President’s plan to stop HIV epidemic targets high-infection areas

Courtesy of CBS Newspath

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is launching a campaign to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030, targeting areas where new infections happen and getting highly effective drugs to people at risk.

Briefing reporters ahead of Trump’s State of the Union speech, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and senior public health officials said the campaign relies on fresh insights into where about half of new HIV cases occur — 48 out of some 3,000 U.S. counties, and Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and seven states with at-risk rural residents.

“We’ve never had that kind of ‘This is the target,’” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s pre-eminent AIDS warrior and head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The government has “been trying to address HIV, but never in such a focused way,” he said.

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

“Together, we will defeat AIDS in America and beyond,” Trump said in his speech. He pledged funding in his upcoming budget, but did not say how much.

Trump’s move is being greeted with a mix of skepticism and cautious optimism by anti-AIDS activists. They’re flagging his previous efforts to slash Medicaid health care for low-income people, and his administration’s ongoing drive to roll back newly won acceptance for LGBTQ people.

“We stand ready to work with him and his administration if they are serious,” said a statement from AIDS United and other groups. “But to date, this administration’s actions speak louder than words and have moved us in the wrong direction.” AIDS United funds and advocates policies to combat AIDS.

The ONE Campaign, the global anti-poverty group co-founded by rock singer Bono, called Trump’s pledge a “welcome sign,” but pointed out that the administration has also proposed deep cuts in U.S. funding for efforts to battle HIV in Africa.

“While we might have policy differences with the president and his administration, this initiative, if properly implemented and resourced, can go down in history as one of the most significant achievements of his presidency,” Michael Ruppal, executive director of the AIDS Institute, said in a statement.

While Azar said significant new funding would be included in the president’s budget, he also emphasized that the campaign is about making more efficient use of existing programs like the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, which provides medical care and support services.

“The tools are there,” Azar said. “This is about execution.”

Today’s HIV treatments work so well they not only can give people with the AIDS virus a near-normal life expectancy, they offer a double whammy — making those patients less likely to infect other people.

At the same time, a longtime HIV medication named Truvada can prevent infection if taken daily by healthy people who are at risk from their infected sexual partners, a strategy known as “pre-exposure prophylaxis” or PreP.

The people most at risk include men who have sex with men, minorities, particularly African-Americans, and American Indians/Alaska Natives. Azar said the administration’s campaign would rely on public health workers to identify people at risk for HIV/AIDS, get them tested, and on medication.

The 48 counties HHS is focusing on are mainly metro areas. The states are Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

Researchers noted that will require working with groups that often shun health services, including injectable drug users.

“Trust is a crucial weapon in our fight to eradicate HIV and it’s necessary to encourage people from marginalized groups to get tested,” said Dr. Albert Wu, an HIV researcher at Johns Hopkins University.

The initial goal is to reduce new HIV infections by 75 percent in five years.

There are about 40,000 new cases of HIV infections a year in the U.S. That’s a dramatic reduction from the crisis years of the AIDS epidemic, but progress has stalled. More than 1 million Americans live with the disease.

William McColl of AIDS United said the Trump administration’s goal is “very doable,” based on currently available technology and trends.

“I think the HIV community would work with the administration on this issue if they’re serious, but it’s also going to take real action, including possibly regulatory and legislative changes to achieve the goal,” said McColl.

Azar said the idea for the new push came from within the ranks of HHS.

“There was a recognition that we were facing a unique and historic moment where all the strands were coming together,” said Azar. They took the idea to Trump. “President Trump is personally invested in this,” said Azar.

In recent years a number of health organizations, including the United Nations, have called for coordinated steps to end the HIV epidemic by 2030.

Trump’s CDC director, Dr. Robert Redfield, told agency employees last March that it would possible to end the AIDS epidemic in less than seven years.

Shortly after taking office in 2010, President Barack Obama outlined a national HIV strategy focused on lowering the infection rate and increasing access to care. The administration renewed the five-year plan in 2015, though it did not set a goal of stopping transmission or ending the epidemic.

How blackface became a “thing”

… identification of acculturating Jews with African Americans.”  George Gershwin, who used black … musical modes and created an African American story in “Porgy and Bess … blackface is anything other than racism. I close with the following … RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News

Lady Gaga Is Making Jazz Cool Again

Settling into the Park Theater inside Las Vegas’ Park MGM Hotel for Lady Gaga’s just-launched Jazz & Piano show, you’re transported instantly to a time when jazz was the pop music heard everywhere.

Classics pulled from the Great American Songbook by legendary singers ranging from favorite Gaga collaborator Tony Bennett to Dinah Washington, who Gaga later said she fell in love with at a young age, echoed throughout the theater, as if from the heavens. The stage, complete with old-school booths for the show’s world-class 30-piece band, was illuminated by softly glowing, mood-setting neon colors, and (yes, of course) a curtain and backdrop comprised of numerous glistening, dangling crystals. Because Vegas, baby!

The event, which is part of Gaga’s multiyear Vegas residency programming that also includes her high-concept pop show, Enigma, was outfitted to resemble a jazz hall of yesteryear, but done in only the fabulously over-the-top way that a show by Gaga can. And for such a production within the Park Theater, which completed renovations only a few years ago, its up-to-6,300-seat space somehow felt inviting and intimate. The openness of the space suggested that there wasn’t a bad seat in the house.

So needless to say when Gaga and her band took their places and the lights came up for the apropos first number, a cover of Frank Sinatra’s “Luck Be a Lady,” it felt like, here we are. Hearing Gaga’s voice, full of brightness, nuance, and emotion, and seeing her swish around in a sexy sequined, deep-V, leg-baring dress by her sister Natali Germanotta, brought up instant feelings of nostalgia that continued throughout the show. Gaga singing jazz felt so familiar and familial — something Gaga talked about on stage, and in simple, black-and-white clips by the show’s visuals director, Eli Russell Linnetz. In one of the transitional videos, Gaga says that singing jazz, for her, is like “receiving a warm hug.” Singing Dinah Washington’s “Coquette,” a song Gaga first heard as a young girl and was encouraged to sing by musical directors (at the boys’ school, because she’s always been a rebel), inspired my own memories of Gaga’s influence. That warm hug thing is true no matter what genre Gaga sings.

Whether you admire or despise Gaga — seeing this show makes even the biggest cynic respect the hell out of Gaga, the Performer — it is impossible to deny the effect her music and performances have had on millions for over a decade now. Even I, a fan with fair respect for Gaga, remember whole eras of my personal development completely inspired by Gaga’s own evolution, from The Fame to now. In the very beginning of her career, I was moved by her commitment to artifice as pop performance, because for her, behind the artifice was an intensely personal struggle. When she put Bowie-esque lightning bolts on her face and sang about being fabulous but broke, I thought if I donned such makeup with no budget, I too, might feel a touch more special. But I, like many more casual and rabid fans alike, was hooked by her ability to peel back the surface of massive pop hits like “Bad Romance,” “Born This Way,” and “Paparazzi” to reveal the layers of lyrical and personal depth, when she performed acoustic versions at the piano.

Also, Gaga would end sets of Songbook classics with acoustic jazz versions of her biggest hits, often accompanied by her band, which kicked into full, suspenseful swing at each song’s climactic points. Then, too, these familiar moments were informed by aptly red-carpet ready costume changes, including a Schiaparelli opera coat and velvet bow mini-dress, a crystal-embroidered see-through dress by Ralph Lauren with a white feathered boa as arm candy, and a shiny tux with attached bustle, also by Lauren. Not only because Vegas glamour, but because what the hell else would Gaga wear to her own jazz revue?

Throughout the show, Gaga showed great reverence for classic songwriters like George and Ira Gershwin, in a tearjerking, extremely passionate version of “Someone to Watch Over Me” and Billy Strayhorn, who wrote the complex “Lush Life” between 1933 and 1938. That one appears on Gaga and Bennett’s Cheek to Cheek jazz duets album. She sang lines in “Lush Life,” such as “12 o’clocktails” with a control that belied the song’s deep sadness and suspense. During interludes between songs, Gaga smartly mixed her New York-bred pop star persona with the offbeat humor of a jazz chanteuse who loves a dry martini and dirty conversation: highlights include her cheekily dropping F-bombs, slipping a temporarily “stolen” wedding ring from an onstage guest into her panties, and, during the “Lush Life” performance, a tuxed Gaga drinking a double whiskey — neat, of course.

