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The Latest Political Headlines

    The Latest on President Donald Trump's trip to Japan (all times local): 8:15 a.m. President Donald Trump is tamping down expectations that he'll make significant headway on trade talks during his trip to Japan. Fox News White House Correspondent John Roberts tweets that Trump called him Sunday morning in Tokyo and told him that, while he and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be discussing trade during meetings Sunday and Monday, Trump intends to wait until after Japan's July elections to push for a deal. Trump had told business leaders after arriving in Tokyo Saturday evening that the U.S. and Japan are 'hard at work' negotiating a new bilateral trade agreement that he said would benefit both countries. Trump said that he hopes the new deal will address a trade imbalance, remove barriers to U.S. exports, and ensure fairness and reciprocity in the relationship. ___ 8:08 a.m. President Donald Trump is downplaying recent North Korean missile tests, tweeting from Tokyo that they're not a concern for him — even though they are for Japan. Trump says, 'North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me.' That message appears to contradict Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, who told reporters Saturday the short-range missile tests are a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Trump says 'he has confidence' North Korean leader Kim Jong Un 'will keep his promise to me.' He's also embracing Kim's attack on a Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump tweeted early Sunday before joining Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a game of golf and attending a sumo wrestling match.
  • President Donald Trump is downplaying recent North Korean missile tests, tweeting from Tokyo that they're not a concern for him — even though they are for Japan. Trump says, 'North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me.' That message appears to contradict Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, who told reporters Saturday the short-range missile tests are a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Trump says 'he has confidence' North Korean leader Kim Jong Un 'will keep his promise to me.' He's also embracing Kim's attack on a Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump tweeted early Sunday before joining Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a game of golf and attending a sumo wrestling match.
  • A federal judge on Friday blocked President Donald Trump from building key sections of his border wall with money secured under his declaration of a national emergency, delivering what may prove a temporary setback on one of his highest priorities. U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr.'s order prevents work from beginning on two of the highest-priority, Pentagon-funded wall projects — one spanning 46 miles (74 kilometers) in New Mexico and another covering 5 miles (8 kilometers) in Yuma, Arizona. While the order applied only to those first-in-line projects, the judge made clear that he felt the challengers were likely to prevail at trial on their argument that the president was wrongly ignoring Congress' wishes by diverting Defense Department money. 'Congress's 'absolute' control over federal expenditures_even when that control may frustrate the desires of the Executive Branch regarding initiatives it views as important_is not a bug in our constitutional system. It is a feature of that system, and an essential one,' he wrote in his 56-page opinion. It wasn't a total defeat for the administration. Gilliam, an Oakland-based appointee of President Barack Obama, rejected a request by California and 19 other states to prevent the diversion of hundreds of millions of dollars in Treasury asset forfeiture funds to wall construction, in part because he felt they were unlikely to prevail on arguments that the administration skirted environmental impact reviews. The delay may be temporary. The question for Gilliam was whether to allow construction with Defense and Treasury funds while the lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the state attorneys general were being considered. The cases still must be heard on their merits. 'This order is a win for our system of checks and balances, the rule of law, and border communities,' said Dror Ladin, an attorney for the ACLU, which represented the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Friday. The administration faces several lawsuits over the emergency declaration but only one other seeks to block construction during the legal challenge. A judge in Washington, D.C., on Thursday heard arguments on a challenge brought by the U.S. House of Representatives that says the money shifting violates the constitution. The judge was weighing whether the lawmakers even had the ability to sue the president instead of working through political routes to resolve the bitter dispute. At stake is billions of dollars that would allow Trump to make progress in a signature campaign promise heading into his campaign for a second term. Trump declared a national emergency in February after losing a fight with the Democratic-led House that led to a 35-day government shutdown. As a compromise on border and immigration enforcement, Congress set aside $1.375 billion to extend or replace existing barriers in Texas' Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for illegal crossings. Trump grudgingly accepted the money, but then declared the national emergency to siphon money from other government accounts, identifying up to $8.1 billion for wall construction. The funds include $3.6 billion from military construction funds, $2.5 billion from Defense Department counterdrug activities and $600 million from the Treasury Department's asset forfeiture fund. The Defense Department has already transferred the counterdrug money. Patrick Shanahan, the acting defense secretary, is expected to decide any day whether to transfer the military construction funds. The president's adversaries say the emergency declaration was an illegal attempt to ignore Congress, which authorized far less wall spending than Trump wanted. The administration said Trump was protecting national security as unprecedented numbers of Central American asylum-seeking families arrive at the U.S. border. The administration has awarded 11 wall contracts for a combined $2.76 billion — including three in the last two months that draw on Defense Department counterdrug money — and is preparing for a flurry of construction that the president is already celebrating at campaign-style rallies. The Army Corps of Engineers recently announced several large contacts with Pentagon funding. Last month, SLSCO Ltd. of Galveston, Texas, won a $789 million award to replace 46 miles (74 kilometers) of barrier in New Mexico — the one that Gilliam blocked on Friday. Last week, Southwest Valley Constructors of Albuquerque, New Mexico, won a $646 million award to replace 63 miles (101 kilometers) in the Border Patrol's Tucson, Arizona, sector, which Gilliam did not stop. Barnard Construction Co. of Bozeman, Montana, won a $141.8 million contract to replace 5 miles (8 kilometers) in Yuma that Gilliam blocked and 15 miles (24 kilometers) in El Centro, California, which he did not address. Gilliam's ruling gives a green light — at least for now — for the administration to tap the Treasury funds, which it has said it plans to use to extend barriers in Rio Grande Valley. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat and frequent Trump adversary, didn't comment directly on his defeat but congratulated the ACLU and its clients 'in securing this critical victory for our states and communities.' Trump inherited barriers covering 654 miles (1,046 kilometers), or about one-third of the border with Mexico. Of the 244 miles (390 kilometers) in awarded contracts, more than half is with Pentagon money. All but 14 miles (22 kilometers) awarded so far are to replace existing barriers, not extend coverage. ___ Spagat reported from San Diego.
