NASHVILLE, Tenn. – July 11, 2019 – Jeffery Durance, 36, of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and an inmate of the Tennessee Department of Correction, was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury, charging him with mailing a threatening communication and conveying false information while threatening to use a Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD), announced U.S. Attorney Don Cochran for the Middle District of Tennessee. 

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Sunday assailed a group of Democratic congresswomen of color as foreign-born troublemakers who should go back to the “broken and crime infested places from which they came,” ignoring the fact that the women are American citizens and all but one was born in the U.S.

Trump’s tweets drew sharp rebukes from Democrats, who derided his remarks as racist. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the president wants to “make America white again.” Meantime Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a Trump critic who recently took steps to leave his party, called the remarks “racist and disgusting.”

Trump was almost certainly referring to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and her allies in what’s become known as “the squad.” The others are Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Only Omar, from Somalia, is foreign-born.

Ocasio-Cortez swiftly denounced his remarks. “Mr. President, the country I ‘come from, & the country we all swear to, is the United States,” she tweeted.

With his remarks, Trump again inserted himself into a rift between Pelosi and the liberal congresswomen, after offering an unsolicited defense of the Democratic speaker days earlier. Pelosi has been seeking to minimize Ocasio-Cortez’s influence in recent days, prompting Ocasio-Cortez to accuse Pelosi of trying to marginalize women of color. “She is not a racist,” Trump said Friday.

On Sunday, Trump’s tone changed.

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run,” he said in tweets. “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

He added: “These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

The attacks may have been meant to further the divides within the Democrat caucus, strained over internal debates on liberal policies and on whether to proceed with impeachment proceedings against Trump. Instead, Democrats as one voice denounced the comments, which evoked the old racist trope of telling a black person to go back to Africa.

“Unfortunately there is an American tradition of telling people to go back where they came from,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democratic presidential contender, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” ”It’s a very bad tradition that we need to weed out of our nation because we are a nation of immigrants, that is who we are by our nature for hundreds of years. But you don’t expect to hear it from the president.”

It was far from the first time that Trump has been accused of holding racist views.

His political career was launched on the backs of falsely claiming that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. In his campaign kickoff in June 2015, he deemed many Mexican immigrants “rapists.” And last year, during a White House meeting on immigration, he wondered why the United States was admitting so many immigrants from “shithole countries” like Haiti, El Salvador and several African nations.

Ocasio-Cortez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was born in the Bronx, New York, and raised in suburban Westchester County.

Pressley, the first black woman elected to the House from Massachusetts, was born in Cincinnati.

Omar, the first Somali native elected to Congress and one of its first Muslim women, was born in Somalia but spent much of her childhood in a Kenyan refugee camp as civil war tore apart her home country. She immigrated to the United States at age 12, teaching herself English by watching American TV and eventually settling with her family in Minneapolis.

Tlaib was born in Detroit.


Associated Press writer Hope Yen contributed to this report.


Follow Lemire on Twitter at and Woodward at

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unbowed by searing criticism, President Donald Trump on Monday emphatically defended his tweet calling on four Democratic congresswomen of color to go back to their "broken and crime infested" countries. Condemnation of his comments "doesn't concern me because many people agree with me," he declared.

Jul 11, 2019
Today, one year since the creation of the Finish Line Grants program, Governor Roy Cooper announced that more than 1,700 Finish Line Grants have helped community college students complete their training and prepare to enter the workforce. These grants total more than $1.1 million awarded to date. 

“We launched Finish Line Grants after hearing countless stories of community college students working hard to better their lives but getting thrown off course by a financial emergency,” said Governor Cooper. “Finish Line Grants are helping hundreds of students get good-paying jobs by making sure a hospital bill or car repair doesn’t stop them in their tracks. North Carolina employers need talented workers, and Finish Line Grants are one way we’re making sure they can find them.”