There were a few moody surprises to shake things up, including stirring renditions of Cher’s “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” and the always-lively “New York, New York,” which closed the show and brought down the house with the show’s many standing ovations. It’s no wonder, then, that Gaga said that, upon being announced, her jazz show sold out well before Enigma did; the audience present also felt Gaga’s embrace.

Many of the show’s best moments paid homage to the greats, but also illuminated Gaga’s own studious ambition, who acknowledged jazz tradition, but is determined to be part of a new wave of voices who are making jazz feel new for this generation. (“I’m blessed to be here, to sing these songs,” she said). Gaga spoke onstage and in those Linnetz clips about jazz songs that were a century old and still relevant through the art of reinterpretation — an allowance made by jazz’s loose musical form. Also, consider how true and rare it is for a modern song to last more than 15 minutes of notoriety might allow, let alone 100 years. Gaga rightly noted that jazz was popularized by Black artists, citing Black women singers as her earliest influences, from the aforementioned Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday on. And you needn’t read a textbook to know that Black jazz inspires the evolution of hip-hop. Consider the influences of modern musicians including Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, SZA, and many more. Even other white artists like Lana Del Rey write nuanced hip-hop-inflected songs that feel forever indebted to jazz innovators like Holliday. Beneath her smoky vocals and robust string sections is a spirit of improvisation.

This freedom is precisely what Gaga is after in Jazz & Piano, for you, for me, for herself. Perhaps her favorite thing about jazz is the way it demands one learn it as written. Indeed. Jazz songs are traditionally written through on sheet music. And, as she says, once you get it down, you can do whatever you want with it. Because again, jazz remains relevant today with each new interpretation, transforming classics into something more personal, political, and current. Whether Gaga realizes it or not, when you consider her tremendous success, she’s already part of a great tradition of pop songwriting that will certainly be recognized in years to come. In looking back at the roots of jazz, she’s always moving forward. With all this in mind, if you listen closely to Gaga’s live shows and recordings, you’ll feel similar comfort, momentum, and, most important: freedom.

Photos via Getty

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Eberhard & Co. Presents “Time is Love” Since 1887

Eberhard & Co. Presents “Time is Love” Since 1887 – African American News Today – EIN News

Trusted News Since 1995

A service for global professionals · Wednesday, February 6, 2019 · 475,820,692 Articles · 3+ Million Readers

News Monitoring and Press Release Distribution Tools

News Topics

Newsletters

Press Releases

Events & Conferences

RSS Feeds

Other Services

Questions?

Democrats Need To Find a Centrist Or They’re Doomed

Inveterate and predictable Trump-disparager E. J. Dionne declares the state of the Union to be “petrified” (on the weekend), and cites as illustrative of the complete intellectual and temperamental deficiency of the president, by the standards of his great office, that he has twice, some months apart, tweeted with satisfaction that the Dow Jones Industrial Average had passed upwards through 25,000 (nearly a 40% rise since his election).

In other days and on other subjects, Mr. Dionne has built a serious reputation, and as a Quebecer, I am always grateful to encounter a prominent American who speaks French. I cite him only as illustrative of the predicament of the Trump-disparagers. Of course, they are endlessly repetitive and take outrageous liberties claiming to mind-read the president. But Mr. Trump’s enemies have two real problems. Irritatingly, he is generally successful, but a much more daunting problem is the Democrats.

Mr. Trump has not flamed out, and despite his infelicities and whoppers and some other innocent but sometimes irksome peculiarities, all predictions of his immediate, overwhelming, awe-inspiring self-immolation on a scale to make the worst horrors of the Old Testament seem like gentle stories to read to sleepy children, he has done quite well. Russian collusion and all the other roadmaps to impeachment have just devoured the Democrats and their docile press in a maze of defamatory nonsense.

Never in American history has so much super-righteous and accusatory verbosity been wasted on such a complete, mocking fiction. Inspector Clouseau was Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot compared to the Democratic dragoons of impeachment: Messrs. Schiff, Nadler, Warner, and their noisy claque of over-televised juniors and press enablers. None of them (including Mr. Dionne) would have predicted two years ago that the United States would today have more jobs to fill than unemployed, that China would be seriously discussing reform of its trade practices, or that North Korea would be seriously discussing denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Since President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, the American political system has failed every major challenge except ending the Cold War (which did not really require much from Congress except to vote the defense budgets). The political process fumbled abortion into the lap of the courts and failed to address comprehensively immigration, health care, trade deficits, and maintenance of the nation’s infrastructure, and embarked on hare-brained environmental excursions, while the whole society was atomized into proliferating sub-groups of the militantly aggrieved.

This is the great problem of Trump’s enemies: Their truisms and pieties about the shocking state of America are bunk: they are real only when one contemplates the official opposition, not the administration.

There is plenty to find unattractive about the president, and there is certainly room to disagree with most of his policy positions. But he has avoided the endless and fruitless wars for which George W. Bush will be remembered, and the feckless defeatism and irresolution of the dissolving Red Lines of President Obama, and its midwifery of ISIS. He has avoided the economic disasters and flatlined growth of his two predecessors.

Mr. Trump has wrenched America out of the insane self-impoverishment of the Paris Climate Accord and is finally facing the scandal of illegal immigration, the insurrection of “sanctuaries,” and the attempt to prevent the census from ascertaining the number of citizens in the country, as the Constitution requires.

The alarm of the political class that Mr. Trump assaulted three years ago is so consuming that the process of defeating this terrifying interloper, now that impeachment has vanished like a bad smell, is a contest for the headship of all the opposition to Mr. Trump. What we are witnessing is not the organization of a thoughtful and plausible alternative to Mr. Trump, such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama would have attempted, possibly successfully. It is the race to the bottom, the deep dive to find a catchment for all the dissatisfaction with Mr. Trump, no matter how unrepresentative and reflexive and extreme.

The great Democratic party, which has contributed some of the country’s most talented and noble leadership (though not for more than 50 years), is racing toward a mass suicide in support of open borders and unlimited and undocumented immigration, a 70% to 80% top tax rate, the effective abolition of private health care, and now the post-abortion enlightenment of awaiting the full birth of infants before determining if they are fit to allow to live, as in Plato’s times.

No one who pauses for ten seconds to consider these matters could imagine that a Democratic presidential nominee sporting this Brobdingnagian albatross around the neck like a collar of distinction could win a single state. Against such an opponent, if the president wanted to campaign in the District of Columbia, he might even carry the nation’s capital, which he lost two years ago to Mrs. Clinton by 91% to 4%.

At least in 1964, when the Republicans were tempted by Barry Goldwater, who, despite romanticization of him (and he was a decent and patriotic man), was hiding behind state’s rights as an excuse to deny the full emancipation of African Americans, Nelson Rockefeller almost headed him off with a serious centrist alternative.

And in 1972, when George McGovern advocated stratospheric tax rates, iron-fisted affirmative action, the busing of tens of millions of schoolchildren far from their neighborhoods in pursuit of racial balance, and an end to the Vietnam War more humiliating to the United States, as the New York Times pointed out, than Hanoi was asking for, Edmund Muskie and Hubert Humphrey and others fought hard for a moderate alternative.

In this heaving phalanx of Democratic candidates, the only ones I have heard that do not sound, in policy terms, like they need serious psychiatric examination and drastic remedial therapy are the former New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, Ohio senator Sherrod Brown, and Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar.

Mr. Bloomberg is in his upper seventies, has had a brilliant business and philanthropic career, and was the successful thrice-elected head of a large and complicated jurisdiction. He has his limitations too, and his affectations about climate are humbug and some of his shots at the president are a little unbecoming (from one New York billionaire to another), but he would be a good candidate, and if elected, I think a competent president.

I don’t often agree with Sherrod Brown: He’s drunk too much of the Kool-Aid on taxes, climate, teachers’ unions, and elsewhere, but he has stayed fairly clear of completely foolish policy advocacy as a seven-term congressman and three-term senator from a large state. He’s no world-beater, but the country would survive him in one piece.

Senator Klobuchar may be a bit more promising, but I haven’t seen much of her. Perhaps a couple of the others among the vast horde of candidates would make good presidents; nothing much was expected of Lincoln, either Roosevelt, or Truman, and pleasant surprises do happen. But I wouldn’t count on one from this astonishingly unprepossessing congeries of politicians.

