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Don Lemon shuts down Trump supporter: Saying birtherism isn’t about race is ‘tone deaf’

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CNN host Don Lemon scolded a Donald Trump supporter on Thursday for insisting that Donald Trump’s birther remarks about President Barack Obama were not racist and that “only liberals on television” felt like that was the case.

“Here’s the thing I said about the campaign being tone-deaf,” Lemon told Andy Dean, before urging him to look at his monitor and consider that both he and panelist Van Jones were African-American.

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And to a lot of African-Americans they interact with, he explained, Trump’s allegations that Obama was not born in the US “is an issue that they have a problem with, that they see racist, that they see as delegitimizing the first African-American president when your candidate is trying to reach out to African-Americans. We as African-Americans are telling you this is an issue that we see as racial and you’re saying ‘no it’s not.’ That is being tone-deaf. Don’t you understand that?”

“Throughout American history, there’s been questions as to peoples’ birthplaces,” Dean responded. “It has nothing to do with his skin color, as evidenced by the fact that five other individuals have gone through this.”

“You didn’t hear anything I said,” a perturbed Lemon replied. “You didn’t hear anything I said. You may not think it’s a race issue. I’m telling you how African-Americans feel about it and you’re denying how African-Americans feel about it.”

Earlier in the evening, Trump’s campaign released a statement — attributed to a spokesperson — saying that the former reality show host believed that Obama was born in the US, hours after he told the Washington Post that he would address the issue at another time. For his part, Jones described the statement as an attempt to save face

“He kind of stepped in the doggie poo with the Washington Post,” said Jones. “Hillary Clinton smacked him for it. He had somebody push out a statement for him, try to stop a little bit of the bleeding. At some point he’s going to have to stand up in front of the American people like you want anyone else to do with his own mouth and say that he was wrong. And it would be great for him to apologize.”

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Jones also said that Trump’s campaign to get Obama to release his birth certificate felt to Black Americans “like it was a cheap shot at somebody who had a different skin color.”

“Apologize, show you’ve got some empathy, you might go somewhere with this,” he urged Trump. But Dean rejected the idea.

“I think he’s factually incorrect,” he said of Jones. “I think maybe liberals on television may think it’s a race issue.”

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Watch the discussion, as aired on Thursday, below.

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Elections 2016

Vietnamese women strive to clear war-era mines

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Inching across a field littered with Vietnam war-era bombs, Ngoc leads an all-women demining team clearing unexploded ordnance that has killed tens of thousands of people -- including her uncle.

"He died in an explosion. I was haunted by memories of him," Le Thi Bich Ngoc tells AFP as she oversees the controlled detonation of a cluster bomb found in a sealed-off site in central Quang Tri province.

More than 6.1 million hectares of land in Vietnam remain blanketed by unexploded munitions -- mainly dropped by US bombers -- decades after the war ended in 1975.

At least 40,000 Vietnamese have since died in related accidents. Victims are often farmers who accidentally trigger explosions, people salvaging scrap metal, or children who mistake bomblets for toys.

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Elections 2016

Chief Justice John Roberts issues New Year’s Eve warning to stand up for democracy

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In a progressive welcoming move, Chief Justice John Roberts issued his New Year's Eve annual report urging his fellow federal judges to stand up for democracy.

"In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public's need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital," he wrote. "We should celebrate our strong and independent judiciary, a key source of national unity and stability."

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Trump’s next 100 days will dictate whether he can be re-elected or not — here’s why

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According to CNN pollster-in-residence Harry Enten, Donald Trump's next 100 days -- which could include an impeachment trial in the Senate -- will hold the key to whether he will remain president in 2020.

As Eten explains in a column for CNN, "His [Trump's] approval rating has been consistently low during his first term. Yet his supporters could always point out that approval ratings before an election year have not historically been correlated with reelection success. But by mid-March of an election year, approval ratings, though, become more predictive. Presidents with low approval ratings in mid-March of an election year tend to lose, while those with strong approval ratings tend to win in blowouts and those with middling approval ratings usually win by small margins."

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