Republican senators return to work on healthcare bill amid resistance

At least one Republican senator predicted a consensus was still several more weeks away, and few senators have been willing to defend the bill publicly

Republican senators left Washington more than a week ago without voting time a long-promised repeal of the Affordable Care Act or their unpopular plan to replace it. The GOP lawmakers return on Monday with the daunting task of crafting a bill still very much in front of them, amid swirling doubts concerning the prospect of finding a solution any time soon.

My view is its probably going to be dead, Arizona senator John McCain told CBS on Sunday. I fear that its going to fail.

A vote is unlikely to take place this week, with at the least one Republican senator predicting that his colleagues are still several more weeks away from reaching a consensus on a healthcare replacement. Last week at a town hall, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell compared the process of negotiating healthcare reform with intransigent Republican senators to solving a Rubiks cube.

Im in the position of a guy with a Rubiks cube, trying to spin the dial in such a way to get at least 50 each member of my conference who can agree to a version of repealing and replacing Obamacare, McConnell said. That is a very timely subject that Im grappling with as we speak.

Republicans were not meant to still be grappling with healthcare over the Fourth of July recess. When Trump took office and the GOP kept control of Congress, they laid out an ambitious agenda that included repealing Obamacare as early as January and then moving on to taxation reform and infrastructure.

But intransigent Republican opposition and a groundswell of political activism following the completion of Trumps election derailed that timeline. Now its summertime and with merely a handful of running weeks left before the August recess, the Senate Republican leadership is still searching furiously for 50 votes, a tally that would only push them over the finishing line with a casting vote from the vicepresident, Mike Pence.

The clearest sign of Republican resistance to the bill was how few senators were willing to defend the bill publicly. During the Fourth of July recess politicians typically relish the opportunity to march in patriotic parades and clasp hands with constituents. But this year those appearances were scarce.

And the few Republican senators who made public appearances were met with protests and pleas from constituents concerned about the Republican healthcare plan.

Susan Collins. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/ AP

At a parade in Eastport, Maine, Susan Collins, whose opposition to an initial draft of the healthcare law helped delay the vote, said her constituents were singularly focused on healthcare.

There was only one issue. Thats unusual. Its usually a wide range of issues, Collins told the Washington Post. I heard, over and over again, encouragement for my stand against the present version of the Senate and House healthcare bills. People were thanking me, over and over again. Thank you, Susan! Stay strong, Susan!

Where a Republican senator refused to hold a town hall, voters stimulated their views known. Tens of thousands of liberal activists and concerned constituents turned out for dozens of rallies across the country to recommend their senators to vote no on the healthcare bill. Some groups coordinated protests and staged sit-ins at senators offices, and in Columbus, Rob Portmans constituents held a cookout.

As initially drafted, the Republican healthcare plan would repeal major pieces of the ACA, including the mandate that all Americans buy health insurance or face a penalty. It would also build deep cuts to Medicaid, a joint state-federal public health program for low-income Americans, compared with spending under the current law.

An analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office( CBO) estimated that 22 million people would lose healthcare over the next decade for the purposes of the Republican healthcare plan. In a new report that assessed the plans impact over two decades, the agency estimated that spending on Medicaid under the replacement scheme would be 35% lower by 2036 than under current law.

McConnell has introduced a number of changes, including adding $45 bn to combat the opioid outbreak. Also under consideration is a compromise amendment by Ted Cruz, the conservative Texas senator who opposed the bill because it did not go far enough in repealing Obamacare.

Under the Cruz proposal, insurance companies could sell non-AC-Acompliant healthcare plans as long as they also offered at least one that fulfilled the laws mandates, including coverage for maternity care, mental health treatment and prescription drugs. Though the proposal is gaining traction among conservatives, healthcare experts on both sides of the political debate believe the measure would likely result in prohibitively high costs for comprehensive schemes, which sicker Americans would need.

McConnell sent an update, including the Cruz amendment, of the healthcare plan to the agency, and a new report is expected this week. The CBO is expected to release another analysis sometime next week, a likely indicator that Senate Republican will not vote on the scheme until later this month.

I think we are making steady progress, Cruz told ABC on Sunday. The conversations have been coordinated and in good faith.

If Republicans fail to reach an agreement on a replacing scheme, McConnell said he would work with Democrats to stabilize the insurance markets.

No action is not an alternative, McConnell told constituents at a Rotary Club lunch on Thursday, in agreement with the Associated Press. Weve got the insurance markets imploding all over the country, including in this state.

But Cruz said he agreed with a proposal by Trump seen as unhelpful and unrealistic by many Republican that the GOP should try to repeal Obamacare without concurring a replacing if the Senate bill fails.

If we cant get this done right now, I agree with the president, then lets honor the promise on repeal and expend more time to get it done, Cruz said on Sunday.

I believe we can get it done.

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Health secretary Tom Price apologizes for taking private flights for run

Price says he will reimburse US treasury after revelations that he billed the government for $400,000 for the flights instead of taking commercial jets

The health and human services secretary Tom Price apologized on Thursday for taking private charter flights for official business, and said he would repay the treasury for the relevant costs.

Price has come under pressure after it was revealed that he billed the US government $400,000 for private flights instead of commercial travel.

The scandal, which has also insured the Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt come under scrutiny, has raised the ire of Donald Trump. On Wednesday the president told he was ” not happy” with Price considering his private travelling.

Politico first reported that Price was employing private charter airliners instead of commercial flights. The health department’s inspector general is reviewing the issue.

In a statement released on Thursday, Price said:” Today, I will write a personal check to the US treasury for the expenses of my travelling on private charter aircrafts. The taxpayers won’t pay a dime for my seat on those airliners .”

He added:” I will take no more private charter flights as secretary of HHS. No exceptions .”

Price will merely refund the governmental forces for his share of the private travelling- $51,887.37- not the full cost of the flights.

In a statement, a HHS spokesperson said:” What the secretary has done is say that while all of this travel was approved by legal and HHS officials, the secretary has heard the taxpayers’ concerns and wants to be responsive to them.

” That’s why he’s taking the unprecedented step of refunding the government for his share of the travel. Secretary Price will write a personal check to the US Treasury for $51,887.31. The taxpayers won’t pay a dime for his seats on charter aircrafts .”

In his statement, the former Georgia congressman said:” I regret the concerns this has raised regarding the use of taxpayer dollars. All of my political career I’ve fought for the taxpayers. It is clear to me that in this case, I was not sensitive enough to my fear for the taxpayer .”