Some might imagine that Joe Biden would be adequate, but he wouldn’t. He isn’t smart enough to be president; he’s almost never right about anything; the president is correct that he essentially gets 1% or 2% in a contest with serious people, and no one who did what Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy did to Robert Bork should be entrusted with any serious public responsibility.

The Democratic commentators can go on havering and whinging about Mr. Trump, as E. J. Dionne did this week, but if someone doesn’t emerge soon in the center of that party, they are going to receive an unforgettable (and probably salutary) trip to the electoral woodshed. It’s not the end of the world. Four years after the Goldwater fiasco, the Republicans won, and four years after the McGovern debacle, the Democrats won, but it took first Vietnam, and then Watergate, to produce those results (in very tight elections). Please, Democrats, try to be serious.

[email protected]. From the National Review.

Annual African-American Read-In

Readings and performances by community stakeholders will explore African-American history and the rich history, role and contributions of African-Americans in the world of literature and the arts this Thursday, Feb. 7 from Noon to 1pm at LPS District Office, 5905 O St.  It’s the first of two Read-In events facilitated by the Youth Development Team of Lincoln Public Schools and Lincoln City Libraries.  It’s free and open to the public…bring a lunch.  Contact Jason Keese at jkeese@lps.org or 402-436-1478 (office) or 402-515-4074 (cell).

READ MORE:  Legislative committee considers scholarship bills

All the Black History Month Programming on PBS

February is Black History Month, and to mark the occasion, the OG of premium historical programming PBS is once again offering a suite of options celebrating African-American life and culture.

Exploring Roots

Henry Louis Gates, the Harvard professor and creator of Finding Your Roots, continues that series, now in Season 5, with personalities this season including Michael Strahan, S. Epatha Merkerson, Kehinde Wiley, and The Wire alum Michael K. Williams. It airs Tuesdays until Feb. 26, then April 2 and April 9 at 8 p.m. ET.

Viral Sensations

One of PBS’s hippest offerings isn’t even airing on the network proper, but comes from PBS Digital Studios and is set to stream on YouTube and Facebook Watch. Say It Loud, which begins Feb. 7, is hosted by YouTube sensations Evelyn Ngugi of Evelyn from the Internets and Azie Dungey, who created the web series Ask a Slave based on her experiences portraying an enslaved person at the Mount Vernon plantation in Virginia. Part cultural critique, part talk show and part history lesson, Say It Loud explores Black American culture and its impact on broader communities and trends. “PBS has long had an appreciation of Black history and culture, but Say It Loud is the first series developed for online audiences specifically interested in celebratory cultural content,” Brandon Arolfo, Senior Director of PBS Digital Studios said in a statement. “We’re lucky to work with this talented group of women to create a funny, authentic and enlightening series that will ignite an inspirational online community and extend the PBS Digital Studios brand to new, diverse audiences.”

Celebrating Musical Heroes

Music features prominently in the lineup. Austin City Limits featured blues maestro Buddy Guy and hip-hop artist August Greene on its Feb. 2 episode. And later in the month, the American Masters series will present two programs on iconic black musicians: Sammy Davis Jr. and pioneering country artist Charley Pride.

PHOTOS: The TV-Lover’s Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

I’ve Gotta Be Me chronicles the life and times of Sammy Davis Jr., exploring the entertainer’s many talents and his complex identity amid sweeping changes in society including the Civil Rights movement. Billy Crystal, Norman Lear, Jerry Lewis and Whoopi Goldberg are among the talking heads in the story, which leans heavily on Davis’ TV, film and concert performances. Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me airs Feb. 19 at 9 p.m. ET.

Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me ” data-image-credit=”Courtesy of The Estate of Altovise Davis/PBS” data-image-alt-text=”American Masters: Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me” data-image-credit-url=”” data-image-target-url=”” data-image-title=”_American Masters: Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me_” data-image-filename=”190204-pbs-black-history-month-sammy-davis-jr.jpg” data-image-date-created=”2019/02/04″ data-image-crop=”” data-image-crop-gravity=”” data-image-aspect-ratio=”” data-image-height=”1380″ data-image-width=”2070″ data-image-do-not-crop=”” data-image-do-not-resize=”” data-image-watermark=”” data-lightbox=””>

Similarly, Charley Pride: I’m Just Me examines the life of the country singer — a man who grew up in segregated Mississippi and went on to become a celebrated artist in a genre noticeably absent of African-American performers. It airs Feb. 22 at 9 p.m. ET.

Complicated Artifacts

There’s more black arts content outside of music. Independent Lens’ “Black Memorabilia,” airing Feb. 4 at 10 p.m., goes from the South to Brooklyn to China, meeting the people who reproduce and reclaim black memorabilia, objects that come with intense baggage owing to their racially charged connotations.

Acclaimed Theater

For fans of the stage, Live from Lincoln Center’s presents Pipeline, Dominique Morisseau’s riveting and critically acclaimed play that follows Nya, an inner-city teacher desperate to save her son after he gets in trouble at school and is at risk of being pulled away forever. It airs Feb. 8 at 9 p.m. Eastern.

The Past Through a New Lens

Of course, no Black History Month slate of programming would be complete without a glimpse into social issues and history itself. And although Reconstruction: America After the Civil War and Charm City won’t air in February, they continue celebrating black history into the spring.

The Independent Lens series offers up “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” a look into intimate moments in the lives of people in the rural Hale County, Alabama community in America’s Black Belt. (Feb. 11 at 10 p.m. ET.)

Independent Lens: Hale County This Morning, This Evening ” data-image-credit=”Courtesy of RaMell Ross/PBS” data-image-alt-text=”Independent Lens: Hale County This Morning, This Evening” data-image-credit-url=”” data-image-target-url=”” data-image-title=”_Independent Lens: Hale County This Morning, This Evening_” data-image-filename=”190204-pbs-black-history-month-hale-county.jpg” data-image-date-created=”2019/02/04″ data-image-crop=”” data-image-crop-gravity=”” data-image-aspect-ratio=”” data-image-height=”1380″ data-image-width=”2070″ data-image-do-not-crop=”” data-image-do-not-resize=”” data-image-watermark=”” data-lightbox=””>

Reconstruction: America After the Civil War, from Henry Louis Gates Jr., examines the period after the Civil War when black Americans had a brief moment of self-sufficiency, voting rights and even positions in government before being met with racist violence. (April 9 and 16 at 9 p.m. ET.)

Reconstruction: America After the Civil War” data-image-credit=”Courtesy of Rahoul Ghose/PBS” data-image-alt-text=”Reconstruction: America After the Civil War” data-image-credit-url=”” data-image-target-url=”” data-image-title=”_Reconstruction: America After the Civil War_” data-image-filename=”190204-pbs-black-history-month-the-reconstuction-series.jpg” data-image-date-created=”2019/02/04″ data-image-crop=”” data-image-crop-gravity=”” data-image-aspect-ratio=”” data-image-height=”1380″ data-image-width=”2070″ data-image-do-not-crop=”” data-image-do-not-resize=”” data-image-watermark=”” data-lightbox=””>

Boss: The Black Experience in Business probes the untold story of African-American entrepreneurship, tracking black achievements in the business world then and now. (April 23 at 8 p.m. ET.)

Charm City, on the shortlist for a Best Documentary Feature Oscar, goes inside the heart of Baltimore, where citizens, police and government officials work to repair and revitalize the city after years of social strife. (April 22 at 10 p.m. ET.)

Charm City ” data-image-credit=”Courtesy of Andre Lambertson/PBS” data-image-alt-text=”Independent Lens: Charm City” data-image-credit-url=”” data-image-target-url=”” data-image-title=”_Independent Lens: Charm City_” data-image-filename=”190204-pbs-black-history-month-charm-city.jpg” data-image-date-created=”2019/02/04″ data-image-crop=”” data-image-crop-gravity=”” data-image-aspect-ratio=”” data-image-height=”1380″ data-image-width=”2070″ data-image-do-not-crop=”” data-image-do-not-resize=”” data-image-watermark=”” data-lightbox=””>

Worth Revisiting

Finally, PBS will air encores of previously debuted programs, including Antiques Roadshow’s “Celebrating Black Americana” on Feb. 4 at 9 p.m. American Masters’ Maya Angelou special, “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise” also airs Feb. 4. (Check local listings.) And on Feb. 8 at 10:30 p.m., Breaking Big re-airs its episode on Danai Gurira.

All these programs will be available for streaming at various times; check PBS.org for more information.

