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Trump Vows to Unearth Truth About Khashoggi Disappearance

President Donald Trump declared Friday the U.S. will uncover the truth about what happened to journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi, whose possible murder at Saudi hands after disappearing in Istanbul has captured worldwide attention. Trump promised to personally call Saudi Arabia’s King Salman soon about “the terrible situation in Turkey.”

“We’re going to find out what happened,” Trump pledged when questioned by reporters in Cincinnati where he was headlining a political rally.

Khashoggi, a forceful critic of the Saudi government, went missing more than a week ago after entering a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and Turkish officials have said they believe he was murdered there. U.S. officials say they are seeking answers from the Saudi government and are not yet accepting the Turkish government’s conclusions.

The Saudis have called accusations that they are responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance “baseless.” Widely broadcast video shows the 59-year-old writer and Washington Post contributor entering the consulate on Tuesday of last week, but there is none showing him leaving.

Separately, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, the State Department said Friday. No details of the conversation were released. 

In an interview Friday with The Associated Press, Cengiz said Khashoggi was not nervous when he entered the Saudi consulate to obtain paperwork required for their marriage.

“He said, ‘See you later my darling,’ and went in,” she told the AP.

Citing anonymous sources, the Post reported Friday that Turkey’s government has told U.S. officials it has audio and video proof that Khashoggi was killed and dismembered. The AP has not been able to confirm that report.

In written responses to questions by the AP, Cengiz said Turkish authorities had not told her about any recordings and Khashoggi was officially “still missing.”

She said investigators were examining his cellphones, which he had left with her.

Saudi Arabia says Khashoggi left the consulate. He hasn’t been seen since, though his fiancee was waiting outside.

Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia are important U.S. allies in the region. Trump said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin will evaluate whether to attend a Saudi investor conference later this month. 

On Thursday, Trump had said U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia were “excellent” and he was reluctant to scuttle highly lucrative U.S. weapons deals with Riyadh. A number of members of Congress have pressed the Trump administration to impose sanctions on the country in response to the Khashoggi affair.

A delegation from Saudi Arabia arrived in Turkey on Friday as part of an investigation into the writer’s disappearance. In a statement posted on Twitter, the Saudis welcomed the joint effort and said the kingdom was keen “to sustain the security and safety of its citizenry, wherever they might happen to be.”

Cengiz said she and the journalist would have been married this week and had planned a life together split between Istanbul and the United States, where Khashoggi had been living in self-imposed exile since last year.

She had appealed for help to Trump, who earlier this week said he would invite her to the White House.

Cengiz didn’t respond to a question about that, but earlier on Friday she urged Trump on Twitter to use his clout to find out what happened.

“What about Jamal Khashoggi?” she wrote in response to a tweet by Trump in which he said he said he had been “working very hard” to free an American evangelical pastor who has been held for two years in Turkey. Andrew Brunson was released late Friday.

Amid growing concern over Khashoggi’s fate, French President Emmanuel Macron said his country wanted to know “the whole truth” about the writer’s disappearance, calling the early details about the case “very worrying.”

Macron said “I’m waiting for the truth and complete clarity to be made” since the matter is “very serious.” He spoke Friday in Yerevan, Armenia, to French broadcasters RFI and France 24.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said Berlin was also “very concerned” about the writer’s disappearance and called on Saudi Arabia to “participate fully” in clearing up reports that he had been killed.

Global business leaders began reassessing their ties with Saudi Arabia, stoking pressure on the Gulf kingdom to explain what happened to Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, who was considered close to the Saudi royal family, had become a critic of the current government and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 33-year-old heir apparent who has introduced reforms but has shown little tolerance for criticism.

As a contributor to The Washington Post, Khashoggi has written extensively about Saudi Arabia, including criticism of its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women’s rights activists after the lifting of a ban on women driving.

Those policies are all seen as initiatives of the crown prince, who has also presided over a roundup of activists and businessmen.