Price’s flights, which included two journeys to locatings where he owns property, became a political flashpoint on Capitol Hill.

The Iowa Republican senator Charles Grassley sent a letter to the White House asking for information on the use of private airplanes by Price and several other cabinet members.

The House oversight committee, meanwhile, sent a letter to 24 government agencies regarding the use of” private non-commercial traveling for official reasons “.

Prior to his appointment to Trump’s cabinet, Price served 12 years in Congress, representing suburban Atlanta. While on Capitol hill, the former orthopedic surgeon was a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act and a leading Republican voice on health policy issues.

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Republicans for Hillary? Clinton campaign woo those lost by Trump

Prominent GOP figures have forged an array of groups to support the Democrat but some experts doubt the Republican rank and file will follow suit

Hours before Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic presidential nomination at the partys convention in Philadelphia, Doug Elmets strolled on to the stage. Simply 18 months ago, his speech would have been unthinkable.

Its an honor to be here, and candidly, its also a shock, told Elmets, a former spokesman and speechwriter for Ronald Reagan.

The existence of Republicans who support Clinton, such as Elmets, is one of many plot spins in an extraordinary presidential election cycle. Conservative men and women have rejected their natural nominee in favor of a candidate their party has expended two decades tearing down.

With less than 100 days left before election day, the Clinton campaign is accelerating its drive to recruit GOP donors, business leaders and foreign policy experts. According to people familiar with the effort, a visible alliance of independents and Republican backing Clinton will make it easier for conservatives dismayed by Donald Trump to cast their votes for a Democrat.

The Clinton campaign has been preparing for its Republican outreach attempt for months. Around the start of the conventions, it went into gear. Since then , notable Republican, military leaders and one GOP congressman have abandoned Trump and cast their lot with Clinton. Framing their defections as a moral imperative, the converts are advising fellow Republican and independents to set country over party and join them on 8 November.

Donald Trumps demagoguery has undermined the fabric of our national character, Meg Whitman, president and CEO of Hewlett Packard and a prominent Republican donor, said in a statement. America needs the kind of stable and aspirational leadership Secretary Clinton can provide.

Whitman was joined this week by billionaire hedge fund director Seth Klarman, who donated to Jeb Bushs primary campaign; GOP representative Richard Hanna of New York; and Sally Bradshaw, a top consultant to Bush who said she would vote for Clinton if the race is close in Florida.

On Friday, Clinton was endorsed by Michael Morell, the former acting director of the CIA, who used a New York Times op-ed to call Trump a threat to our national security and an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.

The Trump campaign did not return a request for comment.

The former Reagan official Doug Elmets and the founder of Republican Women for Hillary Clinton, Jennifer Pierotti Lim, walk offstage after dealing with the DNC. Photo: Scott Audette/ Reuters

Ever since Trump claimed his partys nomination, Republican-backed groups for Clinton have cropped up. Among them are Republicans for Her 2016, founded by the lobbyist Craig Snyder; Republican Women for Hillary, led by Jennifer Pierotti Lim, director of health policy for the US Chamber of Commerce; and a grassroots group, R4C16, led by John Stubbs and Ricardo Reyes, former officials in the George W Bush administration.

This year, the threat posed by Mr Trump compels us to consider what many of us never have: supporting the Democratic nominee for President, R4C16 wrote on its website. The group has also documented the backlash its received without converting. If youre a Republican and you vote for Hillary do us all a favor, go straight to Hell! one poster wrote.

It is not just by design that a commotion of Republican are abandoning their party. Trump has had an extraordinarily bad week, beginning where reference is belittled the Gold Star family of a fallen American soldier.

Trump was also described by Barack Obama as unfit and woefully unprepared to become president; initially refused to endorse House speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain in their primaries; falsely claimed to have watched a video presenting $400 m being unloaded from a plane in Iran; expelled a weeping newborn from a rally in Virginia; accepted a purple heart from a veteran though he did not serve himself; indicated his daughter would find another career if she were harassed at work; and seemed unaware of that Russia had invaded Ukraine two years ago. Questions is likewise raised about whether his wife, Melania, had worked illegally in the US before 1996. The work in question was a collecting of nude photos, republished by the New York Post.

This all came after a week in which the Republican nominee for chairwoman called for Russia to hack and release the missing emails from the private server Clinton use while secretary of state, and asserted that Nato member countries should pay their fair share if America was to contribute fully to the alliance.

The noise arising from Trumps self-inflicted disputes virtually drowned out criticism of Clinton for her claim that FBI director James Comey said her past statements about her email use were consistent and truthful. Republican have employed the controversy to raise doubts about her fitness for office and to indicate she operates above the law. Clinton said on Friday she may have short-circuited the characterization of Comeys comments.

Paul Manafort, Trumps campaign chair, has deflected criticism, insisting that the campaign is in good shape. In July, the campaign told, Trump took his largest fundraising haul yet $80 m but his campaign still fights to match Clintons fundraising apparatus.

One veteran Republican consultant, Reed Galen, doubts Clintons campaign can overcome 25 years of mistrust among Republican voters, especially those who remember her husbands administration.

The trend of traversing party lines is happening among GOP elites the establishment kinds and GOP elected officials who are in safe districts or retired, Galen told. I cant consider there being a whole lot of crossover from rank-and-file Republicans.

According to the latest McClatchy-Marist poll, if the election were held today, only 6 % of voters for Clinton would identify as Republican. That number is unchanged from last month, ahead of the conventions. Galen said, however, that this could change dramatically depending on what Trump does in the three months and as many presidential debates remaining before Election Day.

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Trump’s budget overhaul: domestic programs slashed to fund military

Environmental and state departments face the greatest reductions in Trumps proposed budget, while the border wall would receive an immediate $1.4 bn

Donald Trump unveiled a $1.15 tn budget on Thursday, a far-reaching overhaul of federal government spending that would slash many domestic programs to finance a significant increase in the military and make a downpayment on a US-Mexico border wall.

Trumps proposal seeks to upend Washington with cuts to long-promised campaign targets like foreign aid and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as strong congressional favorites such as medical research, help for homeless veterans and community development grants.

A budget that sets America first must make the safety of our people its number one priority because without security, there can be no prosperity, Trump said in a message accompanying his proposed budget, whose title, America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again, borrows a phrase denounced by the Anti-Defamation League for its links to 1940 s Nazi sympathizers.