Other Links From TVGuide.com Danai GuriraIndependent LensAmerican MastersHenry Louis Gates Jr.Austin City Limits

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Trump launching campaign to end HIV epidemic in US by 2030

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is launching a campaign to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030, targeting areas where new infections happen and getting highly effective drugs to people at risk.

His move is being greeted with a mix of skepticism and cautious optimism by anti-AIDS activists. State and local health officials are warning the administration not to take money from other programs to finance the initiative, whose budget has not been revealed.

Briefing reporters ahead of Trump’s State of the Union speech , Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and senior public health officials said the campaign relies on fresh insights into where about half of new HIV cases occur — 48 out of some 3,000 U.S. counties, and Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and seven states with at-risk rural residents.

“We’ve never had that kind of ‘This is the target,'” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s pre-eminent AIDS warrior and head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The government has “been trying to address HIV, but never in such a focused way,” he said.

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

“Together, we will defeat AIDS in America and beyond,” Trump said in his speech. While he pledged funding in his upcoming budget, he did not say how much.

That raised a flag for state officials.

“This effort cannot move existing resources from one public health program and repurpose them to end HIV without serious consequences to our public health system,” Michael Fraser, CEO of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said in a statement.

Anti-AIDS activists said they’re ready to work with the White House, but wary because of Trump’s previous efforts to slash Medicaid health care for low-income people, and his administration’s ongoing drive to roll back newly won acceptance for LGBTQ people.

“To date, this administration’s actions speak louder than words and have moved us in the wrong direction,” said AIDS United, which funds and advocates policies to combat AIDS.

The ONE Campaign, the global anti-poverty group co-founded by rock singer Bono, called Trump’s pledge a “welcome sign,” but pointed out that the administration has also proposed deep cuts in U.S. funding for efforts to battle HIV in Africa.

“While we might have policy differences with the president and his administration, this initiative, if properly implemented and resourced, can go down in history as one of the most significant achievements of his presidency,” Michael Ruppal, executive director of the AIDS Institute, said in a statement.

While Azar said significant new funding would be included in the president’s budget, he also emphasized that the campaign is about making more efficient use of existing programs like the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, which provides medical care and support services.

“The tools are there,” Azar said. “This is about execution.”

Today’s HIV treatments work so well they not only can give people with the AIDS virus a near-normal life expectancy, they offer a double whammy — making those patients less likely to infect other people.

At the same time, a longtime HIV medication named Truvada can prevent infection if taken daily by healthy people who are at risk from their infected sexual partners, a strategy known as “pre-exposure prophylaxis” or PreP.

The people most at risk include men who have sex with men, minorities, particularly African-Americans, and American Indians/Alaska Natives. Azar said the administration’s campaign would rely on public health workers to identify people at risk for HIV/AIDS, get them tested, and on medication.

The 48 counties HHS is focusing on are mainly metro areas. The states are Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

Researchers noted that will require working with groups that often shun health services, including injectable drug users.

“Trust is a crucial weapon in our fight to eradicate HIV and it’s necessary to encourage people from marginalized groups to get tested,” said Dr. Albert Wu, an HIV researcher at Johns Hopkins University.

The initial goal is to reduce new HIV infections by 75 percent in five years.

There are about 40,000 new cases of HIV infections a year in the U.S. That’s a dramatic reduction from the crisis years of the AIDS epidemic, but progress has stalled. More than 1 million Americans live with the disease.

William McColl of AIDS United said the Trump administration’s goal is “very doable,” based on currently available technology and trends.

“I think the HIV community would work with the administration on this issue if they’re serious, but it’s also going to take real action, including possibly regulatory and legislative changes to achieve the goal,” said McColl.

Azar said the idea for the new push came from within the ranks of HHS, building on progress made over the last 30 years under administrations of both parties.

“There was a recognition that we were facing a unique and historic moment where all the strands were coming together,” said Azar. They took the idea to Trump, who “is personally invested in this,” said Azar.

In recent years a number of health organizations, including the United Nations, have called for coordinated steps to end the HIV epidemic by 2030.

Trump’s CDC director, Dr. Robert Redfield, told agency employees last March that it would possible to end the AIDS epidemic in less than seven years.

___

Associated Press writers Matthew Perrone and Lauran Neergaard contributed to this report.

Tierra Whack’s Labor Of Self-Love, From Car Wash To Critical Mass

On a sun-baked intersection of Ponce de Leon Avenue, a street named for the Spanish colonizer whose false claim to fame was discovering the fountain of youth, sits one of the most conspicuous cultural attractions in Atlanta. Mister Car Wash may be the busiest destination of its kind in a Southern capital where car washes are outnumbered only slightly by churches and chicken wing stops. It also happens to be the location of a pivotal pit stop in the rapid rise of one of hip-hop’s brightest new stars.

Five summers before Philly native Tierra Whack reinvented the music video with Whack World — the ADHD-friendly audiovisual project of 15 60-second songs that made her 2018’s darling of innovation — she could be found soaking up suds in that same corner lot. This was her first job, the detour in Whack’s origin story on her way to shifting the culture with 15 minutes of Internet magic. In a sense, the car wash wound up being the springboard to her future.

Now she’s so far gone that the biggest award show in the music industry can’t even keep up. When the Recording Academy nominated Whack in the Best Music Video category for the 2019 Grammys, most fans naturally assumed she’d earned the recognition for her groundbreaking debut, Whack World. She had not. Even Wikipedia got it wrong. (At press time, the first graph of Whack’s wiki entry still read that Whack World received “a Best Music Video nomination for the 2019 Grammy Awards.”) Instead, her Grammy nod is for “Mumbo Jumbo,” the avant-grotesque loosie of a music video released in October 2017 that introduced Whack’s deranged sense of humor and earned high praise from her earliest celebrity adopter, Solange Knowles.

Technically, Whack World isn’t eligible for a Best Music Video nomination: It’s an album, not a song; a short film more than a short form video. But the disconnect is also a classic case of the Grammys being the Grammys. Whack may have captured the zeitgeist, but conquering the Academy’s chronic, come-lately miscategorizing of popular music — and works by black artists, in particular — is a whole other thing. What’s worse is it comes one year after Neil Portnow, outgoing president and CEO of the Recording Academy, had the nerve to suggest that the dearth of women nominated in 2018 could be rectified if only female artists would “step up.” Yet, even the wrong recognition from the right institution is confirmation of the distance Whack has come. “It doesn’t matter what I’m getting nominated for,” she tells me, expressing gratitude during a recent conversation. “It’s all my work.”

And so it is.

Though it’s fashionable to ascribe black girls with all sorts of magical properties nowadays, Whack World is a product of playful invention. The idea of work — coupled with the historic devaluation of black women’s labor in this country — permeates the backstory behind Whack’s creative evolution. It’s easy to be wowed by her nonstop oddity; the harder part is acknowledging the foresight of an artist who defies easy categorization. Her brief but stunning debut isn’t the only thing being grossly overlooked. It shouldn’t be lost on anyone that the same drive she applied to make a gambit out of grinding at a car wash propelled Whack to step up in an industry notoriously wack at recognizing next-level talent.

Old-school car washes like the one on Ponce are designed to feel like existential carnival rides for customers who want the thrill of a cathartic purge without ever having to get their hands wet. The 20-year-old landmark is on its second life since being swallowed up by the national Mister Car Wash chain around 2012, the same summer Whack worked there. The street has undergone its own dramatic makeover since the late ’90s, from eccentric cultural crossroads to something resembling a gentrified gateway today. I used to get my car washed there all the time back when it was still called Cactus. A huge, green, cartoonish cactus sign stood out front, like some kind of desert oasis, beckoning a never-ending stream of automobiles that spilled onto the main street all day on the weekends. Sometimes it felt like the most desegregated corner lot in all of Atlanta. From soccer moms in minivans to rap stars pushing Maseratis, everybody pulled up.

Tierra Whack and her mother moved from Philly around 2011 in pursuit of a fresh start in Atlanta, where she finished her senior year at Westlake High School. Atlanta trap had already infiltrated the sound of music by then. The city that transmuted hip-hop would influence Whack’s creative approach, too, but not in the obvious way. While most aspiring artists come to Atlanta to get discovered, she’d come to get lost. “I needed to get away from Philly, where I was born and raised,” says Whack, who’d already garnered a rep in her hometown as a freestyle rapper-on-the-rise known as Dizzle Dizz. “I needed a break. I isolated myself. It was kinda like I took time off from home to go explore.”

