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Trump digs in amid censure of racist tweets about lawmakers

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Trump digs in amid censure of racist tweet

WASHINGTON — Injecting race into his criticism of liberal Democrats, President Donald Trump said four congresswomen of colour should go back to the “broken and crime infested” countries they came from, ignoring the fact that all of the women are American citizens and three were born in the U.S. His attack drew a searing condemnation from Democrats who labeled the remarks racist and breathtakingly divisive.

Even as White House officials moved Monday to defend his incendiary weekend tweets, Trump refused to apologize and instead asked on Twitter when “the Radical Left Congresswomen” would “apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said.”

“So many people are angry at them & their horrible & disgusting actions!” he wrote.

Asked whether Trump’s comments were racist, Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice-President Mike Pence, defended Trump, telling reporters he had been responding to “very specific” comments made by Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who was born in Somalia, and was not making a “universal statement.”

But Trump didn’t make that distinction in his tweets. He cited “Congresswomen” — an almost-certain reference to a group of women known as “the squad” that includes Omar, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

“I don’t think that the president’s intent any way is racist,” said Short, repeatedly pointing to Trump’s decision to choose Elaine Chao, who was born outside the country, as his transportation secretary.

“The administration is welcoming of all nationalities into the United States,” he said.

Even as Short spoke, Trump, who has a long history of making racist remarks, continued to fan the flames, tweeting that, “If Democrats want to unite around the foul language & racist hatred spewed from the mouths and actions of these very unpopular & unrepresentative Congresswomen, it will be interesting to see how it plays out.”

Omar ignited a bipartisan uproar in Washington several months ago when she suggested that members of Congress support Israel for money, while Tlaib riled up a supportive crowd by calling the president a profanity and predicting that Trump would be removed from office.

Following a familiar script, Republicans remained largely silent after Trump’s Sunday morning broadsides that caused Democrats to set aside their internal rifts to rise up in a united chorus against the president.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump wants to “make America white again,” while Ocasio-Cortez said Trump “can’t conceive of an America that includes us.”

“Mr. President, the country I ‘come from,’ & the country we all swear to, is the United States,” she tweeted, adding that, “You rely on a frightened America for your plunder.” Omar also addressed herself directly to Trump in a tweet, writing: “You are stoking white nationalism (because) you are angry that people like us are serving in Congress and fighting against your hate-filled agenda.”

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close ally of the president who golfed with Trump over the weekend, advised the president to “aim higher” during an appearance on “Fox and Friends,” even as he accused the members in question of being “anti-Semitic” and “anti-American.”

“Don’t get personal. Don’t take the bait,” said Graham. He said Ocasio-Cortez and her colleagues “are American citizens” who were “duly elected,” while adding: “We all know that AOC and this crowd are a bunch of communists. They hate Israel. They hate our own country.”

With his tweet, Trump inserted himself further into a rift between Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez, just two days after he offered an unsolicited defence of the Democratic speaker. Pelosi has been seeking to minimize Ocasio-Cortez’s influence in the House Democratic caucus in recent days, prompting Ocasio-Cortez to accuse Pelosi of trying to marginalize women of colour.

On Sunday, Trump’s tone took a turn.

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run,” he tweeted.

“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done.”

He added: “These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

The attacks may have been meant to widen the divides within the Democrat caucus, which has been riven by internal debate over how far left to go in countering Trump and over whether to proceed with impeachment proceedings against the president. Instead, the president’s tweets, which evoked the trope of telling black people to go back to Africa, brought Democrats together.

Former Vice-President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential front-runner, tweeted Sunday that Trump “continues to spew hateful rhetoric, sow division, and stoke racial tensions for his own political gain.”

“Let’s be clear about what this vile comment is: A racist and xenophobic attack on Democratic congresswomen,” tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate.

Few Republicans weighed in on the president’s comments. Congressional leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, did not respond to requests for comment, nor did Sen. Tim. Scott of South Carolina, the only Republican black senator.

Trump appeared unbowed Sunday night when he returned to Twitter to say it was “so sad” to see Democrats sticking up for the women. “If the Democrat Party wants to continue to condone such disgraceful behaviour,” he tweeted, “then we look even more forward to seeing you at the ballot box in 2020!”

