Travelers asking airlines: Is the Boeing 737 MAX 8 safe to fly?

U.S. NEWS Travelers asking airlines: Is the Boeing 737 MAX 8 safe to fly?

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Travelers asked airlines on Monday whether a new plane that’s now been involved in two deadly crashes since October — the Boeing 737 MAX 8 — is safe to fly.

On Sunday, one of those planes, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, crashed just minutes after taking off from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. In October, the same model aircraft crashed into the Java Sea in Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board. The plane, flown by Lion Air, started service in May 2017.

While no U.S. airline has stopped flying the 737 MAX 8, aviation regulators in China, Ethiopia and Indonesia have grounded their fleets until the plane’s safety is confirmed.

Though a full range of information isn’t yet available, ABC News’ transportation unit has answered some of the questions circulating in the aftermath of the crashes.

Is there any connection between the two crashes?

ABC News’ Senior Transportation Correspondent David Kerley reports:

Though both involved the same plane, it’s too early to make a connection between the deadly plane crash that killed 157 people near the capital of Ethiopia on Sunday and the crash that killed 189 people in Indonesia in October.

Though there is a lot of information from the Lion Air crash, which experts say was likely caused by a combination of maintenance and pilot error issues, there’s still very little information available from the crash in Ethiopia.

It’s promising that responders found two black boxes at the site of the Ethiopia crash — but how quickly experts can recover data from the crash will depend on the conditions the black boxes are in. The investigation could take weeks or months.

What’s significant from the little information that is known, however, is that shortly after takeoff, both airplanes had flight control issues. The data available so far from the crash in Ethiopia is that the aircraft started “porpoising,” or tilting up and down because of a problem with vertical airspeed.

The plane crashed within six minutes of takeoff.

The Boeing 737 is the best-selling jetliner ever — considered the workhorse of aviation — and the MAX 8 is the latest derivative, with upgrades and new technology.

The question now comes down to whether there is something inherently wrong with this brand new aircraft.

Though both pilots in both incidents were dealing with flight control issues, the two crashes could also turn out to be completely different.

Watch the full report from ABC News’ Senior Transportation Correspondent David Kerley here.

Which airlines fly the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and where?

ABC News’ transportation reporter and producer Jeffrey Cook reports:

ABC News spoke to the three airlines that fly the MAX 8 in the U.S. and all three confirmed they would continue to do so, expressing confidence in the airplane. There are 72 flying in the U.S. currently and 350 worldwide — with a backorder of around 4,600.

Here’s the breakdown by airline:

American Airlines has 24 in its fleet, mostly based out of Miami and serving its Caribbean routes.

Southwest Airlines has 34 in its fleet, operating routes all over the country, including the Boston-Houston route, the Vegas-Chicago route and the Austin, Texas-Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., route.

United Airlines doesn’t operate any MAX 8 airplanes but operates 14 MAX 9s — a longer model of the MAX 8 that can hold more passengers. Those planes mostly fly out of Houston.

How can passengers find out if they’re scheduled to fly on a Boeing 737 MAX 8?

ABC News’ transportation reporter and producer Christine Theodorou reports:

Many ticket holders have taken to Twitter, trying to figure out if their upcoming flights are on a Boeing 737 MAX 8. Generally, they’re finding out that there’s no guarantee which plane they’ll be flying until around 24 hours before their flight leaves.

“You would have to reach out to us roughly 24 [hours] prior to your flight so that we can see which aircraft we will be utilizing to fly that route,” a customer service representative for Southwest Airlines responded to a concerned customer on Twitter Monday morning.

In another tweet, the same representative dismissed another concerned passengers questions about aircraft type and possible reservation changes because of it, insisting Southwest remained confident in the safety of all of its Boeing airplanes, including the latest 737 MAX 8 version.

“Southwest has operated approximately 31,000 flights utilizing the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, and we plan on operating those aircraft going forward,” the tweet stated.

“We remain confident in the safety and airworthiness of our entire fleet of more than 750 Boeing 737 aircraft, and we don’t have any changes planned to 737 MAX operations,” Southwest said in a statement.

“We are fielding some questions from Customers asking if their flight will be operated by the Boeing 737 MAX 8. We are not, however, observing a high number of cancellations or reschedules,” the statement said. “Our Customer Relations Team is responding to concerned Customers individually, emphasizing our friendly, no-change-fee policy.”