The car wash became an unlikely finishing school. “They kept asking me, ‘Are you sure you want this job?'” Whack recalls. “I saw so many people quit the first day, ’cause it was too hard. It’s crazy. It’s so humid. It gets so hot out there. And that car wash is pumping, so you gotta keep ’em pushin’.” She worked as a finisher on the production line. She wiped the cars down after they exited the tunnel of spinning swirl-o-matics. She vacuumed the interiors and shined the rims. She wore a yellow shirt with dookie green pants. On a typical day during the six months she was employed there after graduation, she’d spend 14 hours at the car wash. The sun was oppressively hot in the summer, reaching 110 degrees on the concrete, and Whack was often the only woman working the line. She made minimum wage. But she earned a lot of tips.

“I was killing them,” she told me during the first conversation we had, crediting her work ethic to her mother. “Yeah, I was with the guys. I was cleaning the cars. Yo, I made so much money from that job. Like, if rap don’t work out, I’m going back there.”

Mister Car Wash’s general manager, Kim Ogletree, would welcome her return with open arms. The woman who hired Whack still remembers her as a “real good girl” and a “hard worker.” Though Ogletree still hadn’t even seen Whack World when we talked several months ago, she wasn’t surprised to hear how her old employee had blown up. “She was just a memorable person, man,” Ogletree tells me. “I’m not saying that just ’cause you’re calling and saying she’s famous. She just always stood out. Never had a negative attitude about anything. Never complained about the heat. Put it like this, if you can work here you can work anywhere. [With] young people, it’s hard to find someone that has a good drive. She always had one, so I knew she was gonna make it. I told her, ‘I’m gonna be looking for you on the BET [Hip Hop Awards] cypher.”

The job became a practical down payment on her future. She saved up for a Mac laptop and started recording herself. “That was my first investment in myself,” she says. “So I had it. I was figuring it out.” What she couldn’t predict at the time was the subtle effect the job would have on her creative approach. Just imagine Whack, working the line at the busiest car wash in Atlanta, with seven minutes or less to impress a tip-paying customer — wash, rinse, repeat — and you might begin to understand how the job reinforced Whack World‘s short attention-span theater.

Today, Tierra Whack’s job consists of answering more questions. She admits it’s the task that she’s grown the most tired of since Whack World‘s release. But after eight months of critical success, it’s understandable. “They’ll ask the same questions,” she says of music journalists. “I’ll answer but it’s like they’ll want more out of you. It’s crazy.”

What she refuses to entertain is inquiry about her follow up to Whack World. “I really don’t even think about it,” she says, remaining tight-lipped about a projected timeline while expressing appreciation for the love and the new fans she gets everyday. “I’m not gonna drive myself crazy. I’m having fun creating what I’m creating.”

Since the first time I spoke with her, two months before Whack World dropped, her life has changed in significant ways: her Grammy nomination, her Interscope record deal publicly revealed, the stream of good press culminating in her Fader magazine cover. In other ways — ways she likes — it’s very much the same. She still lives at home with her family in Philly, since returning from her two-year stint in Atlanta. I’m still so down to earth and regular — I still be in the projects; I still be in the hood — just regular,” the 23-year-old Whack told me last week. She still picks up weekend shifts as a door person at an upscale condominium.

Day jobs like the car wash have helped Whack realize her dreams, but the work she’s plainly engaging in on Whack World is emotional labor. The kind required to repair one’s inner world after an adolescence filled with pain. Before the word “weird” became a badge of honor used by critics to describe the dark humor that colors her kaleidoscopic lens, it was a dis she got a lot as a child. “That was a part of me getting teased,” she says, recalling how her dark-chocolate complexion made her the butt of jokes growing up in her hometown of Philly. “Me being dark-skinned, that was like a big thing. Growing up, I hated myself. It was, like, weird. Kids are cruel.”

Whack World is more than a radical format buster. She breaks the rules of convention with 60-second confessions that follow a nonlinear narrative built less on chronology than lyrical wit and abstract logic. “Ninety percent of the time, I’m being silly. But it’s like that 10 percent that’s still serious. Cause life is not sweet. It’s good and it’s bad. So no matter how much good is going on, the bad is always going to creep up,” she says.

As a short film, Whack World finds her dancing along the edges of a resurgent wave of black surrealism that includes such works as Get Out, Sorry To Bother You and Donald Glover’s Atlanta. “Afro-Surrealism depicts the realities of contemporary black life through its intersections with the absurd and the unlikely,” critic Maya Phillips wrote last year in Slate. “It’s as fluid and true as a dream, though still open to interpretation — art that, in its fluidity, can transcend genre. Is it horror? Is it comedy? Is it a thriller? It’s every element of every genre that can be collaged into a picture of contemporary black life.”

That dream logic rests at the very heart of Whack World. Directed by Thibaut Duverneix — in close collaboration with Mathieu Leger and Whack, who helped conceptualize the original idea — the album plays out like a free-association brainteaser constructed around Whack’s lyrical deconstruction of reality. Each song vignette offers a deeper level of revelation into her black girl’s blues. One minute she’s a bug-eyed dog groomer with bugged-out melodies (“Flea Market”). The next, she’s a homebody in houseshoes singing swan songs to an ex-lover less dependable than a jackleg handyman (“Cable Guy”). Her ode to the dead homies, “Pet Cemetery,” is set in a cemetery, but with hand puppets serving as her choir while she sings about missing her dawgs. “Hookers” finds her in redux mode, serving up ’90s R&B-diva independence while dissing her sugar daddy’s weak attempt to buy her love. In “Sore Loser,” it’s her turn to exact the heartache on a former fling — “treat you dead like a corpse” — while she raps lying prone in a casket.

All these seemingly disparate characters add up to a portrait of Whack’s psychological coming of age. As such, the album roots her in a literary genre typically reserved for men and a music genre historically dominated by them. She conveys it all in a visual language that twists the melancholy into the macabre. Or the maniacal. “I never really thought about this, but just growing up I went through [that] whole thing of getting teased and stuff. The poetry and everything, that really was just, like, my escape. It was always dark but still funny. It’s like I was trying to hide my pain. Eventually, I found a way to laugh at my pain,” she says.

Whack didn’t create her absurdist revenge fantasies to escape reality as much as she did to make sense of it. “With this project, I was trying to just hit almost every emotion. And there’s a lot of emotions,” she tells me. “I just incorporate everything in my world and give it to you. Everybody’s not going to understand, but I’m OK with it. If you take the time out and dig deep, then maybe you’ll figure it out. But I’m just trying to be happy for me.”

One unintended serendipity of Tierra Whack’s weird Grammy nod for “Mumbo Jumbo” is that it’s the one song where you can suss out the unmistakable influence Atlanta had on her sound. After originally recording vocal reference tracks, where the lyrics aren’t as important as the melody, she decided to leave it that way. The result sounds like an experimental interpretation of mumble rap.

In the video directed by Marco Prestini, a trip to the dentist ends up being the explanation for her inarticulate flow. Her spin on Atlanta trap is more whimsical and emotionally resonant than the subgenre’s expressionistic tendencies. It may be mere coincidence that her artistic development intensified while living there, but it’s quite possible that the city gifted her with something native ATLiens ranging from OutKast to Young Thug have long enjoyed: a sense of creative freedom. With enough distance from rap’s East Coast bedrock, Whack found room, perhaps, to color outside the lines. Before Atlanta, she was a rapper. After Atlanta, she became a songwriter. Yes, it’s ironic: In a city frequently criticized for its ubiquitous sound and flow, she fine-tuned her own unique voice.

The city prematurely branded “Too Busy To Hate” during the civil rights era bled through in other ways. The car wash may have felt like the most desegregated corner lot in Atlanta from the customer’s vantage point. But it wasn’t exactly that for the employees, most of whom were black and brown. The image of folks of color engaging in manual labor has always suggested one thing in this country: It’s a job no one else wants. This nexus of work, inspiration and the possibility of rising above your station is where Car Wash — a movie that hit the silver screen two decades before Whack was born — becomes a metaphorical reference point. If you’ve never seen the hilarious ’70s flick from the tail end of the blaxploitation era, it might be hard to imagine such a setting serving as creative inspiration. Apart from the obvious workplace resonance, Car Wash, like Whack World, is a comedy with a tragic undercurrent. Set in a struggling-class L.A. with Hollywood’s haze a distant backdrop, it’s a movie about everyday people hustling their way through the workday, playing crazy to preserve their sanity, harboring high aspirations out of pure desperation. And yeah, there’s a whole lotta laughing to keep from crying.

