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AP FACT CHECK: Trump botches murder rate

Published: Wednesday, February 08, 2017 @ 3:27 AM
Updated: Wednesday, February 08, 2017 @ 3:26 AM

            President Donald Trump looks at a figurine given to him by a group of county sheriffs, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump's dark view of violent crime in America rests largely on a bogus claim: that the murder rate is higher than it's been in nearly half a century. Actually, the murder rate is down sharply in that time, despite a recent spike.

On Tuesday, he told a meeting of sheriffs: "The murder rate in our country is the highest it's been in 47 years, right? Did you know that? Forty-seven years. I used to use that — I'd say that in a speech and everybody was surprised because the press doesn't tell it like it is." He circled back to add: "The murder rate is the highest it's been in, I guess, from 45 to 47 years."

THE FACTS: The murder rate in 2015, the latest year for which figures are available, is actually among the lowest in half a century. It stood at 4.9 murders per 100,000 people, a far cry from the rates in the 1970s, 1980s and most of the 1990s, when they were typically over 6 per 100,000, peaking at over 10 in 1980.

It's true that 2015 saw one of the largest increases in decades, up 10 percent from 4.4 murders per 100,000 people in 2014, but even with that rise homicides are not on the order of what the country experienced in previous decades.

Trump has misrepresented crime statistics on several occasions. He stated last month that Philadelphia's murder rate has been "terribly increasing" even though it dropped slightly last year. The city's murder rate rose in the previous two years but remained substantially lower than in past decades.

He also incorrectly claimed that two people "were shot and killed" in Chicago during then-President Barack Obama's farewell speech on Jan. 10. Although Chicago has experienced a surge in murders compared with previous decades, no one was fatally shot in Chicago that day, police records show, much less during Obama's speech.

EDITOR'S NOTE _ A look at the veracity of claims by public figures

Obama denounces 'fundamental meanness' of Senate GOP health care bill

Published: Friday, June 23, 2017 @ 10:44 AM

Former President of the United States Barack Obama after a discussion about democracy at Church Congress on May 25, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Steffi Loos/Getty Images)
Steffi Loos/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama criticized a Republican Senate bill proposed Thursday that would repeal and replace parts of his signature Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, calling the measure bad for Americans and saying that it has “fundamental meanness” at its core.

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“Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family – this bill will do you harm,” Obama wrote Thursday in a lengthy Facebook post. “It would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it.”

Senate GOP leaders unveiled the 142-page proposed ACA replacement Thursday. It would repeal the ACA’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance, make deep cuts to Medicaid and withhold federal funding to Planned Parenthood for a year.

“The Senate bill … is not a health care bill,” Obama wrote. “It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. 

Our politics are divided. They have been for a long time. And while I know that division makes it difficult to listen...

Posted by Barack Obama on Thursday, June 22, 2017

“It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care or expensive prescriptions. Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.”

He acknowledged that Republicans have long promised to repeal the ACA, but urged lawmakers to put aside partisan politics while working to address America’s health care system.

>> Related: Senate health care bill: What is in it? Read it here

“I hope that our Senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake and consider that the rationale for action, on healthcare or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did,” he wrote.

As he has multiple times since the ACA’s passage in 2010, Obama conceded that the bill was less than perfect and vowed to support any Republican-backed bill that “is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost.”

“I still hope that there are enough Republicans in Congress who remember that public service is not about sport or notching a political win, that there’s a reason we all chose to serve in the first place, and that hopefully, it’s to make people’s lives better, not worse,” he wrote.

He called on citizens to pressure lawmakers into working with each other by calling and visiting members of Congress and sharing their stories about how the proposed bill will affect them.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said he hopes to bring the GOP bill to a vote before Congress breaks for its Fourth of July recess.

Who is James T. Hodgkinson, identified as GOP baseball practice shooter?

Published: Wednesday, June 14, 2017 @ 11:02 AM
Updated: Wednesday, June 14, 2017 @ 1:58 PM

Police have identified the suspect in Wednesday morning’s GOP baseball practice shooting as James. T. Hodgkinson.