The $ 54 bn boost for the military is the largest since Ronald Reagans Pentagon buildup in the 1980 s, promising immediate money for troop readiness, the fight against Islamic State activists and procurement of new ships, fighter jets and other weapons. The 10% Pentagon boost is financed by $54 bn in cuts to foreign aid and domestic agencies that had been protected by Barack Obama.

The budget goes after the frequent targets of the partys staunchest conservatives, eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts, legal aid for the poor, low-income heating assistance and the AmeriCorps national service program established by Bill Clinton.

This is a hard power budget , not a soft power budget, told White House budget director Mick Mulvaney.

Such programs were the focus of lengthy combats dating to the GOP takeover of Congress in 1995 and have survived prior attempts to eliminate them.

Lawmakers will have the final say on Trumps proposal in the arduous budget process, and many of the cuts will be deemed dead on arrival.

The administrations budget isnt going to be the budget, said Senator Marco Rubio. We do the budget here. The administration makes recommendations, but Congress does budgets.

Mulvaney acknowledged to reporters that passing the cuts could be an uphill struggle and said the administration would negotiate over replacing cuts.

This is not a take-it-or-leave-it budget, Mulvaney said.

Law enforcement agencies like the FBI would be spared, while the border wall would receive an immediate $1.4 bn infusion in the ongoing fiscal year, with another $2.6 bn planned for the 2018 budget year starting 1 October.

Trump repeatedly claimed during the campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall when, in fact, US taxpayers are almost certain to foot the bill.

Twelve of the governmental forces 15 Cabinet agencies would absorb cuts under the presidents proposal. The biggest losers are agriculture, labor, country and the cabinet-level EPA. The defense department, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Veterans Affair are the winners.

More than 3,000 EPA employees would lose their jobs and programs such as Obamas Clean Power Plan, which would stiffen regulations on emissions from power plants seen as contributing to global warming, would be eliminated. Popular EPA awards for nation and local drinking and wastewater projects would be preserved, however, even as research into climate change would be eliminated.

Trumps proposal covers merely approximately one-fourth of the approximately$ 4tn federal budget, the discretionary portion that Congress passes per year. It doesnt address taxes, social security systems, Medicare and Medicaid, or induce predictions about deficits and the economy. Those big-picture details are due in mid-May, and are sure to prove large probably permanent budget deficits. Trump has vowed not to cut Social Security and Medicare and is dead set against raising taxes.

The presidents going to keep his promises to leave Social Security and Medicare alone, Mulvaney said.

But the budget increases user fees, boosting the airline ticket tax by$ 1 per one-way journey. It would also slash subsidies for the federal flood insurance program thats a linchpin for the real estate marketplace, especially in coastal southern states and the Northeast.

The so-called skinny budget is indeed thin, glossing over cuts to many sensitive programs such as community health centers, national park, and payments for rural schools, offering merely a vague, two-page summing-up of most agencies, including the Pentagon, where apportioning its additional billions is still a work in progress.

Trumps proposal is sure to land with a thud on Capitol hill, and not only with opposition Democrats outraged over cuts to pet programs such as renewable energy, climate change research and rehabilitation of housing projects.

Republicans like Senator Rob Portman of Ohio are irate over planned elimination of a program to restore the Great Lakes. Top Republicans like majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senate foreign relations committee chairwoman Bob Corker of Tennessee are opposed to drastic cuts to foreign aid. And even GOP defense hawks like armed service committee chairwoman Mac Thornberry of Texas arent satisfied with the $54 bn increase for the military.

Before the two sides go to war over Trumps 2018 plan, they need to clean up more than $1.1 tn in unfinished bureau budgets for the current year. A temporary catchall spending bill expires 28 April; negotiations have scarcely started and could get hung up over Trumps request for the wall and additional border patrol and immigration enforcement agents, just for starters.

Some of the most politically sensitive domestic programs would be spared, including food aid for pregnant women and their children, housing vouchers for the poor, providing assistance to special education and school districts for the poor and federal aid to historically black colleges and universities.

But the National Institute of Health would assimilate a $5.8 bn cut despite Trumps talk in a recent address to Congress of find remedies to the illnesses that have always beset us. Subsidies for airlines serving rural airports in Trump strongholds would be eliminated. It would also shut down Amtraks money-losing long-distance roads and kill off a popular $500 m-per-year TIGER Grant program for freeway projects created by Obama.

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White House proposes slashing funds to clean up toxic sites despite EPA’s pleas

EPA plan to focus on hazardous areas that pollute air and water, often near low-income communities and minorities, was dashed by presidents budget proposal

Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitts vow to shift the agency back towards the vital work of dealing with toxic sites that pollute air and water has been dashed by a White House budget plan that would slash funding for the clean-ups.

Donald Trumps 2018 budget plan proposes severe cuts to clean-up programs targeting some of the most toxic sites in the US, which are invariably situated near low-income communities and minorities, despite a push by the EPA to prioritize these hazardous areas.

This month, Pruitt issued a directive that instructed the agency to quicken its response to polluted areas known as Superfund sites, where industrial activity or toxic accidents have tainted the air, water or soils.

In an internal memo, Pruitt said he will take oversight of Superfund remedial efforts, promising that the clean-ups will be restored to their rightful place at the center of the agencys core mission. There are more than 1,700 Superfund sites such as shuttered factories, quarries and landfills in the US, with a disproportionate number situated beside communities of color.

But Trumps budget proposal, set to be fully unveiled on Tuesday, would reduce funding for those clean-ups by nearly a third, while the budget for enforcing Superfund remedies with businesses would be slashed by almost 40%. The EPA budget documents were obtained and released by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies.

Furthermore, the EPAs environmental justice office, which champions the rights of communities burdened by pollution, would be closed down and the civil rights program would experience an 18% funding decrease.

Congress will have the responsibility for setting federal spending but Trumps budget request makes clear that the administration wants to pare down the EPA while increasing military spending and paying for a border wall with Mexico. Trump envisages cuts that would see the EPAs total budget shrink by nearly one third from $8.2bn to $5.65bn its lowest level, adjusting for inflation, in 40 years.

