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State and Regional News

    A recording artist riding on horseback across four states to raise awareness of traditional country music had a layover in Mountain Home on a recent Saturday night. Country artist C.J. Garton and his 13-year-old son, Clinton, stayed overnight recently at the Saddle Club Arena. The 'Riding for Real Country: The Ride Back Home' event has the father-and-son team riding from Nashville, Tennessee, to the family's ranch in Depew, Oklahoma, which is about 40 miles southwest of Tulsa. 'The heartbeat of America is in songs — storytelling songs — like those of Townes Van Zandt, Merle Haggard or Randy Travis. They were songs that spoke to us as individuals and helped us through our problems in life,' C.J. Garton said on a recent Sunday afternoon. 'Songs are an inspiration, and what our youths ingest is a big part of today's issues. They just don't have anything that gives them roots or heritage, something to help work through their issues.' C.J. Garton is an independent musician whose songs are available on Spotify and iTunes. His latest single is 'The Gun,' a song told from the point of view of a firearm that highlights both the good and bad the device is capable of being used for. Clinton Garton created the song's music video and is filming the duo's ride to Oklahoma for a documentary about their journey. 'We've gone through three states, and the thing everyone tells us is they don't listen to the radio anymore. That breaks my heart, because that is going to kill radio eventually,' C.J. Garton said. 'Our music industry is a monopoly. If you're not part of the big conglomerates (that own the radio stations), then you don't get your music played. We want to give the listener — that person on the other end of the radio — a voice.' The duo left Nashville on July 23, and expect to reach Depew, Oklahoma, by Aug. 21. The father-and-son tandem — along with Poncho and Lefty, their aptly named horses — will have traveled 650 miles by the time they reach the G Bar Ranch in Oklahoma, The Baxter Bulletin reported. 'When we're riding through towns or on the sides of interstates, people pull over and they want to know what's going on,' C.J. Garton said. 'Going through town, meeting and interacting with people is the best part.' The Gartons left the Salem area on a recent Saturday and arrived in Mountain Home around 8 p.m. that evening. They planned to ride to the Cotter/Flippin area on a recent Sunday afternoon once the rain stopped. Spending that Saturday night at the Saddle Club Rodeo Arena, which was hosting the Pink for Peitz Benefit Rodeo, was a happy accident, the Gartons said. 'We didn't even know this was going on until we got into town,' C.J. Garton said. 'People told us there was a rodeo in town, and we rode up about 8:30 p.m.' The Gartons were allowed to sleep in the air-conditioned concession stand that Saturday night. Prior to that, they had planned on sleeping under the bleachers or on the ground. 'The generosity and kindness of others has been a blessing. It's made this entire trip what it is,' C.J. Garton said. 'It seems like there's always someone offering to buy you breakfast, or let you use their corral for the night. We've been very blessed on this trip.' The travelers have designated 'drop points' along their route where they pick up grain for their horses, field rations and other items. A gas station in Mountain Home was one such drop site. The Garton family handled the trip's drop points in Tennessee, while Oilfire Whiskey of Oklahoma, one of C.J. Garton's sponsors, is handling the drop points in Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas. The Gartons' menu consists mainly of prepackaged MREs, a government abbreviation for 'Meals, Ready to Eat.' The travelers have also hit a few drive-throughs and at least one pizza place on horseback. 'The horses, they're eating better than we are,' C.J. Garton said. 'They're going through about $200 a week in groceries.' Pancho and Lefty started the trip averaging between 18 and 22 miles per day, but are now covering about 31 or 32 miles each day. 'We started out riding them in the early morning before it got real hot. Then we'd pull the saddles off them and take a break before riding some more,' C.J. Garton said. 'But once you take their saddle off, the horses think they're done for the day. We never really got back up to speed in the afternoons. 'Now we don't leave until about noon or 1 p.m. unless we have cloud cover. Then as the temperature drops (in the evening), they still have the motivation to keep going. So we're getting more miles starting later than we did starting in the morning.' Videos and photos from the Ride for Real County event can be found on the Gartons' Facebook page, which can be found at facebook.com/CJGarton1. The Ride for Real Country: The Ride Back Home trip also has an entry on crowdfunding website Indiegogo for those wishing to make donations to help cover some of the Gartons' expenses. 'I know the big thing now is everyone is saying, 'Forget Nashville,' but I want to embrace Nashville,' C.J. Garton said. 'I want to embrace everybody. We, as Americans, need to come together. We can put our problems — gun issues, political issues, world problems — into song. Even stuff about daily life like feeding your family or paying your bills, you can reach other people by writing songs about it. It's hardworking music for hardworking Americans.' ___ Information from: The Baxter Bulletin, http://www.baxterbulletin.com An AP Member Exchange shared by The Baxter Bulletin
