Trump supporters cheer his combative stance with the media

US President Donald Trump. (AP)
Updated 17 February 2017
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Trump supporters cheer his combative stance with the media

CHARLESTON, W.Virginia: Critics of President Donald Trump saw in his Thursday news conference a combative, thin-skinned chief executive who continues to blame the media for the controversies roiling his administration.
His supporters saw something else: A champion of Middle America who is taking on the establishment and making good on his campaign promises to put the country first.
The Associated Press contacted Trump supporters across the country to see how they viewed a news conference in which the president said his administration was running like “a fine-tuned machine” despite the resignation of his top national security adviser, a court setback on his immigration order, a defeat for his nominee as labor secretary and reports of internal divisions.
Here are views of some of those supporters:
Richelle Kirk of Logan, West Virginia, watched some of Trump’s news conference on Thursday and didn’t see any head-scratching comments from the president.
“I back him 100 percent,” said the 42-year-old stay-at-home mom. “You either love it or get out, is my opinion.”
During Barack Obama’s presidency, her husband was laid off from his coal-mining job, a loss they blamed on Obama’s environmental policies. She said they lost a home and “everything we owned.”
After West Virginia voters resoundingly rejected Obama during his 2012 re-election, “we didn’t show our hind ends when Obama was re-elected,” Kirk said. So she believes people shouldn’t overreact to Trump, either.
She particularly agreed with the president when he took credit for an optimistic business climate and a rising stock market, saying Trump is beginning to fulfill his campaign promise to put people back to work.
Reporters, she said, “need to leave him alone. He’s just doing what he said he’s going to do.”
Kevin Felty of Norfolk, Virginia, said it was the “most impressive presidential press conference” of his life.
“Largely because it was so unorthodox,” said Felty, 48, who works as a surgical assistant and sells life insurance. “It was hyper adversarial between the president and the press. And yet he was able to control the questioning and the tone and the mood in the room.”
Felty said the media needs to move on regarding Russia and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
“There was nothing illegal that General Flynn had done at that time,” Felty said. “What he did do is make a mistake in not being accurate with the vice president.”
He also said he believes Trump is trustworthy as president.
“He doesn’t need the media to chide him to make the right decisions,” Felty said. “It’s something he’s been doing well for decades.”
Regina Lenoir of Picayune, Mississippi, enjoyed watching Trump’s news conference and said the president “looked more relaxed.”
Lenoir, 69, said she was most interested in the president’s comments about the alleged leaks that led to the resignation of Michael Flynn as national security adviser.
“We don’t know the conversation that happened between him and (Vice President Mike) Pence. Only they know. But the news media gets out there (and) says such and such with no corroboration,” she said. “I’m sick of them making up stories. You know, we’re intelligent people. We can make up our own mind on whether they’re telling the truth.”
She agreed with Trump’s take on how the media has covered his administration and campaign, saying those covering his administration are good reporters but biased.
She said if people gave Trump a chance, “he might just surprise everyone.
“He wasn’t my first choice, but he is my president,” Lenoir said. “I think he handled the news conference very well.”
Joseph Gatlin of Virginia Beach, Virginia, said he did not watch the news conference but heard about the question a Jewish reporter asked Trump about a rise in anti-Semitic incidents around the country.
Trump told the reporter to sit down and said it was not a simple or fair question before describing himself as “the least anti-Semitic person you’ve ever seen in your entire life.”
Gatlin, who is Jewish and who was born in Israel, said the media needs to move on from “asking the same question.”
“He’s not a racist. He doesn’t believe in racism,” said Gatlin, who owns a flooring company. “He’s not anti-Semitic at all.”
Gatlin pointed to the number of Jewish people in Trump’s inner circle, including his son-in-law and White House adviser, Jared Kushner. He said the media instead should be asking Trump about terrorism and the economy.
“I think that it’s become ridiculous,” Gatlin said. “He wants the serious questions. He wants people to ask him questions that people care about. You can’t mention racism in every speech. They’re looking at the wrong things.”
Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin, said he was glad to see the president push back against the media. He said reporters have no proof Trump or anyone around him did anything wrong.
“They’re trying to make up a story that Trump worked with the Russians to rig the election,” he said. “Now they’re trying to make a big deal out of (former national security adviser) Mike Flynn. He was doing what he was supposed to do. He was talking to his counterparts. He was talking to the Russians. He got fired because he lied to (Vice President Mike) Pence. There’s no story there. The left media is so excited. They think they took this guy down. No, he made a mistake. He just lied.”
Hiltgen said he remains squarely behind the billionaire president because he has done what he said he would do on the campaign trail.
“He’s accomplished more in, whatever, three weeks, regarding the stuff he talked about,” Hiltgen said. “That’s what people voted for. I can’t believe there’s actually a politician doing what he says he would do. That never happens.”