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Analyst Looks at Democrats’ House, Senate Prospects

If history is any guide, Democrats should make gains in the midterm congressional elections on Nov. 6. The president’s party nearly always loses seats in midterm elections, with the average loss of House seats ranging between 20 and 30. Many analysts expect a Democratic takeover of the House, but the Senate appears to be different story. Kyle Kondik, managing editor of “Crystal Ball,” a political newsletter produced by the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, explains why.

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House Seat Suddenly in Play After Trump Backer’s Indictment

New York’s most conservative congressional district is unexpectedly in play as Republican incumbent Chris Collins, one of President Donald Trump’s first supporters, fights insider trading charges while seeking re-election.

Republican leaders in a western New York district that Trump swept overwhelmingly in 2016 are counting on party and presidential loyalty, even if it means voting for someone that even they wanted off the ballot.

“This district is Trump country, and it will continue to be,” said Erie County Republican Party Chairman Nicholas Langworthy. “It’s a conservative Republican district, and I expect that when the dust settles on election night it will re-elect a conservative Republican to the seat.”

Democratic challenger Nate McMurray is still the underdog but says his volunteers and donations have surged since Collins was charged in August, and his crowds have gone from handfuls to hundreds.

“It’s like an avalanche that started out with a little snowball that’s rolling downhill and getting bigger and bigger every day,” McMurray, a Grand Island town supervisor, said recently to a roomful of supporters. They included Tom Perez, the Democratic National Committee chairman, who dropped in to drum up enthusiasm in what had been a little-watched race.

Once considered a sure win for Republicans, Real Clear Politics now lists the race as a “toss-up,” and the Cook Political Report in mid-September moved the seat from “likely Republican” to merely “lean Republican.” McMurray said this week his internal polling showed the race to be a dead heat.

With Democrats forecast to make gains in the House, for some voters in the Republican-advantaged district, the decision will be more about keeping the challenger out than Collins in, analysts said.

“The old phrase of ‘all politics is local,’ the Tip O’Neill statement? These local races are not so local anymore,” American University political science professor Jan Leighley said.

Accusations against Collins

Collins, with a reported net worth of $44 million one of the wealthiest members of Congress, is accused of illegally leaking confidential information about a biopharmaceutical company to his son and the father of his son’s fiancee that allowed them to avoid hundreds of thousands of dollars in stock losses. The most serious charge carries a potential prison term of up to 20 years. If he wins and is later convicted and forced to resign, a special election would be held.

The 68-year-old Collins pleaded not guilty and initially vowed to continue his re-election campaign. He then agreed to be removed from the ballot “in the best interests of the constituents,” only to reverse course again and announce he would stay on the ballot — even as party leaders who had spent weeks exploring legal maneuvers to remove him were preparing to announce a replacement.

“The stakes are too high to allow the radical left to take control of this seat in Congress,” Collins said in a Sept. 19 statement. 

Collins is one of two Republican congressmen running for re-election while under indictment. Rep. Duncan Hunter, of California, has pleaded not guilty to spending campaign funds for personal expenses. Hunter and Collins were the first two Republicans to endorse Trump in the Republican presidential primaries, and their indictments drew a critical Sept. 3 tweet from Trump aimed at Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Tweeted Trump: “Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time.”

Since entering the race, Collins has limited his personal appearances largely to friendly gatherings like the Republican Women’s Autumn Brunch and the Newstead GOP Sportsman Extravaganza. He declined to be interviewed by The Associated Press.

“A lot of folks just happy that I’m back in the race,” he told WIVB this week. “They know what’s at stake. … Every seat matters. As you read the pundits now, it’s going to be a very close election to see who is going to be in the majority of the House come next year.”

The campaigns

Collins, a businessman who made his money by buying distressed businesses and turning them around, proudly carries an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association and cites among his priorities never increasing entitlement programs, reforming the tax code and balancing the federal budget in 10 years.