  • Buildings in Tahlequah offer a variety of architectural styles, and one that calls to mind an exotic animal may be unfamiliar to residents outside of the Ozarks area. Giraffe houses boast a certain claim to fame, but there are also public buildings with this stonework, which resembles the colors and patterns of a giraffe. 'It's native sandstone,' said historian Beth Herrington. 'The materials were readily and cheaply available.' The rock was abundant in the Ozark Mountains area, so these structures can be found throughout the region. Herrington, who was born in 1930, has not researched this type of building, but she remembers the houses being popular throughout this area and into Arkansas when she was growing up. Art collector and writer John Foster wrote 'Giraffe Houses of the Ozarks' in 2013 for Design Observer. He talked about first discovering a 'quirky orange stone house' over 20 years ago. 'Giraffe houses are generally thought to have first appeared around 1910, but their acceptance grew during the 1930s by Missouri agricultural extension bulletins, which described how to build a house from indigenous stone,' Foster wrote. Patti Hale, a broker for Century 21 Wright Real Estate, shared material from that book on social media recently, as well as photos of giraffe houses in Tahlequah. She encouraged local residents to 'take notice of them and appreciate their specialness!' Realtor Edna Kimble, also with Century 21 Wright Real Estate, said the average giraffe-style home in Tahlequah was built in the 1930s and 1940s. 'That is basically what people call them, but there is a whole category. It's any home built with rock and mortar,' said Kimble. 'They are also called envelope homes. The rock itself is not structural, it's just the exterior.' The rock would sometimes be put over an existing frame house or log cabin, according to Herrington. 'They covered it up and made the house better and warmer. It was good insulation,' she said. Economics and resourcefulness had much to do with the growth of these buildings. 'A lot of people couldn't afford the saw mills and the wood for the exterior. It's an inexpensive way for DIY'ers to build their homes,' said Kimble. 'It's inexpensive and handy. We do have a lot of rocks in Cherokee County.' In 1990, Stephan B. Jordan submitted a piece called 'Ozark Giraffes' to Old House Journal describing the houses near Tahlequah and their construction. 'By attaching the stone as a veneer with the bedding plane perpendicular to the ground, the builder was able to cover the most area with each stone, resulting in a savings of material - and in the odd patterns of the walls,' Jordan wrote. He said locals told him the mortar was always painted 'as soon as the houses were built.' Most mortar is white, but some have black lines, while others may have been mortared again later with a grayer color. 'With the mortar, I've seen people do all types of designs in the rocks. Flowers are popular. I saw one with a horse's head and another with the skeleton of a bull with horns sticking out. I don't know if they found rocks or chiseled them like that,' said Kimble. 'People could also do their own designs with the colors of the rocks.' Some owners have painted over all of the exterior so the orange, brown and red rocks don't show. Others have taken to removing all the stone and rebuilding the house to modernize it. Many public 'giraffe' buildings were built in the 1930s through the New Deal and the Works Progress Administration. The WPA was established after an executive order by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935. It was a national public works program overseeing the employment of millions and the construction of roads and public buildings, the Tahlequah Daily Press reported. Tahlequah has bridges and 'giraffe' buildings that were built using WPA labor, including the current Tahlequah Public Schools Board office and the Tahlequah Armory. Built in 1937-1938, the TPS office was originally the Tahlequah Negro School, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society. This building and other Cherokee County schools —such as Shady Grove, Lost City, Boudinot, and Grand View— were built between 1936-1939 using the Oklahoma State Department of Education Pattern Book. Pattern books offered design and building plans. Notes about these school buildings for OHS' Oklahoma Landmarks Inventory Nomination include: 'Constructed of uncut and uncoursed native stone laid in a random rubble pattern'; 'The old Boudinot school is rectangular shaped and constructed of randomly laid, uncut native stone. The mortar is beaded. It is representative of WPA constructions in that the quality of the workmanship is excellent'; 'Constructed of cut, rusticated and coursed native stone. Masonry is excellent.' Kimble said the houses are now 'quirks in our market,' and she hasn't heard of people seeking them out. 