In India’s citizenship test, a spelling error can ruin a family

Updated 4 min 32 sec ago
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In India’s citizenship test, a spelling error can ruin a family

DHUBRI, India: Riyazul Islam says he had to produce family documents going back to 1951 to prove he was an Indian and not an illegal Bangladeshi immigrant. But a draft list of citizens released in July excluded him and his mother, among a total of about 4 million people left off.
A wiry 33-year-old living in the northeastern state of Assam, Islam says he and his mother have no further documents left to prove they are Indians, although his father and many others in his family have been included in the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
“If my father is an Indian citizen how come I am not?” said Islam in an interview in the small Assam town of Dhubri, close to the border with Muslim-majority Bangladesh. “What more proof do they need?“
Anguish like this is now commonplace in Assam, where the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi accelerated work on the citizen’s list after coming to power in the state two years ago, promising to act against immigrants accused of stealing jobs and resources from locals.
The government has not given details of the four million excluded from the list. But most are believed to be minority Bengali-speaking Muslims living in the state, which has a total population of 33 million, mostly Assamese-speaking Hindus.
Many of those excluded are illiterate and poor, and some are victims of a spelling error in their names or a mistake in their age in documents offered for proof of citizenship, according to a review of their documents by Reuters.
Opposition parties say Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is denying citizenship to Muslims through the Assam list, and demonstrating its Hindu nationalist credentials with an eye on a general election due by May.
The BJP’s Assam spokesman, Bijan MaHajjan said there was no religion-based motive behind the citizenship drive.
“(This is) being opposed for political mileage whereas at ground zero there is absolutely no tension,” he said.
However, Arun Jaitley, one of Modi’s senior-most cabinet colleagues, said in a Facebook post this month that the NRC was necessary because the growth in the Hindu population of Assam had been overtaken by that of Muslims.
Ethnic Assamese have been agitating against outsiders in the state for decades. In 1983, about 2,000 people were chased down and killed by machete-armed mobs intent on hounding out Muslim immigrants. It has not been clearly established which group was behind the carnage.
The Assam NRC draft has excluded many Hindus too, but last weekend BJP chief Amit Shah assured citizenship to all non-Muslim refugees from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan by framing a new law.
It is not clear what will happen to those excluded from the final list of citizens. But lawyers say they may end up in detention camps, or at the very least be denied citizenship rights and government subsidies.
They could also be struck off voter rolls, which will be an important factor in at least half a dozen Assam constituencies in a general election.

SPELLING ERRORS
In Dhubri, a farming town on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra River upstream from the Bangladesh border, those who did not make it to the list were fearful of discussing it in public.
But inside their homes, several of those excluded showed a Reuters reporter tattered pieces of paper, including birth, school and marriage certificates dating back years and preserved carefully in plastic envelopes.
Such government-issued documents in the countryside often contain spelling or numerical errors, as the illiterate depend on others to write down details. Getting birth certificates made was also not common until recent years in many parts of the country.
Such mistakes can lead to loss of citizenship, said Aman Wadud, a lawyer who has handled dozens of cases of illegal immigration at Assam’s foreigner tribunals.
“With Muslims, there is a problem of title (surnames),” said Wadud. “Because most of the accused are illiterate they don’t use a constant title. Ali, Ahmed, Hussain are used interchangeably.”
He showed Reuters a tribunal judgment on a resident named Tajab Ali, who submitted a series of voters lists as proof of his citizenship going back to 1966. He said his name had been wrongly recorded as Tajap Ali instead of Tajab Ali in the 1985 voters list, and his father’s name wrongly recorded as Surman Ali Munshi instead of Surman Ali. There were also discrepancies in his age.
The tribunal said Ali submitted an affidavit “declaring various names of himself, his projected father, and mother. But an affidavit being only a self declaration, it has no evidentiary value.”
Sajida Bibi, Islam’s mother, also fell victim to a wrongly entered name.
One of the documents she submitted to prove citizenship, and shown to Reuters by the family, was an affidavit saying her name had been wrongly recorded as “Sabahan Bibi” in the 1951 citizenship registry, the first one drawn up in the state after India’s independence in 1947. The affidavit also said she was named as “SaHajjadi Begum” in her school certificate, and that she changed her name to “Sajida Bibi” from “Sajida Begum” after her marriage.
She swore in the affidavit that all three were the same person – her. The tribunal did not accept the affidavit.
Reuters reviewed copies of at least two other recent tribunal judgments in which people had been declared foreigners because of name and age-related errors and in which affidavits were not accepted.

“NOT AGAINST MUSLIMS“
Much of the over 2,500-mile-long border between India and Bangladesh is porous, through which hundreds of thousands of people fled from Bangladesh during its India-backed war of independence from Pakistan in 1971.
To be recognized as Indian citizens, all residents of Assam have had to produce documents proving that they or their families lived in the country before March 24, 1971.
New Delhi said in 2016 that around 20 million illegal Bangladeshi migrants were living in India. Activists who filed a petition in the Supreme Court in 2009 to expel such immigrants alleged over 4 million of them had been included in Assam’s 2006 voter list.
“For 38 years, we’ve been fighting to protect the language, culture and identity of our indigenous people in our own motherland,” said Samujjal Bhattacharya, an adviser to the All Assam Students Union (AASU), an organization that has spearheaded the campaign against illegal immigrants.
But Bhattacharya said the NRC was not biased against any community.
“It’s not against Muslims, it is not against Hindus, it is not against Bengalis,” Bhattacharya said. “It’s against illegal Bangladeshis. It is a question of citizens and non-citizens.”