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National Govt & Politics
Out West: Trump holds strong while farm worries grow
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Out West: Trump holds strong while farm worries grow

Out West: Trump holds strong while farm worries grow

Out West: Trump holds strong while farm worries grow

A trip through the Plains over the past two weeks showcased some of the electoral strengths - and possible weaknesses - for President Donald Trump, as he was cast as a hero by thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts, while the President's trade fight with China continued to draw intense concerns among farmers and agricultural leaders, threatening to cast a shadow in Red states on the President's 2020 re-election bid.

"Agriculture exports to China dropped by 50% last year," the National Farmers Union said on Monday, as concerns continue to grow among farmers that Mr. Trump's tariffs on Chinese imports - and the retaliation by the Chinese government against U.S. agriculture - could spell further economic troubles for farmers nationwide.

But while farmers worried about their sales, those going to a major motorcycle rally in South Dakota last weekend had an array of Trump t-shirts to buy, reflecting the strong support in Red states for the President.

"IN TRUMP WE TRUST," read one shirt on sale in Custer, South Dakota.

Here's some of what I saw during my break from Washington, D.C.

1. Trump wasn't there, but he was a star of Sturgis.

You don't have to be a political scientist to understand that most of those riding their motorcycles to the big rally in Sturgis, South Dakota this past weekend would tend to be Trump supporters. That was obvious in the shirts they were wearing, and what was on sale on the Main Street of towns in South Dakota and Wyoming. Shirts depicting the President as Captain America. "WELCOME TO AMERICA," bellowed another t-shirt which sported a drawing of President Trump riding a Harley with high handlebars. "NOW SPEAK ENGLISH OR GET THE F*CK OUT," the shirt said. Another shirt with a similar Trump-in-motorcycle-leather said, "FINALLY SOMEONE WITH BALLS!" And then there was one shirt which poked fun at what LBGTQ stands for.

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Out West: Trump holds strong while farm worries grow

2. Support for Trump being tested in Farm Country.
The corn is growing tall in Minnesota, the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming. Soybeans are doing well. The cows look well fed and there is absolutely no shortage of grass to eat. In fact, there has been so much rain that the fields are an uncommon color of deep green in the middle of August for hundreds of miles, and there is little in the way of drought. That should be something good for Farm Country. But the news over the last week for farmers in the Plains was not positive, as the Chinese announced they would not buy any American agricultural products so long as President Trump was levying new tariffs on goods imported from Beijing. The Trump Administration has already unveiled two different bailouts for farmers hurt by trade retaliation - and there could be billions of dollars more needed if this U.S.-China trade fight goes on. It's being noticed by some of the bigger players in agriculture.

3. Growth remains uneven in Trump areas. In my five state trek, I only was in two counties which voted for Hillary Clinton - everything else was for President Trump in 2016. Economically, the strongest towns in rural America continue to rely on either tourism, or colleges and hospitals - but most areas don't have that, as many of the towns which fall in between are struggling. The two lane roads of the Plains showcased way too many faded signs - and dreams - which couldn't survive. Despite the President's constant declarations that the economy is the best ever, it's not apparent that things are changing dramatically in rural areas, especially with trade troubles being encountered by American farmers. Where was the biggest growth occurring? That's an easy answer - it was in a Blue area around  Minneapolis - where renovations were underway for numerous old buildings in the city, along with all sorts of highway construction in the region. Democrats won two House seats from the GOP in 2018 in greater Minneapolis, and it's yet another state further dividing along rural-urban lines, with the showdown in the suburbs and exurbs of the state's cities.

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Out West: Trump holds strong while farm worries grow

4. The cry for less government rings hollow at times. 
As you go through much of the Plains and the West, you find a lot of aggravation with the federal government. And yet - Washington does so much to keep these areas going, from the national parks which provide a vital economic boost via tourism, the government subsidies for farmers which help all sorts of agricultural operations, to the Army Corps of Engineers, which gives so many communities a life line along the Mississippi, Missouri, and other rivers. As I watched the sun set on the Missouri in the capital of South Dakota this past week, I couldn't help but think about how the Army Corps and the Bureau of Reclamation made it easier for the people out fishing late that evening, and others playing on the river. It was a fresh reminder of how reliant many Red states are on the federal government.

