Justina Machado On Her Quinceañera, Rita Moreno's Abs And 'One Day At A Time'

In Netflix’s One Day at a Time, Justina Machado (center) plays a military veteran who is raising her two kids (Marcel Ruiz, left, and Isabella Gomez) without their father. Michael Yarish/Netflix hide caption

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Michael Yarish/Netflix

In the 1970s and ’80s, the TV show One Day at a Time pushed boundaries with the story of a divorced mother raising two teenage daughters in Indianapolis. Now Netflix has rebooted the show, and their 21st-century take pushes boundaries in its own way: The family is now Cuban-American, they live in Los Angeles and its mom, Penelope, is a veteran who served in Afghanistan.

Penelope is raising her two kids without their father, and sometimes money is tight. Actress Justina Machado, who plays Penelope, says the show’s portrayal of middle-class life is more realistic than what you’d normally see on TV, and it’s also more in line with her own experience. Penelope’s family isn’t struggling to eat, but they also can’t afford a vacation.

My first #tbt.. Who else had a Quinceañera?!! #chitowndayspic.twitter.com/K6TPNMfGKJ

— Justina Machado (@JustinaMachado) January 31, 2014

“I never went on a vacation until I was 21 years old and I was able to afford it,” Machado tells NPR’s Ari Shapiro. “I went to five different schools before I was 10 years old because we were moving to where it was cheaper to live. So, yes, this is more of what I grew up with.”


Interview Highlights

On her memories of trying to have a quinceañera on a budget

My mother did not want to give it to me … because it’s expensive and we didn’t have a lot of money. And so I went to every family member and I asked them to buy stuff for me: the cake, the invites, my cousin made my dress. …

I had no idea what the heck it was about. I didn’t even know there was a church ceremony to it. I was like, “Oh, I have to go to church?” I had no idea. To me it was like this big party where you get to dress up and look like a child bride. … It’s so funny because I really wanted a quinceañera and then when I had one, I was like, “Man, this is so lame.” Everybody had fun except me because I was constantly taking pictures with family members.

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On working with EGOT-winning actress Rita Moreno, 85, who plays Penelope’s mom

She is still playing, she’s still discovering. She’s an incredible partner. She’s never bored. She’s so smart. She’s always involved. And I think that’s her zest for life — she’s in it 150 percent. That’s why she’s still around; that’s why she’s so fabulous. The woman has a six pack, you know that, right? … I’m talking about her abs, OK? … She’s 85 and looks amazing. I have never been in her kind of shape my whole life. And she is just — she defies everything.

“The woman has a six pack,” Machado says of her co-star, 85-year-old actress Rita Moreno. “… I have never been in her kind of shape my whole life.” Michael Yarish/Netflix hide caption

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Michael Yarish/Netflix

On how Moreno’s success as a Latina actress influenced Machado

I remember watching her in West Side Story. … I had never seen anything like that. I had never seen a story about Puerto Ricans, this wonderful woman singing this song, this incredible character. I was in awe of her, and, yeah, she actually made me think and realize that I, too, could do it.

On how Penelope serves as a bridge between her mother’s attitudes and those of her kids

When the sexism episode came about, it was important for us to show the levels. … [Penelope’s] daughter being this millennial and, you know, black and white, that’s how it is; and [Penelope] kind of being like, “Well, I’ve dealt with it. It’s not that bad. It depends;” and [Penelope’s] mother just being in another world. And I think that’s super representative of how it is with certain generations. …

What we do on the show is we talk to each other. There’s a lot of compassion; there’s a lot of listening; there’s a lot of learning from each other. And that’s what I love the most about this show. I think [Executive Producer Norman Lear] said it either in his documentary or in his book: People don’t want to be around people who disagree with them anymore; they don’t want to have those conversations; they don’t want to be uncomfortable. And I’m guilty of that, I was guilty of that. And now I’m starting to get out of this bubble and realize that … we’ve all got to talk to each other. We all have to understand sometimes we’re not going to change people’s minds, but we’re not going to get anywhere insulting.

On what the show gains by telling the story of a Hispanic, working-class family with a military veteran

Representation on so many levels, storytelling on so many levels and people being able to relate to one part or many parts of Penelope or all this other family; people being able to see themselves and their stories being told.

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Going There: When Your Hometown Gets Hot

Those who live there already know this: Western North Carolina is “hot.”

Trendy restaurants, breweries and shops are popping up throughout this part of the state, while outdoor enthusiasts and artists flock to Asheville to take advantage of all the city’s perks and undiscovered treasures.

