'He's Doing A Good Job': Supporters Rally Nationwide To Defend Trump

Supporters of President Trump chant slogans during a Saturday rally on Fifth Avenue near Trump tower in New York City.

Mary Altaffer/AP

hide caption

toggle caption

Mary Altaffer/AP

Supporters of President Trump are gathering at locations across the U.S. on Saturday, in a bid to challenge what rally organizers call the country’s “seditious fringe.” In a series of demonstrations dubbed the “March 4 Trump” — or the Spirit of America Rallies — organizers have pledged to provide “forgotten voices a mechanism so they can be heard.”

“They aren’t giving [Trump] a chance,” Patty Collins, a local organizer, tells The Indianapolis Star. “We are here to show support for the president of the United States.”

Saturday’s demonstrations — which were intended to be small, according to the Main Street Patriots — come just one week after Trump tweeted something of a call for rallies backing his administration.

“Maybe the millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN should have their own rally,” Trump tweeted. “It would be the biggest of them all!”

Maybe the millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN should have their own rally. It would be the biggest of them all!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017

From New York City to Raleigh, N.C., from Austin to Washington, D.C., Trump supporters answered that call — though in many instances, counterprotesters were also there to meet them.

At the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, scuffles broke out between pro-Trump demonstrators and a smaller group of anti-Trump protesters, according to the Star Tribune. While the two parties were quickly separated by police and fellow demonstrators, the Minneapolis newspaper reports that both sides continued to lob insults at each other from close range:

“The two groups continued to trade taunts — ‘Get a job!’ was one volleyed at the counterprotesters — and chants and shouts reverbated through the rotunda. Someone — it was unclear who, except that it was not police — sprayed a chemical irritant, causing some scattering and coughing on both sides.

“At least two people were arrested.”

Kerfuffles like the one in Minnesota broke out elsewhere, as well.

Outside the Texas State Capitol in Austin, where police estimate roughly 300 supporters gathered, Taylor Goldenstein of the Austin Statesman witnessed heated confrontations between the two groups amid chants of “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!” Those skirmishes were broken up by police without serious injury.

Oh dear. Counter protesters start yelling. Crowds confronting. #March4Trumppic.twitter.com/jzofvbppSJ

— Taylor Goldenstein (@taygoldenstein) March 4, 2017

For the most part, however, the demonstrations have been peaceful — and in Austin, at least, charitable as well. The Austin Statesman notes that pro-Trump “attendees are told to bring donations for the homeless and veterans, such as canned goods, clothing, blankets and hygiene products, according to the [organizers’] Facebook page.”

“There have been so many protests against [Trump], we just want to spend a day showing him there are people who support him,” Jennifer Drabbant, a local organizer, tells the Statesman.

Counter protestors have left. #March4Trump rally looks like this now (from left to right above rotunda): pic.twitter.com/Qw6rrMe3zw

— Ricardo Lopez (@rljourno) March 4, 2017

It was a sentiment echoed at the D.C. rally, where a man who identified himself as a registered Democrat told the gathering he was frustrated with the worldwide women’s marches the day after Trump’s inauguration. Most of the people who joined those marches expressed opposition to the new president’s agenda.

“He was in office less than 24 hours,” the man told the crowd from stage.

#March4Trump leaves Washington Monument, en route to White House. pic.twitter.com/RVS560C2Ix

— Josh Fatzick (@JoshFatzick) March 4, 2017

Meanwhile, Michigan Public Radio’s Cheyna Roth reports “it was a clash of the signs and chants” outside the State Capitol on Saturday, as demonstrators gathered near counterprotesters.

“He’s doing a good job, I think,” Trump supporter Trent Herbert told Roth. “I think a lot of times he should stay off Twitter.”

Christy Trammell of Franklin, Tenn., says she’s attending the Nashville demonstration — her first political rally — as a direct response to January’s women’s marches.

“Seeing the people there that were trying to act like they represent women,” she told Blake Farmer of member station WPLN, “it was appalling to me.”