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Out West: Trump holds strong while farm worries grow

5. Energy industry remains strong - both fossil and green. My hotel in Dickinson, North Dakota could well have just been an office for workers at Halliburton, who filled the breakfast room and hallways with their work talk. Driving along miles and miles of dirt road across into Montana, we not only took in some great scenery, but also saw a large amount of construction work on an oil pipeline. It was a reminder of the ongoing energy boom in the Dakotas and Wyoming. But there was also evidence of continuing growth in a different arena - green energy - as giant trucks were on the interstates to deliver huge blades for wind turbines, and we saw repeated examples of entire fields sprouting solar panels, instead of corn, wheat, hay, or soybeans.

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Out West: Trump holds strong while farm worries grow

6. The debate over guns remains the same. Over twenty years ago, the guy who lived next to my grandparents in Wyoming had a favorite name for a buffalo-shaped target at his gun range - "The Schumer" he called it - referring to the New York Senator, and his push for gun controls. After the latest mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, there was no evidence that anything was changing out West when it comes to Second Amendment issues. One conversation stopped me in my tracks outside Bismarck, North Dakota, where I listened as three men talked about how they thought those mass shootings - along with the attack on an outdoor music concert in Las Vegas in 2017 - were probably orchestrated by the federal government in order to press for gun controls. "I love this country, but I don't trust the government," one man said to the nodding approval of the others, as they embraced what can only be described as a classic conspiracy theory. There will be more debate about guns when the Congress returns to work after Labor Day. Whether anything happens legislatively is another story entirely.

7. The only hope for unity may be the Prairie Dog.

If there was one thing that seemed to appeal to everyone we saw on our trip, it was an appreciation for the prairie dog. It didn't matter if you were a grizzled motorcycle rider, a family from overseas, or a bunch of kids from Back East who have a hard time wrapping their head around the fact that the Washington, D.C. area has more people than North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming combined. Little kids loved the prairie dogs. Pot-bellied bikers with no shirts loved the prairie dogs. Maybe there is hope that we can bridge the political gap in America. Prairie Dog 2020.

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Out West: Trump holds strong while farm worries grow

8. Checking off a few more state capitol buildings. I may work in the U.S. Capitol on a daily basis, but there's nothing I love more than going to see state capitols all around the country. This past week, the Dupree Family trekked to St. Paul, Minnesota, Bismarck, North Dakota, and Pierre, South Dakota. All three capitols had their good points, but if I had to pick one of them, then the South Dakota Capitol would rate the highest on my list. Every single one tells a different story. Every capitol is a reminder that we don't call it the United States of America for nothing.

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Out West: Trump holds strong while farm worries grow

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Out West: Trump holds strong while farm worries grow

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Out West: Trump holds strong while farm worries grow

My last piece of advice - get on the road and see the country. You might pick up a few things, and you might realize that no one gets everything they want in politics. 

Or in life.

