Monthly Archives: September 2018

BOSTON  — Nike’s latest advertisement featuring Colin Kaepernick has sparked a lot of debate and controversy around the sports world and the country at large. And while seemingly everybody has an opinion one way or another, the quarterback of the Patriots is apparently backing the message behind Kaepernick.

An active Instagram user, Brady double-tapped the screen when he saw the account for GQ Magazine share the Nike ad, which features Kaepernick’s face and includes the words, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

The 41-year-old Brady almost always avoids commenting publicly on controversial matters, though he has expressed support for Kaepernick over the past couple of years.

In an interview with CBS last September, Brady praised Kaepernick’s quarterbacking ability and said, “he’s certainly qualified and I hope he gets a shot.”

In November on WEEI, Brady said Kaepernick “was a damn good quarterback. He’s played at a high level and brought his teams to Super Bowls.”

The new Kaepernick ad, which hit the internet on Sunday, resulted in instant reaction, both in support and protest of the statement. Brady’s unlikely to comment further on his social media activity, but considering that he knows how closely all of his social media activity is monitored and covered, the “like” on Instagram serves a firm statement on Brady’s behalf.

 

John Dowd was convinced that President Trump would commit perjury if he talked to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. So, on Jan. 27, the president’s then-personal attorney staged a practice session to try to make his point.

In the White House residence, Dowd peppered Trump with questions about the Russia investigation, provoking stumbles, contradictions and lies until the president eventually lost his cool.

“This thing’s a goddamn hoax,” Trump erupted at the start of a 30-minute rant that finished with him saying, “I don’t really want to testify.”

The dramatic and previously untold scene is recounted in “Fear,” a forthcoming book by Bob Woodward that paints a harrowing portrait of the Trump presidency, based on in-depth interviews with administration officials and other principals.

Woodward writes that his book is drawn from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand participants and witnesses that were conducted on “deep background,” meaning the information could be used but he would not reveal who provided it. His account is also drawn from meeting notes, personal diaries and government documents.

Woodward depicts Trump’s anger and paranoia about the Russia inquiry as unrelenting, at times paralyzing the West Wing for entire days. Learning of the appointment of Mueller in May 2017, Trump groused, “Everybody’s trying to get me”— part of a venting period that shellshocked aides compared to Richard Nixon’s final days as president.

The 448-page book was obtained by The Washington Post. Woodward, an associate editor at The Post, sought an interview with Trump through several intermediaries to no avail. The president called Woodward in early August, after the manuscript had been completed, to say he wanted to participate. The president complained that it would be a “bad book,” according to an audio recording of the conversation. Woodward replied that his work would be “tough,” but factual and based on his reporting.

The book’s title derives from a remark that then-candidate Trump made in an interview with Woodward and Post political reporter Robert Costa in 2016. Trump said, “Real power is, I don’t even want to use the word, ‘Fear.’”

A central theme of the book is the stealthy machinations used by those in Trump’s inner sanctum to try to control his impulses and prevent disasters, both for the president personally and for the nation he was elected to lead.

Woodward describes “an administrative coup d’etat” and a “nervous breakdown” of the executive branch, with senior aides conspiring to pluck official papers from the president’s desk so he couldn’t see or sign them.

Again and again, Woodward recounts at length how Trump’s national security team was shaken by his lack of curiosity and knowledge about world affairs and his contempt for the mainstream perspectives of military and intelligence leaders.

At a National Security Council meeting on Jan. 19, Trump disregarded the significance of the massive U.S. military presence on the Korean Peninsula, including a special intelligence operation that allows the United States to detect a North Korean missile launch in seven seconds vs. 15 minutes from Alaska, according to Woodward. Trump questioned why the government was spending resources in the region at all.

“We’re doing this in order to prevent World War III,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told him.

After Trump left the meeting, Woodward recounts, “Mattis was particularly exasperated and alarmed, telling close associates that the president acted like — and had the understanding of — ‘a fifth- or sixth-grader.’ ”

In Woodward’s telling, many top advisers were repeatedly unnerved by Trump’s actions and expressed dim views of him. “Secretaries of defense don’t always get to choose the president they work for,” Mattis told friends at one point, prompting laughter as he explained Trump’s tendency to go off on tangents about subjects such as immigration and the news media.