Whack’s car wash experience may be an abbreviated scene in her life, but over the course of Whack World she hits the same discordant notes, those exaggerated highs and lows, that make Car Wash‘s zany plot a classic day-in-the-life character study in black surrealism: She’s Franklin Ajaye’s afro-clad superhero The Fly, fighting to win back the love he lost. She’s Antonio Fargas’ cross-dressing wildcard Lindy, commanding respect in a world that refuses to recognize her identity. She’s Bill Duke’s world-weary black Muslim, so hard-up for the revolution that he’s ready to risk it all. She’s Richard Pryor’s televangelist pimp Daddy Rich, playing on all our emotions, and the streetwalker Marleen, trying to get over the trick who stole her heart. She’s the two Sam-and-Dave wannabes, Floyd and Lloyd, turning the day gig into a nonstop audition while praying for that big break.

Whack reminds me of each of those characters at their core, brimming with ambition bigger than their surroundings. There’s another irony for anyone who might only know Car Wash as a movie long relegated to discount DVD bins and dismissed as a laughable blip in the vault of blaxploitation cult-classics: It was celebrated by critics and actually won multiple prizes at the Cannes Film Festival in 1977. It even won a Grammy — for Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special.

Since the Recording Academy began recognizing music videos in 1982 at the onset of the MTV era, the associated categories have undergone countless evolutions, splits and fusions — Best Short Form Music Video, Best Long Form Music Video, Best Performance Music Video, Best Concept Music Video, Best Music Film, Best Music Video — in an attempt to keep pace with creative shifts. Yet it’s strange, in the age of Beyonce’s Lemonade, that the Academy has no current category designated for album-length videos. Whack probably wouldn’t be nominated at all if it weren’t for Whack World, but because that project doesn’t meet the Academy’s stodgy criteria it randomly selected something else. It may not be the coronation she deserves, but it proves the Academy knew it couldn’t afford to ignore her.

There are periods in our life that leave an indelible impression. A first job can be that kind of experience, and Whack’s still resonates beyond her résumé. The way she talks about it, even now, with a hint of nostalgia, you can tell it was a watershed period in her journey to self-discovery. The world she occupied for those six months responded to her hard work in a way that affirmed her self-worth and left a lasting connection. “Tell her we miss her,” her old manager Kim Ogletree tells me before hanging up. “She got a job anytime, now.”

The love isn’t lost on Whack: “The people from the car wash still hit me up, like, ‘Yo, you doing it big, man! You gotta come back to the car wash and see us.’ So I’m thinking about going there. Maybe I’ll do some type of documentary there or just a show,” she tells me, reflecting. “And they really did not want me to leave at all. They were like, ‘You’re one of our best workers.’ And like I said, I was the only girl. So it was crazy that I was able to hold my own.”

It doesn’t seem crazy at all, watching her work now, that she held her own. Transforming those early clashes with colorism into something beautiful, and borderline afro-surreal in scope, demanded a special kind of mojo. Cultivating one’s self worth requires effort. The way Whack has worked through her early childhood pain – just as she worked the hell out of her first job to jump-start her music career – reveals so much about her character and the many characters she introduces us to via Whack World.

“I started music to be myself — to release and express — so I have to make sure that I’m staying true to me and making myself happy,” Whack says. “At the end of the day, music is becoming my work. I’ve always been a great worker at any job I’ve had. All I can do is work and show and take action, so that’s what I’m doing.”

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Full transcript of US President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address

US President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address, alongside Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 5, 2019. (Photo by Doug Mills / POOL / AFP)

Below is the full transcript of US President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address which he delivered before the US House of Representatives on Monday night, February 5 (February 6 Manila time):

Thank you very much Madam Speaker, Vice President, members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States.

And my fellow Americans. We meet tonight at a moment of unlimited potential, as we begin a new Congress, I stand here ready to work with you to achieve historic breakthroughs for all Americans. Millions of our fellow citizens are watching us, gathered in this great chamber, hoping we will govern not as two parties, but as one nation.

The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or Democrat agenda, it is the agenda of the American people. Many of us have campaigned on the same core promises, to defend American jobs and demand fair trade for American workers, to rebuild and revitalize our nation’s infrastructure, to reduce the price of health care and prescription drugs, to create an immigration system that is safe, lawful, modern and secure, and to pursue a foreign policy that puts America’s interests first.
There is a new opportunity in American politics, if only we have the courage together to seize it. Victory is not winning for our party, victory is winning for our country. This year, America will recognize two important anniversaries that show us the majesty of America’s vision and the power of American pride.

In June we marked 75 years since the start of what General Dwight Eisenhower called “the great crusade,” the allied liberation of Europe in World War II. On D-day, June 6, 1944, 15,000 young American men jumped from the skies, and 60,000 more stormed in from the sea to save our civilization from tyranny. Here with us tonight are three of those incredible heroes. Private first class Joseph Riley, Staff Sergeant Erving Walker — and Sergeant Hartman Zeitcheck.

Gentlemen, we salute you. In 2019 we also celebrate 50 years since brave young pilots flew 1/4 of one million miles through space the plants of American flag on the face of the moon. Half a century later, we are joined by one of the Apollo 11 astronauts who planted that flag, Buzz Aldrin. Thank you, buzz. This year, American astronauts will go back to space in American rockets.

In the 20th century, America saved freedom, transformed science, redefined the middle class, and when you get down to it, there is nothing anywhere in the world that can compete with America. Now we must step boldly and bravely into the next chapter of this great American adventure. We must create a new standard of living for the 21st century.

An amazing quality of life for all of our citizens is within reach. We can make our communities safer, our families stronger, our culture richer, our faith deeper, and our middle class and more prosperous than ever before. But we must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution, and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good.
Together we can break decades of political stalemate. We can bridge all divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future. The decision is ours to make. We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction. Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness.

Over the last two years, my administration has moved with urgency and historic speed to confront problems neglected by leaders of both parties over many decades. In just over two years since the election, we have launched an unprecedented economic boom, a boom that has rarely been seen before. There has been nothing like it. We have created 5.3 million new jobs, and importantly, added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs, something which almost everyone said was impossible to do, but the fact is, we are just getting started.

Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades, and growing for blue-collar workers, who I promise to fight for. They are growing
faster than anyone else. Nearly 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps. The U.S. economy is growing almost twice as fast today as when I took office, and we are considered far and away the hottest economy anywhere in the world. Not even close.

Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in over half a century. African-American, Hispanic American, and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded.

Unemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low. More people are working now than at any time in the history of our country: 157 million people at work. We passed a massive tax cut for working families and double the child tax credit. We have virtually ended the estate tax, or death tax that is — as it is called, for small businesses, ranches and family farms. We eliminated the very unpopular Obamacare individual mandate penalty. And to give critically ill patients access to life-saving cures, we passed very importantly, right to try.

My administration has cut more regulations in a short period of time than any other administration during its entire tenure. Companies are coming back to our country in large numbers, thanks to our historic reductions in taxes and regulations. And we have unleashed a revolution in American energy. The United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world. And now, for the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy. After 24 months of rapid progress, our economy is the envy of the world. Our military is the most powerful on Earth, by far, and America — America is again winning each and every day. Members of Congress, the state of our union is strong.
That sounds so good.

Our country is vibrant and our economy is thriving like never before. Friday it was announced we added another 304,000 jobs last month alone, almost double the number expected. An economic miracle is taking place in the United States, and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous, partisan investigations. If there is going to be peace in legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just does not work that way.

We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad.

This new era of cooperation can start with finally confirming the more than 300 highly qualified nominees who are still stuck in the Senate, in some cases years and years waiting — not right.
The Senate has failed to act on these nominations, which is unfair to the nominees, and very unfair to our country. Now is the time for bipartisan action. Believe it or not, we have already proven that is possible. In the last Congress, both parties came together to pass unprecedented legislation to confront the opioid crisis, a sweeping new farm bill, historic V.A. reforms, and after four decades of rejection, we passed a V.A. accountability, so we can finally terminate those who mistreat our wonderful veterans. And just weeks ago, all parties united for groundbreaking criminal justice reform. They said it couldn’t be done.

