the President of the United States is in very good health and I anticipate he will remain so for the duration of his Presidency, and beyond,” Conley wrote afterward.
He did not go into detail except to say Trump did not undergo any procedures requiring sedation or anesthesia. He said reports and recommendations stemming from the exam were still being finalized. It’s unclear how much more detail will be released in the coming days.
Last year, Trump clocked in at 6-foot-3 and 239 pounds. He had a body mass index, or BMI, of 29.9, putting him in the category of being overweight for his height. A BMI of 30 or more is considered obese.
His doctor then said the president was in “excellent health” but would do well to drop 10 to 15 pounds and shift to a low-fat, low-carb diet and take up a more defined exercise routine.
One of the big questions Friday was how well Trump heeded that advice.
Trump, 72, doesn’t drink alcohol or smoke, but he’s not a big fan of the gym either. His primary form of exercise is golf. And he says he gets plenty of walking in around the White House complex.
As for his diet, Trump’s love of fast food remains. Last month, he invited the college football champion Clemson Tigers to the White House during the partial government shutdown. With the White House kitchen too understaffed to cater a meal, Trump stepped in: He ordered burgers, french fries and pizza.
Modern-day presidents have undergone regular exams to catch any potential problems but also to assure the public that they are fit for office, something Trump’s doctor last year took to an extraordinary level.
After Trump’s first exam as president, Dr. Ronny Jackson, a Navy rear admiral, declared Trump to be in “excellent health.” He also said of Trump: “He has incredibly good genes, and it’s just the way God made him.”
Conley replaced Jackson after Trump nominated the latter to lead the Veterans Affairs Department. The nomination ran into trouble early as lawmakers questioned his qualifications to run the government’s second-largest department. Also, current and former colleagues accused Jackson of professional misconduct, including loosely dispensing medications and on-the-job drunkenness. Jackson denied the allegations but eventually withdrew his nomination.
Trump recently promoted Jackson to be an assistant to the president and chief medical adviser. He will advise the president on topics including veterans’ issues, the opioid crisis and health issues at the U.S.-Mexico border. Jackson, who is still under investigation, will also travel and work closely with White House staff.
Last year, doctors checked the president’s eyes; ears, nose and throat; heart; lungs; gastrointestinal tract; skin; and teeth. Neurological, cognitive and stress tests were also performed. Trump’s hearing was not tested; Jackson said he ran out of time. The exam stretched past four hours.
Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.
Llewellyn King: The Deadly Hurt of Loneliness — It Kills
By Llewellyn King
For some, Valentine’s Day is a day not of love but of profound, despairing loneliness.The candies, cards and flowers from kind people can sometimes serve to open a void of despair, a black hole of unhappiness for them. They are people made lonely through disease. Some lonely for life.
And loneliness kills. That is the brutal bottom line on several recent studies. One by insurance giant Cigna found widespread loneliness, with nearly half of Americans reporting they feel alone, isolated or left out at least some of the time.
Releasing the study, Dr. Douglas Nemecek, the company’s chief medical officer for behavioral health, said, “Loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous than obesity.”
I’m fortunate that I’ve seldom been lonely, and never for long. But I’m privy to some of the worst loneliness on the planet. I write and broadcast about those who suffer from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), also called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It is a disease of the immune system, possibly related to Lyme Disease and Fibromyalgia.
Their disease produces loneliness that those who aren’t lonely can only look upon aghast. We can talk about ME, investigate it, try to understand it. But we can never fully understand its limitless duration.
ME is a disease maybe like none other. It has no easy diagnosis, no biological marker that can tell a physician what the trouble is. And when it’s diagnosed, there is no cure and no standard treatment to alleviate and suppress the symptoms.
Some patients get some help from some therapies. Recovery is very rare. It’s almost always a life sentence. For no known reason, more women than men suffer the disease.
Some find ozone infusion works, but it isn’t easy to access. Others get some relief from Ampligen, a very expensive drug that is classed as experimental.
Patients suffer variously and sometimes simultaneously from sleep that doesn’t refresh, brain fog (dysphasia), headache, joint pain, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity and, sometimes, complete paralysis. Unable to pin down the disease from the symptoms, doctors tend to shun patients and to say it is psychosomatic.
So many doctors, unable to spare the time and ignorant of the research on the subject, either discourage their patients or tell them, “It is in your head.”