Trumps proposed budget eliminates several programs, with deep cuts to renewable energy and climate change-related initiatives. In March, Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, said climate research is a waste of your money. The 2018 plan would:

  • Reduce funding for the science and technology arm of the EPA by nearly 40% to $450m.
  • Cut grants to states for their own environmental protections from $3.6bn to 2.9bn.
  • Eliminate funding for the protection of major water ecosystems including the Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, the Puget Sound and the Great Lakes.
  • Remove all $19m in help for Alaskan native villages that are threatened by warming temperatures and sea level rise.
  • Reduce funding for drinking water health programs by $16m to $80m.
  • Scrap the $8m used to fund the greenhouse gas reporting program, which lists carbon emissions from industrial facilities.

However, it is unlikely that Trumps plan for the EPA will come to fruition, with some Republicans in Congress indicating that they believe the cuts go too far.

Charlie Dent, a Republican congressman who sits on the House appropriations committee, said: We want a functioning EPA and want their decisions to be based on best practices and science. I dont think anyone is here to kill the agency, were here to make it work better.

Catherine Lhamon, chair of the US Commission on Civil Rights, told the Guardian: If this budget is implemented, it will be at best a backward step and at worst extremely harmful to communities of color nationwide.

Last year, the commission released a report scathing of the EPAs extreme delays in responding to civil rights complaints in the area of environmental justice. It found that the agencys civil rights office had never made a formal finding of discrimination in its history.

The Obama administration created a new plan, called EJ2020, to address some of these problems but its future is now uncertain, with the EPA declining to comment on whether the strategy is to be scrapped.

An EPA spokeswoman said: We are still evaluating ways to comply with the presidents budget, and administrator Pruitt is committed to the idea that all programs need to work directly with communities who have been underserved by EPA.

Lhamon said: Civil rights and environmental justice are already seriously under resourced within the EPA. Cutting resources yet further will not help. Environmental justice concerns will exist even if the office doesnt and racial discrimination will persist even if the office of civil rights doesnt have the staff to address it.

Bill Becker, head of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, said: In short, these cuts will result in more people dying prematurely and getting sick unnecessarily.

These cuts will mean delays in meeting health-based air quality standards, less inspections against noncomplying facilities, decreased monitoring in metropolitan areas, and fewer agency staff to address air quality problems.

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Marco Rubio: women with Zika should not be allowed abortions

Florida senator and former presidential nominee says he will stray on the side of life even if newborns will have microcephaly

Florida senator Marco Rubio has said women infected with the Zika virus should not be allowed to have abortions, even if their babies have microcephaly, the severe developmental disorder than can result from infection with the disease.

If Im going to err, Im going to err on the side of life, the Republican told Politico. Rubio, who has championed Zika funding bills in the Senate, also blamed Democrat for the failure to pass such federal aid.

According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention( CDC) figures, Florida is the state second-worst affected by Zika, after New York, but is the only country to have infections caused by local mosquitoes. Most Zika examples in the US have been found in people who travelled to affected countries and provinces.

On Sunday, the Florida governor, Rick Scott, told NBC that despite his state having identified 16 occurrences of mosquito-borne Zika infections, what were doing is working.

Scott also called for increased federal assistance, in addition to the several million Barack Obama has released in existing grants. On Friday, the federal Food and Drug Administration cleared a private company to release genetically altered mosquitoes which could help the fight against Zika on an island in the Florida Keys. The project will be subject to a local referendum in November.

Rubio operated unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination and only recently decided to run for re-election rather than give up public life. During the presidential campaign, he said he was opposed to abortion in all instances, including in cases of rape or incest.

I understand a lot of people disagree with my view but I believe that all human life is worthy of protection of our laws, he said on Saturday. And when you present it in the context of Zika or any prenatal condition, its a difficult question and a hard one. But if Im going to err, Im going to err on the side of life.

In the Senate, Rubio has supported the provision of funding for work against Zika. In May, after a $1.1 bn funding measure he sponsored passed the Senate, he quoth an estimate from the CDC director, Tom Frieden, that the lifetime cost of caring for small children born with microcephaly could reach $10 m.

Were going to be dealing with Zika for multiple years, Rubio told. Outside of the human expense is the economic cost of this. Were going to be spending money on Zika for the foreseeable future.

On Saturday, he added: Obviously, microcephaly is a terrible prenatal condition that kids are born with. And when they are, its a lifetime of difficulties. So I get it.

Im not pretending to you that thats an easy topic you asked me. But Im pro-life. And Im strongly pro-life. I believe all human life should be protected by our law, irrespective of the circumstances or condition of that life.

Obama asked Congress for $1.9 bn of funding, which is now being blocked in the Senate in June. House Republican had appended unrelated provisions to the bill involving, for example, abortion limiteds and the Confederate flag and Senate Democrats refused to pass it in its altered sort.

Rubio blamed the failure to pass any anti-Zika fund on Democrats, who have blamed Republican for inserting such poison pill clauses into the relevant bill. One such clause had a measure to defund Planned Parenthood, the womens health provider and a frequent target of anti-abortion campaigners.

The Planned Parenthood angle is something they basically made up to have a political reason not to pass Zika so they can come back in August and campaign on it, Rubio told. Thats what I entail by political volleyball. Both sides have played that game. I would have preferred the House only passed a clean funding bill and Ill vote for that if it comes out.

On NBC, Scott was asked if it was now safe to travel to Wynwood, the Miami neighbourhood in which mosquito-borne Zika has been found.

Absolutely, he told. I was there on Thursday we are doing a good job working to get rid of the mosquitoes. Our department of health at the local level is doing a good job. We have 16 lawsuits weve been able to reduce the region we had a concern about by 10 blocks on Friday, so were working on it.

Everybody pregnant has the option for a test if they want it; were picking everybody up. What were doing is working.

The CDC has cautioned pregnant women and their partners not to travel to Wynwood, and advised those who live there to try to prevent mosquito bites, wear a condom, and be tested for infection. Couples trying to get pregnant should also avoid the area, the health officials said.

Scott was also asked about criticism he has received over a 40% cut to the states mosquito control budget in 2011.

What weve done is allocate the dollars better, he said. We reduced some fund originally but we dramatically increased the funding over the last five, six years Ive been in office. We have a very good mosquito board. Ive apportioned $26.2 m of state funding.

As of Friday, Florida officials had released merely $1.9 m of those funds, according to documents acquired by the Miami Herald.

The feds need to become a partner, Scott continued, saying he had asked Frieden for 10,000 more Zika preparedness kits. We still need the federal government to show up. The chairman and Congress still need to work together. This is a national, federal issue , not just a Florida issue.