Last year, I heard through friends, the story of Alice Johnson. I was deeply moved. In 1997, Alice was sentenced to life in prison as a first time, nonviolent drug offender. Over the next 22 years, she became a prison minister, inspiring others to choose a better path. She had a big impact on that prison population and far beyond. Alice’s story underscores the disparities and unfairness that can exist in criminal sentencing, and the need to remedy this total injustice. She served almost that 22 years, and had expected to be in prison for the remainder of her life. In June, I commuted Alice’s sentence. When I saw Alice’s beautiful family greet her at the prison gates, hugging and kissing and crying and laughing, I knew I did something right. Alice is with us tonight, and she is a terrific woman. Terrific. Alice, please.

Alice, thank you for reminding us that we always have that power to shape — the power to shape our own destiny. Thank you very much.

Inspired by stories like Alice’s, my administration worked closely with members of both parties to sign the first step act into
law. Big deal. That is a big deal. This legislation reformed sentencing laws that have wrongly and disproportionately harmed the African-American community.

The first step act gives nonviolent offenders the chance to re-enter society as productive, law-abiding citizens. Now, states across the country are following our lead. America is a nation that believes in redemption. We are also joined tonight by Matthew Charles from Tennessee. In 1996, at the age of 30, Matthew was sentenced to 35 years for selling drugs and related offenses. Over the next two decades, he completed more than 30 Bible studies, became a law clerk, and mentored many of his fellow inmates. Now, Matthew was the very first person to be released from prison under the first step act.
Thank you, matthew. Welcome home.

Now, Republicans and Democrats must join forces again to confront an urgent national crisis. Congress has 10 days left to pass a bill that will fund our government, protect our homeland, and secure are very dangerous southern border. Now is the time for Congress to show the world that America is committed to ending illegal immigration and putting the ruthless coyotes, cartels, drug dealers, and human traffickers out of business.

As we speak, large, organized caravans are on the March to the United States. We have just heard that Mexican cities, in order to remove the illegal immigrants from their communities, are getting trucks and buses to bring them up to our country in areas where there is little border protection. I have ordered another 3750 troops to our southern border to prepare for this tremendous onslaught. This is a moral issue. The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security, and financial well-being of all Americans. We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens. This includes our obligation to the millions of immigrants living here today who follow the rules and respected our laws. Legal immigrants enrich our nation and strengthen our society in countless ways.
I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally. Tonight, I’m asking you to defend are very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and our country. No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s working-class and America’s political class than illegal immigration. Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders, while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards.

Meanwhile, working-class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal immigration, reduced to jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools, hospitals that are so crowded you can’t get in, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net. Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate, it is actually very cruel.

One in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north. Smugglers use migrant children as human pawns to exploit our laws and gain access to our country. Human traffickers and sex traffickers take advantage of the wide-open areas between our ports of entry to smuggle thousands of young girls and women into the United States and to sell them into prostitution and modern-day slavery.

Tens of thousands of innocent Americans are killed by lethal drugs that cross our border and flood into our cities, including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. The savage gang MS 13 now operates in at least 20 different American states and they almost all come through our southern border. Just yesterday, an MS-13 gang member was taken into custody for a fatal shooting on a subway platform in New York city. We are removing these gang members by the thousands, but until we secure our border, they are going to keep streaming right back in. Year after year, countless Americans are murdered by criminal illegal aliens. I’ve gotten to know many wonderful angel moms and dads and families. No one should ever have to suffer the horrible heartache that they have had to endure.

Here tonight is Deborah Bissell, just three weeks ago her parents, Gerald and Sharon, were burglarized and shot to death in their Reno, Nevada, home by an illegal alien. They were in their 80’s and are survived by four children, 11 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren. Also here tonight are Gerald and Sharon’s granddaughter heather and great-granddaughter Madison. To Deborah, Heather, Madison, please stand. Few can understand your pain. Thank you and thank you for being here. Very much.
I will never forget and I will fight for the memory of Gerald and Sharon, that it should never happen again. Not one more American life should be lost because our nation failed to control its very dangerous border.

In the last two years, our brave ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of criminal aliens, including those charged or convicted of nearly 100,000 assaults. 30,000 sex crimes, and 4000 killings or murders. We are joined tonight by one of those law enforcement heroes, ICE special agent Elvin Hernandez. Thank you.

When Elvin was a boy, he and his family legally immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic. At the age of eight, he told his dad he wanted to become a special agent. Today, he leads investigations into the scores of international sex trafficking. He says that if I can make sure these young girls get their justice, I’ve really done my job. Thanks to his work and that of his incredible colleagues, more than 300 women and girls have been rescued from the horror of this terrible situation and more than 1500 sadistic traffickers have been put behind bars.

We will always support the brave men and women of law enforcement and I pledge to you tonight that I will never abolish our heroes from ICE. Thank you.

My administration has sent to the Congress a commonsense proposal to end the crisis on our southern border. It includes humanitarian assistance, more law enforcement, drug detection at our ports, closing loopholes that enable child smuggling, and plans for a new physical barrier, or wall, to secure the vast areas between our ports of entry. In the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall — but the proper wall never got built. I’ll get it built.

This is a smart, strategic, see-through steel barrier — not just a simple concrete wall. It will be deployed in the areas identified by border agents as having the greatest need, and as these agents will tell you, where walls go up, illegal crossings go way down. San Diego used to have the most illegal border crossings in the country. In response, a strong security wall was put in place. This powerful barrier almost completely ended illegal crossings. The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime — one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities. Now, immediately upon its building, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities. Simply put, walls work and walls save lives.

So let’s work together, compromise, and reach a deal that will truly make America safe. As we work to defend our people’s safety, we must also ensure our economic resurgence continues at a rapid pace. No one has benefitted more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58% of the new jobs created in the last year. All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before. Don’t sit yet. You are going to like this.

And exactly one century after Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in the Congress than ever before.

That’s great. Very great. And congratulations. That’s great. As part of our commitment to improving opportunity for women everywhere, this Thursday we are launching the first ever government-wide initiative focused on economic empowerment for women in developing countries.

To build on our incredible economic success, one priority is paramount — reversing decades of calamitous trade policies. So bad. We are now making it clear to China that after years of targeting our industries, and stealing our intellectual property, the theft of American jobs and wealth has come to an end. Therefore, we recently imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods — and now our treasury is receiving billions of dollars a month from — but I don’t blame China for taking advantage of us. I blame our leaders and representatives for allowing this travesty to happen. I have great respect for president xi, and we are now working on a new trade deal with China. But it must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit, and protect American jobs.

Another historic trade blunder was the catastrophe known as NAFTA. I have met the men and women of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Hampshire, and many other states whose dreams were shattered by NAFTA. For years, politicians promised them they would negotiate for a better deal. But no one ever tried — until now. Our new U.S.- Mexico-Canada agreement — or USMCA — will replace NAFTA and deliver for American workers like they have not had delivered to for a long time. I hope you can pass the USMCA into law so we can bring back our manufacturing jobs in greater numbers, expand American agriculture, protect intellectual property, and ensure that more cars are proudly stamped with four beautiful words — made in the U.S.A.

Tonight, I am also asking you to pass the United States Reciprocal Trade Act, so that if another country places an unfair tariff on an American product, we can charge them the exact same tariff on the same product that they sell to us.

Both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure. I know that the Congress is eager to pass an infrastructure bill — and I am eager to work with you on legislation to deliver new and important infrastructure investment, including investments in the cutting edge industries of the future. This is not an option. This is a necessity. The next major priority for me, and for all of us, should be to lower the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs — and to protect patients with pre-existing conditions.

Already, as a result of my administration’s efforts, in 2018 drug prices experienced their single largest decline in 46 years. But we must do more. It is unacceptable that Americans pay vastly more than people in other countries for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same place. This is wrong, unfair, and together we can stop it. And we will stop it fast.

I am asking the Congress to pass legislation that finally takes on the problem of global freeloading and delivers fairness and price transparency for American patients. Finally.

We should also require drug companies, insurance companies, and hospitals to disclose real prices to foster competition and bring costs down. No force in history has done more to advance the human condition than American freedom.

In recent years we have made remarkable progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Scientific breakthroughs have brought a once-distant dream within reach. My budget will ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years. We have made incredible strides. Incredible.

Together, we will defeat AIDS in America. And beyond.

Tonight, I am also asking you to join me in another fight that all Americans can get behind — the fight against childhood cancer. Joining Melania in the gallery this evening is a very brave 10-year-old girl, Grace Eline.