'People don't call looking for them like they do a Craftsman,' she said. 'It's more of a novelty, especially near the college campus. With that price point, parents looking for a house to rent or buy for their students. They're amused by it.' ___ Information from: Tahlequah Daily Press, http://www.tahlequahdaailypress.com An AP Member Exchange shared by the Tahlequah Daily Press.
  • A new emphasis on STEM education in Oklahoma City arrived in a flurry of paint and power tools. Preparations are underway to open centers for STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in local schools and a maker space next door to Mark Twain Elementary. More than 100 volunteers from Devon Energy and Home Depot turned out at Mark Twain recently to set up the school's STEM center and an applied learning building on the same block. The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation helped create the vision for the project as it works with Oklahoma City Public Schools to install a STEM center in every elementary — 33 in total. Though STEM centers are in the works for many local schools, the separate maker space is one of a kind in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma nonprofit Engage Learning will run the maker space as a center for applied STEM learning, Executive Director Bart Keeton said. 'It's difficult and expensive to pull something like this off, but I think the impact could be pretty profound,' Keeton said. 'We find that the empowerment that the students take away is pretty monumental.' The Engage Learning center will be equipped with its own staff and basic manufacturing and engineering tools, including a state-of-the-art laser cutter. The maker space is dedicated to Mark Twain students during the school year, but the building could open to middle and high school students over the summer for organized STEM projects, Keeton told The Oklahoman. 'This kind of 'I can do it' mentality is what we try to create a context for,' he said. 'We don't do (the work) for them. We let them make lots of mistakes. Learning to come back from those mistakes is incredibly important to us.' The learning center also creates the opportunity for parents to participate in classes with their children, said Joe Rossow, executive vice president of operations for the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation. Rossow said the foundation hopes to establish more maker spaces in the Oklahoma City school district and in other states. Incorporating adults creates a unique 'school-to-home connection' for student learning. 'You only have the kids so many hours in the educational day; now, we can bring the parents in,' Rossow said. 'I think it's a very real-world way to make sure it's tied into the educational environment and making sure we keep STEM equitable and accessible to all kids.' Baseball Hall-of-Famer Cal Ripken Jr. founded the organization with his brother, Billy, in their father's honor. The organization uses sports and education as a means to reach at-risk children nationwide. The Mark Twain STEM center, the maker space and a new Kiwanis facility will create a hub for the surrounding neighborhood when they all open on the same block, Rossow said. Home Depot employees from across Oklahoma converted an old Kiwanis facility into the future home of the Engage Learning center. Volunteers clad in orange gave the building a makeover by painting the exterior and conducting demolition work inside. Smart Start Central Oklahoma will house its own STEM area in the new Kiwanis facility, known as the Bob and Jean Harbison Education Center, for children age 3 and under. At Mark Twain, Devon volunteers set up the new STEM area in the library media center. The project is another chapter in Devon's longtime partnership with the school. Devon employees have volunteered and mentored at Mark Twain for 15 years. Other Oklahoma companies have offered to sponsor similar STEM centers in the school district, said Christina Rehkop, Devon director of community relations. Mark Twain's STEM center will contain LEGO kits, robots, circuitry applications, computers, iPads and 3D printers. 'So, these STEM centers will be well stocked,' Rehkop said. 'Thinking outside of the box is really important to us because we want to be better than we were the day before. So, we have to create an environment for students to learn that way, as well.' Editor's Note: This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Joe Rossow's name. ___ Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com An AP Member Exchange shared by The Oklahoman.