  • A flood of laws banning abortions in Republican-run states has handed Democrats a political weapon heading into next year's elections, helping them paint the GOP as extreme and court centrist voters who could decide congressional races in swing states, members of both parties say. The Alabama law outlawing virtually all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, is the strictest so far. Besides animating Democrats, the law has prompted President Donald Trump, other Republican leaders and lawmakers seeking reelection next year to distance themselves from the measure. Their reaction underscores that Republicans have risked overplaying their hand with severe state laws that they hope will prod the Supreme Court, with its ascendant conservative majority, to strike down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion. It also illustrates the way that those statutes are forcing the GOP to struggle over how to satisfy its core anti-abortion supporters without alienating the vast majority of voters averse to strictly curbing abortion. The Alabama law is 'a loser for Republican candidates in Colorado, without question, and in many other swing parts of the country, because it's extreme,' David Flaherty, a Colorado-based Republican consultant who's worked on congressional races around the country. 'It's only going to widen the gender gap.' Brian Fitzpatrick, a Vanderbilt Law School professor and former aide to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said there are many 'women, moderate women who are going to be scared that this right that they thought they had for the last 40-some years is going to be shelved' and they will be motivated to vote. GOP Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Susan Collins of Maine, both seeking reelection next year, said the Alabama ban goes too far by eliminating exceptions for pregnancies involving rape or incest. A 2005 survey by the Guttmacher Institute, which backs abortion rights, found about 1% of women said they had abortions because of rape or incest. Democrats see the statutes as a way to weave a broader message about Republicans. 'You use it as an example of what they do when they're unchecked,' said Rep. A. Donald McEachin, D-Va., a leader of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, House Democrats' campaign organization. 'I think it drives moderate Republicans away from their party.' Democratic presidential contenders are competing to lambast the Alabama law, which allows exceptions when the mother's health is endangered. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., called it an 'existential threat to the human rights of women,' while former Vice President Joe Biden said GOP hopes of striking down Roe v. Wade are 'pernicious and we have to stop it.' Campaign Facebook and Twitter accounts of Democrats seeking reelection next year, such as Sens. Doug Jones of Alabama and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, are littered with posts attacking the harsh restrictions. 'The people of Alabama deserve to be on the #rightsideofhistory — not the side of extremists,' Jones tweeted. Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Ohio have enacted or neared approval of measures barring abortion once there's a detectable fetal heartbeat, which can occur in the sixth week of pregnancy, before a woman may know she is pregnant. Missouri lawmakers approved an eight-week ban. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that of the 638,000 abortions it tallied in 2015, almost two-thirds were performed within the first eight weeks of pregnancy. About 1% were performed during or after the 21st week. Spotlighting the perilous political territory Republicans are navigating, an April poll by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that Americans support Roe v. Wade by 2-1. A Gallup poll last year found that 57% of adults who described themselves 'pro-life' nonetheless said abortion should be legal if the pregnancy results from rape or incest. The focus on the state measures has also stolen GOP momentum on abortion. Until now, congressional Republicans had spent much of this year forcing Democrats onto the defensive, goading them into blocking bills aimed at curbing the rare abortions performed late in pregnancies and misleadingly accusing them of supporting infanticide. 'Obviously, the attention has shifted,' said Sarah Chamberlain, president of the Republican Main Street Partnership, which represents dozens of moderate GOP lawmakers. She said while her group doesn't think Democrats' focus on the harsh laws has gained traction, 'We are talking about that and how it's going to play in our districts.' Some Republicans say the Democratic drive will have minimal impact because the abortion issue drives relatively few voters from each party. Others say GOP candidates should accuse Democrats of extremism by opposing bills restricting abortions late in pregnancy and, if they wish, cite their support for exempting rape and incest victims. Democrats have 'never seen an abortion they don't like,' said David O'Steen, executive director of the National Right to Life Committee. Added Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP campaign arm: 'We're not Alabama state representatives, we're United States senators. And each of us has to make our positions known.' Yet the laws have generated energy among abortion-rights groups, which held more than 500 demonstrations and other events this past week. 'We will power this movement into 2020. There will be political consequences,' said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., distanced themselves early last week from the Alabama statute. They were joined Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who told The Associated Press, 'My position remains unchanged for 25 years. I'm opposed to abortion except in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother' being in jeopardy. ___ Associated Press writers Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Elana Schor contributed to this report.
  • Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar (KLOH'-buh-shar) has come out with a plan to help farmers that includes raising the debt limit on farm bankruptcies and increasing access to government loan programs. The Minnesota senator is promoting the proposals during a weekend visit to Iowa. Low commodity prices, flooding and President Donald Trump's trade dispute with China have hit family farms hard. Bankruptcy filings for farm operations in the upper Midwest have doubled since June 2014, when commodity prices began to drop. For bankruptcy filings, Klobuchar wants to raise the liability cap from $4.2 million to $10 million, allowing more farmers to seek relief. She'd also increase the Agriculture Department's direct operating loan limit from $400,000 to $600,000 and the farm ownership loan limit from $600,000 to $650,000.
  • The Latest on President Donald Trump's state visit to Japan. (all times local): 12:30 a.m. Sunday President Donald Trump has begun a state visit to Japan by needling the American ally over its trade imbalance with the United States. He jokingly tells business leaders at a reception in Tokyo: 'Maybe that's why you like me so much.' Trump also is promoting the U.S. under his leadership. He says 'there's never been a better time' to invest or do business in America, and he urges corporate leaders to come. ___ 7 p.m. What stands nearly 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall and weighs between 60 and 70 pounds (27 and 32 kilograms)? It's the much-ballyhooed trophy that President Donald Trump plans to present to the winner of a championship sumo wrestling match in Tokyo on Sunday. The White House says the 'President's Cup' is about 54 inches (137 centimeters) tall and weighs 60-70 pounds (27-32 kilograms). Trump arrived in Japan on Saturday on a state visit as the guest of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is taking Trump to the sumo match on Sunday. The president has said that he finds sumo to be 'fascinating' and that the trophy will be U.S.-made. Trump will also meet Japan's new emperor on Monday, becoming the first head of state to do so. ___ 6:35 p.m. President Donald Trump is needling Japan over the U.S.-Japan trade imbalance as he kicks off a state visit to the country. Trump is speaking at a reception with Japanese and American business leaders at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Tokyo after arriving in the country. He says the U.S. and Japan 'are hard at work' negotiating a bilateral trade agreement, but is pointing to the gap. He says: 'I would say that Japan has had a substantial edge for many, many years, but that's OK ... maybe that's why you like us so much.' Trump is also making a pitch to the business leaders to invest more in the U.S. And he says the relationship between the two countries has never been better. ___ 5:55 p.m. President Donald Trump is heading to a dinner with business leaders at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Tokyo after a brief airport welcome. Trump and first lady Melania Trump were greeted by Japan's minister of foreign affairs, the U.S. ambassador to Japan and other officials Saturday at Tokyo's Haneda Airport. Trump was busy tweeting as Air Force One neared Japan for the four-day visit. He declared the dawn of a new 'Age of Enlightenment' as he talked up his escalating trade dispute with China. He said that: 'The real trade war began 30 years ago, and we lost. This is a bright new Age, the Age of Enlightenment. We don't lose anymore!' ___ 5 p.m. President Donald Trump has arrived in Japan for a state visit that will make him the first world leader to meet the country's new emperor. Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrived aboard Air Force One after a 14-hour journey. The visit is part of a continuing charm offensive by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that analysts say has spared Japan from far more debilitating retaliatory action by Trump. The president has refused to lift the threat of slapping potentially devastating U.S. tariffs on imports of Japanese autos and auto parts on national security grounds. U.S. tariffs against Japanese aluminum and steel remain. ___ 4:45 p.m. A relatively strong earthquake rattled Tokyo just before President Donald Trump's arrival Saturday but there was no danger of a tsunami. Japan's Meteorological Agency said the quake, registering magnitude 5.1, struck in Chiba, just south of Tokyo, at 3:20 p.m., about 40 kilometers (24 miles) underground. Trump was to arrive two hours later. The agency said there was no danger of a tsunami from the inland quake. The earthquake rattled dozens of cities, including Tokyo, where many reporters who arrived before the president's visit felt the movement. ___ 1:30 p.m. Japan is ready to roll out the newest phase of its charm offensive targeting President Donald Trump as it welcomes him on a state visit tailor-made to his whims and ego. This comes as Japan remains under the threat of potentially devastating U.S. tariffs on autos Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is offering high honors, golf and the chance to present a 'Trump Cup' at a sumo wrestling championship. Abe, arguably Trump's closest friend on the world stage, will continue a yearslong campaign that so far appears to have spared Japan from far more debilitating U.S. actions. The stakes are high. U.S. tariffs could cripple Japan's auto industry, while North Korea remains a destabilizing threat in the region.
