Nation & World Briefs

Wednesday, March 07, 2018
Trump shuffle: Suddenly trade guru Navarro takes spotlight

WASHINGTON — In Donald Trump’s roller-coaster White House, no insider is above rebuke and no outcast beyond redemption. Peter Navarro, who was once barred from sending private emails and spotted skulking in West Wing hallways, has emerged from the chaos ascendant.

With his chief ideological rival Gary Cohn now headed for the exit, Navarro and his protectionist trade policies are taking center stage. The president is preparing to make official the sweeping steel and aluminum tariffs that he and Navarro have long championed.

Navarro had been sidelined in Trump’s first year. But alliances have shifted, staffers have departed, and he has been able to encourage Trump to announce the tariffs. That’s despite the fact that many economists and Republican lawmakers warn they could spark a trade war and compromise Trump’s economic gains.

AP FACT CHECK: Trump on trade and manufacturing

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is presenting a skewed picture of the decline of manufacturing in making his case for import penalties that could spark a trade war. Here’s a look at his latest statement on the subject as he prepares to impose heavy tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum this week:

TRUMP: “From Bush 1 to present, our Country has lost more than 55,000 factories, 6,000,000 manufacturing jobs and accumulated Trade Deficits of more than 12 Trillion Dollars. Last year we had a Trade Deficit of almost 800 Billion Dollars. Bad Policies & Leadership. Must WIN again!” — tweet Wednesday.

THE FACTS: Trump persistently miscasts the trade balance, citing the U.S. deficit in goods and ignoring the U.S. surplus in services. The actual trade deficit last year was $566 billion. As for manufacturing, Trump leaves out what is widely regarded as the main reason for the decline in factory jobs — automation and other efficiencies. Trade is certainly a factor as well. He’s in the ballpark when referring to how many factory jobs have been lost since January 1989, when George H.W. Bush became president. The number he cites as 6 million is actually 5.5 million, according to the Labor Department.

Female candidates see early boost in Texas primary

ATLANTA — Predictions of a historic wave of female candidates in November received an early boost after the nation’s first primary this week in Texas, with a record number of women advancing in congressional and state legislative races.

Most of those candidates are Democrats, a national trend fueled largely by frustration over the election of President Donald Trump and actions by his administration and Republicans in Congress on issues such as health care and immigration.

What this will mean in states like Texas, where Republicans dominate at all levels of government, remains to be seen. But for now, the candidates are seeking to make history and improve on lagging numbers of women in public office.

Although women represent more than half the American population, they account for just a fifth of all U.S. representatives and senators, and one in four state lawmakers.

Back to school: West Virginia teachers return to classroom

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — At Stonewall Jackson Middle School in West Virginia, students filed past a sign that read: “Welcome back, let’s roll.”

It’s been nine school days without class. Students returned Wednesday to Stonewall Jackson and other schools across West Virginia, a day after the state’s teachers wangled a 5 percent pay increase from their elected leaders. Their victory came after walking off the job in all 55 counties of this poor Appalachian mountain state to protest some of the lowest pay for their profession in the country.

Stonewall Jackson teacher Hannah Silverman said she was “pumped” to be back at work. “I was like a kid on the first day of school last night, I literally couldn’t sleep,” Silverman said.

School shooting suspect indicted on 17 counts of murder

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz was formally charged Wednesday with 17 counts of first-degree murder, which could mean a death sentence if he is convicted.

The indictment returned by a grand jury in Fort Lauderdale also charges the 19-year-old with 17 counts of attempted murder for the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in which 17 people died and more than a dozen others were wounded.

Cruz’s public defender has said he will plead guilty if prosecutors take the death penalty off the table, which would mean a life prison sentence. Prosecutors have 45 days to decide whether they want to seek the death penalty.

James and Kimberly Snead, the couple who gave Cruz a home after his mother died late last year, testified before the grand jury. James Snead and the couple’s attorney, Jim Lewis, wore silver “17” pins to honor the victims of the shooting.

From Associated Press