  • The winning numbers in Saturday evening's drawing of the 'Lotto America' game were: 05-06-41-42-44, Star Ball: 8, ASB: 5 (five, six, forty-one, forty-two, forty-four; Star Ball: eight; ASB: five) Estimated jackpot: $2.6 million
  • The winning numbers in Saturday evening's drawing of the 'Powerball' game were: 05-12-20-21-47, Powerball: 1, Power Play: 2 (five, twelve, twenty, twenty-one, forty-seven; Powerball: one; Power Play: two) Estimated jackpot: $50 million ¶ ___ ¶ Online: ¶ Multi-State Lottery Association: http://www.powerball.com/
  • These Oklahoma lotteries were drawn Saturday: 01-12-23-27-31 (one, twelve, twenty-three, twenty-seven, thirty-one) 05-06-41-42-44, Star Ball: 8, ASB: 5 (five, six, forty-one, forty-two, forty-four; Star Ball: eight; ASB: five) Estimated jackpot: $2.6 million Estimated jackpot: $103 million 9-7-3 (nine, seven, three) 05-12-20-21-47, Powerball: 1, Power Play: 2 (five, twelve, twenty, twenty-one, forty-seven; Powerball: one; Power Play: two) Estimated jackpot: $50 million
  • The winning numbers in Saturday evening's drawing of the Oklahoma Lottery's 'Pick 3' game were: 9-7-3 (nine, seven, three)
  • The winning numbers in Saturday evening's drawing of the Oklahoma Lottery's 'Cash 5' game were: 01-12-23-27-31 (one, twelve, twenty-three, twenty-seven, thirty-one)
  • The Oklahoma Department of Corrections says the lock down of a northwest Oklahoma prison has ended and more than a dozen inmates were transferred after fights that injured four inmates this past week. The agency said in a news release that the lock down was lifted Friday morning after being implemented following separate fights Wednesday inside the James Crabtree Correctional Center in Helena, about 120 miles (193 kilometers) northwest of Oklahoma City. Department spokeswoman Jessica Brown said two inmates were treated and released from a nearby hospital after suffering 'superficial puncture wounds' and two others were treated at the facility's medical unit. The medium-security prison holds nearly 1,200 inmates. The agency's interim executive director, Scott Crow, says prison staff broke up the fights before more serious injuries could occur.