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The Obama years: novelists assess his legacy

Expectations were sky high when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. As his word draws to a close, has he disappointed or delivered? Novelists in America appraise him

Tobias Wolff: The coolness of his style has led to a lack of kudo for what he has achieved

Tobias Wolff is best known for his memoir This Boys Life , which won the Los Angeles Times book award for biography. His 1984 novella, The Barracks Thief , won the Pen/ Faulkner award for fiction. He was the director of creative writing at Stanford from 2000 to 2002 and received a National Medal of Arts from the president in 2015.

Our nominees for chairman campaign as if theyre running for king, and not only any king no quaint, hospital-touring emblem of national unity , no mere figurehead answerable to a constitution and a popular assembly. Congress? Whats that? If elected, our American nominee will, like an absolute monarch, resolve the thorniest problems of state simply by exerting his( or her !) will. Is the domestic economy on fire, and about to spread to our neighbours? He will fix it, because he knows how. Students drowning in debt? Hell induce college free! Islamic jihadists taking over cities in Syria and Iraq? Hell carpet bomb them until we find out if sand[ and innocent civilians] can glow.

Tobias Wolff: Despite my years, I believed in Obama believed not only that he entailed what he told, but that he could get it done. Photo: Murdo MacLeod for the Observer

Do suspected terrorists know more than theyre telling? Hell have them tortured till they sing like Pavarotti, and kill their families into the bargain, and the army will only have to suck it up and do what he tells, even if they say they wont, and have the law to back them up. Law? Whats that? Shell ban assault weapons; hell make sure you can take them to church.

The promise of immediate and radical change is a campaign fiction presented with such bald-faced effrontery that we barely question it any more, unless its coming from the other side. Indeed, the performance cant be sustained unless we support it with our credulity, like a tentful of rubes gaping at the tricks of a carnival magician, even offering ourselves up as subjects.

The wishful thinking that is the source of this credulity is, of course, a prelude to disappointment if our nominee actually gets elected. Take the case of nominee Barack Obama. He was going to get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and close Guantnamo. He would save our failing economy, mend our contravene healthcare system, and legislate sensible gun control legislation. He would overhaul our immigration system, address climate change with meaningful policies, and change the bilious tone of our political discourse. We werent a nation of red states and blue states, he reminded us: we were the United States. Despite my years, I believed believed not only that he entailed what he said, but that he could get it done.

My wife and I gathered several friends on a November night in 2008, and watched with elation and skepticism as this young, literary, ironical human with a Kenyan father was elected to the presidency. Some of us had tears in our eyes. I was one. But as day went on those tears began to burn. He wasnt get it done, or so it seemed to me. Guantnamo was still in business. The planet maintained heating up, and the wars dragged on, though increasingly waged by special forces. As before, just about anybody was free to walk into a gun store and come out armed, and each year some 30,000 Americans continued to pay for that liberty with their lives.

And the tone of political life had become even more toxic than before the election. During President Obamas first State of the Union address, a congressman from South Carolina screamed: You lie ! and became a Republican hero, even as the leaders of that party dedicated themselves to obstructing President Obamas legislative initiatives and judicial appointments, effectively incapacitating the government in order, as the senate majority leader shamelessly admitted, to make Obama a one-term chairwoman. The birthers continued to question his legitimacy, and, further, to imply that he was a secret Muslim and advocate of Isis. He was Hitler. He was Lenin.

Obamacare supporters react to the US Supreme Court decision to uphold President Obamas health care law, 28 June, 2012, Washington, DC. Photo: Mark Wilson/ Getty Images

None of this of this was Obamas fault. Indeed, he reacted to the unrelenting creek of slander and congressional malfeasance with unflappable calm and an air of faintly amused detachment. And for that I did blame him. The coolness I had admired during his campaign became an irritant. In fact, it drove me sort of crazy. Why didnt he fight back? Show some rage at what was truly outrageous, the obstruction, the name-calling, the attacks on Michelle Obama for promoting schools to serve healthy food, even for occasionally wearing gowns that proved her arms? Call these liars and bullies out, damn it! Politics is mud wrestling, did he not understand that? And if he genuinely didnt feeling anger, then why not take some acting lessons, and fake it?

Well, I was wrong. As Barack Obama prepares to leave office, I think about what he managed to do in the face of implacable resistance. No, he didnt close Guantnamo; the Republican congress wouldnt let him , nor would they let him bring sanity to our handgun laws, or to our immigration policies. But as most economists concur, his fiscal initiatives, narrowly approved, did save us from a profound recession, perhaps even a depression. His successful automobile industry bailout, ferociously contested at the time, saved countless tasks at almost no expense to the taxpayer. If Obama couldnt altogether extricate us from the wars he inherited, he has refrained from miring us in new wars, despite being constantly urged to do so by congressmen and senators who otherwise refuse to expend taxation dollars on, say, education, or roads, or environmental safeguards.

Finally, 20 million Americans who did not have health insurance when Barack Obama took office have it now; and in spite of dire Republican predictions, and umpteen votes for repeal, it has actually lowered the healthcare cost inflation rate. No one in this country, however poor, or sick, need be without insurance. This achievement eluded Theodore Roosevelt and Bill Clinton, among others.

So why has Obama not been celebrated for what hes done? Why did so many of us so often feel a sense of impatience, even frustration? I believe it comes down to immaturity in us , not him. At least part of the reason for our failure to recognise and kudo what hes accomplished has to do with his style that coolness. He doesnt brag, or gloat. He doesnt call attention to himself, or extol his deeds in the thoroughfares, or ridicule those who oppose him. But we wanted him to. We wanted hot. We wanted fury, slashing rhetoric, mock. We wanted him to call liars liars, idiots imbeciles. We wanted him to bully the bullies. We wanted him to wage war, and crow over his fallen foes. And because we did not get the melodrama we demanded, we lost the plot.

But now we have a candidate who will give us all the sound and frenzy we could ask for, or imagine. Lets see how we like it. Me, Im already nostalgic for Obama.

Akhil Sharma Now I am much less tolerant of white stupidity

Akhil Sharma: I understood the tenderness on the faces as hope. Photo: Tim Knox
Akhil Sharma is the author of the 2015 Folio prize-winning novel
Family Life as well as An Obedient Father , for which he won the 2001 Hemingway Foundation/ PEN awarding. Born in India, he moved to the US as a child and he is currently an assistant professor of creative writing at Rutgers University-Newark. His short story Cosmopolitan was turned into a 2003 film of the same name .