American Airlines similarly tweeted from its account, saying “We have full confidence in the aircraft and our crew members, who are the best and most experienced in the industry.”

American wouldn’t say whether it’s received cancellation requests or if it’s making accommodations for frightened passengers.

Neither Southwest nor American is bending their rules for flight change fees, despite the new fears, they both said in response to customers on Twitter Monday.

United, which flies a Boeing 737 that’s similar but larger than the MAX 8 called the MAX 9, said on Twitter that if a passenger preferred not to fly that plane they would “do what is best in our capabilities to find alternative travel arrangements.” They did not say if that meant waiving change fees.

United responded to most passengers that it has confidence in its pilots, who are “properly trained to fly the 737 MAX 9 aircraft safely.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Mar 2019

Carriers around the world ground Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft after crash

WORLD NEWS Carriers around the world ground Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft after crash

Ethiopian Airlines(LONDON) — A growing list of airline carriers around the world are grounding their fleets of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in the wake of a crash of the same model that killed all 157 people on board.

A new Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines went down in clear weather on Sunday morning just minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport in Ethiopia’s capital. The American-made jet was headed to Nairobi, Kenya.

A total of 149 passengers and 8 crew members were believed to be on board Flight 302, and there were no survivors, according to Ethiopian Airlines.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board of the United States said it’s sending a team of four to assist in the probe. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it plans to join the NTSB in assisting Ethiopian authorities.

Ethiopian Airlines said two black boxes — the digital flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder — have been recovered from the wreckage.

The same type of plane crashed into the Java Sea minutes after takeoff from Indonesia on Oct. 29, killing all 189 people on board.

Seventy-two Boeing 737 Max planes are currently flying in the U.S., according to Boeing.

China’s aviation regulator on Monday ordered all Chinese airlines to suspend operations of Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, which entered service in May 2017. Using those planes won’t resume until “confirming the relevant measures to effectively ensure flight safety,” the Civil Aviation Administration of China said in a statement.

Cayman Airways said it will ground its two Boeing 737 Max 8 jets “until more information is received.”

“While the cause of this sad loss is undetermined at this time, we stand by our commitment to putting the safety of our passengers and crew first by maintaining complete and undoubtable safe operations,” Cayman Airways president and CEO Fabian Whorms said in a statement Sunday night.

Ethiopian Airlines announced that it has also suspended use of the model “until further notice.”

“Although we don’t yet know the cause of the accident, we had to decide to ground the particular fleet as extra safety precaution,” the state-owned airline said in a statement early Monday.

Meanwhile, Indonesia’s aviation regulator said it will temporarily ground its Boeing 737 Max 8 fleet while aircraft inspections are carried out to ensure “flight-worthy conditions.” The country’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation has been supervising the operation of the 737 Max 8 since the crash in October.

The Boeing Company said it currently “does not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators” of its 737 Max 8 model.

“We have engaged our customers and regulators on concerns they may have — and would refer you to them to discuss their operations and decisions,” a Boeing spokesperson told ABC News in a statement Monday morning. “Safety is our number one priority and we are taking every measure to fully understand all aspects of this accident, working closely with the investigating team and all regulatory authorities involved. The investigation is in its early stages, but at this point, based on the information available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators.”

At least eight Americans were among those killed. The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia said it is “working to determine their identities.”

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at least 21 U.N. staff were on board the doomed flight.

“Our colleagues were women and men — junior professionals and seasoned officials — hailing from all corners of the globe and with a wide array of expertise,” Guterres said Monday. “They all had one thing in common — a spirit to serve the people of the world and to make it a better place for us all.”

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed declared Monday a national day of mourning.

Boeing said it was “deeply saddened” by the crash.

“We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team,” the Chicago-based aircraft manufacturer said in a statement Sunday. “A Boeing technical team will be travelling to the crash site to provide technical assistance under the direction of the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Mar 2019

New study shows eye scan can reveal changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease

Fortunato Violi/iStockBY: DR. LEILA HAGHIGHAT

(NEW YORK) — Ophthalmologists at Duke University have found that a special type of eye scan can pick up changes indicative of Alzheimer’s disease. Their results were published Monday in the journal Ophthalmology Retina.

The eye scan is called optical coherence tomographic angiography, or OCTA for short. Within less than a minute, OCTA takes a non-invasive picture of the retina — the nerve cells in the back of our eyes that convert light from the outside world into nerve signals that the brain interprets into images.