Farmer reports that the Nashville rally, which wasn’t quite as big as organizers would have liked, nevertheless voiced their support of Trump’s proposed wall along the border with Mexico, as well as rolling back transgender bathroom protections.

Still, in Nashville, as elsewhere, protesters persistently chanted slogans from the edges. Organizers of one counterprotest in D.C. summed up their motivations behind showing up in opposition.

“We won’t sit idly by when Trump supporters come to town and celebrate: fear, hate, and misogyny,” Smash Racism DC wrote on its Facebook page.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

16 Years After Father's Killing, Colombian Family Sees Justice In U.S. Court

Colombian paramilitary Hernan Giraldo Serna, second right, is escorted by U.S. DEA Agents at his arrival in Opa-locka, Fla., on May 13, 2008. Members of a Colombian paramilitary group arrived from Colombia to face U.S. drug trafficking and money laundering charges in federal court.

Alan Diaz/AP

hide caption

toggle caption

Alan Diaz/AP

It has been a long battle for the Henriquez family to finally sit in the same D.C. courtroom as the man who allegedly ordered the murder of their father and husband.

Hernan Giraldo Serna, a Colombian ex-paramilitary leader, was sentenced Friday to more than 16 years in prison for conspiring to import cocaine into the United States.

Bela, Nadiezhda and Zulma Henriquez, who traveled to the United States from Colombia and Venezuela, became the first foreign victims to be heard in a U.S. courtroom regarding an international drug conspiracy case. As Giraldo Serna walked in, they held one another tightly, and drew up the courage to tell the story of their father, Julio Henriquez Santamaria.

It’s a story about plants, farmers and fishermen decades ago in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains in Colombia. An environmental activist and peasant organizer, Henriquez suggested a plan that posed a threat to the paramilitary leaders: to stop growing coca around the city of Santa Marta.

Sisters Bela Henriquez, left, and Nadiezhda Henriquez with their mother, Zulma Chacin de Henriquez, center, testified about how Giraldo Serna’s drug operations destroyed their family.

Marian Carrasquero/NPR

hide caption

toggle caption

Marian Carrasquero/NPR

According to the family, on Feb. 4, 2001, he was in a community meeting trying to create an environmental association. In the middle of the meeting, he was taken and put into a white van. He never came back.

The next day Zulma and her daughters traveled from Bogota, where they had just moved for educational opportunities. They went straight to Santa Marta to look for their father.

“No one, nothing, nobody informed us — nobody gave us details on what they saw,” says Nadiezhda Henriquez, Julio Henriquez’s oldest daughter. “There was fear and control. If Giraldo Serna didn’t authorize anyone to say where he was buried, no one was going to say it.”

It wasn’t until years later that Giraldo Serna’s lawyers provided coordinates that led to Henriquez’s decomposed body. The body was exhumed. The family refused to turn the body over to the state because they said they didn’t trust the prosecutors.

In Colombia’s long and strained history with war, drugs, paramilitaries took a stronghold of the country law and order. Giraldo Serna was one of these leaders known to give orders.

Also known as El Patron or The Drill, he wasn’t only a paramilitary leader responsible for drug operations and homicides, but also responsible for the rape of several girls under the age of 14. One organization believes at least 13 such girls gave birth to his children.

William B. Bryant Annex of the United States Court House in Washington, D.C., was where Hernan Giraldo Serna was sentenced to 198 months for conspiring to import cocaine in the United States.

Marian Carrasquero/NPR

hide caption

toggle caption

Marian Carrasquero/NPR

But in 2008, along with 13 other paramilitary leaders, he was extradited to the United States under Colombia’s Justice and Peace Law.

“By the time he was convicted and sentenced for the forced disappearance of Julio Henriquez, he had been extradited. He was ordered to be imprisoned for 37.5 years and to pay economic compensation to the family,” says Roxanna Altholz, the the Henriquezes’ lawyer and the associate director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley.

This extradition represented something more for the Henriquez family.