At the Times Square subway stop there is an electronics good store with TVs in the windows. For perhaps the first two years of the Obama presidency, one of the TVs was constantly depicting Obama swearing the oath of office. Always there was a small knot of black people standing before the window, looking at the TV tenderly.

I am Indian and I have experienced some racism in America but I did not experience Obamas inauguration or presidency as some great promise coming true.

When I insured the knot of black people watching the inauguration, what I felt was embarrassment. I understood the tenderness on the faces as hope. That things would change. To me, it seemed obvious that things would not change. That racism and fear of others getting ahead is so deeply rooted in the white American subconsciou that there was bound to be a backlash. To me, the tenderness seemed like people believing a lie they urgently wanted to believe.

In eight years a person can change quite a bit and, to me now, that tenderness I ensure is not hope but joy. There can be elation in the moment and one can be joyful without believing that things will necessarily get much better. To me now, those black people standing before the window were smarter than I was in that they chose to enjoy their happiness.

One other route that I have experienced the Obama presidency is that I have begun to be intolerant of certain types of stupidity from white people. My role is no longer to help them become comfy with racial the questions or to help them ensure another point of view. My response to white folly now is to tell people to grow up. I have an acquaintance who was Obamas boss when Obama had just gotten out of college. My acquaintance, a white man, was deep irritated that Obama had become president and that he himself had not. I can certainly claim to my share of irrationality but when I heard this, it seemed to me a new level of bizarreness. Before the Obama presidency, if I had heard something so stupid I would have just chuckled. Now I asked the man if he would have thought this if Obama had been white?

Attica Locke: His healthcare reforms were humongous

Attica Locke: When Obama was elected I was stunned in my spirit. Photograph: Ulf Andersen/ Getty Images
Attica Locke was bear in Texas. Her first fiction,
Black Water Rising , was nominated for a 2010 Edgar award, an NAACP Image award, and a Los Angeles Times book prize. Her second, The Cutting Season , was a national bestseller and win of the Ernest Gaines award for literature. She is an academy member for the Folio prize UK, as well as being on the board of directors for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles .

When Obama was elected, what I felt was bigger than pleasure though Im not sure I have a word for what it was. I remember watching the results on TV and saying over and over: Is this actually happening? Is this real? I merely couldnt take it in. I was stunned in my soul.

A few months later, I went to stay on a plantation in southern Louisiana, doing research for my second volume. I was sleeping in a little cabin right by the field where slaves used to cut sugar cane. One night a storm was coming and you could hear the foliages rustling against one another, and it sounded to me like voices. I remember talking to whatever spirits were out there and telling them: Your labour was not in vain. Everything you lived for was not in vain. And I felt a deep sense of hope hope beyond what was written on an electoral poster.

Has that hope been fulfilled? Not exactly. Dont get me wrong, there was never a part of me that thought we were going to get a post-racial society. Im not interested in living in a post-racial society. But I had a hope that we were about to move past the worst of our racial history. Right now, America is at a crossroads. The Obama presidency can move us forward, or we can backslide into racial intolerance and violence for good. One of the effects of Obama being elected is that there is a level of racism in America that can no longer be ignored. If a man like Barack Obama, so well-educated, so graceful, so intelligent, so charming, can be so vilified and denigrated on a daily basis in some parts of the country and in Congress( to the point that he can hardly do his job ), you can no longer as a normal American ignore the profound problem of race in this country.

Barack and Michelle Obama: Were just beginning to see what this man and his wife together are going to do for the country. Photo: Rebecca Blackwell/ AP

There are a lot of well-meaning white folks who for years could not assure the breadth of racism in America, so I feel that one of the gifts of Obamas presidency a perverse gift is the fact it allowed a sickness to bubble up to the surface, like a boil on the scalp. You cant treat what you cant ensure. And now that we see it, maybe theres a chance to treat this racial sickness for good.

As for my feelings about Obama, the man himself, I think hes done a lot of positive things. He got dumped with an economy in freefall in 2009 but hes managed to turn it around. And his healthcare reforms were humongous, as big to me as stuff that Lyndon Johnson did back in the 60 s, like creating Medicare. Of course hes done things that I do not agree with. I have a problem with the failure to close Guantnamo, I have a problem with drone ten-strikes around the world. But youre never going to like everything that any president does. What Im not going to do is hold Obama to a higher standard, where he has to be a magical negro who is perfect. Hes allowed to stimulate missteps.

I think were just beginning to see what this man and his wife together are going to do for the country. Hes done what he can within the office of the presidency, but now I think he could be like Jimmy Carter, who has done some unbelievable run since leaving office. Were just seeing the beginning of Obamas power as a human being. As say to Killian Fox

Hari Kunzru: His rhetorical ability soothed the terror induced by his blackness

Hari Kunzru: His clearest legacy is symbolic.
Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Observer
British novelist Hari Kunzru left London for New York eight years ago. He was the recipient of the Betty Trask prize( 2002) and the Somerset Maugham award( 2003) for his debut fiction,
The Impressionist . His 2011 fiction, Gods Without Men , led to the coining of the genre translit: fictions that cross history and geography without being historical nor changing psychic place( New York Times ).

The clearest legacy of the Obama presidency is symbolic. Its hard for non-Americans( and, indeed , non-whites) to understand the clairvoyant blow dealt to the nativist right by the ascending of a black human to the White House. That part of the Republican base that abandoned the Democrats after the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, and which has been so irresponsibly indulged by the party of Lincoln, took the news like medieval villagers witnessing an eclipse. Weve now spends eight years watching Republican congressmen scurrying hither and thither brandishing pitchforks, outraged at the latest whiff of terrorist fist-bumpery.

The obstructionist opposition to Obama arrived tricked out in 18 th-century Founders drag, bewigged and buckle-shoed. Ostensibly they were angry that the framers of the constitution were being traduced by a stoner Kenyan community organiser, yet beneath the surface, their grievances often turned out to be rooted in the eroding of the racial deference that has been expected in this country since the days when Jefferson and Washington toured their slave quarterss.