Those old standbys, diet and exercise, don’t cut it. In fact, ME is exercise-intolerant. Sufferers are knocked out by any exercise other than minimal. Going out to lunch with friends or some other minor endeavor, like grocery shopping, can lead to collapse, with the patient confined to bed.
In fact, one of the only sure-fire ways of establishing a diagnosis is to put the patient on a treadmill. If reasonable exertion results in collapse, then that’s the proof.
Some treatment of symptoms helps some people. Ryan Prior, once a gifted student athlete, takes 19 pills a day and can work. He is a producer for CNN in Atlanta and made one of two U.S. movies about this disease, “Hidden Plague.” He has created the Blue Ribbon Foundation, aimed at educating new physicians and medical students about the disease.
The other movie is “Unrest,” which is the life story of Jennifer Brea, a talented young woman whose suffering was recorded on home videos. It is an award-winning movie. Brea has delivered a TED talk on ME and continues to advocate as the disease allows.
Laura Hillenbrand wrote two bestselling, non-fiction books, “Seabiscuit” and “Unbroken,” while stricken. She has limited mobility and works in bed with her head raised, talking to people by phone and email. Stairs can be impossible for her.
I’ve received many heart-tearing emails from those who suffer, where spouses and lovers have given up the grinding toil of caregiving and abandoned their former partners. Some patients tell me they dream of death — a welcome release from their terrible days of pain and aloneness.
Suicide rates are believed to be high. But as the Centers for Disease Control doesn’t track suicide as a function of ME, there is no exact data.
What is needed is better-funded research, more doctors educated in the disease, and more attention to the pitiable shut-ins as they wait for a therapy breakthrough. Their loneliness is a punishment on top of a punishment, a life sentence in solitary.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Llewellyn King is executive producer and host of “White House Chronicle” on PBS, and creator of ME/CFS Alert on YouTube. His email is email@example.com. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
Resistance is key as ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ returns for season 3
By LYNN ELBER
AP Television Writer
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Resistance is the theme when “The Handmaid’s Tale” returns this summer with 13 episodes for its third season, but the Hulu drama is avoiding a collision with the final season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
The dystopian drama will debut three new episodes on Wednesday, June 5, streaming service Hulu said. Other episodes will follow on subsequent Wednesdays.
The return date contrasts with the previous seasons’ April debuts and puts the drama outside the eligibility window for this year’s Emmy Awards. It also keeps “The Handmaid’s Tale” out of the path of juggernaut “Game of Thrones,” which starts April 14.
The latter wasn’t a consideration, Craig Erwich, Hulu’s vice president for original series, told TV critics Monday.
“We simply wanted to give the show as much time as possible to maintain the quality it has,” Erwich said. As for the Emmys, he said, TV academy voters will be able to consider the series as a whole when it competes.
The Hulu drama collected six Emmys for its first season, including best drama and best lead actress for Elisabeth Moss, who stars as June. Although it earned three awards in 2018, including for Samira Wiley, it lost the top trophy to “Game of Thrones,” while Claire Foy of “The Crown” won the top drama acting trophy.
The new season of “The Handmaid’s Tale” will focus on June’s struggle against the repressive regime of Gilead, Hulu said in a release.
Other characters will be forced to take a stand as well, with “blessed be the fight” the guiding prayer for rebels. Hulu also promised “startling reunions” and betrayals in the upcoming season.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” is based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel of the same name. Its cast includes Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Alexis Bledel, Ann Dowd and Samira Wiley.
Latest allegations of sexual assault show how the legal system discourage victims from coming forward
February 11, 2019
Author: Alesha Durfee, Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies, Arizona State University
Disclosure statement: Alesha Durfee receives funding from the Center for Victim Research.
Partners: Arizona State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
Virginia’s Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is refusing to resign after denying charges by two women who have said that he sexually assaulted them.
The first woman to come forward was Vanessa Tyson, a politics professor at Scripps College. She initially contacted The Washington Post after Fairfax’s election in December 2017, alleging that Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex in 2004.
The Post stated it did not publish a story at that time because it “could not corroborate Tyson’s account or find similar complaints of sexual misconduct.”
So Tyson’s story did not make national headlines until this week, when it was first published by the conservative blog Big League Politics.