  • President Donald Trump opened a state visit to Japan on Saturday by needling the American ally over its trade imbalance with the United States. 'Maybe that's why you like me so much,' he joshed. Trump also promoted the U.S. under his leadership, saying 'there's never been a better time' to invest or do business in America, and he urged corporate leaders to come. The president's first event after arriving in Tokyo was a reception with several dozen Japanese and American business leaders at the U.S. ambassador's residence. He said the two countries 'are hard at work' negotiating a trade agreement . 'I would say that Japan has had a substantial edge for many, many years, but that's OK,' Trump said, joking that 'maybe that's why you like me so much.' His comments underscored the competing dynamics of a state visit designed to show off the long U.S.-Japan alliance and the close friendship between Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe even as trade tensions run high. Trump landed from his overnight flight shortly after a magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck just south of Tokyo and rattled the city. Abe has planned a largely ceremonial, four-day visit to suit Trump's whims and ego. It's part of Abe's charm strategy that some analysts say has spared Japan from the full weight of Trump's trade wrath. Abe and Trump planned to play golf Sunday before Abe gives Trump the chance to present his 'President's Cup' trophy to the winner of a sumo wrestling championship match. The White House said the trophy is nearly 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall and weighs between 60 pounds and 70 pounds (27 kilograms and 32 kilograms). On Monday, Trump will become the first head of state to meet Emperor Naruhito since he ascended to the throne this month. 'With all the countries of the world, I'm the guest of honor at the biggest event that they've had in over 200 years,' Trump said before the trip. The president is threatening Japan with potentially devastating U.S. tariffs on foreign autos and auto parts. He has suggested he will go ahead with the trade penalties if U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer fails to win concessions from Japan and the European Union. Trump had predicted that a U.S.-Japan trade deal could be finalized during his trip. But that's unlikely given that the two sides are still figuring out the parameters of what they will negotiate. He nonetheless portrayed the negotiations in a positive light in his remarks to the business group. 'With this deal we hope to address the trade imbalance, remove barriers to United States exports and ensure fairness and reciprocity in our relationship. And we're getting closer,' Trump said. He also urged the business leaders to invest more in the U.S. He praised the 'very special' U.S.-Japan alliance that he said 'has never been stronger, it's never been more powerful, never been closer.' Abe made a strategic decision before Trump was elected in November 2016 to focus on Japan's relationship with the U.S. Abe rushed to New York two weeks after that election to meet the president-elect at Trump Tower. Last month, Abe and his wife, Akie, celebrated first lady Melania Trump's birthday during a White House dinner. Abe and Trump are likely to meet for the third time in three months when Trump returns to Japan in late June for a summit of leading rich and developing nations. Behind the smiles and personal friendship, however, there is deep uneasiness over Trump's threat to impose tariffs on Japanese autos and auto parts on national security grounds. Such a move would be more devastating to the Japanese economy than earlier tariffs on steel and aluminum. Trump recently agreed to a six-month delay, enough time to carry Abe past July's Japanese parliamentary elections. Also at issue is the lingering threat of North Korea, which has resumed missile testing and recently fired a series of short-range missiles that U.S. officials, including Trump, have tried to play down despite an agreement by the North to hold off on further testing. Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton , told reporters Saturday before Trump arrived that the short-range missile tests were a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and that sanctions must stay in place. Bolton said Trump and Abe would 'talk about making sure the integrity of the Security Council resolutions are maintained.' It marked a change in tone from the view expressed by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a recent television interview. He said 'the moratorium was focused, very focused, on intercontinental missile systems, the ones that threaten the United States.' That raised alarm bells in Japan, where short-range missiles pose a serious threat. Bolton commented a day after North Korea's official media said nuclear negotiations with Washington would not resume unless the U.S. abandoned what the North described as demands for unilateral disarmament. ___ Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report. ___ Follow Superville and Colvin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/dsupervilleap and https://twitter.com/colvinj
  • How to pronounce Beto O'Rourke's first name — 'Is it BET-oh or BAY-toe?' — is debated nearly everywhere the 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful goes in Iowa. But Rich Salas doesn't hesitate. 'BET-oh,' the chief diversity officer at Des Moines University says correctly while introducing O'Rourke at a recent gathering of an Asian and Latino political action committee. 'What a really great name.' Salas notes that O'Rourke 'speaks really good Spanish, better than I do,' before leading chants of 'Viva Beto!' It's a rallying cry that may not resonate in Iowa, home to the nation's first presidential nominating contest, but could pay dividends faster than in previous years thanks to a primary calendar that will see the two states with the largest Hispanic populations go to the polls earlier than usual. Hispanics make up just 6% of the population in Iowa, which holds caucuses Feb. 3, and barely half that percentage in New Hampshire, which goes next. But then comes Nevada, where almost 30% of people are Hispanic. And, just 10 days later this cycle, California and Texas — home to 13-plus million eligible Hispanic voters, nearly half of all such voters nationwide, according to the Pew Research Center — vote on 'Super Tuesday.' That means candidates who can win consistent Hispanic support could potentially secure a viable — if narrow — path of survival through the primary's frantic opening weeks, as the 23-candidate field winnows. A total of 4,051 Democratic delegates are up for grabs. Nearly 500 of those will be in California and 260-plus in Texas. Both allocate delegates proportionately, though, meaning even the winners likely have to share their hauls — and potentially providing more lifelines for any candidate who can mobilize Hispanics even if they don't finish first. 