Women in U.S. plan to stay off the job, rally in anti-Trump protests

People listen to speakers in the rain at a rally for International Women's Day in Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 5, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

By Peter A Szekely

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Women in the United States plan to use International Women’s Day on Wednesday to stay off the job and stage demonstrations across the country in an effort to seize on the momentum built from the massive marches held a day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

On “A Day Without a Woman,” those who are able to do so will stay away from work or school, much as immigrants did on Feb. 16 to protest Trump’s immigration policies.

All are part of the series of anti-Trump demonstrations that have taken place since the day after his Nov. 8 election.

Objectives of Wednesday’s events include calling attention to the gender pay gap in which women trail men, and deregulating reproductive rights.

“For years and years, March 8 has been International Women’s Day, and it has been a happy, happy day, which is fine,” said Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women. “But the political climate that we find ourselves in right now requires us to have political power.”

Demonstrations will target a Trump “gag order” that bars foreign health providers receiving U.S. funds from raising abortion as an option, O’Neill said.

Early Wednesday morning, Trump urged others via his personal Twitter account to join him in honoring the critical role of women in America and around the world.

“I have tremendous respect for women and the many roles they serve that are vital to the fabric of our society and our economy,” the Republican president wrote (@realDonaldTrump).

Trump has been heavily criticized for his inflammatory comments when discussing women, including his boast in a 2005 video about grabbing women by the genitals, and referring to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton as a “nasty woman” during a presidential debate.

American women on average earn 79 cents for every $1 that men make, and African-American and Latina women make even less, O’Neill said. Since women account for two-thirds of all minimum wage workers, lifting the hourly wage would significantly narrow the pay gap, she said.

The minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 at the federal level since 2009, although it is higher in many states.

Organizers are attempting to repeat tactics from the Jan. 21 women’s march on Washington and other cities that came together largely through social media.

Women make up 47 percent of the U.S. civilian labor force. If all of them stayed out of work for the day, it would knock almost $21 billion of the country’s gross domestic product, the liberal leaning Center for American Progress estimated.

Organizers, however, realize that many women lack the motivation or cannot afford to take a day off and are urging women to limit their shopping to female-owned businesses or to wear red.

Several schools, including at least two sizeable school districts in Virginia and North Carolina, have canceled classes because a large number of teachers requested the day off.

Rallies are planned in cities across the country, including Washington, New York, Atlanta, St. Petersburg, Florida, Chicago, San Francisco and Berkeley, California.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Lisa Shumaker)

Trump fans stage series of small rallies across U.S.

Supporters of President Donald Trump gather for a "People 4 Trump" rally at Neshaminy State Park in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, U.S. March 4, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Makela

By Tim Branfalt

LANSING, Mich. (Reuters) – Supporters of President Donald Trump held a second day of small rallies on Saturday in communities around the country, a counterpoint to a wave of protests that have taken place since his election in November.

Organizers of the so-called Spirit of America rallies in at least 28 of the country’s 50 states had said they expected smaller turn-outs than the huge crowds of anti-protesters that clogged the streets of Washington, D.C., and other cities the day after Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

Their predictions appeared to be correct, as they were on Monday when similar rallies were held. In many towns and cities, the rallies did not draw more than a few hundred people, and some were at risk of being outnumbered by small groups of anti-Trump protesters that gathered to shout against the rallies.

“People feel like they can’t let their foot off the gas and we need to support our president,” said Meshawn Maddock, one of the organizers of a pro-Trump rally of about 200 people in Lansing outside the Michigan State Capitol building.

“How can anyone be disappointed with bringing back jobs? And he promised he would secure our borders, and that’s exactly what he’s doing.”

Brandon Blanchard, 24, among a small group of anti-Trump protesters, said he had come in support of immigrants, Muslims and transgender people, groups that have been negatively targeted by Trump’s rhetoric and policies.

“I feel that every American that voted for Trump has been deceived. Any campaign promises have already been broken,” Blanchard said.

In Denver, several dozen people held pro-Trump signs at the top of the steps of the Colorado State Capitol building, according to video footage streamed online.

Two lines of police below them looked out on a small crowd of people protesting the rally at the bottom of the steps.

“No hate! No fear! Immigrants are welcome here!” the anti-Trump protesters shouted up the steps, along with obscene anti-Trump slogans.

The pro-Trump demonstrators were quieter, holding up Trump signs as they milled about the steps, the video showed.

In the nation’s capital, more than a hundred people gathered near the Washington Monument, a short walk from the White House, although the president himself was again in Florida for the weekend.

“He does not hate Latinos, he does hate Hispanics, he does not hate Mexicans,” a woman who described herself as a Mexican-American supporter of Trump said, addressing the crowd from a small stage. “He’s put his life at risk for us.”

(Writing and additional reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Dan Grebler)

After anti-Trump protests, the president’s fans organize their own rallies

Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump wave U.S. flags during a "United Voices" rally hosted by United Talent Agency in Beverly Hills, California U.S

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump are holding rallies in towns and cities across the country on Monday, partly as a rebuttal to waves of anti-Trump protests that have taken place since the Republican’s election last November.

Trump is not scheduled to appear at any of this week’s rallies, which are being held in cities small and large, from coast to coast. The venues range from a park in the small town of Gravette, Arkansas, to the plaza outside the Georgia State Capitol building in downtown Atlanta.

Some of the rally organizers came out of the Tea Party movement, a large informal network of anti-establishment conservatives that has become an increasingly powerful force in Republican politics since its beginnings in 2009.

A group called Main Street Patriots said it helped organize so-called Spirit of America rallies in at least 33 of the 50 states, both on Monday and Saturday.