The second woman to come forward is Meredith Watson, who alleges Fairfax raped her while they were both students at Duke University in 2000. According to a statement written by her attorneys, Watson told a dean at the school about the rape, and the dean “discouraged her from pursuing the claim further.”
On Feb. 9, Fairfax asked the FBI to investigate their allegations. While it’s not clear that the FBI will investigate, the controversy raises important questions about how the legal system deals with cases of sexual assault.
I am a scholar of domestic and sexual violence, and my work has focused on analyzing the stories survivors share when they seek safety and hold perpetrators accountable for abuse. I’ve also studied what happens when the legal system encounters and processes these stories.
What I’ve found is a fundamental mismatch between what survivors disclose and what legal systems need to hear to take action.
Survivors and systems unaligned
Survivors of sexual assault expect to be able to share what they have experienced in a way that reflects how they have made sense of the event and its aftermath.
In contrast, courts want a report that is linear, providing an almost objective, dispassionate accounting of abuse with specific names, dates and “facts.” They want independent evidence of the abuse.
The problem is, acts of sexual and domestic violence rarely occur in front of other people, and survivors of sexual and domestic violence often have little external evidence of their assault other than their story.
The end result is that systems that are supposed to help are, in general, unable to adequately assess and respond to survivors’ stories.
For example, officers responding to cases of domestic violence often do not make arrests, especially in cases of sexual violence.
In an analysis of FBI data, my colleague Matthew Fetzer and I found that only 26 percent of cases of sexual domestic violence reported to the police resulted in an arrest (in comparison to 52 percent of cases of physical domestic violence).
This may be due to the intimate nature of sexual violence and the difficulty of proving sexual assault. As one woman who experienced sexual violence told researchers: “I was raped by my husband. There was no evidence except for bruises on the inside of my legs or the pain on my breasts, and you just can’t prove it.”
Many institutions and organizations make decisions based on stereotypes about survivors that rarely reflect their actual circumstances. That’s especially true with survivors who are not “good victims,” who are not white, middle-class women, and who do not have external documentation of their abuse.
For many survivors – especially women of color, women reporting violence committed by perpetrators who hold power or women who experience sexual violence – it’s easier and safer to not report the abuse and pretend that the resulting trauma never happened.
To an outsider, the choice not to report an assault in the moment, or even years later, does not make sense.
They do not understand how survivors compartmentalize in order to survive or even thrive.
Many legal options for reporting sexual assault – such as calling the police – aren’t designed with survivors’ goals, needs and motivations in mind. So survivors do not see reporting as an option, and do not see the legal system as a resource.
Expecting a survivor to disclose their abuse to someone in the moment does not reflect current knowledge and theory about sexual and domestic assault.
Rethinking responses to violence
The Fairfax story is an opportunity to rethink how to help survivors of violence and how to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.
In the right environment and with the right support, survivors will want to come forward, share their stories, and gain strength from doing so.
However, the legal system is an adversarial system with confusing and complex bureaucratic procedures and often untrained staff. As trauma scholar Dr. Judith Herman explains, “If one set out intentionally to design a system for provoking symptoms of traumatic stress, it might look very much like a court of law.”
Survivors are asked to recall specific details about their victimization that they have repressed in order to survive. As one advocate said to me in an interview, “They’re trying to forget what happened and here I am, asking them to write down, with as many details as they can, what they went through.”
How might we create a more responsive system?
First: Stop requiring survivors to narrate their abuse. It’s more detrimental than helpful, especially if we simply discount it as a “story” afterward.
If there is some form of external documentation, survivors should be able to provide that instead. If there is no external documentation, then the narrative should be elicited in a supportive environment of the survivor’s choosing, with trained staff available to help them better understand the kinds of information that judges and law enforcement need.
Second: People charged with listening and responding to survivors need to be educated about the dynamics of domestic and sexual violence. While some are, many do not fully understand the ways in which domestic and sexual violence affect survivors. It is impossible for them to hear and respond appropriately unless they understand those dynamics.
Finally: Explore what believing and supporting a survivor means.
While the words “I believe” and “I support” are critically important, they should not become buzzwords that replace actions. When you believe a survivor and decide to support that survivor, you must act. You must make hard, even unpopular, decisions.
You must work to adapt the system in order to uphold justice.
I believe. Period. I believe.
Editor’s note: This is an updated version of a story originally published on Oct. 12, 2018.