The looming showdowns

Guests: Howard Fineman, Victoria Bassetti

For several hours on Monday we didn’t know if Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein was going to be fired, if he had resigned or something else. This was after a story in the New York Times claiming he had suggested secretly taping President Trump. They are planning to meet on Thursday, the same day that Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford will be questioned before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Today, we’ll parse out this dizzying barrage of news with NBC contributor HOWARD FINEMAN, and Brennan Center for Justice Fellow VICTORIA BASSETTI.

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7-year-old boy dies in fall from moving subway car

Police say a 7-year-old boy who was selling candy on a Philadelphia train with his brother fell between two moving subway cars and died.

Authorities say the boy was with his 11-year-old brother and a 26-year-old man on the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s Broad Street Line subway in northern Philadelphia on Sunday.

Police say the boy was walking between cars when he slipped and fell onto the tracks.

SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel called the death “a horrible, horrible thing.” He said the walkway is not safe while the train is moving.

Transit officials say the National Transportation Safety Board is now investigating.

Authorities say the boys’ parents have been notified. Names of those involved haven’t been released.

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A pageant in drag, Miss’d America upholds traditions

With Miss America contestants donning more sensible clothes, a popular annual spoof of the Atlantic City pageant, Miss’d America, feels more like nostalgia than satire.

Performed by contestants in drag, Miss’d America kept its swimsuit competition this year, even as its mainstream counterpart eliminated it in favor of a more inclusive format.

The new queen crowned Saturday night at the Borgata in Atlantic City is Ms. Adriana Trenta, also known as Kevin Swanson.

Television personality Carson Kressley hosted the Broadway-themed event, presented by the Greater Atlantic City GLBT Alliance and Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa.

Contestants competed in swimsuit, talent and evening gown events in the sold out Event Center at the Borgata.

Founded in the 1990s by lifetime partners John Shultz and Gary Hill, the Miss’d America Pageant has come a long way from the clubs on New York Avenue in Atlantic City.

“All the people that were behind the scenes in the Miss America Pageant, that did the make-up and hair for the beauty queens, would come to our clubs every night after the competition, party, and then have to go back to work,” said Shultz, recalling the scene in the early 1990s.

“They never seen the show. So Gary and I decided we would do this Miss’d America contest.” 

The Greater Atlantic City GLBT Alliance distributes portions of the proceeds to LGBTQ charities, raising more than $300,000 to date.

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High-skilled immigrants call out the Trump administration’s ‘hypocrisy’

The Trump administration says it wants to move to a “merit-based” immigration system — one that gives priority to immigrants who speak English and are highly educated.

But critics say that rhetoric is at odds with the administration’s actions.

“Show me any policy that’s come out so far that has actually made it easier for highly skilled immigrants,” says Doug Rand, who worked in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Barack Obama.

“I haven’t seen any,” Rand said.

In practice, critics say the administration is making high-skilled immigrants’ lives harder, in all sorts of ways. It has gotten tougher to get or renew an H-1B visa, a program that brings in tech workers, doctors and other professionals. And the administration is getting rid of other visa programs altogether.

That includes a special program for the spouses of H-1B guest workers that has been widely embraced by immigrants like Neha Mahajan. She hosts and produces a TV talk show in Edison, N.J., that’s targeted mainly at Indian expats like her.

“This is the kind of work I always wanted to do,” said Mahajan. “I am picking up topics that typically don’t get talked about in the South Asian community. So I’m trying to be a change-maker in my community.”

Mahajan has a master’s degree in English literature and worked as a journalist in India. It never occurred to her that she would have trouble finding opportunities in the U.S. But Mahajan was not allowed to work when she first got here.

“So here I am in the U.S., the most advanced nation on this Earth,” Mahajan said. “But I’m in a cage. A metaphoric golden cage.”