“When we found out that they were extradited, and among them was Mr. Giraldo, we saw that we lost the chance to know the truth for justice,” said widow Zulma Chacin de Henriquez.

The family wanted to pursue justice in honor of their father. In 2009, they filed to be recognized as victims under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2004. The motion wasn’t recognized until 2015. Giraldo Serna’s case kept being pushed back, but they finally were able to voice their story, and the Henriquezes became the only Colombians to speak before one of the extradited paramilitary leaders.

Although the defendant’s lawyer, Robert Feitel, pushed for a 12-year sentence, Judge Reggie Walton stated that finding the balance was difficult. But he also said that he couldn’t overlook the violence that Giraldo Serna and his cocaine trafficking caused his victims and issued a 16-and-a-half year sentence.

The family embraced after an arduous day of reliving trauma in court. They were relieved that the judge heard them, and told Colombian media waiting for them outside that it’s a first step in the right direction — but that in the end, it didn’t matter how many years Giraldo Serna was given, because it never would bring back their father and husband.

What keeps Bela Henriquez strong are her father’s dreams. A biologist helping the development of Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, she says, “his dreams, became our dreams.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Sinn Fein Makes Big Gains, Reshuffling Political Landscape In Northern Ireland

A cyclist rides past a mural on the Catholic Falls Road in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Saturday after results were finalized in the province’s snap election.

Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

hide caption

toggle caption

Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

When the dust finally settled Saturday on Northern Ireland’s snap assembly election, it became clear a new political reality now awaits voters there. After an exceedingly strong showing by Sinn Fein, Northern Ireland’s government is split all but down the middle between Irish nationalists and their pro-British counterparts.

The snap election, which was held after Sinn Fein withdrew from a previous power-sharing agreement, handed the Democratic Unionist Party a victory at a steep price. Though the DUP won, the party did so with a historically narrow margin, earning 28 seats to Sinn Fein’s 27 — a dramatic change from the 10-seat advantage the DUP held over Sinn Fein going into the election.

The result, which also handed fewer seats to a smattering of other parties, leaves unionists without a firm majority — and thus without veto power — for the first time since Ireland was partitioned in 1921, according to Reuters. The Irish Independent reports that all told, the assembly now has “40 unionists and 39 nationalist/republicans, with the remainder of the 90 MLAs affiliated to neither tradition.”

Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Fein’s new leader in Northern Ireland, talks with overall party leader Gerry Adams and members of the media in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Friday. Sinn Fein, which used to be on the U.S. terrorism watchlist for its connection to the Irish Republican Army, saw massive gains in the recent election.

Paul McErlane/AFP/Getty Images

hide caption

toggle caption

Paul McErlane/AFP/Getty Images

Now, the province faces a fateful three weeks.

CNN notes that under the 1998 Good Friday peace accord, which ended three decades of sectarian violence in the region, Northern Ireland’s government “must be run jointly by unionist and nationalist parties.”

If the evenly matched parties should fail to reach a power-sharing agreement in the next three weeks — a prospect that many expect — power over Northern Ireland would be returned to British Parliament for the first time since 2007, says Reuters.

“If we can’t do it in three weeks it could be a prolonged period of direct rule,” the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson told BBC Radio, according to Reuters. “In those circumstances, with Brexit coming down the road, we won’t have our own administration to speak for us and offer the best prospect of delivering the kind of outcome we need.”

As Joe Zefran reports for our Newscast unit, this was Northern Ireland’s first assembly election since last year’s Brexit vote, which determined that the U.K. would leave the European Union — a result most voters in Northern Ireland opposed.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams trumpeted Saturday’s result as a sea change in the politics of Northern Ireland and a sign of hope for the party’s goal of a united Ireland.

“The notion of a perpetual unionist majority has been demolished,” Adams said, according to the BBC.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Tom Hanks Sends The White House Press Corps A Caffeine Infusion (Again)

Tom Hanks visits his old espresso machine during a visit to the White House March 11, 2010.