He has been on the air with negative television ads, including one that was assailed by critics as racist. It showed McMurray speaking Korean as a portrait of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un floated in the background and captions falsely implied McMurray was talking about sending American jobs to Asia.

McMurray, a lawyer, studied the development of constitutional democracy in South Korea as a Fulbright scholar. His campaign has focused on health care for all, protecting Social Security, the environment and strengthening infrastructure. He said he supports gun rights but also universal background checks and a ban on bump stocks.

Out in the district, 23-year-old line cook Brett Schuman said the allegations against Collins were enough to sway him. “When there’s anything happening, criminal or otherwise, I’m going to defer to the other party.”

Retired engineer Don Lloyd said he liked McMurray’s background and education but would still vote for Collins, if only to help Republicans keep control of the House and preserve Trump’s agenda. Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats to take control of the chamber.

“Let’s face it, the election isn’t about Chris Collins — it’s about Trump,” said Lloyd, 70.

“So hold your nose, I guess.”

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Lessons After Threats Drive US Black Legislator to Quit

Voters in this very liberal, very white state made Kiah Morris a pioneer when in 2014 they elected her as its first black female legislator. Not long after, another Vermont surfaced: racist threats that eventually forced her to leave office in fear and frustration.

After she won the Democratic primary for re-election to the state legislature in 2016, someone tweeted a cartoon caricature of a black person at her, along with a vulgar phrase rendered in ebonics. The tweeter threatened to come to rallies and stalk her, Morris said. She won a protective order against him.

But harassment continued from many corners, escalating into a break-in while the family was home, vandalism and death threats seen by her young son. Even after she announced she wouldn’t seek re-election, despite running unopposed, a group of youths pounded on her windows and doors at night, forcing her and her husband, convalescing after heart surgery, to leave town.

Finally, she resigned.

“There’s obviously online harassment that can happen, and that’s a part of our social media world right now, but then when things started happening in everyday life, that’s when it becomes really worrisome and terrifying,” she said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

Amid the racial and ideological polarization consuming the country, the Morris case highlights the dangers politicians of color face. And it reinforces that even liberal bubbles like Vermont shouldn’t get too confident or comfortable in their cloaks of inclusivity.

No one should have to endure what Morris did, said Vermont House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, a white Democrat.

“This is deep racism coming out, and there are Vermonters hunting down other Vermonters here. This is awful for our state,” she said. “Rather than shake our heads and say, `Oh, what a shame,’ we all need to buckle down and figure out what steps we can take, what steps each of us can take, however large or small, to erode some of the system that allow racism to continue.”

The sheriff of New Jersey’s most populous county resigned last month after a recording surfaced in which he made derogatory remarks about blacks and the state’s first Sikh attorney general. In August, a Georgia man was sentenced to prison for racist threats against two U.S. senators, including black South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott.

“Racism and racial animas is a chronic illness of this country. It’s not something that just comes in waves in certain places. It’s always there simmering,” said Gloria Browne-Marshall, a professor of constitutional law at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice and author of the book “Race, Law and American Society: 1607 to Present.”

Vermont was the first state to abolish slavery and in 2000 became the first to legally recognize same-sex civil unions, a precursor to gay marriage. It has elected Green Party and Socialist candidates. Even its Republican governor would be considered left of center in a conservative state.

But Vermont is also 94.4 percent white, according to census statistics. The black population is just 1.4 percent, or about 8,700 people.

In recent years, like elsewhere in the country, racism has bubbled up, including white supremacist flyers posted this year on college campuses.

“In a state that wants to promote itself as this liberal bastion, the majority of people outraged should have been there protecting” Morris, Browne-Marshall said.

Morris said she was dissatisfied with the response by Bennington police when she reported the acts against her and her family; the police chief has defended his department’s handling of the complaints.

She’s grateful that the attorney general’s office and Vermont State Police are now investigating.

When independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who despite a liberal pedigree has struggled to connect with black voters, learned that Morris was not seeking re-election because of the threats, he called the situation outrageous and, in a statement to The Burlington Free Press, said it is “not what Vermont is about.”

“In the state of Vermont, no elected official, candidate or person should be fearful of their safety because of the color of their skin or their point of view,” he wrote. “This corrosion of political discourse is destructive to our democracy, and we cannot let it take hold.”

Morris said that she has received other support from Vermonters, but said the hard part is learning the system is not set up to protect her.

“I cannot be the legislator that I want to be. I cannot speak my truth in the way that needs to have been said,” she said. “I cannot do those things and be secure and be assured of the safety for myself and my family. And that is really unfortunate.”



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Bitter Battle Over Kavanaugh Adds Fuel to Midterm Showdown

Less than four weeks before U.S. congressional midterm elections, the bitter confirmation battle over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has galvanized activists in both major political parties. But its ultimate impact remains uncertain.

Republicans say the fight over Kavanaugh has given them a boost, especially in key Senate races in states President Donald Trump won in 2016.

Democrats counter that the Kavanaugh fallout has enraged many women voters upset with the way the Senate confirmation battle turned out, likely increasing Democratic turnout in November and threatening Republican control of the House of Representatives.

University of Virginia analyst Kyle Kondik told VOA the furor over Kavanaugh and allegations of sexual misconduct when he was a teenager, which he denied, could be “weaponized” by Republican Senate candidates looking to defeat Democratic incumbents in Republican-leaning states.

But Kondik also added that “it’s possible by time the election comes around, the Brett Kavanaugh story won’t have changed anything.” Kondik said many other trends this year favor Democrats, especially in the battle for control of the House of Representatives.

Democrats need a gain of 23 seats to retake the House and a net pickup of two seats to reclaim a majority in the Senate.

​Trump rallies the base

But the Kavanaugh confirmation, as bitter and divisive as it was, was seen by many analysts as a victory for Trump. And the president is now using the hard feelings stemming from the Kavanaugh battle to rally Republican voters.

“On November 6, you will have the chance to stop the radical Democrats, and that is what they have become, by electing a Republican House and a Republican Senate,” Trump told supporters at a recent rally in Topeka, Kansas. “We will increase our majorities.”

Kavanaugh was narrowly confirmed in the Senate by a vote of 50 to 48. Following the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the party base had rallied in defense of Kavanaugh with a noticeable uptick in enthusiasm just weeks away from the midterm elections.

“What I think this has done for us is provide the kind of adrenaline shot that we had not been able to figure out how to achieve in any other way.”

Fired up Democrats

But the Kavanaugh battle has also fired up Democrats who believed the testimony of California professor Christine Blasey Ford and who wanted a more thorough investigation of the sexual misconduct allegations.

​Protesters took to the streets during the Senate debate and vote, and they were cheered on by a host of Democratic senators including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

“We have lifted the voices of millions of survivors of sexual assault. We have refused to be the women who sit down and shut up.”

And other Democrats warned the intensity of the protests will spill over into the November elections.

“Let’s use this week to give us all that extra energy that we know we have to remember that the bottom line is that they may have the power right now but we need to take it back,” said Senator Kamala Harris of California. Harris and Warren are both potential presidential contenders in 2020.

Different impact

In different ways, Kondik said the Kavanaugh battle could wind up energizing both parties before the November elections.

“Maybe some of that animus remains for Republicans and that is a rallying cry for the midterm,” Kondik said. “But again, I think history would tell us, and polling data tells us, Democrats are more animated over Kavanaugh and over other things.”

While Democrats remain favorites to make gains in the House, Republicans are showing some momentum in some key Senate races in recent days.

Polls show Republicans leading in Senate races in Texas, Tennessee and North Dakota, where incumbent Democrat Heidi Heitkamp is trying to hold on in a state that went heavily for Trump in 2016.

It is not clear whether the fallout from the Kavanaugh confirmation battle is propelling the Republican momentum in these states, but a lot of party officials believe it is.