“Unlike those protesting against President Trump’s vision, we are a diverse coalition that are the heart and soul of America that wants our nation to fulfill our potential, as the greatest nation on God’s green earth!” organizers wrote on the group’s website.

“Blue-collar voters helped propel President Trump to victory and these rallies will help provide those forgotten voices a mechanism so they can be heard,” they said.

Raucous rallies, often filling sports arenas, became a hallmark of Trump’s 17-month presidential campaign, in contrast with lower-key events staged by his main rival, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s candidate.

Last weekend, Trump rekindled that campaign energy for the first time since his election in a characteristically freewheeling rally in Melbourne, Florida.

But Trump’s crowds have rarely regrouped since November’s election, while large protests by people who opposed Trump’s policies, particularly his crackdown on immigration, have become a frequent occurrence in the country’s cities.

Among the biggest was the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21, where attendance far exceeded the crowds who attended Trump’s inauguration the previous day.

Betty Blanco, who is organizing the Spirit of America rally in Denver, was in Washington for the women’s march. She said she was saddened by what she saw.

“I had the opportunity to ride on the subway with the women marchers,” she said in a telephone interview. “They were excited, they were happy, but I never heard them talking about women’s rights, but I did hear them trashing Trump, and I got the idea they were just mad because they lost the election.”

The retired schoolteacher, who now writes children’s books and runs a local Tea Party affiliate, said the pro-Trump rallies would be more respectful, even if they might not prove quite as large.

“I don’t know that you’ll see those big, gigantic, hundreds of thousands of people like the Women’s March,” said Rob Maness, a 55-year-old former Air Force colonel in New Orleans helping organize the nationwide effort. “I think they’ll be smaller, patriotic, peaceful – those kind of things.”

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Anti-Trump rallies crop up again on ‘Not My President’s Day’

Not My President's Day Protest

By Chris Francescani and Robert Chiarito

NEW YORK/CHICAGO (Reuters) – Renewed protests against U.S. President Donald Trump flared on the Presidents Day holiday on Monday, with grassroots activists vowing to take to the streets in dozens of cities in “Not My President’s Day” rallies.

Protest leaders had said they expected thousands to rally in about 28 cities ranging from Los Angeles and Chicago to Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the latest round of demonstrations to express displeasure with Trump’s policies and pronouncements.

In New York, hundreds of protesters stretching at least eight blocks chanted “He cheats, he lies, open up your eyes” near the Trump International Hotel on the edge of Central Park.

“I think he’s got a mean personality,” said marcher Edith Cresmer, a 78-year-old urban planner. “But the worst thing about him is how he incited peoples’ fears and pits them against each other.”

Luis Llobera, 38, and his wife and baby took a train from Westchester County north of the city attend the Trump protest.

“We are not American citizens but our son is,” he said as his wife cradled their 7-month-old, Atlas. “We want to make sure our son has a government that is right and good.”

Organizers of the New York rally said they opposed the Trump agenda, including proposed cuts in federal spending and construction of a wall along the border with Mexico.

“Donald Trump is literally our president, but figuratively, he has attacked every value New Yorkers embody and does not represent our interests,” organizers said on Facebook.

The idea for the Presidents Day protests originated in Los Angeles, where about 4,300 people had said on Facebook they would attend a City Hall rally, according to organizers, and it spread to other locales via social media.

In downtown Chicago, about 1,200 people gathered across the Chicago River from the Trump International Hotel and Tower. Signs spotted in the crowd included “My body My Choice” and “Jesus was a refugee,” references to Trump’s anti-abortion stance and his efforts to stop admission of refugees.

As people gathered, a group of 25 local musicians called themselves #SAHBRA, “Sousaphones Against Hate, Baritones Resisting Aggression,” played songs to lighten the mood.

With Monday being a day off for many schools, many parents brought their children to the protest.

Eileen Molony, a photographer from Oak Park, had her 12-year-old son and 9-year old daughter in tow.

“As an immigrant family we feel strongly against the ban,” she said. “We feel America is about inclusion, but everything Trump has shown is that he’s about division.”

Chicago police reported no arrests in the protest, the latest in a series since Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

Recent anti-Trump protests have included a “general strike” on Friday, a day after thousands of immigrants across the United States stayed away from work and school to highlight the contributions of foreign-born residents to the U.S. economy.

On Saturday, Trump staged a rally for supporters in Florida at a Melbourne aircraft hangar to attack the media and tout his accomplishments in office.

Presidents Day is the unofficial name of the holiday honoring the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, the first and 16th U.S. presidents, respectively.

(Additional reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Major Rallies Scheduled Before Confusing Greek Vote

Major rallies are being scheduled in Greece today ahead of a referendum Sunday on a proposal for the country’s debt that is not even on the table.

The country has already defaulted on a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union (EU) officials are warning that a no vote from the Greek citizens on Sunday could mean the country’s exit from the Euro.  Economists say such a result would cause ripple effects throughout the world economy.

Greek voters, however, are very confused by the referendum.

“No one is really telling us what it means,” said Erika Papamichalopoulou, 27, a resident of Athens, told the New York Times. “No one is saying what will happen to us if we say yes, or what will happen to us if we say no.”

Banks in the nation remain closed ahead of the Sunday vote.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras appeared to take steps Wednesday to accept many of the demands of the nation’s creditors but has also been telling citizens to vote down the referendum on the deal.

European leaders are pointing out that Sunday’s vote is revolving around a deal that is no longer on the table because the framework was built around a bailout package that was revoked on Tuesday.

The IMF surprised many on Thursday when it called for more aid and debt relief for Greece.  The IMF says the Greek situation has significantly deteriorated because of conflict with creditors and calls for European leaders to be more generous financially toward Greece.