Since last summer, Finish Line Grants have been launched at all of North Carolina’s 58 community colleges. Each of North Carolina’s 23 workforce development boards partnered with community colleges to make Finish Line Grants available for students in their communities. Students must be 50% of the way through their degree or credential training program to be eligible to receive a grant.

“The leadership, dedication and innovation of professionals at our local workforce development boards, the Commerce department and NCWorks Career Centers—working in partnership with our outstanding community colleges—have made the Finish Line Grants program a success,” said N.C. Commerce Secretary Anthony Copeland. “By helping community college students stay on track to completing the credentials they need for rewarding careers, Finish Line Grants are helping us to maintain and grow our skilled workforce, which has never been more essential to economic development than it is today.”

“The Finish Line Grants are moving qualified workers into high-demand jobs, but more importantly, these grants are helping our students achieve their goals,” said Peter Hans, president of the N.C. Community College System. “We are grateful for this innovative program and we’re excited about removing more barriers to success. When students in need get a little bit of help, they can reach their full potential. We are already seeing evidence of that.”

After a medical emergency nearly sidelined his plans to graduate, Alamance Community College student Todd Spivey received a Finish Line Grant. Without the grant, Spivey was considering putting his schoolwork on hold to work more hours to pay off his hospital bill. Instead, Spivey will graduate this month from the Computer-Integrated Machining program at Alamance Community College and is already employed as a machine operator at Frost Converting Systems in Burlington.

“I was faced with a situation which almost denied me the sought-after graduation I had worked nearly three years for,” said Spivey. “Receiving a Finish Line Grant and the help of the Regional Partnership Workforce Development Board changed my career, my life and my family’s life for the better.” 

This May, Stanly Community College students Taylor Ferree and Sammie King graduated and entered high-demand careers, thanks in part to receiving Finish Line Grants from the Centralina Workforce Development Board. 

“It was a very easy process. I’m really grateful for everything,” said Ferree, who graduated with a degree in Respiratory Therapy and now works at Carolinas HealthCare System Northeast. King graduated from the Collision Repair, Painting and Refinishing program at Stanly Community College and now works in vehicle repairs.

Minnie Jones is among the Wake Tech Community College students who have benefited from the Finish Line Grants program. The 61-year-old student earns a limited income, and when her car needed repairs, she was worried she would have to drop out. Jones applied for a Finish Line Grant and received $1,000 in emergency funds through the Capital Area Workforce Development Board. “The money definitely came in handy,” Jones said. “Without the funds I would have missed classes and would not have been able to graduate.” Jones graduated in May with a degree in Human Services Technology.

Finish Line Grants have also gotten a boost from the Awake58 Fellows program. Awake58 Fellows are community college students—some of whom are Finish Line Grant recipients—who encourage their eligible peers to apply for Finish Line Grants and inform community college faculty and staff, workforce board partners, and others of the Finish Line Grants opportunity to ensure that as many students as possible can benefit from it. Awake58 fellows have produced radio segments, hosted lunch and learn information sessions, and conducted other communication campaigns to get the word out about Finish Line Grants.

Governor Cooper’s most recent budget proposal includes funding to expand the Finish Line Grants program to colleges and universities across the state. 

“We know many students in our four-year colleges face tough financial situations that threaten their ability to graduate. Finish Line Grants should be available to all students who need them—and my hope is this legislature seriously considers that need,” said Governor Cooper.

Finish Line Grants are part of Governor Cooper’s NC Job Ready initiative, built on three core principles: skills and education attainment, employer leadership, and local innovation. In addition to Finish Line Grants, NC Job Ready is helping North Carolinians get ready for the jobs of today and tomorrow by supporting sector partnership initiatives in the healthcare, advanced manufacturing and biopharma industries, funding grants for local workforce development projects, and increasing work-based learning opportunities through initiatives such as the Navigator, the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA), and the Girls Go CyberStart initiative to prepare high school girls for cybersecurity careers. 

Students interested in applying for a Finish Line Grant can contact their college’s designated staff person listed here. To learn more about Finish Line Grants, click here.

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