But the Kavanaugh factor could play out much differently in the battle for control of the House. Many of the most contested House races are in suburban districts where women voters will play a pivotal role, according to Jim Kessler with the center-left group Third Way.

“There is a group of voters, older women that have been a pretty good support group for Republicans, and they are starting to turn on Republicans and I think they may be the deciding factor in this election,” he said.

But for Trump, a focus on Kavanaugh could excite his base, said Gallup pollster Frank Newport.

“He looks at the numbers and sees that he is doing poorly everywhere but his base, so he decides for his own personal sanity and his own personal kind of ego sense that he says, ‘All right, I’ll just look at how well I am doing among my base and just talk to my base.’ So that is part of the reason he is doing it.”

The election may turn on whether the president’s loyal base of supporters can withstand a big turnout of opposition Democrats and independents looking to send Trump a message Nov. 6.

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Missouri Appeals Ruling That Blocked Part of Voter Photo ID

Missouri’s top election official on Thursday said the state was appealing a judge’s ruling that blocked enforcement of parts of a voter photo identification law, adding that the ruling was causing “mass confusion” ahead of a key election for a U.S. Senate seat.

Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft in a statement said the state attorney general had appealed the ruling and asked it to be put on hold as that process plays out. 

At issue is Senior Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan’s recent ruling striking down a requirement that a voter lacking a valid photo ID must sign a sworn statement and present some other form of identification in order to cast a regular ballot. Callahan also blocked the state from advertising that a photo ID is required to vote.

Ashcroft said there’s confusion because Callahan’s ruling “directs the STATE not to use the statement.” But Ashcroft said it’s local election authorities who would have been responsible for requesting that voters without proper photo identification sign an affidavit, “so it is not clear if they are bound by the judge’s decision.”

“The judge’s decision has injected mass confusion into the voting process just weeks before an important election — an action the courts historically and purposely have not taken,” Ashcroft said, adding that many local election authorities already had trained poll workers to require voters to sign sworn statements.

Callahan’s ruling came as voters are preparing for a Nov. 6 election headlined by the race between Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and her Republican challenger, Attorney General Josh Hawley, whose office is defending the state law on behalf of Ashcroft.

Strategist Symone Sanders of Priorities USA, a Washington-based liberal advocacy group that sued on behalf of some Missouri voters, in a statement praised Callahan’s ruling and criticized the photo ID law as having “required voters to sign a threatening and confusing affidavit to receive a regular ballot if they didn’t have photo identification.”

“What’s confusing is the secretary of state’s support of limiting access to the ballot box,” she said.

Missouri’s 2016 law was enacted when the Republican-led Legislature overrode the veto of then-Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat. Voters in 2016 also approved a constitutional amendment intended to permit photo identification laws. The Missouri law was not yet in effect for the 2016 elections.

Voter photo ID requirements have been pushed by Republicans in numerous states as a means of preventing fraud. They have been opposed by Democrats who contend such laws can disenfranchise poor, elderly, disabled and minority voters who are less likely to have photo IDs.

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Arkansas Supreme Court Upholds Revised Voter ID Law

Arkansas’ highest court on Thursday upheld a voter ID law that is nearly identical to a restriction struck down by the court four years ago.

The Arkansas Supreme Court reversed a judge’s ruling against the law approved last year by the Republican-controlled Legislature and governor. A judge had blocked officials from enforcing the restriction, but justices in May stayed that ruling and kept the law in effect while they considered the case.

The high court in 2014 struck down a previous version of the voter ID law as unconstitutional.

The revised voter ID law, which was approved last year, requires voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot. Unlike the previous measure, the new law allows voters to cast provisional ballots if they sign a sworn statement confirming their identities. Opponents of the new measure had argued that it circumvented the 2014 ruling.

In the 5-2 ruling Thursday, justices said lawmakers had the power to enact the restriction by labeling it a change to a constitutional amendment related to voter registration requirements. “It is therefore constitutional,” Justice Robin Wynne wrote in the court’s ruling.