But with these benefits come drawbacks. Housing costs are rising dramatically. As the population surges, there are new demands on the natural resources that make the area so appealing. As more newcomers arrive, will there be conflicts between them and those who have made the mountain region their home for generations?

Together with 88.1 WCQS Western North Carolina Public Radio, we’ll moderate discussions with the community about what it really means to live in a city that’s become “hot.”

Join us at 7 p.m. ET on Tues., Feb. 7 by streaming the live event on this page or via NPR Extra on Facebook.

If you also live in a city that’s changing rapidly, we want to hear from you. You can join the conversation by tweeting with the hashtag #HotHometown.

Featured Social Media Guests

Franzi Charen, @franzicharen and @ashevillegrown, Asheville local business owner, founder and director of Asheville Grown Business Alliance

Natalie Cofield, @ncofield, founder and CEO of Walker’s Legacy (@walkerslegacy), Walker’s Legacy Foundation (@WalkersFnd) and Urban Co-Lab (@UrbanCoLabATX), an expert on diversity and inclusion in the workplace in Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C.

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Jeremy Jones, @thejeremybjones, North Carolina native, author of Bearwallow: A Personal History of a Mountain Homeland which documents the cultural and economic changes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Appalachia

Fred McGhee, @fred_mcghee, historical archaeologist and urban and environmental anthropologist, advocate for affordable housing, education, community policing and environmental justice in East and South Austin, Texas

Jason Sandford, @ashevegas, founder and editor of ashvegas.com — an Asheville independent news blog, Asheville native and 20-year veteran journalist

Featured Panelists

Leah Wong Ashburn and Oscar Wong, president and founder, Highland Brewing Company, @HighlandBrews

Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, writer and teacher, enrolled member in the Eastern Band of Cherokee, @abirdsaun13

Chris Cooper, professor, Department of Political Science and Public Affairs at Western Carolina University, an expert on state politics and policy in the South

Scott Dedman, executive director, Mountain Housing Opportunities, @MtnHousingOpp

Julie Mayfield, co-director, Mountain True, @MtnTrue

Featured Performers

Ron Rash, award-winning poet, short story writer and novelist

River Whyless, Asheville baroque folk band, @RiverWhyless

River Whyless Tiny Desk Concert, Jan. 19, 2016

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Mongolian citizens offer cash, jewelry, horses to pay off government debt

Private citizens in Mongolia are donating cash, jewelry, gold and even horses to help the government make a near $600 million payment to bondholders next month.

The cash-strapped nation has been embroiled in an economic crisis brought about by a collapse in foreign investment, slowing growth in China and weak commodity prices.

Its currency, the tugrik, lost nearly a quarter of its value last year.

The government has been in talks with China and the International Monetary Fund for assistance, but investors are worried that any bailouts might not be negotiated in time, with the Development Bank of Mongolia’s $580 million of bonds due in March.

“If they don’t get the IMF bailout, where do they get the resources for this payment, without which they can’t do a new bond to refinance? It’s a chicken and egg situation,” said a Hong Kong-based trader.

The bonds were showing a bid of 98 cents on the dollar on Thursday, with a yield as high as 21.5 percent because of their closeness to maturity.

Though the Mongolian public has been hit by welfare cuts, rising food and fuel costs and a tough winter that is threatening to kill large numbers of livestock, donation pledges began to flood in this week after a campaign was launched by a prominent economist and members of parliament.

Corporate groups and legislators were also chipping in with cash contributions of as much as 100 million tugrik ($40,650).

Mongolia’s foreign currency reserves are at a seven-year low, according to credit rating agency Fitch, and redeeming DBM’s bonds could halve its total stockpile, which stood at $1.1 billion in September last year.

“The biggest issue for Mongolia is the very low level of FX reserves for financing this year, which is essentially why investors are closely watching out for an agreement with the IMF,” said Simon Quijano, emerging markets strategist with Legal & General Investment Management.

“Of course, Mongolia could go for other financing options but it is always the uncertainty on each of those options that causes unnecessary volatility,” he said.

Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat said that while the government would accept the donations, it had already “found a solution” for the March bond payment and would spend the cash elsewhere.

“The government cannot prohibit the start of any citizen-run campaign,” he said in a statement released on Wednesday.

“The cabinet has decided to spend voluntary donations on health, education and reducing smog as well as public infrastructure,” he added.

A senior Mongolian finance official said late last year that the country was looking to refinance its debt through lower-interest loans, and insisted the payments would be met in full.

