Columbian Newspaper

Trump signs ‘American-made’ order
Author: KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday that will require federal agencies to purchase products using more American components.

The order strengthens the standards that federal agencies must follow under the Buy American Act, which creates a preference for American-made goods.

Trump said his order will gradually boost the percentage of U.S. components for qualifying American-made products from 50 percent to 75 percent. He said the threshold would increase to 95 percent for iron and steel products.

“The philosophy of my administration is simple. If we can build it, grow it or make it in the United States, we will,” Trump said.

A trade group representing the steel industry called Trump’s action “another positive step” in ensuring the industry remains competitive.

“Strong domestic procurement preferences for federally funded infrastructure projects are vital to the health of the domestic steel industry,” said Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Analysts said the executive order will require the federal government to pay more for many products.

“While it might be a good headline for the administration, it’s taxpayers that will end up paying for this policy,” said Bryan Riley, director of the conservative National Taxpayers Union’s Free Trade Initiative.

“When we artificially reduce the pool of qualified suppliers or the variety of eligible supplies that can satisfy procurement requirements, projects cost more, take longer to complete, and suffer from lower quality,” said Dan Ikenson, director of trade studies at the libertarian Cato Institute.

The president signed the order during an annual White House “Made in America” showcase. Manufacturers from all 50 states were represented.

Trump has made it a priority to boost U.S. manufacturing. Even so, the nation’s trade deficit has continued to grow under his watch, widening to a decadelong high of $621 billion in 2018.

Trump said foreign countries have been allowed to “steal our jobs and plunder our wealth” in previous administrations. He also used the event to highlight tariffs he’s imposed on China, saying China has paid a big price economically as a result.

Dave Drabkin, former chairman of a federal panel that recommended improvements to the defense acquisition system, said it would likely take a minimum of nine months to complete the rule necessary to enact Trump’s directive.

He called the action “positive for American companies, negative for foreign competitors” but noted that other nations could undertake similar actions to protect their domestic companies.

Trump also acknowledged that it’s unclear how a new trade agreement he negotiated with Canada and Mexico will fare in the Democratic-controlled House. Democrats want to strengthen enforcement of the agreement’s labor and environmental obligations.

Protests, deals on Amazon Prime Day
Author: MAE ANDERSON, Associated Press

NEW YORK — Amazon’s Prime Day is coming with a wave of deals — and protests.

The company’s fifth annual Prime Day now stretches two days, Monday and Tuesday, invented as an effort to try to drum up sales during sluggish summer months and sign up more users for its Prime loyalty program.

The Seattle-based e-commerce behemoth said it is offering more than a million deals. Amazon’s own products are usually among the best sellers.

This year, some used the high-profile event as a way to garner attention for their protests against Amazon.

At a warehouse in Shakopee, Minn., workers planned a strike to raise awareness for workers’ conditions. A group of tech workers in Seattle, called Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, is supporting the strike.

On Twitter, Massachusetts Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren voiced her support for the workers as well.

Amazon says it already offers what the workers are asking for.

“We provide great employment opportunities with excellent pay — ranging from $16.25-$20.80 an hour, and comprehensive benefits including health care, up to 20 weeks parental leave, paid education, promotional opportunities, and more,” spokeswoman Brenda Alfred said in a statement in response to the planned strike.

The company has faced labor unrest before in Shakopee and in Europe.

In New York, a coalition of labor groups planned to deliver 250,000 petitions to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Manhattan home calling on the company to cut business ties with ICE and end abusive working conditions in its warehouses. And some on Twitter called for a blanket boycott of Amazon during Prime Day.

San Diego State University Marketing Professor Steven Osinski said the protests were unlikely to have an effect on sales, however.

“I don’t think it will have an impact, Americans liking discounts will trump worrying about higher wages for two days,” he said.

Other retailers have introduced sales to compete against Prime Day. Walmart has a “summer savings event” through Wednesday. Best Buy, EBay, Target and other retailers are also offering discounts.

“It’s something that shows you the power of Amazon that almost every other retailer is trying to capitalize on the traffic we’re seeing online today with promotions by just about everybody,” said Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy.

Some people may have delayed purchases until Prime Day, or are making back-to-school shopping purchases ahead of that season.

“Amazon has changed the consumer psychology in terms of summer shopping,” he said.

Amazon kicked off the event with a star-studded concert headlined by Taylor Swift.

The company says it has more than 100 million subscribers to its Prime loyalty program, which costs $119 a year and provides free two-day shipping, free streaming movies, TV shows, and music and other perks.

American extends Boeing flight cancellations
Author: MARTIN CRUTSINGER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — American Airlines said Sunday that it will keep the Boeing 737 Max plane off its schedule until Nov. 3, which is two months longer than it had planned.

In a statement, American said the action will result in the cancellation of about 115 flights per day. It said it “remains confident” that the Boeing plane will be recertified this year. But some airline executives are growing doubtful about that timetable.

United Airlines announced Friday that it was extending its cancellations until Nov. 3, a month longer than it had planned.

United has 14 Max jets while American has 24 of them. Southwest Airlines, which has 34 Max jets — more than any other carrier — is canceling about 150 flights per day.

The plane was grounded in March following two deadly crashes.

The announcement Sunday marked the fifth time that American Airlines has pushed back the expected time that the Max would resume flying.

“American Airlines remains confident that impending software updates to the Boeing 737 Max, along with the new training elements Boeing is developing in coordination with our union partners, will lead to recertification of the aircraft this year,” the airline said.

In its previous announcement of further flight cancellations last month, American Airlines had said it had expected the recertification to be accomplished “soon.”

In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Airlines, said, “I expect it’s going to take longer than people expect” before the Max is certified to fly again. He said he could not venture a guess as to when that might occur.