Mahajan moved here with her husband and daughter in 2008 when he secured an H-1B visa to work as a software developer. But she wasn’t able to work legally until 2015, when the Obama administration launched the H-4 EAD program. It allows the spouses of H-1B guest workers to get work permits once they’ve been approved for a green card. About 100,000 people have signed up — mostly women, and mostly from India, which has a years-long waiting list for green cards.

Now the Trump administration is poised to end the program, which it considers an overreach.

“For me, one of the main reasons for proposing to rescind that is because I don’t think it’s appropriate,” said Lee Cissna, the head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency in charge of legal immigration. “I don’t think that Congress intended for the spouses of H-1Bs to work.”

Cissna did not respond to requests for an interview. But he did speak last month to the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors lower levels of immigration.

“Everything we do is guided by the law,” Cissna said. “That’s all we’re doing.”

The administration is also trying to kill another Obama-era program known as the International Entrepreneur Rule, which Doug Rand helped create.

“This was designed for entrepreneurs from other countries to more easily come to the U.S., or stay in the U.S., build companies here, create jobs for U.S. workers,” said Rand, who now runs a firm called Boundless Immigration.

All of this has infuriated corporate America. The CEOs of Apple, Pepsi and other U.S. companies say the administration is scaring away high-skilled workers, which could hurt the economy.

“What the administration is saying is, we want to make it difficult for companies to employ anyone who is not an American citizen,” said Dean Garfield, president of the Information Technology Industry Council.

But the head of Citizenship and Immigration Services dismisses that.

“The idea that we are intentionally, mischievously, impishly, malevolently trying to build an invisible wall on purpose because we don’t want foreign workers to come is false,” said Cissna.

Nonetheless, immigrants like Neha Mahajan wonder whether the administration is serious about “merit-based” immigration.

“I don’t know what to think,” Mahajan said. “Hypocrisy, maybe? They want us to stay. They don’t want us to stay. Why put people’s lives into a limbo?”

Mahajan and other spouses of guest workers are pushing to save the H-4 EAD program that allows them to work. The Trump administration is expected to announce the official end of that program any day.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit

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Police identify 54-year kayaker who died in Brandywine

Update: September 24, 2018 

The kayaker who drowned has been identified by police as 54-year-old James Battan.

Police would not say confirm a published report that Battan capsized after striking rocks in the rain-swollen waterway, saying that was still being investigated.

Battan’s obituary described the Wilmington native as a “passionate kayaker” and avid outdoorsman and lover of nature and animals who who had previously worked as a groundskeeper on a private estate.

An unidentified man drowned drowned Tuesday after his kayak capsized in Brandywine Creek, police said.

The fatal incident occurred about 12:40 p.m. in the river near the North Market Street Bridge, just outside the central business district.

Officers, firefighters and paramedics who responded to a 911 call saw the victim being carried down the waterway by the swift current toward the East 16th St. Bridge. Several civilians tried to get into the water to rescue the man but needed the help of first responders to get back to shore.

An officer and a paramedic pulled the unresponsive man from the water and began resuscitation efforts. He was taken to the nearby Wilmington Hospital, and pronounced dead.

Authorities said at 3:30 p.m. that they not yet confirmed the kayaker’s identity.

Authorities also warned the public that entering fast-moving water is dangerous and that those without proper training or equipment can “very easily become victims.”


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Man dies after kayak capsizes in creek near downtown Wilmington

Update: September 24, 2018 

The kayaker who drowned has been identified by police as 54-year-old James Battan.

Police would not say confirm a published report that Battan capsized after striking rocks in the rain-swollen waterway, saying that was still being investigated.

Battan’s obituary described the Wilmington native as a “passionate kayaker” and avid outdoorsman and lover of nature and animals who who had previously worked as a groundskeeper on a private estate.

An unidentified man drowned drowned Tuesday after his kayak capsized in Brandywine Creek, police said.

The fatal incident occurred about 12:40 p.m. in the river near the North Market Street Bridge, just outside the central business district.