  • A federal lawsuit by the mother of an Oklahoma man who died in jail has been settled for $3.2 million after missing documents were found at a funeral home. The Tulsa World reports that Jeanne Bennett agreed Thursday to the settlement with Carter County officials for the November 2015 death of her son, 44-year-old Michael Manos. A statement from the county to the newspaper said the settlement is in the best interest of county taxpayers. Manos died at a hospital in Ardmore, about 92 miles (148 kilometers) southeast of Oklahoma City, after being found unresponsive in his cell. The lawsuit alleged jailers refused to provide Manos with medication before his death. Jail officials had said Manos rejected insulin, but jail medication logs found earlier this week indicate the medication was never offered to him. ___ Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com
  • A single blood test may be able to detect your risk of dying within five to 10 years. That’s according to new research published this week in the journal Nature Communications, for which scientists in the Netherlands examined blood sample data on 44,168 Europeans ages 18 to 109 from 12 cohorts. More than 5,500 participants died during follow-up studies. When looking through the data, lead researcher Eline Slagboom and her team identified 14 biomarkers in the blood independently associated with “all-cause mortality.” These biomarkers, which are “involved in various processes, such as lipoprotein and fatty acid metabolism, glycolysis, fluid balance, and inflammation,” ultimately help determine one’s score (or risk) of dying within five to 10 years. “Such a score,” study authors wrote, “could potentially be used in clinical practice to guide treatment strategies, for example when deciding whether an elderly person is too fragile for an invasive operation.” But how well can those 14 biomarkers actually predict risk of death? To find out, the scientists also compared their data with a 1997 cohort in Finland. According to data on more than 7,600 Finnish individuals (1,213 of whom had died during follow-up), the 14 biomarkers initially examined predicted patient deaths within five to 10 years with approximately 83% accuracy, according to the study. This suggests the biomarkers “clearly improve risk prediction of five and 10-year mortality as compared to conventional risk factors across all ages,” study authors wrote. Conventional risk factors, such as systolic blood pressure and total cholesterol, typically have a mortality prediction accuracy of 78% to 79%. Still, further research is certainly needed before a blood test based on the 14 biomarkers is used in clinical settings. Because the data used in the study comes from a variety of cohorts, future efforts should focus on creating a biomarker score based on individual-level data. Read the full study at nature.com.
  • A federal judge has placed the man at the center of the John Grisham book 'The Innocent Man' on the path to potential freedom. Karl Fontenot’s story was also made into a Netflix documentary series. U.S. District Judge James Payne, of Muskogee, ruled there is reasonable doubt that Fontenot should have been convicted in 1988 in the kidnapping and killing of Ada convenience store clerk Denice Haraway in 1984.  Judge Payne's opinion discusses alleged misconduct by police, investigators and prosecutors. Fontenot and co-defendant Tommy Ward were convicted in Haraway's murder in part due to a recording of them talking about dreams they had about her murder.
  • On a day of big losses on the stock markets sparked first by China levying new tariffs on imports from America, President Donald Trump wasted no time Friday afternoon in announcing higher import duties against the Chinese, plunging the two countries even deeper into an economic standoff which could have negative worldwide ramifications. 'China should not have put new Tariffs on 75 BILLION DOLLARS of United States product,' the President tweeted about an hour after the close on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones dropped over 600 points. 'Starting on October 1st, the 250 BILLION DOLLARS of goods and products from China, currently being taxed at 25%, will be taxed at 30%,' the President wrote.  'Additionally, the remaining 300 BILLION DOLLARS of goods and products from China, that was being taxed from September 1st at 10%, will now be taxed at 15%,' he added. The President also called on American companies to take their manufacturing businesses out of China, arguing that the United States was the victim of an 'unfair Trading Relationship.' 'Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA,' Mr. Trump tweeted. The White House did not provide any explanation as to how the President would have the power to force U.S. companies to abandon their manufacturing operations in China. Economic experts and businesses were worried by the days events. “(T)his is a major risk as it's the economy - households and businesses - that are in play,” said Gregory Daco of Oxford Economics. “The administration's approach clearly isn't working, and the answer isn't more taxes on American businesses and consumers,” said the National Retail Federation. “Where does this end?'  “These added tariffs will ratchet up consumer prices, stall business investment, escalate uncertainty and cost American jobs,” said the pro-free trade group Tariffs Hurt the Heartland. “In just the past three years, U.S. soybean exports to China have fallen nearly 80 percent, and once these tariffs kick in, things are likely to get worse,” said Roger Johnson, the head of the National Farmers Union.  The standoff with China was a far cry from President Trump's prediction in March of 2018, when he wrote on Twitter that trade wars are 'easy to win.' As for Democrats - even though many of them would like to see the United States be more forceful with China - their answer is not retaliatory tariffs and a trade war. “Our economy is showing signs of weakening due to the president’s trade war, and these back-and-forth tariffs will only make things worse,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). “The facts are clear: President Trump's destabilizing and reckless trade war is undermining growth,” said Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA). “Your tariffs are hurting our country badly,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). “There's nothing funny about tanking people's retirement accounts with a failed trade war,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA).