'I think it's smart for the candidates to be thinking about how they can become a household name in the Latino community,' said Matt Barreto, co-founder of the Hispanic polling firm Latino Decisions. 'It will keep them alive, and it will make them a national contender, even if they don't do well in Iowa or New Hampshire.' It's a risky strategy since that means betting on an electorate that's disproportionately young and plagued by low voter turnout — and may still mostly be going to the polls late enough that campaigns working hard to woo it may not last that long. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who was the lone Hispanic in the 2008 presidential race, made a strong showing in Nevada essential to his bid, only to drop out before he got there — following fourth-place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire. U.S. Census survey data shows that general election Hispanic turnout in 2018 climbed 13-plus percentage points from the last midterms in 2014, to 40.4%, but still trailed whites, who reported voting at 55% rates, and blacks, who reported voting at 51.1%. Still, Barreto noted that the overall number of Hispanics who reported voting has risen in recent cycles and that the turnout percentage has been hurt because so many Hispanics are turning 18 and young people of all backgrounds are less likely to vote. Hispanics, meanwhile, will outpace African Americans to become the electorate's largest nationwide racial minority group for the first time on Election Day 2020 — accounting for more than 13% of eligible voters, according to Pew projections. Not all Hispanics are Democrats, but about two-thirds reported voting for the party during last fall's midterms, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of the 2018 national electorate. 'Over the years, there haven't been that many Latino presidential candidates,' Julian Castro, former San Antonio mayor and Obama administration housing chief and 2020's only Hispanic presidential candidate, said in a phone interview. 'So, there's still this sense of barriers being broken.' Castro has been to Nevada more than any Democratic presidential rival and has announced sweeping plans on issues he says Hispanics most care about, including calls for decriminalizing crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally and universal prekindergarten. O'Rourke, a former congressman, is of Irish decent but speaks fluent Spanish and hails from El Paso, Texas, where more than a quarter of the population are immigrants, most from just across the border in Mexico. Sen. Kamala Harris has a home-state advantage in California and, during a recent town hall in neighboring Nevada, handed out headsets to attendees who wanted to listen to a Spanish translation — along with signs reading 'Kamala Harris for the People' in English and Spanish. She's also named Emmy Ruiz, Hillary Clinton's 2016 state director in Nevada, as a senior adviser, and Julie Chávez Rodriguez, granddaughter of legendary activist Cesar Chávez, is her campaign's co-national political director. Cristóbal Alex, who headed the Latino Victory PAC, is an adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign points to polling showing his rising popularity with Hispanics. It's also enlisted Carmen Yulin Cruz, mayor of the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan — known for sparring verbally with President Donald Trump in the wake of Hurricane Maria's 2017 devastation of the island. Then there's New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who invited Yulin Cruz to Trump's State of the Union speech. Castro went to Puerto Rico immediately after launching his presidential campaign, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren also visited, while O'Rourke and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, have talked about going. The island's 64-delegate Democratic primary is March 8, the Sunday after Super Tuesday. Cristina Tzintzún, executive director of Jolt, a Texas-based group that organizes Hispanics, said candidates won't be able to rely solely on their backgrounds or advisers, saying 'I don't believe in honorary Latinos.' 'People want diversity,' said Tzintzún, a Sanders supporter in the 2016 Democratic primary. 'What matters more is who's offering the bold solutions.' Castro has traveled to Nevada six times since December. He has gone to citizenship classes and attended house parties in historically Hispanic communities like east Las Vegas — including one hosted by an immigrant rights activist who is in the country illegally. 'It's likely that my story, the way I grew up, is going to resonate a lot with a lot of Latinos,' said Castro, whose grandmother was born in Mexico and whose mother was a noted Latino rights activist. 'Because they can see their own story in mine.' O'Rourke is hopeful his background can help him with Hispanics, too. 'I've got to think that, the fact that I live on the U.S.-Mexico border, that a quarter of those with whom I live and represented in Congress were born in another country, that I can tell a pretty powerful, positive story,' O'Rourke told reporters after the event in Des Moines. Of his Spanish, he added, 'I'm going to try and reach people in every place and in every language that I possibly can.' Castro speaks some Spanish while campaigning but admits he isn't fluent — and says that's not the key factor. 'There's often this sense that, the only way to measure whether you're connecting with Latinos is if you're fluent in Spanish or not, which is just completely wrong,' he said. 'It becomes very one-dimensional. And what we've done is we're going after that vote in a much more holistic way.