“The retina has a dense spider web of blood vessels, and we were interested in the density of these blood vessels. Like is there just one string to the spider web, or twenty?” Dr. Sharon Fekrat, an ophthalmologist and retina specialist at the Duke Eye Center in Durham, North Carolina, as well as a senior author of the study, told ABC News.

The researchers scanned the eyes of 39 people with Alzheimer’s disease, 37 people with mild cognitive impairment, which can be a precursor to Alzheimer’s, and 133 people without either of those diagnoses. They found that the density of blood vessels was less, and thickness of one particular layer of the retina was thinner among people with a known diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, compared to the other groups.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, and affects as many as 5 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For every additional 5 years of age beyond 65, the number of people living with Alzheimer’s doubles. It is rarer in younger people, although they can be affected by Alzheimer’s too. And the disease is on the rise — 14 million American expected to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s by 2060.

An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is currently made based on clinical history and cognitive testing, without relying on imaging studies or blood tests. Having a diagnostic aid like OCTA could potentially help with making an earlier diagnosis.

Dr. Fekrat believes that if more people in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s could be recruited into clinical trials, there is a bigger potential for better treatments to be discovered. Similar findings were discovered in 2018. In that smaller study, performed at the University of Miami, OCTA also identified fewer numbers of small blood vessels in the eyes of people with Alzheimer’s.

So why may there be poor blood supply to the eyes of people with Alzheimer’s?

The new study’s authors propose reduced blood flow to the eyes may be because the protein that signals blood vessels to grow and proliferate is found at low levels in people with Alzheimer’s. It may get trapped in the deposits of another protein called amyloid that is commonly associated with in the disease.

One of the limitations of the new study is that 22 percent of the Alzheimer’s group studied was unable to complete the imaging study because of inability to focus long enough for its completion. OCTA is also not routinely available in eye doctor’s offices across the country.

“It can’t be used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease quite yet. It will be many years before it goes into prime time,” Dr. Fekrat said. “We need to validate the study in larger groups of patients, and follow these patients with time.”

Dr. Leila Haghighat is an internal medicine resident from Yale New Haven Hospital who also works with the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Agency highlights in the budget proposal from the White House

Political News Agency highlights in the budget proposal from the White House

3000ad/iStock(WASHINGTON) — In his proposed 2020 budget released Monday, President Donald Trump indicated there would be major cuts in domestic programs and boosts to spending at the Department of Defense.

Trump is also calling for 5 percent cuts to non-defense spending. Under the plan, the Environmental Protection Agency would see a 31 percent decrease in funding, the Education Department would take a 12 percent cut and the Department of Energy an 11 percent decrease. Here are some highlights from the White House’s proposal.

Environmental Protection Agency

The proposed budget contains massive cuts to the agency overall and various environmental programs.

According to the proposal, the cuts are to “voluntary and lower-priority activities,” so that the agency could focus on finalizing replacements to Obama-era policies, improving the agency’s toxic chemicals program, cleaning up contaminated sites, helping communities remove hazards at schools like lead and asbestos and providing more money to improve water infrastructure.

The proposal eliminates $650 million in programs, including programs focused on areas the agency says are a priority:

  • Multiple programs specifically focused on reducing risks of lead exposure and improving water quality
  • The program that researches health risks from endocrine disrupting chemicals like BPA, the agency says it will be absorbed into the pesticides program
  • A partnership between federal agencies, states, and advocacy groups to improve the Gulf of Mexico
  • Locally focused programs including the Long Island Sound, San Francisco Bay, and Everglades and Florida Keys
  • A program that addresses indoor pollution and asthma triggers like secondhand smoke, mold, and pests
  • $10 million in infrastructure programs to improve waster facilities along the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Local programs focused on the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes face 90 percent cuts to their budgets. In previous years Congress has rejected similar cuts and kept EPA’s funding mostly consistent or increased funding for some programs.

The State Department

Trump’s budget proposal hits the State Department again with deep cuts, even after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promised to get the department’s “swagger” back and “get the team on the field.”

This is the first proposal under Pompeo, but the budget still calls for a nearly 24 percent decrease in funding for State and USAID. The proposal provides an additional $13.6 million for human resources and $11 million for the Foreign Service Institute, which trains diplomats. However, despite the department’s empty senior positions and chronic vacancies overseas, as documented in a new government report, the budget proposal largely keeps staff levels even, according to budget director Douglas Pitkin.