Hi, Grace. Every birthday since she was 4, Grace asked her friends to donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She did not know that one day she might be a patient herself. That is what happened. Last year, Grace was diagnosed with brain cancer. Immediately, she began radiation treatment. At the same time, she rallied her community and raised more than $40,000 for the fight against cancer.

When Grace completed treatment last fall, her doctors and nurses cheered — they love her, they still love her — with tears in their eyes as she hung up a poster that read, “last day of chemo.”

Thank you, Grace. You are a great inspiration to everyone in this room. Thank you very much. Many childhood cancers have not seen new therapies in decades. My budget will ask the Congress for $500 million over the next 10 years to fund this critical life-saving research. To help support working parents, the time has come to pass school choice for America’s children.

I am also proud to be the first president to include in my budget a plan for nationwide paid family leave — so that every new parent has the chance to bond with their newborn child.

There could be no greater contrast to the beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child than the chilling displays our nation saw in recent days. Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth. These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world. And then, we had the case of the governor of Virginia where he stated he would execute a baby after birth. To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb. Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life.

And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth — all children — born and unborn — are made in the holy image of God.

The final part of my agenda is to protect America’s national security. Over the last 2 years, we have begun to fully rebuild the United States military — with $700 billion last year and $716 billion this year. We are also getting other nations to pay their fair share. Finally.

For years, the United States was being treated very unfairly by friends of ours, by members of NATO, but now we have secured a $100 billion increase in defense spending from NATO allies. They said it could not be done. As part of our military build-up, the United States is developing a state-of-the-art missile defense system. Under my administration, we will never apologize for advancing America’s interests. For example, decades ago the United States entered into a treaty with Russia in which we agreed to limit and reduce our missile capabilities. While we followed the agreement and the rules to the letter, Russia repeatedly violated its terms.

It has been going on for many years. That is why I announced that the United States is officially withdrawing from the intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty, or INF treaty.

We really have no choice. Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others, or perhaps we can’t – in which case, we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far. As part of a bold new diplomacy, we continue our historic push for peace on the Korean peninsula. Our hostages have come home, nuclear testing has stopped, and there has not been a missile launch in 15 months. If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea.

Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one. Chairman Kim and I will meet again on February 27 and 28 in Vietnam. Two weeks ago, the United States officially recognized the legitimate government of Venezuela, and its new interim president, Juan Guaido.

We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom — and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.
Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence – not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free.

Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country. One of the most complex set of challenges we face and have for many years is in the Middle East. Our approach is based on principled realism — not discredited theories that have failed for decades to yield progress. For this reason, my administration recognized the true capital of Israel — and proudly opened the American embassy in Jerusalem.

Our brave troops have now been fighting in the Middle East for almost 19 years. In Afghanistan and Iraq, nearly 7,000 American heroes have given their lives. More than 52,000 Americans have been badly wounded. We have spent more than $7 trillion in the Middle East. As a candidate for president, I loudly pledged a new approach. Great nations do not fight endless wars. When I took office, ISIS controlled more than 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria. Just two years ago. Today, we have liberated virtually all of that territory from the grip of these bloodthirsty killers. Now, as we work with our allies to destroy the remnants of ISIS, it is time to give our brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome home.

I have also accelerated our negotiations to reach a political settlement in Afghanistan. The opposing side is also very happy to be negotiating. Our troops have fought with unmatched valor — and thanks to their bravery, we are now able to pursue a political solution to this long and bloody conflict.

In Afghanistan, my administration is holding constructive talks with a number of Afghan groups, including the Taliban. As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism. And we will indeed focus on counterterrorism. We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement — but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace. And the other side would like to do the same thing. It is time.

Above all, friend and foe alike must never doubt this nation’s power and will to defend our people. 18 years ago, violent terrorists attacked the USS Cole — and last month American forces killed one of the leaders of the attack. We are honored to be joined tonight by Tom Wibberley, whose son, navy seaman Craig Wibberley, was one of the 17 sailors we tragically lost. Tom, we vow to always remember the heroes of the USS Cole.

My administration has acted decisively to confront the world’s leading state sponsor of terror — the radical regime in Iran. It is a radical regime. They do bad, bad things. To ensure this corrupt dictatorship never acquires nuclear weapons, I withdrew the United States from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal.

And last fall, we put in place the toughest sanctions ever imposed on a country. We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants death to America and threatens genocide against the Jewish people. We must never ignore the vile poison of anti-Semitism, or those who spread its venomous creed. With one voice, we must confront this hatred anywhere and everywhere it occurs.
Just months ago, 11 Jewish-Americans were viciously murdered in an anti-Semitic attack on the tree of life synagogue in Pittsburgh. SWAT officer Timothy Matson raced into the gunfire and was shot seven times chasing down the killer. And he was very successful. Timothy has just had his 12th surgery and he is going in for many more, but he made the trip to be here with us tonight. Officer Matson, please.

Thank you. We are forever grateful. Thank you very much. Tonight, we are also joined by Pittsburgh survivor Judah Samet. He arrived at the synagogue as the massacre began. But not only did Judah narrowly escape death last fall — more than seven decades ago, he narrowly survived the Nazi concentration camps. Today is Judah’s 81st birthday.

Judah says he can still remember the exact moment, nearly 75 years ago, after 10 months in a concentration camp, when he and his family were put on a train, and told they were going to another camp. Suddenly the train screeched to a halt. A soldier appeared. Judah’s family braced for the worst. Then, his father cried out with joy, “it’s the Americans!”

Thank you. A second holocaust survivor who is here tonight, Joshua Kaufman, was a prisoner at Dachau. He remembers watching through a hole in the wall of a cattle car as American soldiers rolled in with tanks. “To me,” Joshua recalls, “the American soldiers were proof that God exists, and they came down from the sky. They came down from heaven.”

I began this evening by honoring three soldiers who fought on D-day in the second world war. One of them was Herman Zeitchik. But there is more to Herman’s story. A year after he stormed the beaches of Normandy, Herman was one of those American soldiers who helped liberate Dachau.

He was one of the Americans who helped rescue Joshua from that hell on Earth. Almost 75 years later, Herman and Joshua are both together in the gallery tonight — seated side-by-side, here in the home of American freedom. Herman and Joshua, your presence this evening is very much appreciated. Thank you very much.

Thank you. When American soldiers set out beneath the dark skies over the English Channel in the early hours of D-day, 1944, they were just young men of 18 and 19, hurtling on fragile landing craft toward the most momentous battle in the history of war. They did not know if they would survive the hour. They did not know if they would grow old. But they knew that America had to prevail. Their cause was this nation, and generations yet unborn. Why did they do it? They did it for America — they did it for us.

Everything that has come since — our triumph over communism, our giant leaps of science and discovery, our unrivaled progress toward equality and justice — all of it is possible thanks to the blood and tears and courage and vision of the Americans who came before. Think of this Capitol — think of this very chamber, where lawmakers before you voted to end slavery, to build the railroads and the highways, to defeat fascism, to secure civil rights, to face down an evil empire. Here tonight, we have legislators from across this magnificent republic. You have come from the rocky shores of Maine and the volcanic peaks of Hawaii, from the snowy woods of Wisconsin and the red deserts of Arizona, from the green farms of Kentucky and the golden beaches of California. Together, we represent the most extraordinary nation in all of history.

What will we do with this moment? How will we be remembered? I ask the men and women of this Congress, look at the opportunities before us. Our most thrilling achievements are still ahead.

Our most exciting journeys still await. Our biggest victories are still to come. We have not yet begun to dream. We must choose whether we are defined by our differences — or whether we dare to transcend them. We must choose whether we will squander our inheritance — or whether we will proudly declare that we are Americans. We do the incredible. We defy the impossible. We conquer the unknown. This is the time to re-ignite the American imagination. This is the time to search for the tallest summit, and set our sights on the brightest star.

This is the time to rekindle the bonds of love and loyalty and memory that link us together as citizens, as neighbors, as patriots.

This is our future — our fate — and our choice to make. I am asking you to choose greatness. No matter the trials we face, no matter the challenges to come, we must go forward together. We must keep America first in our hearts. We must keep freedom alive in our souls. And we must always keep faith in America’s destiny — that one nation, under God, must be the hope and the promise and the light and the glory among all the nations of the world! Thank you. God bless you, God bless America. Thank you very much.