Delta does not fly the Boeing Max plane and has not had to contend with the flight cancellations faced by other airlines that do fly the Max. In late 2007, Delta was considering ordering the Max plane but ended up ordering 100 Airbus planes with an option to buy 100 more.

Federal Aviation Administration has said it is following a thorough process but has no timetable for when the recertification will be completed.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that fixing the 737 Max’s faulty flight-control software and completing other steps to start carrying passengers will likely stretch into 2020.

Unnamed officials at the FAA and pilot-union leaders were quoted as saying that no firm timeline has been established, but one scenario anticipates the plane could return to the air in January 2020.

AP Airlines Writer David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report.

Cuban singer becomes pioneer of #MeToo movement on island
Author: ANDREA RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press

HAVANA — Dianelys Alfonso has a bold presence — brightly colored tattoos, spandex bodysuits, Technicolor hair — and a clarion voice that won her the label “Goddess of Cuba” for her turns on songs ranging from ballads to reggaeton.

Now she’s also the center of a new phenomenon in Cuba after publicly accusing another renowned musician, flutist and bandleader Jos? Luis Cort?s, of repeatedly assaulting and raping her during their yearslong relationship while she was a vocalist for NG La Banda, one of the best-known Cuban bands of the last three decades.

Since Alfonso’s accusations against Cort?s on an internet video program last month, many Cubans have declared their support for her online, calling her the pioneer of the #MeToo movement in a country where open discussion of violence against women is rare.

Cort?s has not publicly responded to the allegations or to messages seeking comment left by The Associated Press on his band’s social media accounts or with his promoters.

Within hours of speaking to video host Alex Otaola and alleging that she had been abused by Cort?s, hundreds of Cubans on the island and in its diaspora in the United States, Latin America and Europe began posting messages of support for Alfonso with the hashtags #IBelieveYouGoddess, #MeTooInCuba and #YouAreNotAlone.

Alfonso also has received reams of abusive messages calling her a liar and accusing her of besmirching Cort?s’ reputation to win greater renown.

“I look at everything happening online and I’m really stunned,” the 38-year-old singer told The Associated Press. “I can’t really understand what’s happening online. I’m just trying to keep getting professional psychological help to deal with everything that’s come at me for having told the truth.”

Online activism of any kind is relatively new to Cuba, which only began permitting mobile internet this year. Until recently, open discussion of domestic abuse also has been rare in a communist society where the government portrays itself as able to take care of every social problem and where there are only a handful of non-governmental women’s rights groups.

The government last year organized a publicity campaign to raise consciousness of domestic violence, with posters and announcements in official media under the slogans “You Are More” and “Evolve,” though that appeared to focus more on physical than sexual abuse.

Some 500 Cuban artists and intellectuals have signed an open letter of support for Alfonso that condemns violence against women on a Facebook page titled, “I Believe You.”

Actress and producer Violeta Rodr?guez, daughter of Cuban singer Silvio Rodr?guez, wrote on her Facebook page last month that she had been abused by a “famous and powerful” Cuban man but had remained silent for years. The post was later deleted, without explanation.

Alfonso was lead singer for NG La Banda from 2003 to 2009, and was involved romantically with Cort?s for much of that time. She said Cort?s repeatedly hit her, raped her and verbally abused her, in private and in public, during their relationship and after it ended. She said the abuse finally stopped after she left the group in the middle of an Italian tour in 2009 and did not return to Cuba until 2014.

Alfonso’s lawyer, Deyni Terry, said Cort?s sent the singer a threatening text message after she went public with the accusations. Alfonso reported the threat to police, Terry said, adding that she and her client were investigating whether they can bring charges of abuse and sexual assault against Cort?s so many years after the alleged crimes took place.

“Many victims wait years to say what happened and that complicates judicial action, especially in Cuba where many laws are outdated,” the lawyer said.

Cuban authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case.

Terry said the online reaction to Alfonso’s accusations appeared to be a sign of changing attitudes on the island.

“People are being more daring, speaking out, talking about taboo topics,” she said. “They’re taking risks and have more freedom to speak out.”

A national poll conducted in 2016 and published this year showed that some 27% of 10,698 women who responded to a questionnaire reported being mistreated or abused by a man over the past 12 months but less than 4% sought help.

The availability of the internet in Cuba has allowed activists for various causes — from animal rights to LGBTQ freedoms — to better organize and advocate over the last seven months. The same may now be happening for women’s rights, observers said.

“The internet allows us to have a greater diversity of debates and struggles and bring many problems to light,” said Francisco Rodr?guez, a gay-rights advocate and blogger.

Follow Andrea Rodr?guez on Twitter:

NYT Politics

Trump Falsely Accuses Ilhan Omar of Proclaiming ‘How Great Al Qaeda Is’
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White House Directs Kellyanne Conway to Defy House Subpoena
Author: Catie Edmondson
The White House told Kellyanne Conway on Monday not to comply with a congressional subpoena compelling her to testify about compliance with ethics laws.
White House Directs Kellyanne Conway to Defy House Subpoena
Author: Catie Edmondson
The White House told Kellyanne Conway on Monday not to comply with a congressional subpoena compelling her to testify about compliance with ethics laws.

Portland Business News

Public forum set for Zenith terminal construction plans
Author: Hannah Sievert
The Portland City Council will hold a public meeting Monday night to discuss a controversial Zenith Energy’s oil train terminal construction project in northwest Portland.  The construction at Zenith, first reported by OPB in February, will expand the facility’s capacity to offload crude oil at its terminal in Northwest Portland. The new construction will almost quadruple the site’s ability to take oil from incoming tank cars and unload it to ships for export — from around 12 cars at…
Cool Spaces: Custom Blocks come together in the Central Eastside (Photos)
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