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The Latest News Headlines

  • A woman who shot and killed a popular street performer outside the H.E. Holmes MARTA station three years ago is headed to prison.  >> Read more trending news  Lucianna Fox, 44, fatally shot 54-year-old Leroy Midyette in Nov. 5, 2016, after running over the homeless man’s shopping cart twice. Midyette, who performed outside the train station, was affectionately known as “Tin Man” because of the silver paint he wore when he danced, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office said Friday in a news release. The night of the shooting, Fox got mad at Midyette as he pushed his belongings across an access road that led into the parking lot of the Holmes station, authorities said. Fox told him to move his cart out of the road and Midyette motioned for the woman to drive around.Instead, Fox slammed into Midyette’s cart, threw her car in reverse and rammed it again before driving off. Upset, Midyette ran toward Fox’s car as she waited at a nearby stop sign and confronted her. Fox then got out of her car, drew a silver handgun and shot the homeless man in the chest from about 2 feet away, prosecutors said. She then set her weapon on the hood of her car and waited for police to arrive as Midyette died in the street. The entire incident was captured on MARTA’s surveillance cameras, and Fox was arrested at the scene, authorities said. She was convicted of murder and possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony and sentenced to life in prison plus five years. 
  • Court documents filed against an Indianapolis man accused of violently assaulting his mother with a cast iron frying pan last month give gruesome details of how badly the woman was beaten. Bobby Wayne Gibson Jr., 44, is charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery, battery resulting in serious bodily injury, strangulation and auto theft, according to Marion County court records. A judge last week ordered him held in lieu of a $90,000 surety bond. Gibson was also ordered to stay away from his mother, for whom an order of protection was granted, court records show. >> Read more trending news  Gibson was arrested Sept. 25 after an anonymous tip led police to a vacant home, where he told officers his mother had given him her car, a silver Chevy Malibu, to sell for drugs, WRTV in Indianapolis reported. Fox 59 reported that a SWAT standoff earlier in the day, which included tear gas and flash grenades, had failed to turn up the fugitive. Gibson had been on the run since the day before, when police officers went to his mother’s home and found her unresponsive and covered in blood, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by WRTV. The woman was taken to the hospital in critical condition. According to the affidavit, her injuries included “multiple skull and facial fractures, three lacerations in the head that penetrated to the skull, exposed brain matter due to a hole in the skull, four deep lacerations to the chest and a collapsed lung.” Her condition was not immediately available Friday afternoon. Detectives who went to her home found blood spattered throughout the kitchen and living room, along with “broken glass, broken kitchen utensils and a bloody cast-iron frying pan with a broken handle,” the document said. Blood was on the carpet, the telephone and the walls in both rooms. Gibson’s mother, who was able to speak to detectives at the hospital, told them an argument began when she spotted a bottle of vodka in her son’s pocket and told him he was not allowed to drink in her home, WRTV reported. She told police she poured the vodka out and told her son, who has a criminal record, “The court needs to do something with you.” “You wanna lock me up? I’m gonna give you something to lock me up,” she said Gibson responded, according to the affidavit. The victim told detectives Gibson attacked her, choking her until she lost consciousness. When she came to, he was beating and kicking her and hitting her with pots and pans from the kitchen, the news station reported. Gibson demanded her purse, so she told him where it was, and he left in her car, WRTV reported. A silver car could be seen in photos taken by a Fox 59 reporter during the Sept. 25 SWAT situation on the city’s south side. Authorities at the scene told the news station Gibson had forced his way into the home, where his wife was staying. She fled the house and called 911, Fox 59 reported. When the tear gas and flash grenades failed to get anyone to come outside, officers went in and found the house empty, the news station said. Gibson was taken into custody a few hours later.