The cuts instead would come from U.S. contributions to international organizations like the United Nations, peacekeeping missions overseas in places like Darfur and Haiti, global health and refugee programs and a reorganization of USAID and how it distributes humanitarian assistance.

Those have been part of Trump’s foreign policy for two years now, although other positions are contrasted by the budget request: While Trump has threatened to slash aid to Central American countries over immigration, the budget proposal calls for increased economic assistance to enhance “governance and boost local economies to discourage illegal immigration,” according to Deputy Secretary John Sullivan. Last month, Trump announced a new initiative to “defeat AIDS in America and beyond,” yet his budget calls for major cuts to programs that treat and combat HIV/AIDS overseas.

Congress has rejected these proposed cuts for the past two years when Republicans controlled both chambers. Now, with Democrats in charge of the House, this year’s proposal is even less likely to be enacted. Rep. Eliot Engel, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has already released a statement calling it “dead on arrival.”


Trump wants the government to cut some $1.4 trillion in the next 10 years from federal Medicaid spending and shift most of that money to state-run grant programs.

The federal program provides medical assistance to millions of low-income and disabled Americans and the move would essentially wipe out the expansion effort led under President Barack Obama, in favor of limited block grants.

According to the administration, the plan is provide “additional flexibility to states” and put Medicaid “on a path to fiscal stability by restructuring its financing and reducing waste.”

Immigration enforcement

The budget proposal aims to ramp up immigration enforcement on the border and within the U.S.

In addition to $8.6 billion more for the border wall, the plan would fund 5,000 new Border Patrol Agents, allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement to add 10,000 officers and investigators and expand detention centers, according to the White House budget office.

When Trump first came into office, ICE facilities held an average of 34,376 people on any given day. Last week that number topped 50,000 and the new proposed budget would allow for further increases.

The proposal also includes proposals aimed at “sanctuary cities.” The measures would allow the administration to withhold funding from cities that don’t “cooperate with specific federal immigration enforcement activities and requests.”

The Trump administration’s efforts to crack down on these jurisdictions have been stopped by appellate courts multiple times.

The proposal would also increase Justice Department funding to grow the number of immigration judges by nearly 20 percent, the budget office says. The judges face a record backlog of cases, made worse by the government shutdown earlier this year.


The Trump administration is looking to cut $7.1 billion from the department compared to what it was given last year.

The cuts would include eliminating 29 programs that “do not address national needs, duplicate other programs, are ineffective, are poorly targeted, or are more appropriately supported by State, local, or private funds.”

You can read more about the proposal for the Education Department here.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Agency highlights in the budget proposal from the White House

Posted On 11 Mar 2019

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand defends handling of aide’s alleged sexual misconduct

Political News Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand defends handling of aide's alleged sexual misconduct

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a 2020 presidential hopeful who has made fighting sexual assault the focus of her political career, is pushing back against claims made by a female staffer in her office who says she resigned last summer in protest over the office’s handling of a sexual harassment complaint against a top aide.

When reached by ABC News late Monday, Gillibrand told ABC News she has no regrets about the way claims of sexual harassment made the female staffer were handled as outlined in POLITICO.

“We conducted a thorough and professional investigation, and the person who was accused was punished,” Gillibrand said.

Gillibrand’s office maintains that they took immediate action at the time the initial complaint was made in consultation with Senate Employment Counsel and included multiple interviews with relevant current employees who could corroborate the claims.

“A full and thorough investigation into the evidence revealed employee misconduct that, while inappropriate, did not meet the standard for sexual harassment. However, because the office did find unprofessional behavior that violated office policy, including derogatory comments, the office took strong disciplinary action against the employee in question and he was given a final warning,” Gillibrand’s communications director Whitney Brennan said in a statement to ABC News.

The male staffer was later fired.

The female staffer alleges she told the senator’s staffers last summer that one of Gillibrand’s closest aides repeatedly made unwelcome advances and crude, misogynistic remarks in the office about other female colleagues and potential female hires after he was promoted to a supervisory role, according to POLITICO.

In a subsequent resignation email which was obtained by POLITICO, the woman claimed she was leaving her post because of how “poorly the investigation and post-investigation,” into the matter was handled.

“Your office chose to go against your public belief that women shouldn’t accept sexual harassment in any form and portrayed my experience as a misinterpretation instead of what it actually was: harassment and ultimately, intimidation,” the woman wrote, according to POLITICO.