  • The Trump campaign has a message for its female supporters: It’s time to come out of hiding. “There’s a lot of people that are fearful of expressing their support, and I want you ladies to know it’s OK to have felt that way, but we need to move past that or the Democrats win,” said Tana Goertz, a Trump campaign adviser, at an Iowa “Women for Trump” event on Thursday. The Iowa event, held in the back room of a barbecue joint in a Des Moines suburb, was one of more than a dozen in battleground states nationwide as part of a push to make the president’s case on the economy and train volunteers. The move is a recognition of the president’s persistent deficit with women — an issue that has the potential to sink his chances for reelection. Over the course of his presidency and across public opinion polls, women have been consistently less supportive of President Donald Trump than men have. Suburban women in particular rejected Republicans in the 2018 midterm by margins that set off alarms for the party and the president. Trump himself called into a gathering of hundreds in Tampa, Florida, and insisted, to cheers: “We’re doing great with women, despite the fake news.”
  • With the United States set to slap a new 10 percent tariff on billions of dollars in Chinese goods coming into the U.S. on September 1, the Chinese government officially retaliated on Friday, announcing its own new tariffs on American products, and denouncing President Donald Trump's get-tough actions on trade. 'The US measures have led to the continuous escalation of Sino-US economic and trade frictions, which have greatly harmed the interests of China, the United States and other countries,' the Chinese Minstry of Finance announced. The documents released by China today apply to over 5,000 categories of items imported from the United States, covering everything from diapers to pipes and cigarette holders, to a range of agricultural products like barley, wheat, oats, corn, sorghum, soybeans, peanuts, cotton, covering about $75 billion in U.S. goods. Much like a 122 page list of targeted items put out by the United States earlier this month, China issued over 100 pages of products which would face new import duties. The reaction from Congress and business groups was negative. 'This trade war is not holding China accountable,' said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). 'It's hurting farmers and small business owners all over the country who are just trying to earn a living.' “The fact of the matter is that nobody wins a trade war, and the continued tit-for-tat escalation between the U.S. and China is putting significant strain on the U.S. economy, raising costs, undermining investment, and roiling markets,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said in a statement. As for President Trump, he has not wavered in his public statements about taking on china, tariff for tariff, as one of his Friday tweets caused some shock on  the markets. “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China,” the President wrote. “Here’s the thing: Somebody had to take on what China was doing to the United States economically,” the President told reporters this week. “We’re winning big. I took it on. And it should have been done by previous Presidents,” he added. And on Twitter Friday morning, the President expressed no concerns about the Chinese response. Asked by reporters earlier this week about the trade war with China, Mr. Trump said he was the only President who had decided to actually confront Beijing. “I am the chosen one,” the President said, as he looked skyward.