Officers, firefighters and paramedics who responded to a 911 call saw the victim being carried down the waterway by the swift current toward the East 16th St. Bridge. Several civilians tried to get into the water to rescue the man but needed the help of first responders to get back to shore.

An officer and a paramedic pulled the unresponsive man from the water and began resuscitation efforts. He was taken to the nearby Wilmington Hospital, and pronounced dead.

Authorities said at 3:30 p.m. that they not yet confirmed the kayaker’s identity.

Authorities also warned the public that entering fast-moving water is dangerous and that those without proper training or equipment can “very easily become victims.”


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Making jokes at work

Guests: Maurice Schweitzer, Brad Bitterly

Telling a joke is a risk, especially at work. Humor can make the office a fun, lively, more productive place, but what happens when a joke falls flat, offends, or alienates a colleague, or even your boss? Today, we’ll talk about cracking wise at the workplace – the kinds of jokes that work, the kind to avoid, and the effect that being a cubicle comic can have on your career. We’re joined by University of Pennsylvania Wharton School professor MAURICE SCHWEITZER, and BRAD BITTERLY, postdoctoral research Fellow at the University of Michigan who have co-authored a number of studies on humor in the workplace.

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Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein is expecting to be fired, heading to White House Monday morning

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is expecting to be fired Monday at the White House, after critical comments about Trump.

That’s according to a source familiar with his thinking who wasn’t authorized to speak on the record and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

It follows reports Friday that Rosenstein floated the idea of secretly recording President Donald Trump last year and that he raised the idea of using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump as unfit for office. Rosenstein has denied the reports.

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Republicans seem determined to alienate as many women as possible

Why are Republicans so determined to stick with Brett Kavanagh, soiling themselves in the process and alienating as many women voters as possible? Three reasons, for sure: Donald Trump views Kavanaugh as survival insurance (given his past writings), Trump is loathe to admit defeat (“so much winning!”), and the party’s aggrieved white men apparently believe in all sincerity that the female of the species is bent on destroying them, and thus must be fought at all costs.

Dumping Kavanaugh at this point, now that a credible second woman has come forward, should be a no-brainer. There are plenty of prospective judges in the Federalist Society factory who’d be willing to overturn Roe v. Wade, but no. That would mean starting from scratch, with new hearings and new social calls on Capitol Hill, and the Republicans don’t want to stretch the timetable past the midterm elections. Especially if Democrats were to recapture the Senate (which is possible, but not probable). Republicans know they’d look bad if they tried to hustle a new ideologue onto the high court during the post-election lame-duck session.

On the other hand, they don’t seem to care much about looking bad. Their current behavior makes that perfectly clear.

What a freak show they’ve been conducting. They’ve been trying to rush the confirmation process – denying Christine Blasey Ford the courtesy of an FBI review (which Anita Hill was accorded), refusing to schedule additional testimony (and considering Brett pal Mark Judge’s misogynist track record, no wonder) – because they wanted to minimize the risk of more horrific revelations. Indeed, according to The New Yorker, some Senate Republican staffers knew last week about Deborah Ramirez, the Yale classmate who now says that Kavanaugh waved his penis in her face. Nevertheless, in the words of Mitch McConnell, Republicans intend to “plow right through.”

And their attitude is best illustrated by the Ed Whelan sideshow, a classic case of right-wing character assassination.

In case you missed it: Whelan is a longtime conservative operative who works with Republicans to vet judicial nominees; he is also a longtime pal of Kavanaugh’s. One week ago, he floated a trial balloon on Twitter, speculating that perhaps Ford had been sexually assaulted by someone other than Kavanaugh. Then, oh so coincidentally, Senator Orrin Hatch (a member of the all-male Republican Judiciary Committee contingent) publicly floated the theory of mistaken identity. Whelan duly tweeted about Hatch. Then, last Wednesday, he tweeted about “a horrific incident similar to the one the accuser alleges may well have occurred. But if so, she’s got the wrong guy.” Then Hatch’s deputy chief of staff, oh so coincidentally, tweeted: “Keep an eye on Ed’s tweets the next few days.”