  • When President Donald Trump visits Japan, he'll be able to point to Tokyo's streets to drive home a sore point in trade relations between the allies: the absence of made-in-USA vehicles. The $70 billion Japanese trade surplus with the U.S. is dwarfed by China's $379 billion surplus, and the trade tensions between Washington and Tokyo are far less contentious than the tariffs war with Beijing. But the disputes between Japan and the U.S. are longstanding and also intractable: the bilateral agreement with Tokyo that Trump has been seeking since pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement two years ago is still far down the road, say analysts and politicians on both sides. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has carefully courted Trump since before he took office and their cordial, golfing-buddy relationship has helped keep relations on an even keel. While Trump has complained repeatedly about the trade imbalance, especially in autos and auto parts — the Hondas and Toyotas on U.S. roads are a daily reminder — friction over Japan's exports has not reached the fever pitch it did in the late 1980s, when angry American auto workers smashed Japanese vehicles. The Trump administration's tough stance on China, including the tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods that recently kicked in, is almost a replay of the 'Japan bashing' of decades ago. To help alleviate tensions, especially over vehicle exports, Japanese automakers have moved much of their production for America to the U.S., investing a cumulative $51 billion and building 24 manufacturing plants, many in areas that have little else to count on to vitalize their economies. Those investments have created some 1.6 million jobs, according to the industry group Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. Trade remains unbalanced: In April Japan's exports to the U.S. jumped nearly 10%, while imports of American goods rose 2.3%. Japan's trade surplus surged almost 18% to 723 billion yen ($6.6 billion). Trump sees today's disputes as a continuation of earlier clashes, said Kristin Vekasi, professor of political science at the University of Maine. She says current negotiations are unlikely to lead to any 'miraculous' opening of Japanese markets for American products. Japanese officials have said they would draw the line at concessions made for the sake of joining the TPP, which had been championed by the administration of Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama. 'Japan already buys a lot from the United States,' Vekasi said. Japan's imports from the U.S. are dominated by food, chemicals, machinery and devices. Cars, not so much. Detroit-based General Motors Co. sold just 562 Cadillacs, 708 Chevrolets, six Buicks and a handful of its other nameplate brands in Japan in the fiscal year that ended in March. In contrast, Toyota sold 2.3 million of the roughly 5 million vehicles sold in the Japanese market. Experts generally agree the imbalance reflects a lack of Japanese interest, not significant trade barriers. Trade talks cannot dictate consumer tastes. The Trump administration has designated auto imports as a threat to U.S. national security, though the government has delayed a decision on raising tariffs on imported cars for six months. Trump has suggested he will go ahead with the tariffs if U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, a trade talks veteran of the Japan-bashing days, doesn't manage to wrest concessions from Japan and the European Union. Apart from autos, Washington is worried that American farm products won't get a fair deal, as Japan forges trade pacts with Australia and Europe. While visiting Japan earlier this month, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue donned an apron and took up barbecue tongs, urging Japan to buy more American beef. 'We're saying treat us as a prime customer the way we treated Japanese products for many years,' he said after grilling some beef and pork on a Tokyo shopping mall rooftop. Perdue returned to Washington with a promise from Japan to eliminate restrictions on U.S. beef exports. The move allows all cattle, regardless of age, to enter Japan for the first time since 2003, when Japan imposed limits to guard against bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, also known as 'mad cow disease.' The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates exports of U.S. beef and beef product could jump by up to $200 million a year, though they do face stiff competition from Australia and China. Japan still imposes limits on many farm products, seeking to guard its food security and politically important rural constituencies, and Perdue acknowledged that a broader trade deal with Tokyo may take time. After years of being harangued to open their own markets, Japanese officials and business leaders are ardent proponents of freer trade. Usually soft-spoken Toyota Chief Executive Akio Toyoda, who chairs the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, was blunt in expressing outrage over the idea that auto imports pose a security threat worthy of imposing tariffs. 'We are dismayed to hear a message suggesting that our long-time contributions of investment and employment in the United States are not welcomed. As chairman, I am deeply saddened by this decision,' he said earlier this week. 'Any trade restrictive measures would deliver a serious blow to the U.S. auto industry and economy, as it would not only disadvantage U.S. consumers, but also adversely affect the global competitiveness of U.S.-produced vehicles and suppress company investments in the U.S.' ___ Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama On Instagram https://www.instagram.com/yurikageyama/?hl=en