(Reporting by Terrence Edwards in ULAANBAATAR and Umesh Desai in HONG KONG; Editing by Kim Coghill and Jacqueline Wong)

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Trump Supporters Cheer Quick Starts On Campaign Promises In His First Weeks

Flags printed with President Trump’s face are sold outside one of the entrances to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day on Jan. 20. Marian Carrasquero/NPR hide caption

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Marian Carrasquero/NPR

Algonquin, Ill., is a Republican stronghold. The growing town of 28,000 is about an hour’s drive northwest of Chicago in McHenry County, the only one of six in the metro area to vote for President Trump.

At Short Stacks, a small diner on Main Street, Ginger Underwood sits at a table with her two adult daughters. She voted for Donald Trump and says that, so far, she is glad she did.

“I think Trump is doing exactly what he said he was going to do when he ran for office,” she says. “So that’s fine with me, that he’s doing what he’s doing.”

It’s been 12 days since Trump was sworn into office and between a flurry of executive actions and his choice for the Supreme Court, it’s been a whirlwind of activity.

Underwood, who does volunteer work for a local environmental group, says she has no worries about the pace of executive actions during Trump’s first days — and, in fact, likes them all. But she does say she wishes the president would be more, as she says, tactful, when he does things like imposing restrictions on people traveling from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

“Not just suddenly doing it with no notice — not surprising his fellow Republicans,” she says.

Both of Underwood’s daughters are independents, and neither voted for Trump. Jessica Underwood, 40, says she’s trying to come to terms with the new administration. But the horse trainer says she’s not a sore loser.

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“He won fair and square,” she says. “I’m not impressed, but now I feel we have to live with it.”

Her sister, Dana, 43, is less accepting.

“All these decisions affect people’s lives,” the professional musician says. “I can’t get past the fact that we’ve elected somebody who deals with conflict by tweeting.”

After hearing what her daughters had to say, Ginger says she recently decided she’s actually a Libertarian; all three agree they would have voted for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

No more Obamacare

There’s also agreement at a nearby table, where retired teacher Trudy Kirsch, 64, is eating lunch with her son John, 32.

“I think he’s doing great — absolutely wonderful,” Trudy says.

Kirsch says she is pleased with Trump’s pick of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, even though she anticipates strong opposition. She likes Trump’s push to get rid of Obamacare and his intention to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border

“And if there was not a problem with people coming over illegally, we would not need the wall,” Kirsch says. “But if it’s broken, then we need to start looking at other options on how do you fix it.”

John Kirsch, who has owned and run a landscaping business for two years, agrees that Obamacare needs to go, saying that he’s struggled with rising health insurance premiums. He also says he appreciated Trump’s promise to cut taxes on small businesses and his quick executive action to cut regulations.

“He’s changing all the rules, and I love it.”

At a Anthony’s Barbershop down the street, proprietor Anthony Orlandino is joking with a friend while he trims his hair. The 69-year-old has had his shop on Main Street for 14 years.

“You know what he’s got going for him — he’s got Twitter going for him,” Orlandino says. “Now he can actually put it out. ‘Here’s what I got — don’t listen to the media, this is what I’m doing.’ “

And Orlandino says he simply likes Trump’s style.

“He’s a businessman, not a politician,” he says. “Politicians have gotta talk from both sides of their mouth, gotta please everybody because they want votes. He don’t have to. He’s saying, listen, this is the way it’s going to be. He’s changing all the rules, and I love it.”

Divided on travel ban

In the parking lot outside of a Meijer grocery store, a few cars have old Obama bumper stickers on them. But Annette Jones, who’s helping her granddaughter load groceries into the car, is a Republican who voted for Donald Trump — and she is, as she puts it, “ticked” about the executive order on travel restrictions.

“I thought he was doing good until he stopped all these people from coming in, and had them all at the airport. And I think that’s wrong,” she says. “So now it’s like … wait and see, what else he’s going to do.”

But Angela Fletcher, a 36-year-old social worker who also voted for Trump, says that executive order doesn’t bother her at all.

“I’m happy with him,” she says. “I know that’s not the popular answer, but I like it, and don’t have any issues with things he’s done so far, I guess.”

Fletcher, like many Trump voters in this small town, says she appreciates that the president is moving quickly to turn many of his campaign promises into policy.

