KQED: In Wildfire-Hit Redding, Latino Family Offers Free Food — in Face of Racial Tensions

Elsa Ceja’s parents came from Mexico and opened La Cabaña restaurant in the city of Redding 22 years ago.

When the fires broke out last week, Elsa and her whole family were in Mexico on vacation. They landed in Sacramento last Saturday, July 28, when the blaze was at its height. Flames were consuming parts of the city.

“Everyone was scared,” Elsa says. “And I’m like no, we gotta go back. We gotta see what’s going on. We have to go home and see and help. We can’t just take off. We have to be there for our community. They’ve been there for us so many years. It’s time for us to be there.”

Elsa and her family rushed home. They posted on Facebook that they would give free food to first responders and firefighters, and 20 percent discounts to evacuees. They started distributing breakfast burritos at a nearby evacuation center.

For more help, Elsa called her sister, Alma Fragoso, in Sacramento, about 2½ hours away. Alma contacted her local priest to get donations — water, clothes, hygiene products and toys. They piled it all into a truck and drove it up to Redding.

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Washington Post: Grocery store worker lets autistic teen stock shelves, causing a ‘miracle in action’

Sid Edwards and his 17-year-old son Jack Ryan Edwards were walking through the dairy aisle at their local supermarket in Baton Rouge on Sunday when the teen suddenly stopped.

Jack Ryan, who has autism, was staring at the orange juice. Because of his autism, it wasn’t unusual for Jack Ryan to become fixated on different things. His father figured he wanted to buy juice.

The store employee at Rouses Supermarket, Jordan Taylor, noticed the same thing. He saw Jack Ryan staring.

So Taylor turned to the teen and offered him a bottle. No reaction.

Then it clicked for Taylor.

“Hey, do you want to help me?” Taylor asked, according to Edwards.

Jack Ryan, who is limited verbally, repeated, “Help me.”

So the employee and the teen carefully and methodically refilled the store’s dairy supply together for about half an hour.

Edwards took out his phone and started recording. In the video, Edwards can be heard saying, “I’m watching a miracle in action.”

Edwards knows a lot about autism, and he knows that most strangers he meets don’t understand his son, let alone go out of their way to connect with him.

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Politico: Trump calls on Sessions to stop Mueller probe

President Donald Trump called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to shut down special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation Wednesday, prompting a race by the president’s legal team to try to contain the fallout.

“This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!” Trump said in a series of tweets.

Trump’s personal lawyers quickly sought to downplay his comments, calling them an expression of his personal opinion — not an order to Sessions that could plunge the country into a political and constitutional crisis. And the Justice Department indicated it would take no action based on Trump’s Twitter venting.

“We have been saying for months that it is time to bring this inquiry to an end,” Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said. “The president has expressed the same opinion.”

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders Wednesday afternoon said Trump’s tweet was not an order, rather the “president’s opinion.”

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Wall Street Journal: What Duluth Can Teach America About Declining Political Civility

The decline of civility in political debate was alarming. Harsh rhetoric was getting in the way of resolving bitter disputes.

Worse yet, the nasty tenor of political discourse was so turning off young people that they were walking away from it, saying they didn’t want to get involved in such a nasty process.

Sounds like Washington today, right? Actually, it was Duluth, Minn., more than a decade ago as tensions rose over local budget strains. Then, as now on the national political stage, nastiness was becoming the norm, preventing well-intentioned people from coming together to solve problems.

The difference is that the leaders of Duluth decided to do something about it. Civic leaders launched something called Speak Your Peace: The Civility Project. They drew up a list of nine guidelines for civilized debate so simple they could and did fit on a wallet card.

Then, a funny thing happened. People took the idea to heart. All six major units of regional government—city and county boards and school districts—adopted the guidelines. As debate improved, so did the process of addressing problems. Today, Duluth’s mayor, Emily Larson, credits the civility project for helping the city work through an emotional, two-year debate over a new ordinance requiring employers to offer paid sick leave, which was adopted in May.

Is it naive to think that the experience of a city of 86,000 can be useful on a national scale? Perhaps. And maybe Minnesotans are just nicer than the rest of us.

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NPR: Trump Says ‘No Problem’ With Government Shutdown Over Border Wall Funding

President Trump again threatened a government shutdown unless Congress funds his border wall. At a joint news conference at the White House Monday, along with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the president said “If we don’t get border security after many, many years of talk within the United States I would have no problem doing a shutdown.”

Trump renewed his demand for border wall funding as well as changes to U.S. immigration law in a tweet Sunday, saying “I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security.” Republicans, who hold majorities in both the House and Senate, have not been able to pass the immigration changes the president wants. And GOP leaders in Congress are reluctant to see a government shutdown this fall, just weeks ahead of the midterm elections.