  • President Donald Trump asked the head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to resign, leaving yet another vacancy within the Department of Homeland Security. Lee Francis Cissna told staff on Friday that his last day would be June 1, according to a copy of the email obtained by The Associated Press. Cissna leads the agency responsible for legal immigration, including benefits and visas. With his departure, there are more than a dozen vacancies of top leadership positions at the sprawling, 240,000-employee department. Some are being temporarily filled, including secretary and inspector general. Cissna's position, like others, requires Senate confirmation. Cissna had been on the chopping block last month amid a White House-orchestrated bloodbath that led to the resignation of Secretary Kirstjen (KEER'-sten) Nielsen, in part because aides felt he wasn't moving quickly enough to tighten immigration rules and push through complicated regulation changes. But his job was saved, temporarily, after high-ranking Republicans spoke out about his record, particularly Sen. Chuck Grassley , who worked with Cissna for years. And it appeared he was back to business. He told The Associated Press just two weeks ago that his agency was training dozens of U.S. border patrol agents to start screening immigrants arriving on the southwest border for asylum amid a surge in the number of families seeking the protection. Asylum officers conduct initial interviews of immigrants arriving on the border to determine whether they have a credible fear of returning to their countries or should be sent back. Those who pass the interviews are allowed to seek asylum before an immigration judge, but their cases may take years to wind through the backlogged immigration courts. But Trump is dealing with a growing crisis as tens of thousands of Central American migrants cross the border each month, overwhelming the system, and he has been unable to deliver on his signature issue of reduced immigration and tighter border security. Cissna told his staff in the email that he was grateful for their support and service, but offered no information on what was ahead. 'During the past 20 months, every day, I have passionately worked to carry out USCIS' mission to faithfully administer the nation's lawful immigration system,' Cissna wrote to staff. Earlier this week, administration officials said Ken Cuccinelli, the former attorney general of Virginia, would be taking a job at the department, but it wasn't clear what his role would be. A person familiar with the matter said Cuccinelli was being considered for Cissna's job, but it was unclear how that would work because the position requires Senate confirmation. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters within the administration. Cuccinelli's name has been tossed around for months. He had also been considered for a position as an immigration czar, a job possibly housed within the White House, but officials said this week he would not be taking on that role. Cuccinelli has in the past advocated for denying citizenship to the American-born children of parents living in the U.S. illegally, and limiting in-state tuition at public universities only to those who are citizens or legal residents. A message sent to Cuccinelli wasn't immediately returned Friday.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • As you spend this Memorial Day weekend celebrating with your friends and family, its important to remember that the freedom many of our nation's heroes have fought and died for always comes at a price. Well in honor of the occasion, as you would expect, here are some freebies and deals through Memorial Day that veterans, active duty and retired military members and their families can take advantage of( standard disclaimer: some locations may not be participating, so its important to always contact them ahead of time):  Ace Hardware: While supplies last, you can get a free 8 by 12 inch flag on May 25th.  AAA: Through Tuesday, you can get free tipsy low service.  Apple: They have special offers on their products, including their Apple Care Protection Plans.  Cinemark Theatres: It varies by location, but if you show your military ID, you get a special discount.  Delta Airlines: Military personnel get a free bag check.  Home Depot and Lowe's: Veterans and their families get 10 percent off. Just show your ID  Hooters: Show your military ID on May 27th and you can get free entrees including 10 free boneless wings, Buffalo chicken salad, Hooters Burger or a Buffalo Chicken sandwich.  Longhorn Steakhouse: Check out the coupon below to get a free appetizer or dessert when you get an entree through May 26th.  https://www.longhornsteakhouse.com/customer-service/coupons/free-app-or-dessert-with-2-entrees-lh74-052319?cmpid=br:lh_ag:ie_ch:eml_ca:LHQ419L52COUP_dt:20190523_vs:1NV_in:Specials_pl:image01_FreeApp_rd:9bc86910b47843f7a15abeafd3d66e28  Sea World and Busch Gardens: The Waves of Honor program gives free entry to military families and members with their ID through December 31st. TGI Fridays: Check out the coupon to a free entree when you buy one and two drinks from May 25-27.  https://share.rivet.works/fridays
  • An ex-Magic Kingdom worker from Clermont has been arrested, accused of trying to set up a sexual encounter with an 8 year old girl.  According to the United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida, Frederick M. Pohl Jr.  sent inappropriate pictures of himself to what he believed was the 8 year old girl and talked online with her and her father in order to arrange a meeting. When he arrived at an Orlando hotel that they were supposed to meet at, Pohl was arrested by an undercover federal agent who was the one posing as the girl he was talking to.  According to the submitted criminal complaint, Pohl was in possession of condoms and a child sized pink dress. While the Middle District did confirm that he was an employee at the Magic Kingdom, they did not say what his role was.