The correspondence appears to have been sent to the senator’s personal email account on the staffer’s final day – less than three weeks after she reported the alleged harassment.

ABC News has not spoken directly with the woman nor verified the email.

Gillibrand issued a statement to ABC News defending her office’s handling of both the sexual misconduct allegations and the subsequent investigation into the matter.

“These are challenges that affect all of our nation’s workplaces, including mine, and the question is whether or not they are taken seriously. As I have long said, when allegations are made in the workplace, we must believe women so that serious investigations can actually take place, we can learn the facts, and there can be appropriate accountability. That’s exactly what happened at every step of this case last year. I told her that we loved her at the time and the same is true today,” Gillibrand said.

Gillibrand’s office said the male staffer was fired last week after additional “troubling comments” he allegedly made were revealed.

“Recently, we learned of never-before-reported and deeply troubling comments allegedly made by this same individual. The office immediately began another investigation and interviewed relevant witnesses, which has led to the office terminating the employee from staff last week,” Brennan said in a statement.

She added: “Senator Gillibrand is committed to ensuring allegations are handled seriously, investigated, and followed by appropriate punishment, which is why she helped pass stronger sexual harassment protections in Congress and prioritizes proper harassment training to better prevent these occurrences and encourage future reporting.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Mar 2019

Budget showdown looms over Trump’s request for border wall funding

Political News Budget showdown looms over Trump's request for border wall funding

Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump on Monday proposed a whopping $4.7 trillion in federal spending for 2020, a plan that if enacted would boost programs for the troops and veterans and anti-immigration initiatives while slashing domestic spending.

The plan has little chance of passing the Democratic-controlled House. But the details are red meat for his conservative base and outlines the administration’s priorities for the year.

Among the highlights: $8.6 billion in spending for a border wall, but a $7 billion cut to the Education Department’s current spending level. Pulling back on money to enforce environmental regulations, while calling for an expansion in federal personnel who can detain undocumented immigrants and punishing local communities that protect them.

The president’s budget, titled “A Budget for a Better America: Promises Kept. Taxpayers First” highlights the administration’s priorities and serves as a proposed road map for the 2020 fiscal year.

Under this plan, there will not be a balanced budget for 15 years, after the president’s term in office. The budget proposes a 5 percent increase in defense spending up to $750 billion, an investment the president hinted at while speaking to troops in Alaska while traveling back from Vietnam in February.

“You know, I’m a cost cutter but we have no choice. Without a military, what do we have? We have to have a great military,” Trump said to the troops.

While the president is calling for more funding for the wall and defense, he is also calling for 5 percent cuts to non-defense spending which would affect many executive departments and agencies.

The White House held a rare on-camera briefing to explain and defend the proposal Monday afternoon.

The budget would also add to the national debt, in conflict with the president’s promise during the campaign to eliminate the national debt over eight years. Asked by ABC News’ Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl what happened to that promise, acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russel Vought defended that the president had to take steps in the interest of the economic recovery.

“He also came into office and had an economic recovery that was needed to put people back to work, get the economy going, and to rebuild the military, and had historic levels of military at $700 [billion] and $716 billion in national defense dollars,” Vought said, and also accused the Congress of being unwilling in the last to years to have a conversation on the national debt, a statement that glazes over the reality that the Congress was in the control of Republicans the first two years of the president’s term.

To fund the border wall, the White House is proposing taking $5 billion from Customs and Border Patrol and $3.6 billion from Department of Defense military projects, a move that could push the administration back into the ring for a renewed fight over the president’s signature campaign promise.

The proposal is a steep ask from the president, whose previous request for $5.7 billion in border wall funding was denied by lawmakers and set off the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

Asked Monday whether the administration is weighing other potential executive actions for border wall funding given that Congress is unlikely to fulfill the president’s new request, acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russel Vought said the administration is focused on spending the money it has.

“Right now we are focused on spending the money Congress gave us in the last appropriations bill and the money we have identified as part of declaring a national emergency and spending that well,” Voight said.

Asked later in the briefing whether there was anything in the budget proposal regarding Mexico paying for the wall, as Trump pledged during the 2016 campaign they would, Sanders claimed that the wall will be paid for by the updated trade agreement with Mexico and Canada.

Despite active work on a bipartisan deal, the president declared a national emergency in February to secure the funding his administration felt was necessary to build barriers along the southern border.