  • A California man has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for the hammer killing of his former roommate, whose body was found stuffed into a wall in their former apartment six years after she was reported missing. Randolph Eric Garbutt, 47, of Los Angeles, pleaded no contest last month to voluntary manslaughter in the 2009 slaying of Raven Joy Campbell, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. He was sentenced to prison on Tuesday. Garbutt’s ex-girlfriend, Myesha Smith, testified at a December 2016 preliminary hearing in the case that Garbutt told her he’d hit Campbell, who family members said was developmentally disabled, in the head with a hammer. “He hit her one time and she kind of fought for her life, and he hit her again,” Smith testified, according to The Daily Breeze in Torrance. “He said, ‘God wanted her.’” >> Read more trending news  Garbutt has been in custody since his Feb. 4, 2016, murder arrest, so he will get credit for time already served, the Breeze reported. Campbell’s family on Tuesday pointed out the irony that Garbutt’s post-conviction prison time could end up being about the same amount of time her body remained hidden. “To place her in a wall, the irony is this man will probably only do about as much time as she was while she was in the wall,” Raven Campbell’s sister, Cynthia Campbell Kemp, said in court, according to the Breeze. “That’s the crime. The punishment is not just, but we’re just going to have to accept it.” Campbell, 31, was reported missing by her family in June 2009. According to authorities, she had last been seen leaving her apartment, Apartment 507 at Harbor Hills, a public housing complex in an unincorporated area of Lomita. She is survived by a son, Nicholas, who family members told the Breeze will turn 18 later this month. He was 7 when his mother vanished. “He’s just devastated by this,” Kemp told the newspaper. “I wish you could have let us know where she was so we didn’t have to keep searching,” another sister, Linda Campbell told Garbutt during his sentencing hearing. “Her son had to think his mom was alive for years.” Another of Campbell’s sisters, Malaikah Manasseh, told the Los Angeles Times in 2015 that Campbell lived in a group home before she moved into the housing project with a high school friend. The friend’s boyfriend also was a resident of record at the apartment in late 2008, when Campbell moved in, authorities said. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide Lt. Steve Jauch said during a news conference the day after Garbutt’s 2016 arrest that Campbell’s friend, identified during later court proceedings as Nicole Nelson, and her boyfriend invited Campbell to stay with them. “They brought her in to live at the residence so she could save some money,” Jauch said. Garbutt, a friend of the couple, was also staying at the apartment during the six months Campbell lived there, Jauch said. The lieutenant told reporters the roommates, including Garbutt, all became friends. Nathan and her boyfriend were interviewed at length and were not suspected in Campbell’s killing, the lieutenant said. Campbell’s family immediately suspected foul play when Campbell vanished because her purse was left behind, Manasseh told the Times. She said her sister always wore her purse strapped against her chest and would not have left home without it. A tip and a gruesome discovery  The case remained cold until late June 2015, when homicide investigators, acting on a tip, went to the unit but found no one home, Jauch said. They returned the next day with cadaver dogs and got the new tenants’ permission to search the apartment. The dogs alerted their handlers to the possible presence of human remains inside a closet under the two-story unit’s stairs. Investigators got permission from the Los Angeles County Housing Authority to knock down a portion of the wall, which had a visible patched-up hole, Jauch said. “Detectives removed the actual piece of paneling that was used to patch it up and there appeared to be something suspicious behind this wall, on the floor a good distance down in this closet area of the residence,” the lieutenant said. The following week, on July 2, 2015, homicide detectives and staff from the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office exhumed Campbell’s remains. The medical examiner identified the body and determined Campbell had died of blunt force trauma to the head. The residents living in the apartment at the time were stunned, Jauch said. They were temporarily relocated when their home became a crime scene. “I think the natural reaction from anyone hearing information that there may be human remains where you’re living, I don’t know anybody who wouldn’t be taken aback by that information,” Jauch said, according to the Times. Campbell’s body was found in an empty space behind the closet. “It’s hollow and connects to the closet,” Candace Diggs, a resident in the housing complex told the newspaper. “These units are all built the same. They’re all concrete except for the wall behind the stairs.” Jauch explained that empty space under the stairs appeared to be an unusual design. “Typically, when you picture a hole in the wall, what most of us picture would be a hole in a wall with a floor directly at the base of the wall,” Jauch said, using the wall behind him to demonstrate. “That wasn’t the case here. “It was a configuration where the hole in the wall inside of the closet area … actually dropped down several feet to a dirt floor.” Watch Lt. Steve Jauch discuss the killing of Raven Campbell below. When detectives and crime scene technicians removed the patch job from the wall and looked down, they could see the bundle containing Campbell’s remains. According to KTLA, Campbell’s family members were certain the remains were hers as soon as they were found. At the time of the discovery, they blamed investigators for not doing a more thorough search of her home when she went missing. “We said bring the dogs, bring … everything we saw on ‘CSI.’ We wanted them to do that. They said, ‘No, we don’t find any reason,’” Campbell’s cousin, Linda Campbellhumphrey told the news station in 2015. “We, in our heart of hearts, know it’s her.” Jauch said during the 2016 news conference that homicide and missing persons detectives conducted significant legwork after Campbell disappeared. “Interviews were conducted, bank records were checked, phone records were checked,” Jauch said. “Ultimately, the case went cold.” Campbell’s family described her as a sweet, trusting woman. “She was such a wonderful spirit,” a third sister, Renee Campbell, told KTLA in 2015. The siblings’ mother, Joreena Johnson, pleaded for information about her daughter’s death at a vigil following the gruesome discovery. “Who did this to her? She didn’t deserve this,” a tearful Johnson said, according to the news station. “Y’all help me find out what happened to my baby, please.” Garbutt was arrested on a murder charge seven months after Campbell’s body was found. Jauch said the arrest was the result of tireless efforts by homicide detectives, who looked at anyone who had a connection to the apartment in the time frame Campbell lived there. “Over the last several months, really, the credo from our detectives was, ‘Let’s don’t do this in a hurry, let’s do it right,’” Jauch said. Garbutt was initially arrested on a traffic warrant, the lieutenant said in 2016. “After being released on the warrant, he was immediately booked for the murder of Raven Campbell,” Jauch said. He was rebooked into the Los Angeles County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail. On Friday, Garbutt remained at the Los Angeles County jail system’s Pitchless Detention Center in Castaic, awaiting his transfer to state prison, jail records showed. A mistrial and a plea  Garbutt initially went on trial for Campbell’s slaying in 2018, but a mistrial was declared after information came to light about two witnesses neither prosecutors nor the defense team was aware of, the Breeze said. Two weeks of testimony prior to the mistrial revealed that Garbutt beat Campbell to death and enlisted Smith, the mother of his child, to help him push her body into the space behind the closet wall. Prosecutors said Smith began receiving Campbell’s mail, including her government checks, at her Inglewood home after Campbell vanished. The Breeze reported that police found Campbell’s identification in Smith’s possession a month after she went missing. It was unclear why Smith was not linked to Campbell’s disappearance at that time. The newspaper reported that Garbutt’s public defender, Rhonda Haymon, argued during last year’s trial that Smith, who was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for testimony against her ex-boyfriend, was the true killer and Garbutt took the blame so their child would not grow up without a mother. Garbutt told investigators Campbell, who had been drinking, fell and hit her head after returning from bingo with another roommate, the Breeze reported. He said he panicked, afraid he’d be blamed for her head injury, and suffocated her with a plastic grocery bag. No other motive besides the story Garbutt told authorities has ever been uncovered. Smith testified that it was she and Nathan who went to play bingo the night Campbell was killed. When they returned, she found Garbutt “sweeping and mopping” the floor, using bleach to clean it, the Breeze reported. Smith said she thought nothing of it because Nathan liked to keep the apartment clean. According to the Breeze, Smith said she fell asleep on the couch but awoke to the sound of drilling. Smith said she found Garbutt inside the closet under the stairs, cutting a hole in the wall. A body was lying on the closet floor, wrapped in plastic and a floral print blanket, Smith testified. Garbutt told her it was Campbell. Smith testified that Garbutt climbed into the hole and started dragging Campbell’s body into it before asking her for help. She said she pushed the lifeless form about 2 inches. “He just pushed the body in the wall,” Smith said. The Breeze reported that Garbutt told Smith to keep a lookout to ensure no one was coming near the closet. “I was pacing back and forth,” Smith said, according to the newspaper. “I was at the window, and I was looking at the closet and my nerves was all ragged.” Investigators testified at the preliminary hearing that Garbutt said he used a bowl to dig up some dirt to throw over Campbell. After climbing out of the hole, he tossed several bathroom air fresheners into the makeshift grave to help cover the smell. Smith testified she was scared Garbutt would harm her if she told