Washington Insider

  • On a day of big losses on the stock markets sparked first by China levying new tariffs on imports from America, President Donald Trump wasted no time Friday afternoon in announcing higher import duties against the Chinese, plunging the two countries even deeper into an economic standoff which could have negative worldwide ramifications. 'China should not have put new Tariffs on 75 BILLION DOLLARS of United States product,' the President tweeted about an hour after the close on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones dropped over 600 points. 'Starting on October 1st, the 250 BILLION DOLLARS of goods and products from China, currently being taxed at 25%, will be taxed at 30%,' the President wrote.  'Additionally, the remaining 300 BILLION DOLLARS of goods and products from China, that was being taxed from September 1st at 10%, will now be taxed at 15%,' he added. The President also called on American companies to take their manufacturing businesses out of China, arguing that the United States was the victim of an 'unfair Trading Relationship.' 'Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA,' Mr. Trump tweeted. The White House did not provide any explanation as to how the President would have the power to force U.S. companies to abandon their manufacturing operations in China. Economic experts and businesses were worried by the days events. “(T)his is a major risk as it's the economy - households and businesses - that are in play,” said Gregory Daco of Oxford Economics. “The administration's approach clearly isn't working, and the answer isn't more taxes on American businesses and consumers,” said the National Retail Federation. “Where does this end?'  “These added tariffs will ratchet up consumer prices, stall business investment, escalate uncertainty and cost American jobs,” said the pro-free trade group Tariffs Hurt the Heartland. “In just the past three years, U.S. soybean exports to China have fallen nearly 80 percent, and once these tariffs kick in, things are likely to get worse,” said Roger Johnson, the head of the National Farmers Union.  The standoff with China was a far cry from President Trump's prediction in March of 2018, when he wrote on Twitter that trade wars are 'easy to win.' As for Democrats - even though many of them would like to see the United States be more forceful with China - their answer is not retaliatory tariffs and a trade war. “Our economy is showing signs of weakening due to the president’s trade war, and these back-and-forth tariffs will only make things worse,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). “The facts are clear: President Trump's destabilizing and reckless trade war is undermining growth,” said Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA). “Your tariffs are hurting our country badly,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). “There's nothing funny about tanking people's retirement accounts with a failed trade war,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA).
  • With the United States set to slap a new 10 percent tariff on billions of dollars in Chinese goods coming into the U.S. on September 1, the Chinese government officially retaliated on Friday, announcing its own new tariffs on American products, and denouncing President Donald Trump's get-tough actions on trade. 'The US measures have led to the continuous escalation of Sino-US economic and trade frictions, which have greatly harmed the interests of China, the United States and other countries,' the Chinese Minstry of Finance announced. The documents released by China today apply to over 5,000 categories of items imported from the United States, covering everything from diapers to pipes and cigarette holders, to a range of agricultural products like barley, wheat, oats, corn, sorghum, soybeans, peanuts, cotton, covering about $75 billion in U.S. goods. Much like a 122 page list of targeted items put out by the United States earlier this month, China issued over 100 pages of products which would face new import duties. The reaction from Congress and business groups was negative. 'This trade war is not holding China accountable,' said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). 'It's hurting farmers and small business owners all over the country who are just trying to earn a living.' “The fact of the matter is that nobody wins a trade war, and the continued tit-for-tat escalation between the U.S. and China is putting significant strain on the U.S. economy, raising costs, undermining investment, and roiling markets,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said in a statement. As for President Trump, he has not wavered in his public statements about taking on china, tariff for tariff, as one of his Friday tweets caused some shock on  the markets. “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China,” the President wrote. “Here’s the thing: Somebody had to take on what China was doing to the United States economically,” the President told reporters this week. “We’re winning big. I took it on. And it should have been done by previous Presidents,” he added. And on Twitter Friday morning, the President expressed no concerns about the Chinese response. Asked by reporters earlier this week about the trade war with China, Mr. Trump said he was the only President who had decided to actually confront Beijing. “I am the chosen one,” the President said, as he looked skyward.