  • A man who was shot and killed in an officer-involved shooting outside a mosque in South Florida on Friday was wanted in Osceola County for attempted murder, according to law enforcement officials. >> Read more trending news  The U.S. Marshals Service Florida and Caribbean Regional Fugitive Task Force were involved in the shooting at the parking lot of the Masjid Al-Iman mosque in Fort Lauderdale. The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office said the man who was shot was Hamid Ould-Rouis, 58, who was wanted for attacking two people at a home on Luminous Loop in Kissimmee on Thursday.  Deputies said Ould-Rouis entered the home and battered a man before attacking a woman with a knife. The woman is in a hospital in critical condition, deputies said. Marshals said they were attempting to arrest Ould-Rouis, but a threat posed by him prompted members of the task force to fire their weapons. There is no indication that the mosque is related to the incident, officials said. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting.
  • A man who was shot and killed in an officer-involved shooting outside of a South Florida Mosque Friday afternoon was wanted in Osceola County for attempted murder. According to the Osceola County Sheriff's Office, Police in Broward County and U.S. Marshals had been looking for Hamid Ould-Rouis,58, who was accused of beating up a man and stabbing a woman nearly to death in a Kissimmee home early Thursday. The woman remains hospitalized in critical condition.  Members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force tracked him to the parking lot near the Masjid Al Iman mosque, in Fort Lauderdale. When he got out of a black SUV with a weapon, several officers opened fire. He died on the scene.  There is no indication that the mosque is related to the incident, officials said.  The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting.
  • Game dates and kickoff times for Orlando’s Camping World Bowl and Citrus Bowl games were announced Thursday as part of ESPN’s 2019-20 college football bowl schedule. This year, the Camping World Bowl, which traditionally features teams from the ACC and Big 12 conference will be broadcast on ABC for the first time in the bowl’s 30-year history.  It is set for Saturday, December 28 at Noon.  Last year’s contest saw Syracuse beat West Virginia 34-18 which helped guide the Orange to a 10-3 record, the team’s best finish since 2001.  The Citrus Bowl, which typically features teams from the ACC, SEC and Big Ten conference will continues its News Years Day tradition, kicking off at 1 o' clock on January 1, 2020.  It will also be broadcast on ABC.  In last year’s game, Kentucky defeated Penn State 27-24.  “We are thrilled to present two big-time bowl games from Orlando on national television this season,” Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan said. “It’s an amazing opportunity to showcase the Central Florida community twice in five days this postseason.”  The Cure Bowl, Orlando’s third bowl game, had already announced that this years game will be played at Orlando City Stadium, on Saturday, Dec. 21.

Washington Insider

  • Victims of Hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and other natural disasters will have to wait into next month for Congress to give final approval to a $19.1 billion relief bill, as final passage of the plan in the House was blocked on Friday by a lone Republican lawmaker, forcing a delay until Congress returns for legislative business in the first week of June.   “I respectfully object,” said Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), a more conservative Republicans who stayed in town after the House had completed its legislative business on Thursday, and came to the floor Friday morning to object to acting on the plan without a full roll call vote.   The House had approved $19.1 billion in disaster aid in early May; the Senate on Thursday amended the plan with the backing of President Trump – but it wasn’t good enough to get unanimous consent for approval in the House. “If I do not object, Congress will have passed into law a bill that spends $19 billion of taxpayer money without members of Congress being present here in our nation’s capital,” Roy said on the House floor, forcing a further delay on the disaster aid measure. One of Roy’s objections was that no money was included in the plan for the immigrant surge along the southern border - President Trump had backed off of that in order to secure a deal on Thursday. Roy’s maneuver drew the scorn of fellow Republicans from states which are need of aid - like Georgia - where farmers suffered devastating losses from Hurricane Michael. Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) tweeted that “our farmers need aid today,” as this move by his GOP colleague will delay that process into June, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of fellow Republicans with farmers in need of assistance.   Democrats were furious. “House Republicans’ last-minute sabotage of an overwhelmingly bipartisan disaster relief bill is an act of staggering political cynicism,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  “Countless American families hit by devastating natural disasters across the country will now be denied the relief they urgently need,” Pelosi added in a statement. “This is a rotten thing to do,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), who noted to reporters that Roy was blocking aid for his own home state of Texas. “We should have passed this months ago,” said Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL), who asked for approval of the measure on the House floor. “I am beyond fed up. This is wrong,” said Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA).  “This bill is about helping people – not about playing Washington politics.” “Republican politicians are playing games while people’s homes are literally underwater,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH).   Unless Republicans relent next week, the House would not be able to set up a vote on the disaster aid measure until the week of June 3. “There are people who are really hurting, and he’s objecting,” Shalala said.  “He’s holding hostage thousands of people.”  The House has two ‘pro forma’ meetings scheduled for next week - on Tuesday and Friday.  Republicans could object to passing the bill at those times as well.