Alex Brandon/AP

hide caption

toggle caption

Alex Brandon/AP

Tom Hanks of Sully, Joe Versus the Volcano, Forrest Gump and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me fame wants the White House press corps to stay caffeinated.

The Oscar-winning actor sent a fancy Pasquini espresso machine and a bunch of espresso pods along with a typewritten note, which arrived on Thursday.

Tom Hanks’ thank-you note to journalists encourages them to “keep up the good fight.”

Tamara Keith/NPR

hide caption

toggle caption

Tamara Keith/NPR

“To the White House Press Corps,” Hanks wrote. “Keep up the good fight for Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Especially the Truth part.”

The story of Hanks and his efforts to keep the press corps alert dates back to the George W. Bush presidency.

In 2004, the Washington Post’s Reliable Sources column ran this item:

“Touring the briefing room over Memorial Day weekend with his wife and one of his sons, and discovering that it lacked a coffee maker, Hanks had a caffeine machine delivered last week with a note: “I hope this machine will make the 24-hour cycle of news a bit more pleasant. Add water, insert pod, press button and REPORT. All good things, Tom Hanks.”

One glitch: The $1,000 Illy machine currently isn’t working. A replacement part is on the way. “It is going to come in handy during those background briefings,” says Knight Ridder’s Ron Hutcheson, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, who wrote Hanks: “I can’t promise favorable coverage if you ever run for president, but you have at least earned the gratitude of the White House press corps with your generous gift.”

In 2010, Hanks visited the White House for a private screening of his HBO series The Pacific. So, of course, he ventured back to the press work area to check on his espresso machine. An ABC News report from the time indicates he found a mess.

“‘Let me see what I can do for the poor slobs in the Fourth estate here,” Hanks said picking up the dirty coffee filter, ‘You know you are supposed to clean this after every use!’

Director Steven Spielberg stood behind Hanks studying the machine.

‘We’re just trying to combat sleep deprivation,’ Hanks said.”

Shortly after, Hanks sent over another machine. But it, too, fell into neglect and disrepair.

It’s not clear what inspired Hanks to send a new machine this week. Perhaps he simply assumed that after nearly seven years there’s no way the “poor slobs” of the press corps had cleaned the machine after every use, as recommended. Or perhaps he’s been following the president’s twitter feed…

The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017

…and figured the press corps needed a jolt.

Whatever the case may be, it brought a flurry of excitement to the break room in the press work area in the midst of a very busy week.

Thank you @tomhanks. The espresso is delicious and this machine is a little more idiot proof than the last. pic.twitter.com/ZJlJCIqLV0

— Tamara Keith (@tamarakeithNPR) March 2, 2017

The reporters covering the White House aren’t the only journalists to benefit from the generosity of Tom Hanks. In 2010, he sent a bunch of pies to NPR member station KPCC in southern California.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Míriam Colón, Puerto Rican Actress And Theater Pioneer, Dies At 80

Then-President Obama awards the National Medal of Arts to actress, theater founder and director Miriam Colon in September 2015.

Andrew Harnik/AP

hide caption

toggle caption

Andrew Harnik/AP

When Míriam Colón left Puerto Rico for New York City in the 1950s, to study at the Actors Studio, she became the first Puerto Rican actor to be admitted to the prestigious program. By the time she died Friday at the age of 80, Colón had acted in more than 90 films and founded a traveling theater designed to help other Latina actresses follow the trail she blazed.

Her husband confirmed her death to The Associated Press, saying she died of complications from a pulmonary infection.

Colón’s extensive resume lists roles beside Hollywood luminaries such as Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino, whom she shared the screen with in Scarface. But she was equally prolific on the small screen, as well, taking featured turns in TV series from Bonanza to Law & Order.

Often known as a character actress, Colón imbued her roles with deep sensitivity, no matter their screen time.

“It’s not the director alone, it’s not the author alone. You have to put contribution of soul, of understanding, of justification or fantasy, to add to that,” Colón told NPR’s Alt.Latino in 2013. “It’s wonderful when they have the combination of the author interpreted by an intelligent actor or translated to film or to theater.”