“This is in addition, to the billions of dollars we are securing through the president’s declaration of a national emergency,” Russell Vought, acting White House budget director said on CNBC Monday.

Among the departments and agencies affected: the Environmental Protection Agency which would see a 31 percent decrease, the Department of Education which would take a 12 percent cut and the Department of Energy which would see an 11 percent decrease. The Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Interior and Department of Labor would also see cuts.

Democrats on Sunday were quick to announce Trump’s new border wall funding proposal dead on arrival ahead of the budget’s release. In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer threatened a repeat of the government shutdown that ended in January.

“President Trump hurt millions of Americans and caused widespread chaos when he recklessly shut down the government to try to get his expensive and ineffective wall, which he promised would be paid for by Mexico. Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government. The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again. We hope he learned his lesson,” Schumer and Pelosi said in the statement.

“At a time when our country faces challenges about jobs for the future, this money would better be spent on rebuilding America, and on education and workforce development for jobs for the 21st Century,” the statement continued.

Following the release of the president’s proposal Monday, Sen. Schumer released another statement calling it a “gut punch” to the American middle class and a “handout” to the wealthy and powerful special interests.

“Its proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, as well as numerous other middle-class programs are devastating, but not surprising. The Republican Party’s systematic efforts to rip away Americans’ health care, its continued embrace of the failed tax cuts for the rich, and its refusal to accept the science, facts, and urgent need to address the climate crisis have made cruel and unthinking budget proposals like this one par for the course,” he said.

White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow acknowledged that the budget’s reported spending cuts and spike in border wall funding could result in another ugly fight between the White House and Capitol Hill.

“I would just say that the whole issue of the wall and border security is of paramount importance,” Kudlow said on Fox News Sunday. “We have a crisis down there. I think the president has made that case very effectively.”

“It’s a crisis of economics. It’s a crisis of crime and drugs. It’s a crisis of humanity. We have to be much tougher and have more constructive immigration policy, which we will be developing over a period of time. So, yes, he’s going to stay with his wall, and he’s going to stay with the border security and I think it’s essential,” Kudlow said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Mar 2019

White House refuses to say whether Trump believes Democrats hate Jews

Political News White House refuses to say whether Trump believes Democrats hate Jews

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — White House press secretary Sarah Sanders wouldn’t say Monday whether President Donald Trump actually believes Democrats hate Jews, as he is purported to have told GOP donors, according to an Axios report.

“Does the president really believe Democrats hate Jews?” ABC News’ Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl asked Sanders at the first briefing she’s held in more than a month.

Sanders dodged the question and instead slammed Democrats for not putting out a stronger resolution condemning anti-Semitism. Last week, House Democrats passed a resolution that broadly condemned hate, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, after a freshman Democrat, Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Muslim, made comments criticized as anti-Israel. Omar was not singled out by name.

“The president’s been an unwavering and committed ally to Israel and the Jewish people. Frankly, the remarks that have been made by a number of Democrats and fail to be called out by Democratic leadership is, frankly, abhorrent and sad and it’s something that should be called by name. It shouldn’t be put in a watered-down resolution,” she responded.

On Friday, the day after the House vote, Trump said Democrats have become an “anti-Israel” and “anti-Jewish” party.

On Monday, when another reporter followed up reiterating Karl’s original question, Sanders declined to comment on whether the president actually accused Democrats of hating Jews.

“I am not going to comment on a potentially leaked audio tape,” Sanders said, going on to accuse Democrats of not being more forceful in condemning anti-Semitic comments.

“Democrats have had a number of opportunities to condemn specific comments and have refused to do that,” Sanders said.

Pressed yet again in the briefing on whether the White House holds a view that Democrats hate Jews, Sanders responded, “That’s a question you should ask the Democrats.”

While Sanders claims Democrats on the Hill are inadequately supportive of the Jewish community, a disproportionate number of members of Congress who are Jewish are also Democrats. According to a Pew analysis of the current congressional class, only two Republican members of the House are Jewish, while more than half of Democrats’ non-Christian members are Jewish.

Questioned more broadly about the tone of the rhetoric, and whether the president intends to dial down his rhetoric in his upcoming 2020 reelection battle, Sanders pivoted to slam Democrats and make a wild and untrue claim that the opposing party supports killing babies.

