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Name: Don
Gender: Male
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Home country: USA
Current location: Greenfield, MA
Member since: Sat Sep 1, 2012, 03:28 PM
Number of posts: 31,801

Journal Archives

Trump Is Ignoring Puerto Rico's Suffering

SEPT. 25 2017 4:44 PM

The administration’s feeble response to Hurricane Maria rivals Bush’s after Katrina.

By Phillip Carter

When it struck the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico six days ago, Hurricane Maria was the strongest storm to hit the American territories in 80 years. “Its force and fury stripped every tree of not just the leaves, but also the bark, leaving a rich agricultural region looking like the result of a postapocalyptic drought,” according to one New York Times dispatch from Puerto Rico. In its wake, more than 3 million Americans now live without electricity or adequate food or water, and under the specter of looting and disorder. Some 80 percent of island’s agriculture has been destroyed, decimating a source of food as well as a chunk of Puerto Rico’s economy. Ninety-five percent of cellphone towers on Puerto Rico are out, depriving locals of a way to ask for help—and crippling any government response, too. The situation will likely worsen as emergency supplies run out and as the local government finds itself unable to deliver support or maintain order across such a wrecked landscape.

So far, the Trump administration has dispatched an anemic Federal Emergency Management Agency mission and sundry military units to assess the situation and provide support. But in some cases it took the federal government days to even contact local leaders in Puerto Rico’s major cities, let alone deploy aid. Only the most rudimentary military support is now on the ground. This is inadequate and calls to mind the lethargic response by the Bush administration to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The U.S. military has a unique expeditionary capability to deliver humanitarian support, logistics, and security anywhere in the world, far above what FEMA or any other civilian agency can muster. American citizens are suffering and dying and need all their government can do for them (including the military). Unfortunately, their president and the military at his command appear focused elsewhere. Unless this changes, more Americans will die.

Local officials told CNN that 4,000 Army reservists were at work on the island already—although that figure doesn’t match official reporting coming out of the Pentagon or FEMA. (It may, predominantly, include the members of the Puerto Rico National Guard, which includes roughly 8,400 Air and Army National Guard troops.) Within hours of the storm passing, FEMA opened an “air bridge” using military aircraft to bring support personnel and critical equipment to Puerto Rico. FEMA has since brought in more troops, including parts of an Army electrical power unit. Northern Command, the Pentagon headquarters responsible for this operation, said Thursday it was using a handful of aircraft to conduct recovery operations, adding an Army medical company of roughly 150 troops and the USS Kearsarge and USS Oak Hill amphibious ships (with Marines on board) to the operation over the weekend. All told, this force package appears to comprise roughly 10,000 troops, focused primarily on medical evacuation and delivery of supplies. In the five days since the storm, FEMA says it has distributed more than 1.5 million meals and 1.1 million liters of water to Americans affected by the storms, with more staged for future deliveries.

Make no mistake: These troops have already saved lives and will save more in the weeks to come. Delivering 1.1 million liters of water is no small task. But Puerto Rico has 3.4 million residents, and another 100,000 live in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Clean water is a basic daily necessity. These islands’ residents will need orders of magnitude more—plus food, fuel, electricity, housing, medicine, and more—in the months to come until local capacity is restored.


Senate Obamacare Repeal Hearing Overwhelmed by Protests

Source: Slate

SEPT. 25 2017 3:34 PM

By Jim Newell

The line to get into the one and only hearing on Graham-Cassidy, Republican senators' last-ditch effort to repeal Obamacare, filled two lengthy hallways in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Monday. Not "spanned" two hallways—filled. Wheelchairs, three-deep, clogged the corridor; police stood shoulder to shoulder to protect a narrow walkway for people to pass.

Several of the protesters at the front of the line told me that they claimed their spaces at 5 a.m. Monday morning. They were with ADAPT, an organization of disability rights activists. As one woman told me, it takes those in wheelchairs a little bit longer to get ready in the morning, so their wake-up call came at 2:30 a.m. About 10 to 15 of those in wheelchairs were able to get into the hearing room, nearly 12 hours after they woke up.

They weren't wasting any time. The second that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch tried to begin the hearing, the ADAPT protesters began to shout, “NO cuts to Medicaid, save our liberty!” They are still, about an hour later as I write this, chanting it in the hallways of Dirksen. It took Capitol police about 20 minutes to escort all of those disrupting the proceedings out of the room.

Some protesters followed the police officers’ order to leave. Others didn’t. At least one man would not move and police could not figure out how to unlock his wheelchair. He was picked up and carried out by about half a dozen officers. Others just made it difficult for the police.