Still, despite her prodigious list of on-screen roles, Colón was equally known for her contributions behind the scenes.

In the late 1960s, she founded the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, which was based in New York City. As The New York Times noted in 1998, the theater’s mission is “to bring theater to the people,” in Colón’s words. With performances across the country, Colón personally combated what she saw as a paucity of respectable roles for actors and actresses of Latino descent.

“The damage is the scarcity of roles with dignity and with character that are not portrayed” in Hollywood, she told Alt.Latino.

“You go to a store and the person that sells you vegetables is a Puerto Rican. You go to a hospital and the person that puts the oxygen mask on you is a Puerto Rican. You go anywhere and you’ll find them. But in Hollywood scripts, they are nonexistent.”

Both in her person and her productions, Colón sought to change this situation — efforts that earned her a National Medal of Arts in 2015. And just two years earlier, the Puerto Rican actress, producer and director reflected on those changes for which she worked all her career, both on-screen and off.

“We have evolved as a community in this nation throughout the years, and that is still true. We still have our music, and we still have the music which is all so charming and so exciting,” she said. “But that’s not what we are all about.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

President Trump Accuses Obama Of 'Wire Tapping,' Provides No Evidence

President Donald Trump looks on as he meets with parents and teachers at Saint Andrew Catholic School in Orlando, Florida, on March 3, 2017.

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

hide caption

toggle caption

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 9:45 a.m. ET

In a string of tweets posted early Saturday morning, President Trump let loose a barrage of accusations at his predecessor. He alleged that former President Obama had his “wires tapped” in Trump Tower before Election Day last year, accusing Obama of “McCarthyism” and being a “bad (or sick) guy.”

Trump, who is under significant scrutiny for his administration’s contacts with Russia before he took office, offered no evidence to support his claims Saturday morning. Neither the White House nor Obama’s office has responded immediately to NPR’s requests for comment.

Trump opened his volley on Twitter Saturday morning with a defense of his embattled attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who recused himself earlier this week from any investigations into Russian intervention in the presidential election. Sessions has been embroiled in controversy for two meetings he held with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. last year, which appear to contradict a statement he made to the Senate in his confirmation hearings.

“The first meeting Jeff Sessions had with the Russian Amb was set up by the Obama Administration under education program for 100 Ambs,” Trump tweeted. Later, Trump added that the same Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, visited the White House under Obama “22 times, and 4 times last year alone.”

In the midst of these defenses, the sitting president accused the former president of ” ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election.”

“Terrible!” Trump tweeted. “Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017

Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017

How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017

Trump did not produce evidence to support his assertions, nor did he cite the source of his information.

On Weekend Edition Saturday, NPR’s Ron Elving notes the fact that Trump says he “just found out”:

“It appears perhaps to be a response to a narrative in Breitbart.com, the right-wing website that was previously published by Steve Bannon, the president’s senior adviser.

“There, you will find a narrative about how the Obama administration was so intent on thwarting Donald Trump last fall that they had much of the intelligence community doing everything it could to gather skullduggery and information about Donald Trump.

“And that would have included, according to Donald Trump, wiretapping his phones. But there does not seem to be any direct evidence of that.”

“That is an extraordinary thing to hear from a sitting president about his predecessor,” NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly notes on Weekend Edition Saturday. For our Newscast unit, Mary Louise adds: “Tapping his phones would require a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance court.”

She also says the director of national intelligence is declining comment.

The FBI has opened an investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election to boost Trump’s campaign. Congressional intelligence committees are currently reviewing documents related to possible links between Russian officials and the campaign, as well as recent leaks of classified information.

Shortly after his final tweet about Obama, which says “this is Nixon/Watergate,” Trump turned his attention to other matters, berating Arnold Schwarzenegger, his successor on Celebrity Apprentice. Schwarzenegger announced Friday he was leaving the show, blaming the show’s recent poor ratings on Trump.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)