“I think that the real shame in all of this is that Democrats are perfectly capable of coming together and agreeing on the facts. They’re comfortable killing a baby after birth, but they have a hard time condemning the type of comments from Congresswoman Omar. I think that is a great shame,” Sanders said.

Karl also questioned why the president has not directly condemned Republican Rep. Steve King, who has questioned what’s wrong with terms like white supremacy.

“I have talked about that a number of times and I’d refer you back to those comments where I used words like abhorrent and unacceptable,” Sanders simply said.

But while Sanders has denounced King’s comments as “abhorrent,” the president has not done so.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Mar 2019

Kevin Hart lands his first Netflix comedy special

Entertainment News  Kevin Hart lands his first Netflix comedy special


ABC/Randy Holmes(LOS ANGELES) — Kevin Hart is bouncing back in a major way after his controversial Oscar bow-out 

On Monday, the comedian announced he’s landed his first-ever Netflix comedy special titled Kevin Hart: Irresponsible. In a new Instagram post, Hart shared the news.

“Mark your calendars damn it,” he captioned a video teaser of the announcement. “My Comedy special will be dropping on April 2nd on Netflix. I can’t wait….Let’s gooooooo #Irresponsible.”

According to Vulture, the special was taped during a sold-out show at the O2 Arena in London as one of the stops for Hart’s current Irresponsible Tour.

Even with his recent Oscar controversy, in which Hart decided to step down as host after he was asked to apologize for decade old homophobic tweets, the comedian has been staying pretty busy.

In addition to the special, Hart is producing FX’s upcoming comedy series starring Lil Dicky as well as a live-action Monopoly movie. This is, of course, in addition to working on a sequel to the hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle opposite his buddy and sometime social media sparring partner Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Mar 2019

Pelosi opposes impeaching Trump as too divisive: ‘He’s just not worth it’

Political News Pelosi opposes impeaching Trump as too divisive: 'He's just not worth it'

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was quoted Monday as saying she is not in favor of impeaching President Donald Trump, breaking from other Democrats who are eager to exercise their constitutional power to oust the president from office.

In an exclusive interview with the Washington Post’s Joe Heim, Pelosi said Trump is “just not worth it.”

“I’m not for impeachment,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “This is news. I’m going to give you some news right now because I haven’t said this to any press person before.”

To date, Pelosi has demurred on the matter, telling reporters that impeachment and even an indictment were “open questions,” saying she’d like to learn the results of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report before deciding on a course of action.

While Pelosi is stating her personal preference, she left some wiggle room to launch impeachment proceedings if the report reveals “something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan.”

“Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country,” Pelosi said. “And he’s just not worth it.”

A Pelosi spokesperson told ABC News her office is not commenting any further.

This might be the latest talking point for Pelosi regarding Trump’s impeachment prospects, but there’s a genuine realization in the House Democratic Caucus that impeachment would be a waste of time with a Republican-controlled Senate Senate serving as a firewall to protect the president from conviction.

Instead, House Democrats are likely to maintain their pursuit of the president through investigations – hoping to discredit him so much that he’s unelectable in 2020.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Mar 2019

Oscar winners unite: Elton John welcomes Rami Malek to his farewell tour

Entertainment News  Oscar winners unite: Elton John welcomes Rami Malek to his farewell tour


Rami Malek in “Bohemian Rhapsody” – 20th Century Fox(NEW YORK) — During his lifetime, iconic Queen singer Freddie Mercury was friendly with Elton John.  Now Elton has posted photographic proof that he approves of Rami Malek’s Oscar-winning portrayal of Mercury in the movie Bohemian Rhapsody.

In the photo, Elton poses backstage with Malek and his girlfriend Lucy Boynton, who played Mercury’s one-time fiancee Mary Austin in the film.

“Thank-you @ramimalek and @lucyboynton1 for coming to my Brooklyn show,” Elton captioned the photo. “Rami has set the world on fire with his Oscar winning portrayal of my old friend Freddie Mercury in the hit film @bohemianrhapsodymovie.” John played at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, this past Friday and Saturday.

Elton is also an Oscar winner, having taken home the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1995 for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from The Lion King.

Meanwhile, Elton’s own biopic, Rocketman, arrives in theaters this May.  Of note, back in the ’70s, both Elton and Queen were managed by the same guy, John Reid.  In Bohemian Rhapsody, Reid is portrayed by Game of Thrones actor Aidan Gillen.  In Rocketman, he is portrayed by another Game of Thrones actor, Richard Madden.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Mar 2019