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White House Easter egg roll: US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania welcome 20,000 Kids for Celebration

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Donald Trump stands with his son Barron and wife Melania. VOA

Washington, April 18, 2017: US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania on Monday welcomed more than 20,000 children and parents to the White House to hunt for Easter eggs and participate in egg-rolling races, a tradition that dates back to 1878.

The annual “Easter Egg Roll” revolves around children, who set about finding hidden coloured eggs in the garden bushes around the presidential residence and later roll them toward a finish line aided only by wooden spoons.

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“On behalf of the president and (our son) Barron, we wish you great fun and beautiful days coming ahead of us,” Xinhua news agency quoted the first lady as saying.

Specifically, the first lady was in charge of the activities, just like every year, and this was the 139th egg race hosted at the White House, although it was the first time the Trumps had been involved.

A military band was on hand to perform for the guests and White House personnel and volunteers worked “tirelessly” to create a “memorable” experience for all concerned.

Melania and Barron, who traveled to Washington from New York — where they are living until the 10-year-old finishes the school year — appeared with Trump, accompanied by a human-sized white Easter rabbit, on the Truman Balcony to address the invited guests.

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“We will be stronger and bigger and better as a nation than ever before, and we are right on track … I’ve seen those kids, and they’re highly, highly competitive,” Trump said just before blowing the whistle to launch the egg rolling race.

The children attending the event, some wearing red caps with Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” on them, took part in the race and egg hunt, decorated cookies, wrote thank-you letters to US soldiers and participated in other fun activities.

The smaller children also received visits from several Easter bunnies, along with Elmo from Sesame Street, Peppa Pig and Dr. Seuss, among other well-known personalities, who strolled through the crowd on the White House lawn and entertained them.

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The president and his family, meanwhile, sat at the decoration workshop tables and helped children compose letters to the troops, along with greeting the guests.

The first lady also took part in another traditional aspect of the Easter event, reading portions of “Party Animals,” written by Kathie Lee Gifford, to the kids.

This year, due to rain in the forecast, the White House had announced that the event would be somewhat curtailed, with only 20,000 guests on hand rather than the more than 35,000 of previous years.

A total of some 18,000 Easter eggs were made available to the kids, however, by the White House.

Also on hand for the event were the president’s two older sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, along with their families. (IANS)

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U.S. Commerce Department Recommends White House on How to Proceed with Auto Industry Tariffs

Some trade organizations also blasted the Commerce Department for keeping the details of its "Section 232" national security report shrouded in secrecy.

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Auto industry, tariffs
Robots swing a cab and bed into place for a new heavy duty pickup truck on the assembly line where Chevrolet Silverado trucks are being built at General Motors Flint Assembly in Flint, Michigan, Jan. 30, 2019. VOA

The U.S. auto industry urged President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday not to saddle imported cars and auto parts with steep tariffs, after the U.S. Commerce Department sent a confidential report to the White House late on Sunday with its recommendations for how to proceed.

Some trade organizations also blasted the Commerce Department for keeping the details of its “Section 232” national security report shrouded in secrecy, which will make it much harder for the industry to react during the next 90 days Trump will have to review it.

“Secrecy around the report only increases the uncertainty and concern across the industry created by the threat of tariffs,” the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association said in a statement, adding that it was “alarmed and dismayed.”

“It is critical that our industry have the opportunity to review the recommendations and advise the White House on how proposed tariffs, if they are recommended, will put jobs at risk, impact consumers, and trigger a reduction in U.S. investments that could set us back decades.”

Representatives from the White House and the Commerce Department could not immediately be reached.

Auto industry, tariffs
Some trade organizations also blasted the Commerce Department for keeping the details of its “Section 232” national security report shrouded in secrecy. VOA

The industry has warned that possible tariffs of up to 25 percent on millions of imported cars and parts would add thousands of dollars to vehicle costs and potentially devastate the U.S economy by slashing jobs.

Administration officials have said tariff threats on autos are a way to win concessions from Japan and the EU. Last year, Trump agreed not to impose tariffs as long as talks with the two trading partners were proceeding in a productive manner.

“We believe the imposition of higher import tariffs on automotive products under Section 232 and the likely retaliatory tariffs against U.S. auto exports would undermine – and not help – the economic and employment contributions that FCA, US, Ford Motor Company and General Motors make to the U.S. economy,” said former Missouri Governor Matt Blunt, the president of the American Automotive Policy Council.

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Some Republican lawmakers have also said they share the industry’s concerns. In a statement issued on Monday, Republican Congresswoman Jackie Walorski said she fears the Commerce Department’s report could “set the stage for costly tariffs on cars and auto parts.”

“President Trump is right to seek a level playing field for American businesses and workers, but the best way to do that is with a scalpel, not an axe,” she added. (VOA)