The presence of a black first family in the White House, the nations lifestyle fishbowl, is just as symbolically powerful as the sight of a black husband and parent shouldering the responsibilities of the presidency. In their immaculate media presentation, the Obamas have communicated themselves to the readers of the kind of magazines found in supermarket checkouts as a family whose dignity and essential decency are well sheathed in the necessary American armour of glamour. Whoever wins the presidency in November, the first spouse will command a fraction of the respect that Michelle Obama enjoys. The sight of the two Obama daughters, young black girls growing up with limitless aspirations in a loving home, begs a replies from a country where the number one cause of death for black females aged 15 -3 4 is homicide by a current or former partner.

Many of the young people driving the Black Lives Matter motion went of age during the Obama presidency, their political consciousness formed by the 2008 election. For them, Obama turned out to be more hope than change, and his failure to speak in a full-throated route in their subsistence has felt like a betrayal, but once the thick rind of symbolism has been peeled, the president has always been a cautious centrist Democrat with an instinct for consensus , not a human likely to align himself with the politics of black power.

The drone war is considered in many parts of the world the administrations signal moral catastrophe: a US Air Force MQ-1B Predator drone at a secret air base in the Persian Gulf: Photo: John Moore/ Getty Images

In policy words, the Obama legacy is mixed. The passing of the Affordable Care Act has curbed some of the more egregious iniquities of the dysfunctional US healthcare system, but hundreds of thousands of Americans still go bankrupt every year because of medical bills. Eight years after the financial crisis, the president has succeeded in keeping the wheels on American capitalism, but once the dust determined, it became clear that the accident accelerated the transfer of wealth from the middle class to the very rich, an injustice he has done nothing to address.

Middle Eastern policy has been rudderless. There were, to be honest , no good options available after the squalid catastrophe of the Bush wars, but Obamas vacillation about participation helped produce the chaos in Libya and the vacuum in Syria so ruthlessly exploited by Isis and the Russians. He let red lines to be crossed without sanction. The droning war, considered in many parts of the world as the administrations signal moral tragedy, has carried on with little serious domestic opponent. The failure to close Guantnamo is, in the strategy of things, the least of these failures. Merely day will tell whether the vaunted Iran bargain produces a harvest of peace and stability.

And yet Obama will be missed. Sometimes, out of his extensive rhetorical tool kit, the president pulls a weird folksy tone, a subliminal suggestion of Merle Haggard, designed , no doubt, to soothe the terror induced by his blackness. Desperate as it is to go on a psychic vacation in the magical kingdom of the post-racial, America will discover that it was lucky to have had a figure capable of such virtuosic code-switching, a man who demonstrated that it was possible to communicate across the lines.

Jayne Anne Phillips: Merely by being who he is he has made an enormous impact

Jayne Anne Phillips: Obama has been a stealth chairperson.

Guggenheim fellow Jayne Anne Phillips won the 1980 Sue Kaufman prize for first fiction when she was only 26, for her debut volume of narratives, Black Tickets. Twenty-one years later, her novel MotherKind won the Massachusetts Book award. She is the holder of two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships.

Obama has been a transformational chairwoman, and this may not become solely clear until he leaves office. People forget that when he presumed the presidency in 2009, he was handed a fiscal disaster in the making and his response to it really saved the country, and maybe the world, from financial breakdown. But hes done so much more. In the two years in which he had a Democratic Congress, he passed the Affordable Care Act and oversaw a $36 bn dollar expansion in Pell Grants, which very much affects students at Rutgers University-Newark, where I direct the MFA programme.

Obama has been a stealth president. Hes had to be: six years of his presidency have been completely obstructed by the Republican. But hes managed to change energy policy, improve medical care and academic criteria, he changed dont ask, dont tell in the military and influenced awareness of LGBTQ issues both legally and in popular culture. He went to Cuba, he went to Hiroshima. He has worked hard to fight climate change. Solar energy production has increased 30 -fold since he became chairperson. Jobs in the solar industry have grown exponentially, and hes resulting the effort to phase out damaging hydrofluorocarbons being implemented in air conditioning. His presidency has accomplished so much of which citizens are not aware. He has embraced executive actions, unwilling to accept the stasis Congress embodies.

Then theres the whole leadership lawsuit. He cant aim racism and sexism in America, but merely by being who he is, hes made an enormous impact. I think he is truly a visionary who is uniquely qualified to serve. Hes a biracial African American human who grew up in a white household. He came from a background of statute and community organising. Hes an absolutely wonderful orator: funny, elegant and humane.

Same-sex wedding advocates in front of the supreme court in Washington, DC. Photo: Jewel Samad/ AFP/ Getty Images

I suppose its clear that Im a big Obama fan and that this election year has been a psychedelic nightmare. Its like going from the sublime to if Trump is actually elected the ridiculously dangerous. Its a very strange time in this country and we can only hope that Trump will continue to implode. Hillary Clinton is exceptionally qualified and I believe shed be a good chairman; American sexism plays a huge its participation in her supposed unlikability. She might not be as inspiring as Obama, shes not cool or chic, but she is such a policy wonk, so prepared and careful. And constant. Her priorities infants, households, justice are the same after 30 years. Yet she is suspected because she has breached the establishment. Im simply praying shell wins. If Trump wins, therell be a lot of people in America trying to marry Canadians.

Obama has been a inspiring and provocative leader. The fact that this is more or less the consensus around the world genuinely matters, because it means hes not vulnerable to the sniping and griping, to the ridiculous run low , no, go lower tone that Trump has set in this election. I dont guess anything will change the fact that Obamas presidency marks an honourable few years in American history. He is Trumps polar opposite. What a country this is, to nurture and succour two such opposite cultural/ political beings. The best and the worst have moved further and further apart; we are a completely divided nation. Those paradise moments the very surprising 2008 Obama election, the crowds, the alliances, the decency, charm and intelligence of it all exist alongside all that we are today suffer. Its a world that only a 24 -hour news cycle could love. What will Trump do or say next? Like everything Trump touches, its all about him. But I digress.

Desperation and chaos are confusing. How dark will it get? Regardless, Obama is not going away. The America that elected him twice is not going away either. Like Elvis, that America has left the building. Hopefully it will reappear on election day.

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Chicago cheers adopted son Obama as he returns for parting speech as president

Many Chicagoans swell with pride for Barack Obama, whose life and work were enshrined as the best of the south side long before his last presidential address

Zariff can recollect cutting Barack Obamas hair for his breakthrough speech at the Democratic national convention address in 2004. I cut it real short for that one, the barber said. He ran from medium to short. I thought it should be different.