Arkansas officials argued the new law complies with part of the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the 2013 measure. Justices in 2014 unanimously struck down the previous voter ID law, with a majority of the court ruling that it unconstitutionally added a qualification to vote. Three justices, however, ruled the measure didn’t get the two-thirds vote needed to change voter registration requirements.

A majority of the court has changed hands since that ruling, and more than two-thirds of the Arkansas House and Senate approved the new measure last year.

A justice who disagreed with the ruling Thursday questioned the court’s argument that the law was related to voter registration, noting that the state doesn’t require photo ID in order to register to vote.

“If providing photo identification were required at registration, requiring presentation of the card at the polling place would be more defensible,” Justice Jo Hart wrote. “Asking for a photo identification card at the polling place strikes me as locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen.”

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Trump Voices Optimism About Republican Election Chances

U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday he is optimistic about Republicans retaining control of both chambers of Congress in next month’s nationwide congressional elections, as well as his own re-election in 2020.

“I think the Republicans are very energized,” Trump told interviewers on his favorite news talk show, “Fox & Friends,” because of the robust U.S. economy and last week’s Senate confirmation of Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. “I really believe we’re going to do well. I think we’ll be successful.”

Trump’s prediction on the Nov. 6 elections halfway through his first four-year White House term is at odds with historical trends favoring the political party out of power, the Democrats at the moment, in U.S. midterm elections.

In addition, independent analysts say polling shows Democrats are poised to take control of the House of Representatives, while Republicans are likely to retain their slim majority in the Senate.

‘Bunch of haters’

Trump said that if Democrats assume control of the House, “We’ll just have to fight it out” over the next two years “because there’s a bunch of haters” against him and his policies. Some Democrats have already said that if they have a majority in the House they plan to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump and investigations of his personal finances and government programs he has changed since he assumed power in January 2017.

Still, Trump said if there is a Democratic takeover in the House, “It’s possible we’ll get along,” because both he and Democrats could reach agreement on infrastructure spending they both favor to repair crumbling highways and bridges in the U.S.


As for 2020, Trump declined to say whether there was any possible single Democratic opponent he feared most in his bid for a second four-year term.

“So far, I like ’em all, everyone of them,” Trump said. “I don’t see a name I don’t like.”

Several Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden, say they will make up their minds by the end of the year whether to mount a nationwide campaign against Trump. Already, some of them have been making campaign-style speeches in states with early 2020 Democratic primaries that will play a pivotal role in determining Trump’s eventual opponent.

Republican prospects

Trump said that with the economy doing well, often a key determinant in U.S. presidential elections, “I don’t see why I wouldn’t do well in the election. We’ve done more in less than two years than anyone in history, and I don’t think it’s even close.”

Yet, national surveys show voters consistently disapprove of Trump’s performance in office, currently by about a 53 to 43 percent margin.

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Guam Seeks Native-Only Vote on US Relationship

The question before a panel of U.S. appeals court judges: Should non-native residents of Guam have a say in the territory’s future relationship with the United States?

Three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals were at the University of Hawaii’s law school Wednesday to listen to arguments in an appeal of a federal judge’s 2017 ruling that says limiting the vote to those who are considered native inhabitants of the island is unconstitutional.

Voters would have three choices: independence, statehood and free association with the United States similar to island states that allow the U.S. exclusive military access to their land and waters while their citizens have the right to live and work in the U.S.

The case

Arnold Davis, a white, non-Chamorro resident of Guam, sued in 2011 after his application to participate in the vote was denied.

Last year’s ruling concluded that even though Guam has a long history of colonization and its people have a right to determine their political status with the United States, it’s unconstitutional to exclude voters simply because they “do not have the correct ancestry or bloodline.”

The ruling cites a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision that allows non-Native Hawaiians to vote in elections for Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees.

Guam appealed.