Then, on Thursday, Whelan unveiled his big scoop. Using Google Maps and Zillow floor plans, he announced that Ford may have been attacked by someone who merely looked like Kavanaugh – an innocent person with no links to the incident. Meanwhile, a right-wing public relations firm known as CRC hyped Whelan’s fake news. When the whole farce blew up in Whelan’s face on Friday, he abjectly apologized. Then Garrett Ventry, a spokesman for the Senate Judiciary Committee (actually, a CRC employee on loan to the committee) rushed out a statement that the panel “had no knowledge or involvement” in Whelan’s scheme. Whereupon Ventry resigned from the committee, because he has been accused of…wait for it…sexual harassment.

Twice in the past week, I’ve written that the GOP’s behavior in the Kavanaugh affair seems almost calculated to widen the gender gap and drive more women voters into the midterm Democratic camp. Now we’re starting to see the evidence. A new USA Today poll says that only 31 percent of Americans support Kavanaugh’s confirmation, a new low, and that the hostility is driven by women voters, who now oppose him by a nearly 2-1 margin (23 percent yes, 43 percent no). A new NBC poll finds a similar pattern; one month ago, women over age 50 were +3 percent for Kavanaugh, but now they’ve slid to -11. And the latest Fox News poll, released yesterday, says that support for Kavanaugh has rapidly eroded (he’s underwater, at -10), and that it’s driven by suburban women, who believe Ford over Kavanaugh by a margin of 17 points.

It’s doubtful that Trump did his nominee much good by tweeting Friday that if Ford’s teenage allegation was real, she would’ve promptly reported it to the police. (I wonder how much parenting Trump did back in the day; 15-year-old girls tend not to confide much in their parents, let alone the police.) White House aides had reportedly hoped that Trump would duct-tape his fingers and stay out of the fray, but alas, he could not resist. Surely there are still some women left to alienate. He says now that he’s standing with Kavanaugh “all the way.”

And assuming that he and the misogynistic Republicans hold firm in the days ahead, it’s doubtful that Andrew Puzder’s outburst will help. You may remember Puzder; he was briefly Trump’s Labor secretary nominee. On Saturday, he lamented in a tweet that Ford’s sexual assault allegation was evidence that ” nothing is sacred in the Left’s pursuit of power.” He omitted the fact that his ex-wife accused him of domestic violence – which she described years ago on national TV while wearing a disguise to protect her identity.

How can Kavanaugh possibly lose when he’s defended by the Best People?

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Empowered vs. entitled!

When I went to investigate why my daughter was by then already climbing into another plane, turns out, the little boy was crying because he’d wanted to sit in a plane with a fake gun (a topic for another blog). When I asked Dahlia why she’d moved, she simply answered: “Mommy, he was crying. It’s ok.” My sweet girl is a people pleaser and while I have mixed emotions about that, the simplicity of her response, and the fact that she had contentedly moved on made me kiss her, walk away, and not cause more of a scene.

I returned to the spectator’s spot and stood right next to the (no longer crying) boy’s father. He offered as a means of explanation, “He wanted one with the gun!” Without hesitation, my reply, with a lot of attitude, was: “And she wanted the purple one!” His look of relief turned to one of sheepishness, which told me he realized, too late, his Parenting Fail. He immediately apologized but that still didn’t calm my rage.

While smiling and waving at my daughter as she flew by, I overheard the dad debating with his posse about whether or not to engage further with me. Without ever taking my gaze off Dahlia, I helped him along by offering: “You want to talk about it? Let’s talk about it!” And from there, that six-foot tall, 200-plus pound man got an earful from me–a five-foot tall firecracker! I’m not a yeller, since, for me, voice inflection and tone have always been far more effective than shrill volume and flailing hands. He got that I was seething. So, apparently at a loss for words, what does dude do? He reached in his pocket and offered me a fist full of tickets. Really?!! Now, I was livid and insulted by his continued sense of entitlement! He still missed the point.