On Tuesday, Obama will again sit calmly as Zariff, his personal hairdresser for more than two decades, prepares him to walk out before an ecstatic, expectant crowd. This time it will be to deliver his last address as US president. He will reflect on what he got done, what went undo, and what a Donald Trump future portends for America and the world .

Hopes are high that he has one more great speech left in him.

Unlike Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton or George W Bush, Obama has opted to give his farewell address not in the White House but in his adopted home. Chicago, Americas third largest city, is guaranteed to give the president an adoring, raucous, never-let-me-go sendoff.

Such is the strength of feeling for Obama here he will always be Chicagos chairwoman ,~ ATAGEND a city newspaper headline announced last week that competitor for seats at the primetime event rivalled that for the Broadway musical Hamilton. Swaddled in heavy winter coats, hats and gloves, people queued in the freeze cold from 4.30 am on Saturday for one of the 7,000 free tickets some of which are now being sold for thousands of dollars online.

People wait in line for tickets to Barack Obamas parting address in Chicago, most for two or more hours in subzero breeze chill temperatures. Photo: Scott Olson/ Getty Images

One man certain to be in attendance is Zariff who declined to give his full name or age who works at the Hyde Park Hair Salon in Obamas home neighbourhood. Although the shop changed premises a few years ago, it has its most well known patrons regular chair on prominent display, autographed and behind protective glass, along with photos, newspaper cuts and even a painting, almost like a shrine.

Zariff said he can recollect very vividly the first time the young lawyer and community organiser walked in. He never dreamed Obama could be president. But then arrived the convention in Boston in 2004. Thats when I knew it was possible, he reflected. A very bright, very sharp, very focused individual outside the guy who told jokes all the time.

Zariff, who the hell African American, cut Obamas hair again before his acceptance speech in Grant Park, Chicago ,~ ATAGEND on the night in 2008 he became the first black president in US history. He had to look his best. It was a very special impression of watching something come to fruition from the beginning.

Since then Zariff has made regular trips to the White House to ensure Obama does not have a hair out of place. When you find a good barber, you hang with him, he explained cheerfully. Its important for a world leader to keep his look consistent.

Tuesday nights speech will elicit a heap of memories, Zariff added. I will go back all the way to the first time he strolled in the door, to the time of Illinois senator, to the time of senator, to the time of chairwoman: all this I will think about. Hes still standing upright, confident, and looking to the future.

Chicago is booming by various measures but grappling with a rising slaying rate ,~ ATAGEND persistent racial segregation and, last week, a shocking Facebook Live broadcast that apparently depicted a person with physical disabilities being bound, gagged and beaten.

Tim Samuelson, the citys official cultural historian, said: So much of Barack Obamas formative years were in doing public activism here in Chicago. The challenge of urban life in the city became an environment that shaped him.

Chicago is the newcomer city in the US and grew up nearly overnight. Its always been concerned about how people regarded it. Its attained its mark in many ways, including culturally and artistically, but certainly the presidency of Barack Obama is going to be the most lasting and memorable achievement.

Obama was born in Hawaii and expended part of his childhood in Indonesia but subsequently endeavoured to Chicagos south side, which he regards as home . It is where he met his future wife, Michelle Robinson, teach at university, started as their home communities organiser and has chosen for his presidential library. Today in the Hyde Park neighbourhood there are signs of affection, physical and emotional, for the local hero.

Outside a mundane strip mall, a 3,000 lb hunk of granite sits in a bloom bed, embedded with a plaque. On this site, President Barack Obama first kissed Michelle Obama, it extol. For good measure, it includes a quotation from Obama:

A plaque marking the place where Barack and Michelle Obama shared their first kiss in 1989 in Hyde Park, Chicago. Photograph: Scott Olson/ Getty Images

Baskin-Robbins has moved to a new place a few doorways away. Standing behind a bank of ice cream on a cold day, cashier Bianca Smith, 29, expressed a sentiment true for many here: sorrow at Obamas departure and trepidation at what is to come. I wish he could operate again for president. Trump merely dont have any experience, especially campaign experience. He cant run his own damned hotel and now hes going to run the world? Im kind of nervous.

Down the street is Valois ,~ ATAGEND a eatery that opened in 1921, another favourite Obama haunt. Today it has a menu poster that proclaims, President Obamas favorites, including NY steak and eggs for $9.95 and two flapjacks for $6.25. More photos adorn the walls. Sitting at the window on Monday was Herb Robinson, a property investor, wearing a shirt that combined four Chicago athletics teams.

Robinson, 65, who worked on Obamas first campaign and was among the 240,000 people in Grant Park on election night, satisfied the president at Valois. He has an excellent memory and he remembered me from when I was campaigning for him, he told. People here wish he could stay, but he served two terms and thats the most a chairwoman can serve.

But Robinson, too, is wary of the next chairwoman. I dont believe very highly of him. Hes a big liar, an exaggerator. America is definitely going to make a change for the worse. I dont trust him. I dont believe a word he says. Full of shit. It astounded me how he got in.

Below street level, the low-ceilinged 57th Street Books ,~ ATAGEND meanwhile, is where Obama launched his two volumes. For the first, Dreams from My Father( 1995 ), only about half a dozen people turned up, according to urban legend. For the second, The Audacity of Hope, the crowd was more substantial.

The shop is part of Seminary Co-op Bookstores, of which Obama has been a member since the 1980 s. Its director, Jeff Deutsch, will be at the speech on Tuesday night. There are a couple of different Chicagos, he said. What Obama means to history is the best of the south side: a wonderfully diverse community that has deep roots and cares about ideas, justice, empathy, compassion. Hes been incredibly inclusive and thats been part of this community as well.

At Medici ,~ ATAGEND a restaurant with faux medieval decor that encourages customers to write graffiti, one section of wall has been framed behind glass: it is signed, Malia Obama with a heart. The household used to dine here but not all todays patrons are fans. Diner Joel Smith, 65, a retired technologist, will not be watching the parting address. Im glad hes gone, he said. It was eight years of nothing.

Jobs have gone abroad, the countrys in a sad state militarily and hes promulgated all sorts of antisemitic policies. Why do you think Trump got elected? Now Obamas going to build a library in the park, so he can still rule and people will kiss his ring.

Strictly speaking, however, Obama will go back to what he was: a citizen.

Jon Arnold, 57, a journalist and historian, recalled a sighting in Hyde Park long before the world had heard the name Barack Obama. He was standing with a clipboard petitioning to be state senator. I said, There goes another sleazy legislator wholl never get anywhere.

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