Hodgkinson, 66, is from Belleville, Illinois, according to authorities. He owned a home inspection business, according to The Washington Post.

Hodgkinson had been living in Alexandria, Virginia for the past two months, according to his wife.

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In an interview with The New York Times, his brother said that Hodgkinson wasn’t happy with the 2016 presidential election results. 

The Belleville News-Democrat said Hodgkinson wrote numerous letters to the editor. The topics centered on taxes and income equality, with Hodgkinson frequently criticizing Republicans and their policies.

CNN reported that Hodgkinson was in critical condition and had not been interviewed by authorities. President Trump said in a televised statement that the shooter “has now died.”

Multiple people were injured Wednesday morning when a person opened fire on Republican lawmakers practicing in Alexandria, Virginia, for a charity baseball game. Several people were shot during the attack, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and Zack Barth, a legislative corespondent for Republican Rep. Roger Williams.

Deported veterans optimistic after Texas lawmaker’s dinner with Trump

Published: Saturday, June 17, 2017 @ 12:13 PM

Jose Martinez, a former Marine and Vietnam war veteran, holds a framed portrait of himself taken during his Marine boot camp outside of his mobile phone store in Nuevo Progreso, Mexico, on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN
American-Statesman Staff

Deported military veterans living in Mexico say they are hopeful that a recent dinner between U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez,  a freshman Democratic congressman from McAllen, and President Donald Trump will open the door to their return to the United States and make it harder to deport those who served in the military.

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“We’re very, very hopeful that things are moving forward,” said Hector Barajas, a deported veteran who runs the Tijuana-based Deported Veterans Support House, which serves as the nerve center of the effort to organize deported veterans. “We’re excited. I think it’s definitely a start that the administration is having this conversation.”

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How Trump’s Cuba policy could affect your travel plans

Published: Friday, June 16, 2017 @ 6:48 PM

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 16:  U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about policy changes he is making toward Cuba at the Manuel Artime Theater in the Little Havana neighborhood on June 16, 2017 in Miami, Florida. The President will re-institute some of the restrictions on travel to Cuba and U.S. business dealings with entities tied to the Cuban military and intelligence services.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

President Donald Trump announced his Cuba policy Friday in Miami.

Since President Barack Obama began taking steps to loosen travel and trade restrictions on the island nation in late 2014, there has been an increase in people heading there from the U.S.

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If you plan to travel to Cuba, here are six things you should know, based on early reports on Trump’s policy:

1. Travelers once more will have to be part of an organized group.

One policy Trump is reinstating: Travelers will have to be part of an organized tour group operated by a U.S. company, and the tour group will have to maintain a schedule of activities that expose tourists to Cuban culture, the White House said. Obama had scrapped that requirement.

 Related: Trump in Miami: Cuban regime’s ‘end is within the very near future’

2. The U.S. Embassy will remain.

For those who have emergencies abroad, an embassy can be a lifeline to home. Trump said the U.S. Embassy in Havana will stay open. It reopened in 2015 after being closed for more than five decades.

3. You will need to keep your records.

Detailed information on Cuba travel will be required, and visitors will need to hold onto that documentation for at least five years, the Miami Herald reports.

Related: Trump to Little Havana crowd: ‘You wouldn’t move to Palm Beach, would you?’ 

4. You’ll still be able to book an Airbnb.

Though Trump’s policy bars U.S. travelers from staying in Cuban military-linked hotels, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said Friday morning on Twitter that tourists still will be able to book “privately owned lodging like Airbnb.”

5. Cruises and commercial flights will be allowed to continue.

Regularly scheduled commercial flights to Cuba resumed last year following an application and approval process for airlines with the U.S. Department of Transportation. And cruise lines have boosted their offerings to Cuba, with stops in Havana and other popular tourist spots along the coast. Trump administration officials said yesterday in a conference call with reporters that cruises and flights will not be affected by the new policy.

Following Trump’s announcement, the policy took immediate effect. But none of the changes can become effective until new regulations are issued by the U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments, The Associated Press reports. The process of setting those regulations could take months, the White House said Friday. If you have a Cuba trip planned in the next few months, you should be in good shape — but it would be useful to have a backup plan.