Who was figuratively “flying the plane?” We all know that kids (especially toddlers) want what they want, when they want it. But it’s up to US as parents to manage their expectations, even if it sometimes results in tears and tantrums. Unfortunately in this case, the insidious seed of entitlement had already been planted and this guy missed out on an opportunity to empower his little boy. He could have said: “Let’s wait in line for the next flight, buddy. Then you’ll be first in line and you’ll get to choose any plane you like!’

I know it’s useless to try to reason with a toddler, but even at his young age, the word “no” is universal, and the attempt could have been made to teach him that he had the option of taking control of the situation by arriving at a solution that benefitted him and didn’t disenfranchise someone else. Sure, the child would likely have still been upset and dissatisfied, but it’s by experiencing disappointment and learning how to manage the emotions that come from it that our children become more well-rounded, adjusted, and empathetic people, and will less likely become entitled brats, which can carry over into adulthood!

Because I encourage my children to be problem solvers and self-advocates, once the ride ended, I reminded Dahlia of the power of her own voice. Granted, two grown men and a crying baby was intimidating, but I reinforced in her (in age appropriate language) that she should never be expected to just relinquish something that is rightfully hers, especially if she earned it.

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End of an era: Garden State Parkway coin booth phase-out begins

Crews this week will begin removing automatic coin machines from Garden State Parkway mainline barrier toll plazas, officials say.

According to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, the coin machines will be replaced with full service or E-ZPass lanes, “because coin machines are nearing the end of their useful lives and have become expensive and difficult to maintain.”

The work will only impact the 11 mainline barrier toll plazas. The ramp plazas, or the toll collection points on exit and entrance ramps, will continue to accept coins, according to the authority.

Officials say the vast majority of drivers use E-ZPass, with nearly 83 percent of all transactions from the transponder, 12 percent paid with cash, and under 5 percent paid in the coin lanes.

Motorists with exact change will still be able to hand it to a toll collector.

The work involving the switching of the toll lanes will occur over a period of six weeks during the day and outside of peak travel periods, according to the authority.

At the Jersey Shore, the work will begin at Cape May this week, followed by Great Egg (week two), New Gretna (week three), Barnegat (week four), Toms River (week five), and Asbury Park (week six).

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A new one-stop-shop for Pennsylvania education data

If you’re looking for an education-related figure, number, data point, or variable, chances are the new Pennsylvania School Data Project has you covered.

Conceived as a repository for researchers, journalists, policy wonks, and school administrators, the new website hosts more than a dozen spreadsheets packed with education data. The nonprofit Research for Action — known as RFA — spent more than six months collating federal, state, and local data to make the new databank.

The final product includes data on student test scores, suspensions, enrollment, and revenues. Crucially, data are assembled longitudinally, meaning you can track something — say a district’s graduation rate — from year to year. The oldest data go back to the 2006-07 school year.

RFA didn’t generate any new data for this project, but it stitched together data sets “that you would normally have to bring together in order to answer your research questions,” said research assistant Jason Fontana.

The nonprofit hopes the Pennsylvania School Data Project will grease the wheels of local research — and even help on-the-ground administrators better understand the education landscape. RFA’s work includes statewide numbers, districtwide numbers, and school-specific numbers.

“This is a very time-consuming and tedious task,” Fontana said.

RFA isn’t the first to do this kind of legwork.

Earlier this year, the Urban Institute, a D.C. think tank, unveiled its Education Data Portal — a national version of what RFA has attempted for Pennsylvania.

“The field in general is realizing that having these clean, linked, harmonized, longitudinal data sets is important,” said Fontana.

RFA also plans to update the Pennsylvania School Data Project as new education information is released.