The vote would only be a “symbolic, but no less sacred, nonbinding expression of a political opinion of a subset of Guam,” Julian Aguon, an attorney representing Guam, argued Wednesday.

The vote would have ramifications for all who live on the island, said Davis’ attorney, Lucas Townsend. 

“This is a taxpayer-funded, government-sponsored vote involving the territory’s election machinery,” he said.

Guam plans to submit results to the president of the United States, Congress and the United Nations, Townsend said.

Who is eligible?

Voters wouldn’t be limited based on their race, but would include only those who were granted U.S. citizenship through the 1950 Guam Organic Act, and their descendants, Aguon said. Court documents in the case cite 1950 census data showing that the vast majority of the noncitizens on Guam at the time were Chamorro.

About one-third of the U.S. territory’s 160,000 people identify as Chamorro, the indigenous group that is believed to have migrated to Guam from Indonesia and the Philippines an estimated 3,500 to 4,000 years ago. The U.S. took control of Guam in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. The Navy ruled the island until Japan took control in 1941. The U.S. installed civilian leadership and granted citizenship to Guam residents in 1950.

It’s not clear when the judges will issue a ruling.

Upholding the lower court ruling will effectively end Guam’s self-determination effort, Aguon said after the hearing.

“This case is so important because it’s about defending the sacred right of self-determination, even if it’s a symbolic vote,” he said. “It really matters to the community. Guam has been colonized for hundreds of years, and this would finally give us some semblance of dignity to be able to have just this non-binding vote. And that’s what it means to me as a Chamorro as well.”

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Trump Trashes Democrats’ Medicare for All Plan in Op-Ed

President Donald Trump is stepping up his attack on Democrats over a health care proposal called Medicare for All, claiming it “would end Medicare as we know it and take away benefits that seniors have paid for their entire lives.”

One senator who has introduced a Medicare for All proposal dismissed Trump’s statements as lies.

Trump, omitting any mention of improved benefits for seniors that Democrats promise, wrote in an op-ed published Wednesday in USA Today, “The Democrats’ plan means that after a life of hard work and sacrifice, seniors would no longer be able to depend on the benefits they were promised.”

But Medicare for All means different things to different Democrats. The plan pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who challenged Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, would expand Medicare to cover almost everyone in the country, and current Medicare recipients would get improved benefits. Other Democratic plans would allow people to buy into a new government system modeled on Medicare, moving toward the goal of coverage for all while leaving private insurance in place.

Trump’s column came as he is looking to paint Democratic candidates as extreme ahead of next month’s midterm elections. A White House official speaking to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to describe internal plans said that Trump’s health care attack would be echoed by the Republican National Committee and other GOP groups and that the president would continue to raise the attack during his campaign rallies.

​’No, Mr. President’

Sanders responded Wednesday in a statement, saying Trump “is lying about the Medicare for All proposal” that he introduced.

“No, Mr. President. Our proposal would not cut benefits for seniors on Medicare. In fact, we expand benefits,” Sanders said.

As Trump escalates his efforts on behalf of fellow Republicans, he is casting health care as one of an expanding list of choices for the electorate this year while seeking to raise the alarm about the consequences of Democratic control of the House or the Senate.

Medicare for All, also called single-payer over the years, was until fairly recently outside the mainstream of Democratic politics, but this year it has become a key litmus test in many party primaries and a rallying cry for progressive candidates. Under the plan by Sanders, all Americans would gain access to government insurance with no co-pays or deductibles for medical services.

Republicans contend that the proposal would be cost-prohibitive and argue it marks government overreach.

Trump has already sought to paint Democrats as extremists after the bitter confirmation battle over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and internal GOP polling obtained last month by the AP shows that the party believes the message will help galvanize Republican voters to the polls.

At a rally in Iowa on Tuesday, Trump argued that the only reason to vote for Democrats “is if you are tired of winning.” He was to hold a rally in Pennsylvania on Wednesday evening. 

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