anyone what he had done, because he “always threatened and always told her he could kill her and no one would care,” the Breeze reported. Campbell’s family members, seven of whom spoke at Garbutt’s sentencing hearing, told the newspaper they believe if Garbutt had again gone to trial, he would have been convicted of murder and faced life in prison. They expressed heartbreak over the plea deal and subsequent, much lighter sentence. “I would have rather had a jury tell me ‘not guilty’ than to hear he’s only going to be in there for another five years,” Renee Campbell told the Breeze after the hearing. “It’s not ideal, but at least we get some closure.” The Campbell family described Raven as kind, loving, good-natured and innocent. She loved talking to loved ones on the phone and it was the sudden halt in her phone calls in the summer of 2009 that told them something had happened to her. They viewed her developmental issues as a gift, the Breeze reported. “The way she viewed the world was a lot healthier than most of us,” her niece, Princess Manessah, said.
  • Protests are underway after a City of Jacksonville spokesperson confirms that Mayor Lenny Curry has signed a bill that would effectively shut down Internet cafes in the area.  WOKV told you earlier this week, when the Jacksonville City Council voted in favor of a bill that would shut the businesses down immediately. The council had previously voted back in May to close the businesses, but decided at that time to give the operators until February 2020 to close their doors.  The city has said internet cafes are a nuisance and draw crime into the city. Data collected in September 2018 showed that the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office received more than 28,000 calls to addresses tied to nearly 100 Internet cafes during a 5-year period.
  • A federal appellate court ruled Friday that President Donald Trump's accounting firm must turn over his financial records to Congress as lawmakers continue to probe his possible conflicts of interest. >> Read more trending news  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said in a 2-1 ruling that lawmakers should get the documents they have subpoenaed from Mazars USA. Trump and his attorneys have argued against releasing the records, claiming that lawmakers lack a 'legitimate legislative purpose' for seeking the documents. >> Read the full ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit 'The fact that the subpoena in this case seeks information that concerns the President of the United States adds a twist, but not a surprising one,' Judge David Tatel wrote in an opinion joined by Judge Patricia Millett. 'Disputes between Congress and the President are a recurring plot in our national story.' Tatel was put on the appellate court by President Bill Clinton and Millett was put on the court by President Barack Obama, according to Cox Media Group's Jamie Dupree. 'Having considered the weighty interests at stake in this case, we conclude that the subpoena issued by the Committee to Mazars is valid and enforceable,' Tatel wrote. Trump could appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a statement released Friday, House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Elijah Cummings heralded the ruling and called for Mazars to quickly release Trump's financial records to Congress. 'Today's ruling is a fundamental and resounding victory for Congressional oversight, our Constitutional system of checks and balances and the rule of law,' Cummings said. 'After months of delay, it is time for the President to stop blocking Mazars from complying with the Committee's lawful subpoena. We must fulfill our stated legislative and oversight objectives and permit the American people to obtain answers about some of the deeply troubling questions regarding the President's adherence to Constitutional and statutory requirements to avoid conflicts of interest.' The ruling upheld a ruling issued by a lower court in support of lawmakers' right to subpoena Trump's financial records. Trump has been fighting off efforts by Congress to obtain his financial records since at least April, when the House Oversight and Reform Committee subpoenaed the documents from Mazars. Among other records, lawmakers sought documents from 2011 to 2018 for investigation into the president's reporting of his finances and potential conflicts of interest. The list of subpoenaed documents did not include Trump's tax returns, which are being sought by the House Ways and Means Committee. The group sued the Trump administration earlier this year for access to the president's tax returns in a case that continues to wind its way through the courts. In a separate case in New York, Trump sued to prevent Deutsche Bank and Capital One from complying with House subpoenas for banking and financial records. A judge ruled against him, and Trump appealed. The president is also trying in court to stop the Manhattan district attorney from obtaining his tax returns. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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