It was far from the first time that Trump has been accused of holding racist views.

In his campaign kickoff in June 2015, Trump deemed many Mexican immigrants “rapists.” In 2017, he said there good people on “both sides” of the clash in Charlottesville, Virginia, between white supremacists and anti-racist demonstrators that left one counter-protester dead. Last year, during a private White House meeting on immigration, Trump wondered why the United States was admitting so many immigrants from “shithole countries” like African nations.

Repeatedly, Trump has painted arriving immigrants as an “infestation” and he has been slow in condemning acts of violence committed by white supremacists. And he launched his political career with false claims that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

Despite his history of racist remarks, Trump has paid little penalty in his own party.

Though a broad array of Republicans did speak out against his reaction to Charlottesville, they have largely held their tongues otherwise, whether it be on matter of race or any other Trump provocation. Fearful of his Twitter account and sweeping popularity among Republican voters, GOP lawmakers have largely tried to ignore the provocative statements.

Ocasio-Cortez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was born in the Bronx, New York, and raised in suburban Westchester County.

Pressley, the first black woman elected to the House from Massachusetts, was born in Cincinnati.

Omar, the first Somali native elected to Congress and one of its first Muslim women, was born in Somalia but spent much of her childhood in a Kenyan refugee camp as civil war tore apart her home country. She immigrated to the United States at age 12, teaching herself English by watching American TV and eventually settling with her family in Minneapolis.

Tlaib was born in Detroit.

___

Associated Press writer Hope Yen contributed to this report.

___

Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire and Woodward at http://twitter.com/@calwd

Jonathan Lemire, Calvin Woodward And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press












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Wealth of Canadians divided along racial lines, says report on income inequality

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OTTAWA — Canadians who identify as visible minorities do not have the same access to investments and other sources of wealth as non-racialized people, suggests a new report on income inequality that looks at the financial impact of racism beyond jobs and wages.

“Employment income is the sole or main source of income for most Canadians, and labour market policies play a major role in improving or worsening income inequality,” says the newly published report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which looks at income inequality along racial lines.

“But labour markets are part of a broader political-economic context, where past and current policies have favoured some population groups over others,” says the report. “This history of wealth accumulation for some but not others is a crucial contributor to racialized economic inequality today.”

There is little Canadian data examining wealth according to race, but Statistics Canada did include some details on income linked to net wealth — specifically, capital gains and income from investments — broken down by visible minority status in the 2016 census.

The analysis in the report suggests a discrepancy between racialized Canadians, which is how the co-authors refer to those who identified as visible minorities in the 2016 census, and non-racialized, or white, Canadians. The data on visible minorities does not include Indigenous Peoples.

Eight per cent of racialized Canadians over the age of 15 reported some capital gains in 2015, compared to about 12 per cent of non-racialized people. There was also a gap in the amounts, with racialized Canadians receiving, on average, $10,828 — 29 per cent below the average for white Canadians.

There was also a gap when it came to money received through investments, such as rental income from real estate holdings or dividends from stocks.

The analysis shows about 25 per cent of racialized people earned income from investments in 2015, while nearly 31 per cent of non-racialized Canadians received money through investments that year. The average amount earned was $7,774 for racialized people, and $11,428 for white people.

Sheila Block, a senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives who co-authored the report, said looking at disparities in wealth, in addition to aspects of the labour market, sheds a new and multifaceted light on the issue of income inequality in Canada.

“When we broaden the lens to look at wealth, rather than just looking at income, it can give us a bigger picture of what the cumulative impact of racism is, both over an individual’s lifespan, but also potentially from one generation to the next,” said Block.

She wrote the report with Grace-Edward Galabuzi, an associate professor of politics and public administration at Ryerson University, and Ricardo Tranjan, a political economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Block said the data available in the United States shows the racialized gap when it comes to wealth is even greater than it is for income.

She said better data could lead to more equitable and effective anti-racism policies.

Statistics Canada said Monday the agency is open to finding a way to include race in its next survey of financial security, which collects information from Canadians on the value of their assets and the money they owe on everything from mortgages to credit cards.