  • Before the leaders of the G7 nations had even boarded their flights for the meeting in Biarritz, France, President Donald Trump was already stirring the political pot associated with the meeting of western allies, making it clear he wants to see Russia return to the group, after being exiled in 2014 over the seizure of the Crimea from Ukraine. 'We spend a lot of time talking about Russia at those meetings,' the President told reporters this week. 'And they're not there. I think it would be a good thing if Russia were there so we can speak directly.' Russia was a member of what was then known as the 'Group of Eight' - but Moscow was booted out in 2014 after Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine. 'President Obama thought it wasn't a good thing to have Russia in,' Mr. Trump said to reporters. 'But I think it's much more appropriate to have Russia in.' But there seems to be little chance of that happening in the current political environment in Europe, especially with Russian backed forces fighting in Ukraine. During a meeting with Vladimir Putin earlier this week, French President Emmanuel Macron made clear his opposition to such a move proposed by President Trump, arguing that Russia must first address Crimea - and the ongoing proxy war pushed by Russian backed forces inside Ukraine - before any such change is made. 'In effect, the resolution of this conflict is a magic wand that will open the door for Russia to return to the G7 club,' Macron said . With the two leaders seated before reporters, Macron labeled the Ukraine situation an 'irritant' in Russian relations with the West. 'It is obvious that the return to the G8 format and normal relations with the EU requires the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis,' Macron added. Last year, the 2018 meeting of world leaders from the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom, ended in odd fashion, when President Trump suddenly left the meeting early, refusing to endorse a joint communique by the leaders. In order to avoid a dispute along those lines in 2019, Macron has decided there will not be a joint communique issued by the G-7. It will be the first time since the meetings began in the 1970's that the group will not issue a statement of joint goals. White House officials previewing the President's trip said much of his focus at the G-7 will be on free, fair and reciprocal trade, as he has often criticized Canada and the European Union of unfair trade barriers to U.S. exports.
  • Back in their home districts on an extended summer break, the drip-drip sound Democrats hear is not coming from the watering the plants, but rather from the halls of the Congress, where more and more Democratic members of the House are publicly announcing their support for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. A flurry of announcements were made on Thursday, as a series of Democrats said they would back an impeachment inquiry by the House Judiciary Committee, bringing the total number to 135 - more than a majority of Democrats in the House. 'I cannot ignore the call to defend our institutions, to safeguard our democratic norms, and to stand up for our democracy,' said Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) on Thursday afternoon. A few hours earlier, Rep. William Keating of Massachusetts told his Bay State constituents that the Mueller Report left too many unanswered questions about the President, accusing the White House of stonewalling legitimate Congressional oversight. 'No person in America is above the law, including the President of the United States,' said Rep. Lauren Underwood, a freshman Democrat from Illinois. 'I support moving forward with an impeachment inquiry, which will continue to uncover the facts for the American people and hold this president accountable,' said Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), the fourth ranking Democrat in the House.  'This is not a position I’ve reached lightly,' Lujan said earlier this week. When Democrats left town four weeks ago for their six week summer break, the number of lawmakers endorsing the start of an impeachment idea was nowhere near 100. But it's been creeping up on almost a daily basis - and more lawmakers seem likely to join in the weeks ahead.
  • Unlikely to qualify for the next debate among Democratic candidates for the White House, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State told supporters in an email on Wednesday night that he was dropping his bid for the Democratic Party's nomination for President, further thinning the field with just over five months until the first vote is cast. 'I want to share a tough decision with you,' Inslee said to supporters, as he cited his top priority of climate change. 'But I've concluded that my role in that effort will not be as a candidate to be the next president of the United States,' Inslee added. Earlier in the week, Inslee touted that his campaign had hit 130,000 donors - one of the qualifying requirements for the next Democratic debate in Houston. But Inslee had no chance to register at 2 percent or higher in four different polls, leaving him on the sidelines - and off the debate stage. 'As a result, I don't believe we can compete for the attention and exposure needed to have a reasonable shot at the nomination,' Inslee said. Inslee had tried hard to be the loudest voice in the party on climate change, bringing it up in both debates, and doing numerous events on the subject. But the former Congressman, and current Governor, was never able to break out of the lower tier of Democratic candidates. “I want to once again thank everyone who helped in this effort. We have so much to be proud of,” Inslee wrote to his backers.  “Make no mistake, we also have a lot more work to do.” On MSNBC Wednesday night, Inslee said it was clear this was the right choice. “I'm not going to be carrying the ball,” Inslee said in an interview.  “I'm not going to be the President, so I'm withdrawing tonight.”