Trump said he had no “red line” in so far as the amount he wants Congress to approve, and that he will “always leave room for negotiation.”

Trump also said he would be willing to meet with Iran’s leaders “anytime they want, no preconditions.” But he warned that Iran must “never be allowed” to possess nuclear weapons.

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USA Today: Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen has a lot to say: Here’s what we know

For years, it was Michael Cohen’s job to protect Donald Trump from damaging stories and allegations. Now, the president’s former personal attorney and “fixer” appears to be the one threatening Trump with potentially incriminating information.

No longer willing to “take a bullet” for Trump, Cohen is reportedly willing to tell special counsel Robert Mueller that Trump knew in advance about a Russian offer to deliver dirt on Hillary Clinton ahead of the 2016 election.

Cohen turning against Trump could prove significant because, in addition to information he may or may not have about alleged election meddling and collusion, Cohen also handled payments to women in exchange for their silence about alleged affairs with Trump.

Here is what we know:

Cohen is prepared to tell Mueller that Trump approved a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that included his son Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, according to multiple media reports that relied on unnamed sources.

A person familiar with the matter told USA TODAY Cohen is aware that Trump was informed in advance of the Trump Tower meeting.

Veselnitskaya’s offer to hand over dirt on Clinton has been a major factor driving suspicion that the Trump campaign went along with Russian efforts to sway the election.

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CNN obtains secret Trump-Cohen tape

Presidential candidate Donald Trump is heard on tape discussing with his attorney Michael Cohen how they would buy the rights to a Playboy model’s story about an alleged affair Trump had with her years earlier, according to the audio recording of the conversation aired exclusively on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time.”

The recording offers the public a glimpse at the confidential discussions between Trump and Cohen, and it confirms the man who now occupies the Oval Office had contemporaneous knowledge of a proposal to buy the rights to the story of Karen McDougal, a woman who has alleged she had an extramarital affair with Trump about a decade ago.

Cohen told Trump about his plans to set up a company and finance the purchase of the rights from American Media, which publishes the National Enquirer. The recording captures what appears to be a routine business conversation of several matters on their agenda. The audio is muddled and the meaning of Trump’s use of the word “cash” is disputed by the two sides.

“I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David,” Cohen said in the recording, likely a reference to American Media head David Pecker.
When financing comes up again later in the conversation, Trump interrupts Cohen asking, “What financing?” according to the recording.

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Forbes: From Gun Control To Migration, Harry Styles’ $1.2 Million Donation Makes Statement On U.S. Society

In a world where authenticity is a prized asset, celebrities often find a challenge to provide it as they are directed towards supporting uncontroversial global charities. Harry Styles has bucked the trend however by announcing his support of a series of local organizations and, in the midst of that cohort of charities, making some deep statements about his views on American society. By engaging with gun control, workplace harassment and migration issues, he is quietly setting a stall out on 2018’s major issues of U.S. society and politics.

At first glance you think that if you are looking to spend $1.2 million on making a difference in the world, the last thing you want to do is to spread it across tens of partners, geographies and causes. Everyone already worries that celebrities are over-managed in their philanthropy, that they give to ‘safe’ brand-name organizations that they know will manage their media well rather than anyone they actually care about. They tend to have one international charity, one kids’ charity and one cancer charity, see them each once a year and be done with it.

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CBS News: Will politics be the death of civility?

Does it sometimes feel as if our politics has us all backed into our ideological corners? Does it seem as if insults and name-calling have taken the place of civil dialogue – that incivility has gone viral?

Whether it’s coming from the President of the United States or somebody in a restaurant, you may be disturbed by it all. But should you be alarmed?

Even that’s a touchy subject.

“I think the country is in crisis,” said New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg, who recently wrote that “it’s less a result of a breakdown in civility than a breakdown of democracy.”

“I think the demand for civility can be used as a tool of oppression when it only goes in one direction – when you demand civility from the ruled, but you don’t demand civility from the rulers,” Goldberg said.

An unapologetic liberal, Goldberg thinks it’s just fine that presidential spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders was not welcomed at the Red Hen restaurant, and that Congresswoman Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, has called for confrontation.

“This shows to me this kind of surreal loop of disinformation that we’re in,” Goldberg said. “Trump then says ‘Maxine Waters has basically told people to attack members of my administration, she should be careful of what she wishes for.’  If there is any threat of violence there, it’s clearly coming from Donald Trump, and it wouldn’t be the only time that Donald Trump has kind of outright threatened protesters.”

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