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VIDEO: When Humans Got Cozy, Germs Got Deadly

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Humans get along pretty well with most microbes. Which is lucky, because there are a lot more of them in the world than there are of us. We couldn’t even live without many of them. But a few hundred have evolved, and are still evolving, to exploit our bodies in ways that can make us really sick. These are the microbes we call germs. Think plague, flu, HIV, SARS, Ebola, Zika, measles.

This is a series is about where germs come from. In this first of three episodes, we see what our early encounters with germs may have been like — and how germs first got the upper hand.

Join the conversation with the hashtag #KillerViruses or tweet us @NPRGoatsAndSoda.

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First Listen: Chuck Prophet, 'Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins'

Chuck Prophet’s new album, Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins, comes out February 10. Karen Doolittle/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Karen Doolittle/Courtesy of the artist

Chuck Prophet’s whip-smart new collection, Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins, begins with a celebration of the enigmatic one-hit rock curiosity who sang “I Fought The Law” in 1964 and then, shortly after the song took off, was found dead in his car at age 23.

Chuck Prophet: Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Courtesy of the artist

Fuller’s death remains a mystery, and perhaps as a result, his song and story has resonance for record geeks like Prophet. He begins the second verse of “Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins” by talking about the experience of listening: “I hear the record crackle, the needle skips and jumps,” he half-sings as pedal steel guitar careens Byrds-like overhead. That leads to Prophet’s central confession, and the record’s animating theme: “I never saw a movie that moved me half as much.”

With that, we’re off, riding shotgun down some mythic highway with a rock true believer who is not sure of much beyond the primacy of two guitars-bass-and-drums and a handful of raggedly hacked chords. On this journey, the 53-year old Prophet – whose discography includes the pioneering psychedelic Americana of Green on Red and a stack of strong solo albums – is not hunting for transcendent wisdom. He’s just taking in the view, with occasional detours into communication breakdowns (“Coming Out in Code”) and assorted other paradoxes of life (the rousing “Rider or the Train”).

Prophet has described his new work as “California Noir.” With a few exceptions – the gloriously leering “Your Skin,” a gem of a song that recalls X at its most impassioned – the record bears little resemblance to the stylized L.A. noir of James Ellroy novels. It’s murky, coated with fog and shadows – in some ways, it picks up where Prophet’s high-concept history of San Francisco, 2012’s Temple Beautiful, left off. Its narratives are often dark: Several songs are set in the aftermath of gun violence – one pays homage to Alex Nieto, a Bay Area man killed by police; another tells of the tragic encounter between a shopgirl with a song in her heart and a brutal “Killing Machine” who offs people at a store as casually as others buy gum.

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Mostly, though, Prophet is drawn to the romance of rock culture – the enduring ritual that boils down to “drop needle, seek redemption.” (Indeed, your enjoyment of Bobby Fuller may depend on your tolerance for rock songs about enjoying rock songs.) Prophet has been on the road forever, he’s spent lifetimes amongst its traveling circus of savants and misfits. Sometimes his passion gets misplaced: The album’s most obvious misstep is “Bad Year for Rock and Roll,” which deserves an award for stating the obvious, over and over again. Its chorus ends with a telling couplet: “I wanna go out, but I’ll probably stay home.”

It’s an odd moment, especially since the rest of Bobby Fuller deals with what happens when you don’t stay home. The unsparing, possibly autobiographical “We Got Up and Played” finds Prophet and band standing around after soundcheck, facing the prospect of another night in a grimy club. Prophet goes acidic as he sketches the scene’s less-than-glorious aspects – the cast of characters includes “the bartender standing in the middle of the street with his pants around his neck.” It’s slightly sordid, sure, yet the song captures something fundamentally compelling about people who, despite long odds and great indifference, climb onto a stage and attempt to create music night after night.

“We plugged in our guitars and tried to make it rain,” Prophet sings with all the wistfulness his road-roughened voice can muster. The song comes near the end of the record, after he’s used the guitar to make it rain, and hail, and everything else. The ragged, barbed-wire sound makes clear that he doesn’t want the gold commemorative watch or bonus points for surviving the rock ‘n’ roll gauntlet. All he wants is the chance to go out and do it some more.