Andrew Heisz, the director of the agency’s Centre for Income and Socioeconomic Well-being Statistics, said the format of the survey presents some challenges because it examines wealth at the family level, while visible minority status is recorded at the level of individuals. He also said the survey identifies the immigration status of families and the agency has done some research exploring the link between that and wealth.

“Nevertheless, Statistics Canada reviews the survey content before each new cycle and visible minority status could be considered for the next cycle of the survey, in 2022,” Heisz said in a statement.

One interesting finding from Monday’s report was that racialized men have a higher employment rate than non-racialized men.

A closer look at these numbers suggests this is age-related, as the employment rate for racialized men between the ages of 55 and 64 was 5.9 percentage points higher than for non-racialized men at that age. Below the age of 55, non-racialized men had higher employment rates.

“This higher employment rate for older racialized men may reflect less access to pension income and lower lifetime earnings, i.e., many in this group may not be able to afford to retire,” says the report.

The report also examines the gender gap, concluding that race plays an important role in income inequality between men and women too.

According to the report, which used figures from the 2016 census, racialized women earn 59 cents for every dollar earned by non-racialized men. Racialized men, meanwhile, earn 78 cents for every dollar earned by their white male counterparts. The gap was narrowest, but not closed, between women, with racialized women earning 87 cents for every dollar earned by white women.

“I think it’s important that we look at the gender wage gaps, rather than the singular gender wage gap,” Block said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2019.

— Follow @smithjoanna on Twitter

Joanna Smith, The Canadian Press

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RCMP not negligent in death of B.C. teen whose overdose was filmed: watchdog

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LANGLEY, B.C. — British Columbia’s police watchdog has concluded two Langley RCMP officers were not negligent in their response to a report of a teenage boy who was in distress after consuming a large quantity of drugs.

The Independent Investigations Office says the overdose death of 14-year-old Carson Crimeni was a “tragic incident” but police played no role in that outcome and it’s not recommending charges.

The office says in an investigation report released Monday that on Aug. 7, two Langley RCMP officers responded to a call about a distressed male on drugs in the vicinity of a skate park.

The Mounties were unable to find the teenager, and later that night Crimeni was found near a baseball field about 650 metres from the skate park and was rushed to hospital but did not survive.

The report by chief civilian director Ronald MacDonald says the officers spent almost 20 minutes at the skate park area and found no trace of Crimeni or anyone with information about him.

It says Crimeni and the group of young people he was with had moved to another location a considerable distance away and there was nothing at the skate park to assist police in determining where they might have gone.

“The actions of the officers were not negligent. They acted completely reasonably in the circumstances,” MacDonald writes in the report.

“Certainly, had any information to suggest the location and condition of (Crimeni) been known at the time, the police could have reacted to it. As noted, however, there was none.”

Crimeni’s family believes the drugs were given to him by other teenagers who filmed and posted his reaction on social media. An RCMP investigation is ongoing.

In the report, MacDonald notes that the initial call to police came from a parent whose daughter had shown her a Snapchat photo of Crimeni looking “out of it.” The photo had apparently been sent to the girl by an older teen.

The parent passed on an assertion to the police dispatcher that the boy had taken 15 capsules of “molly,” also known as MDMA or ecstasy.

An employee of the recreation centre next to the skate park told the two RCMP officers that she hadn’t seen an intoxicated male. The employee told the investigations office that it appeared the officers were unsure if the report was genuine or a hoax but they were looking to see if they could find anyone around the area.

The location where Crimeni was found more than two hours later was on the other side of a number of large buildings and other visual obstructions, the report adds.

At his funeral in August, Crimeni’s family and friends remembered him as a funny, energetic boy who loved to cook, play video games and joke with his buddies. But they also urged mourners to take action against peer pressure and teenage drug use so his death would not be in vain.

“At only 14 years old, his life was taken, and he was just trying to fit in. All he ever wanted to do was fit in and have friends who loved him,” said his sister, Bella Griffiths.

“I really hope after this, people really start to realize that drugs are not a joke. They can take anyone away in a heartbeat.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2019.

The Canadian Press

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