Disclosure: Keystone Crossroads and Research for Action have collaborated on recent reporting projects.

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The women’s wave: Backlash to Trump persists, reshaping politics in 2018

Editor’s note: NPR is examining the role of women in the 2018 midterm elections all week. To follow upcoming coverage and look back at how the role of women in the 2014 midterms was covered, click here.

More than a year and a half ago, the day after Donald Trump was inaugurated, millions of women worldwide took to the streets in fury over his election. It was a massive show of resistance — likely the largest protest in U.S. history, as the Washington Post reported at the time.

One of the biggest questions that loomed over the demonstrations that day: could the energy last?

Amy Chomsky, an ophthalmologist from Nashville, attended the demonstration in Washington, D.C., and she wanted to make it clear that she and her fellow marchers were serious in their anger.

“We’re not just crazy protesters,” she said the day of the march. “It’s a shame that we have to still be fighting for women’s rights or saying that we have a right to decide on our own reproductive health. We have a right to equal pay. It’s a shame that we’re still doing this.”

And for Chomsky, that energy has lasted, making her more politically active than ever before.

“I really in the past was kind of like, ‘Eh, the right person will win, I’m sure,’” she told NPR last month. “I voted probably in several presidential elections. I rarely voted in either local or midterm and things like that. Now I really try to vote on all of those.”

In addition to that, she says that for the first time she has yard signs, is making political donations, and helping put on a fundraiser for a Democratic Senate candidate.

And that makes her a prime example of the surge in energy among Democratic women this year.

“What you’re seeing is just this harmonic convergence where women are running, women are volunteering in campaigns, women are making record numbers of contributions,” said Celinda Lake, Democratic pollster. “And women are voting for Democrats, especially women Democrats.”

Women have outvoted men for decades

A record number of women have run and won primaries for the U.S. House, U.S. Senate, and governorships this year, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, and a record number of women have also won nominations for state legislatures; the vast majority are Democrats.

Women turn out — and this year, they’re very Democratic

It’s nothing new for women to be politically active — women’s turnout rate has outstripped men’s in every presidential election since 1980, and in every midterm election since 1986. (In terms of raw numbers, women have outvoted men in every national election since at least 1964. These days, that gap is several million every election year.)

In that sense, every year is the “year of the woman.”

But in 2018, polls show women have swung even more Democratic than usual, while men remain nearly evenly split, or leaning slightly Republican. According to an NPR analysis of recent likely-voter polls, this year’s gender gap could be even bigger than those in 2014 and 2016, with women far more Democratic than in either of those years.

“Republicans heading into the midterm need to be concerned about the gender gap,” says Republican pollster Christine Matthews.

This Year, Women Have Swung Hard Toward Democrats, While Men Are About Evenly Divided

Expanding the gap: Education and race

That larger gap may be here to stay, Matthews says, in part because it’s inseparable from other longer-term political trends.

“Whereas the Republican Party used to primarily be comprised of college educated voters, college educated voters — particularly college educated women — have been becoming more Democratic,” Matthews said. “What happened is the 2016 election sped that up.”

College-Educated Americans — Women Especially — Have Swung Democratic

The share of women with college degrees who identify as Democratic or Democratic-leaning has slowly grown over the last couple of decades, but accelerated in the last few years.

Among the most energized of Democratic voters are women of color, says Aimee Allison, president of Democracy In Color, a group that does multiracial organizing among progressives.

“We have the possibility of women of color for the first time getting recognition for Democratic Party successes out of the midterms, and people taking a good look at those numbers and saying, ‘Oh my goodness, women of color made the difference,’” she said.

In particular, Black women have relatively high turnout rates, and they vote heavily Democratic.

Black women in Alabama propelled Democrat Doug Jones to a Senate seat — a remarkable political upset — in a December special election, and they also helped push Ralph Northam to a win that was larger than predicted in most polls in his 2017 election for the Virginia governorship.