Chuck Prophet’s new album, Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins, comes out February 10. Karen Doolittle/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Karen Doolittle/Courtesy of the artist

Chuck Prophet, ‘Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins’

01Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins

3:23

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    02Your Skin

    3:20

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      03Open Up Your Heart

      3:59

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        04Coming Out in Code

        3:07

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          05Killing Machine

          3:33

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            06Bad Year For Rock and Roll

            3:46

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              07Jesus Was a Social Drinker

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                08In the Mausoleum (For Alan Vega)

                3:47

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                  09Rider or the Train

                  2:53

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                    10If I Was Connie Britton

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                      11Post-War Cinematic Dead Man Blues

                      3:28

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                        12We Got Up and Played

                        3:47

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                          13Alex Nieto

                          4:05

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                            Episode 751: The Thing About That Border Tax

                            The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) headquarters stands in Washington, D.C., U.S. Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption

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                            Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

                            America’s corporate tax is a mess. Republicans have a plan to fix it. But it will be a tough sell.

                            The new plan would lower the corporate tax rate, currently one of the highest in the world. And it would change how the tax works on a fundamental level. It’s called a border adjustment tax, and it would be a huge tax break to American exporters.

                            Of course every tax change has winners and losers. The losers under the new tax plan would be any business that imports products. Businesses like Walmart and Target would likely pay more in taxes.

                            Trade economists have talked about the border adjustment tax for decades, but it is only now getting its moment in the spotlight. The Republicans in Congress are pushing it as a way to lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent.

                            The plan even got the approval of President Donald Trump as a way to make Mexico pay for a border wall.

                            But on today’s episode we talk to an early backer of the border adjustment tax, and he says it doesn’t do what everyone thinks it does. It definitely doesn’t punish Mexico or make them pay for anything. And in the end it won’t even hurt the nation’s importers.

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                            The reason is complicated. We’ll use a jar of marbles and a lovely music box to make sense of the Republican border adjustment tax plan.

                            Music: “Baiser Fatal.” Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.

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                            National Prayer Breakfast Could Feature Reconciliation Or Bickering

                            The U.S. Constitution prohibits “an establishment of religion,” but U.S. presidents have long paid tribute to the importance of faith in a divine power.

                            “Every free government is imbedded soundly in a deeply-felt religious faith, or it makes no sense,” said Dwight D. Eisenhower, speaking at the first National Prayer Breakfast in 1953. Since then, all presidents have spoken at the annual event, often highlighting their own faith or the role of prayer in their personal lives.

                            This year’s breakfast will give President Trump another opportunity to burnish his less than perfect reputation as a religious man. The White House on Wednesday confirmed that he will speak at the event, which by tradition is co-chaired by a Republican and Democratic member of Congress.

                            The breakfast is meant to provide a break from partisan acrimony.

                            “Sometimes it feels as though only divine intervention can bring Republicans and Democrats together in Washington,” wrote Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., and John Boozman, R-Ark., the hosts of this year’s breakfast, in a jointly signed column in the Washington Examiner.

                            It doesn’t always work. Ben Carson used his speech at the 2013 Prayer Breakfast to make a blistering attack on President Obama, who was seated just a few feet away, and thereby launched his own political career. A principal speaker this year will be Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback Church network in California. Warren has attempted to be nonpartisan in his ministry and offered a prayer at Obama’s inauguration in 2009.

                            “I think it is an important thing,” Warren said in a Facebook video, referring to the breakfast, “particularly right now, after this last election and campaigning, which has really divided America.” He cited the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus called on his followers to be peacemakers.

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                            “Who wants to bring peace? As Christians, we are called to do that,” Warren said.

                            With his own speech at the breakfast, Trump will have to choose whether to attempt some reconciliation with his political opponents or confront them, as he has done in the past week, as Democrats in Congress resisted his Cabinet nominations.

                            Some advocates of LGBT rights have feared that Trump will use his speech at the prayer breakfast to announce a new executive order providing greater protection for Christian conservatives who oppose same-sex marriage and other accommodations for LGBT individuals. Those concerns were somewhat alleviated by a White House announcement on Tuesday that the Trump administration would continue to enforce a 2014 executive order signed by Obama that barred discrimination against LGBT people working for federal contractors. White House officials, however, have not ruled out the possibility of another executive order on the issue.

                            Trump’s order last week suspending the admission of refugees and temporarily barring immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries could also be an issue at the prayer breakfast. The order has aroused stiff and vocal opposition from many Christian groups.

                            Hundreds of foreign dignitaries will be on hand at the breakfast, including King Abdullah II of Jordan, a country currently burdened by a huge influx of Syrian refugees. Abdullah met earlier in the week with Vice President Pence and Defense Secretary James Mattis, but his encounter with Trump at the breakfast will be their first meeting. Trump has made clear he would like more assistance from countries like Jordan in the fight against ISIS, but Jordanian authorities worry that Trump’s promise to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem could make it politically difficult to show more support for the United States.

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