Virginia Governor Ralph Northam acknowledged on Friday that he was photographed more than 30 years ago in a costume that was, according to his words, "clearly racist and offensive" — admitting that he had dressed either as a member of the Ku Klux Klan or in blackface. "I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt, that decision caused then and now," the Democratic governor said in a statement on Friday evening. On Saturday, Northam held a press conference wherein he retracted his Friday admission and said that he is not in the picture. He admitted donning black-face during a Michael Jackson dance contest that same year but said that was not him in the yearbook photo as either racist character. Can you, during an early part of your life, do stupid, racially ignorant and insensitive things but not be racist? Should you be allowed to continue to serve?
European powers have backed Juan Guaidó as Venezuela's interim president in an effort to raise the pressure on President Nicolás Maduro's regime, even as divisions in the EU threaten efforts to forge a common stance. Spain, France, Germany, and the UK followed through today on a January 26 pledge to recognize Mr. Guaidó as interim leader if the government in Caracas failed to call fresh elections within eight days. Other European states including Denmark, Austria, and Latvia followed suit in a coordinated show of support for the opposition leader and head of Venezuela's National Assembly to organize fresh polls. The EU had also given eight days for the Maduro government to announce elections but has stopped short of saying it will recognize Mr. Guaidó as interim president and has warned only of possible "further action" instead. The bloc's position has been complicated by divisions within Italy's governing coalition of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the far-right League over the crisis in Venezuela.
US President Donald Trump is scheduled to deliver his State of the Union address tomorrow evening at 9 p.m. ET. What should Americans expect? The first question is whether he'll declare a national emergency to build his proposed border wall if Congress can't agree to fund it. He's been coy on that subject leading up to the speech, telling reporters last week: "You'll hear the State of the Union, and then you'll see what happens right after the State of the Union." He may use the event to unveil where and when he'll meet North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un for their second summit. Trump has expressed optimism about striking a deal with China, and said on Friday that a meeting with President Xi Jinping would probably be announced this week. He's likely to at least claim progress has been made with China during the speech on Tuesday. How will he analyze the state of the US economy?
In the crowded race to the White House, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) officially kicked off her campaign for president this past Saturday. In a speech in Oahu, Gabbard, 37, stressed lessons she learned while serving in her state's National Guard. "When we raise our right hand and volunteer to serve, we set aside our own interests to serve our country, to fight for all Americans. We serve as one, indivisible, united, unbreakable — united by this bond of love for each other and love for our country," she said. "It is in this spirit that today I announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America." She has to be the most truly progressive candidate in the race at this point, but she's getting the least amount of coverage. The four-term congresswoman took aim at US interventionism, slamming officials who engage in armed conflicts at great costs while treating troops "as political pawns and mercenaries for hire in wars around the world." Other policy positions that the White House hopeful discussed included Medicare for all, criminal justice reform, environmental advocacy and the need to combat privacy infringement by big tech companies. Is she getting the coverage she deserves?
Gary Flowers — Host of The Gary Flowers Show on radio station Rejoice WREJ-AM 990. He has been executive director of the Old Dominion Bar Association, special assistant to Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, public policy analyst and coordinator of electoral observers for the 1994 elections in South Africa, vice president of programs and national field director for the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Executive Director and CEO of the Black Leadership Forum in Washington.
Daniel Lazare — Journalist and author of three books: The Frozen Republic, The Velvet Coup, and America's Undeclared War.
Dr. Jack Rasmus — Professor of economics at Saint Mary's College of California and author of Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes: Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression, who also writes at jackrasmus.com.
Garland Nixon — Co-Host of Fault Lines on Sputnik News.
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