In Allison’s opinion, that kind of energy among progressive voters of color — especially women — should be enough to get some Democrats who might be tempted to see moderation as a winning strategy to change their minds.

“I don’t know how many losses political consultants need to have in order to say we’re going to stop chasing Trump voters, or white moderates, and start looking at the math that says we actually don’t need them in order to win,” she said.

“The new coalition that is part of the playbook includes white voters, but it doesn’t center on trying to attract moderate white voters,” she added.

Republican women sticking with Trump

While many women are swinging Democratic, women who supported Trump when he first took office stuck with him over the long term.

Women voters who voted for Trump largely maintained their “warm” feelings toward him as of March 2018, according to an August study from the Pew Research Center.

Cindy Moser is one woman who has stuck with the president. The retired teacher from North Carolina attended Donald Trump’s inauguration, and she stressed then that she’s not alone in being a woman who supports Trump.

“I was on his train from day one,” she said then. “One by one, all my family and friends hopped on. My mother was the worst. Now she looks at me, she says, ‘I told you he was going to be good.’ I just have to laugh.”

And she’s still on that train.

“I absolutely adore him,” she told NPR recently.

Moser added that she doesn’t really empathize with women who dislike Trump.

“I’ve always been a strong woman. If I wanted something I found a way to get it. Nobody has stopped me,” she said. “It’s just the way I am. I don’t feel victimized by Trump.”

That sets Moser apart from many American women, 62 percent of whom disapprove of Trump, and half of whom strongly disapprove, NPR and Marist found in a recent poll.

And that may affect how they vote in November. For her part, Amy Chomsky is hoping that means they’ll vote.

“I think this is a pivotal time,” she says. “I just feel like we need to get as much Democratic vote as we can. And I think the more people who can get out and vote in these midterms is gonna make a difference.”

And that intensity is coming from a woman who doesn’t remember voting in a midterm before.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit

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Hot, humid summer of discontent comes to an end

The summer of 2018 will be remembered as one of the hottest ever in New Jersey.

In fact, it was the fifth warmest summer on record in Garden State.

“Our nighttime temperatures were more unusually warm than were our daytime temperatures, in part because it was so darn humid for much of the summer,” said Dave Robinson, state climatologist. “The humidity helps to hold in the daytime heat during the night. It doesn’t allow that daytime heating to escape.”

It was almost the 38th wettest summer in New Jersey. But it was the 10th wettest in the northern part of the state, where localized downpours caused flash flooding.

“We had eight days during the summer where one of our observers around the state — and we have several hundred observers — one or more had 4 inches or more rainfall,” Robinson said. “That’s essentially a month’s rainfall, in just a number of hours.”

As the autumn takes hold, we’ll snap out of the mild and moist weather pattern, he said. And the summer weather doesn’t mean we’re in store for a snowier-than-usual winter.

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New Jersey may require extra steps before utilities can shut off power

A bill awaiting action in the New Jersey Legislature would require electric companies to request information from residential customers about whether any person living there would suffer a serious impairment to their health or safety it the power was cut off.

State Sen. Gerald Cardinale introduced the legislation in response to the death of a 68-year-old Newark woman in July. She relied on an electric-powered oxygen tank and PSE&G shut off her electric service because of an overdue bill.

“If this is your family member, this is your mother, this is your sister, who died because the utility company just turned off the juice because you didn’t have the money, it boggles my mind,” he said.

Cardinale also wants customers with serious health problems to have to provide proof if they cannot pay their electric bill.

“They would have to deliver a written statement from a medical professional on a semi-annual basis. And they would have to specify the nature of the medical condition.  You run into HIPAA regulations there so there has to be some degree of flexibility,” he said.

Cardinale said he’s getting support for the measure from several other lawmakers and is hopeful it will be enacted.

“It’s a shame that somebody had to die for this issue to rise to where legislators started to pay attention including me. That’s something we should have thought of before somebody died. But it has shown us how important it is,” he said.

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