Read more: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/09/25/graham_cassidy_hearing_overwhelmed_by_protests.html

White House: There's 'Very Limited' Use Of Private Email By Trump Administration

Source: Talking Points Memo

By ALLEGRA KIRKLAND Published SEPTEMBER 25, 2017 3:51 PM

The White House press secretary on Monday brushed aside reports that members of the Trump administration had used private email accounts to conduct government business, saying personal email use was “very limited” overall.

“White House Counsel [Don McGahn] has instructed all White House staff to use their government email for official business and only use that email,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at the press briefing, adding that staffers receive reminders on this topic “pretty regularly.”

Politico reported Sunday that President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, had used a private account to correspond with several other senior White House officials about media coverage, event planning, and other government business. Recently departed chief strategist Steve Bannon and chief of staff Reince Priebus used their own private email accounts to exchange messages with Kushner and others, according to Politico.

That report was followed up by a Monday item in Newsweek on Trump’s daughter Ivanka using a personal email address in February to ask Linda McMahon, head of the Small Business Administration, about “opportunities to collaborate” on issues related to “women’s entrepreneurship.” Now a White House adviser, Ivanka Trump was operating in an odd gray area at the time, sitting in on meetings with her father and government officials while holding no official title.

Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/sarah-huckabee-sanders-limited-use-private-email-kushner-ivanka-trump

White House: Absurd To Say We're At War With North Korea

Source: Talking Points Memo

By NICOLE LAFOND Published SEPTEMBER 25, 2017 3:01 PM

The White House on Monday firmly pushed back on reports that North Korea’s top diplomat thinks that President Donald Trump declared war with his tweet about Kim Jong Un this weekend.

“Not at all, we’ve not declared war on North Korea and frankly the suggestion of that is absurd,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in response to questions about the reports.

“It’s never appropriate for a country to shoot down another country’s aircraft when it’s over international waters,” she said. “Our goal is still the same. We continue to seek the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. That’s our focus, doing that through both the most maximum economic and diplomatic pressures as possible at this point.”

After listening to North Korea Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho speak at the United Nations, Trump warned Saturday that the diplomat “won’t be around much longer” if he kept up the same rhetoric as Kim, whom Trump has taken to calling “Rocket Man.”

Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/white-house-war-north-korea-absurd

WH Spokeswoman: NFL Players Should Protest Police, Not The American Flag

By CAITLIN MACNEAL Published SEPTEMBER 25, 2017 2:53 PM

In the first White House press briefing since President Donald Trump bashed NFL players who protest during the national anthem, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump and suggested protesting players find a new target.

“I think if the debate is really for them about police brutality, they should protest the officers on the field that are protecting them instead of the American flag,” Sanders told reporters at the White House.

That comment came after a reporter asked about a claim Sanders made earlier in the briefing that the “focus” of NFL players had “changed” from their original stated intent to protest police brutality.

Asked later if she was encouraging football players to protest the police, Sanders said she was not.


Cassidy: If We Can't Win Over Susan Collins, My Repeal Bill Is Dead

Source: Talking Points Memo

By NICOLE LAFOND Published SEPTEMBER 25, 2017 2:45 PM

Appearing on CNN Monday shortly before the one and only hearing on Republican senators last-ditch effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) admitted his legislation is dead if Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) doesnt get on board.

If you lose Susan Collins, its over, right? CNNs Wolf Blitzer asked Cassidy.

Yes, it is, he said. But people in Maine, there will be a billion dollars for Mainers who are lower-income to have coverage, which they do not now have, by the way. Four billion for folks in Virginia. So its not just Maine.

He also said Collins knows that a smart governor who knows insurance as well as she does could do a heck of a lot to provide coverage for people in Maine, referencing the bills main focus of converting Obamacare subsidies to block grants that are controlled by states.

Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/cassidy-cant-win-over-collins-repeal-bill-dead

Steelers player: I 'unintentionally' made my team look bad by appearing for anthem


The only Pittsburgh Steelers player who came out of the locker room for the national anthem during the team’s game Sunday said he “unintentionally” made his teammates look bad.

Alejandro Villanueva said he “made my teammates look bad, and that is my fault only,” according to a local Pittsburgh CBS affiliate.

Villanueva's appearance at the anthem went viral Sunday after the rest of the team stayed in the locker room, in what was later said to be an attempt to avoid the controversy — fueled by President Trump's remarks at a rally Friday — over players who kneel during the anthem as a form of protest over racial injustice.

Villanueva said that he had asked Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger if he could stand with the captains in front of the team during the anthem, and that he turned back to look at this teammates as the anthem started.
“Every single time I see that picture of me standing by myself I feel embarrassed,” Villanueva said.

He added that he is fine with players that sit or kneel during the national anthem but that he has “nothing to comment about what the president says.”


CBO finds 'millions' will lose coverage from repeal bill

Source: The Hill

BY PETER SULLIVAN - 09/25/17 06:03 PM EDT

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected Monday that the last-ditch GOP ObamaCare repeal bill would result in "millions" of people losing coverage. The agency did not give a specific number given a lack of time to do the analysis before a vote, but said the "direction of the effect is clear."

The bill also would reduce deficits by more than $133 billion over 10 years, the CBO found, clearing a hurdle in qualifying for special rules to avoid a filibuster.

CBO said the reduction in coverage would be felt in three areas: in Medicaid, because the bill repeals ObamaCare's expansion of Medicaid; in private coverage, because the bill repeals subsidies that help people afford it; and because the mandate to have coverage would be repealed.

CBO predicted some states would charge those who are sick more money for health coverage.

Read more: http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/352341-cbo-finds-millions-uninsured-from-repeal-bill

Senate Republicans admit defeat on health bill as Collins declares her opposition

By Sean Sullivan and Juliet Eilperin September 25 at 6:20 PM

BREAKING: Senate GOP leaders admitted defeat late Monday afternoon in their latest attempt to undo the Affordable Care Act, as a third Republican lawmaker said she would not support the legislation.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) told reporters that he did not think the measure would come up for a floor vote by the end of the week, after which point Republicans lose the budget authority they need to pass a health-care bill by a simple majority. A short time later, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced her opposition.

Collins’s decision followed a preliminary projection from the Congressional Budget Office that said “millions” fewer Americans would have insurance coverage by 2026 under the Cassidy-Graham proposal. In a statement, Collins said the analysis “confirms that this bill will have a substantially negative impact on the number of people covered by insurance.”

Both GOP Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and John McCain (Ariz.) also have said they would not vote for the bill.

Senate Republicans aired the details of the latest effort to undo the Affordable Care Act at a raucous hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Monday, with little evidence that the last-minute changes would secure enough votes for the legislation’s passage.


Air traffic slowly returns to Puerto Rico, but dire conditions continue after Maria

Source: The Washington Post

By Luz Lazo September 25 at 2:53 PM

Puerto Rico’s largest airport is in a crisis.

Hundreds of would-be-travelers remained stranded Monday at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, where terminals are dark, air conditioning is out, and people are running out of water and food.

Days after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, the airport, which serves about 9 million passengers a year, is struggling to return to normal. Maria brought damaging winds of about 160 mph, triggering massive flooding and power outages, and leaving significant infrastructure damage.

Only 20 commercial flights were scheduled Monday in San Juan, twice as many as there were Sunday.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2017/09/25/air-traffic-slowly-returns-to-puerto-rico-but-dire-conditions-continue-after-maria

On Jared Kushner's emails, the real problem is the media's hypocrisy

By Paul Waldman September 25 at 2:07 PM

There are few things we in the media love more than a good hypocrisy story, which allows us to replay the oft-told narrative that politicians and those who work for them are fundamentally dishonest. And as hypocrisy stories go, this one’s a doozy:


Republicans will not, of course, be chanting “Lock him up! Lock him up!” and launching 14 separate congressional investigations of this unconscionable breach of responsible email practices on the part of the president’s closest adviser. Why, it’s almost as though they were never really all that concerned about IT security!

So yes, Republicans are hypocrites. But the real hypocrisy here, the one with damaging results, isn’t theirs. It belongs to the news media.

The truth is that there are very few things that each party won’t condemn when the other side does it but defend when their own side does it. But it’s the job of the press to sort out what’s meaningful from what isn’t. In the context of a campaign, both sides will toss any criticism of their opponent that’s handy up against the wall to see what sticks. And in that metaphor, the media is the wall. Something sticks when the individuals who make decisions at newspapers, television networks and other media outlets decide that the story in question deserves extended coverage.

Kushner’s emails are probably going to get the appropriate level of attention — which is to say, about 1/1000th of the coverage Clinton’s emails got. The story will be around for a couple of days, it’ll be a little embarrassing for him, and then everyone will move on. Which is exactly what should have happened to the Clinton email story, given everything we know now. It was at worst a misdemeanor, but it was treated by the media like the Crime of the Century.

As studies of the coverage of the campaign confirmed, the Clinton email story got more coverage than any issue — more than the economy, or health care, or immigration, or climate change or anything else. Throughout the general election, as Gallup found, the word Americans were most likely to mention when they were asked what they had heard about Clinton was “email.”

That didn’t just happen. It was the product of decisions made every day by reporters, editors and TV producers. They said, again and again, “This is the story that needs to be covered right now.”

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