Inside the White House, Woodward portrays an unsteady executive detached from the conventions of governing and prone to snapping at high-ranking staff members, whom he unsettled and belittled on a daily basis.

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly frequently lost his temper and told colleagues that he thought the president was “unhinged,” Woodward writes. In one small group meeting, Kelly said of Trump: “He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown. I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”

Reince Priebus, Kelly’s predecessor, fretted that he could do little to constrain Trump from sparking chaos. Woodward writes that Priebus dubbed the presidential bedroom, where Trump obsessively watched cable news and tweeted, “the devil’s workshop,” and said early mornings and Sunday evenings, when the president often set off tweetstorms, were “the witching hour.”

Trump apparently had little regard for Priebus. He once instructed then-staff secretary Rob Porter to ignore Priebus, even though Porter reported to the chief of staff, saying that Priebus was “‘like a little rat. He just scurries around.’”

Few in Trump’s orbit were protected from the president’s insults. He often mocked former national security adviser H.R. McMaster behind his back, puffing up his chest and exaggerating his breathing as he impersonated the retired Army general, and once said McMaster dresses in cheap suits, “like a beer salesman.”

Trump told Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, a wealthy investor eight years his senior: “I don’t trust you. I don’t want you doing any more negotiations. … You’re past your prime.”

A near-constant subject of withering presidential attacks was Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump told Porter that Sessions was a “traitor” for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia investigation, Woodward writes. Mocking Sessions’s accent, Trump added, “This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner. … He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.”

At a dinner with Mattis and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, among others, Trump lashed out at a vocal critic, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). He falsely suggested that the former Navy pilot had been a coward for taking early release from a prisoner-of-war camp in Vietnam because of his father’s military rank and leaving others behind.

Mattis swiftly corrected his boss: “No, Mr. President, I think you’ve got it reversed.” The defense secretary explained that McCain, who died Aug. 25, had in fact turned down early release and was brutally tortured during his five years at the Hanoi Hilton.

“Oh, okay,” Trump replied, according to Woodward’s account.

With Trump’s rage and defiance impossible to contain, Cabinet members and other senior officials learned to act discreetly. Woodward describes an alliance among Trump’s traditionalists — including Mattis and Gary Cohn, the president’s former top economic adviser — to stymie what they considered dangerous acts.

“It felt like we were walking along the edge of the cliff perpetually,” Porter is quoted as saying. “Other times, we would fall over the edge, and an action would be taken.”

After Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad launched a chemical attack on civilians in April 2017, Trump called Mattis and said he wanted to assassinate the dictator. “Let’s fucking kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the fucking lot of them,” Trump said, according to Woodward.

Mattis told the president that he would get right on it. But after hanging up the phone, he told a senior aide: “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured.” The national security team developed options for the more conventional airstrike that Trump ultimately ordered.

Cohn, a Wall Street veteran, tried to tamp down Trump’s strident nationalism regarding trade. According to Woodward, Cohn “stole a letter off Trump’s desk” that the president was intending to sign to formally withdraw the United States from a trade agreement with South Korea. Cohn later told an associate that he removed the letter to protect national security and that Trump did not notice that it was missing.

Cohn made a similar play to prevent Trump from pulling the United States out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, something the president has long threatened to do. In spring 2017, Trump was eager to withdraw from NAFTA and told Porter: “Why aren’t we getting this done? Do your job. It’s tap, tap, tap. You’re just tapping me along. I want to do this.”

Under orders from the president, Porter drafted a notification letter withdrawing from NAFTA. But he and other advisers worried that it could trigger an economic and foreign relations crisis. So Porter consulted Cohn, who told him, according to Woodward: “I can stop this. I’ll just take the paper off his desk.”

Despite repeated threats by Trump, the United States has remained in both pacts. The administration continues to negotiate new terms with South Korea as well as with its NAFTA partners, Canada and Mexico.

Cohn came to regard the president as “a professional liar” and threatened to resign in August 2017 over Trump’s handling of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Cohn, who is Jewish, was especially shaken when one of his daughters found a swastika on her college dorm room.

Trump was sharply criticized for initially saying that “both sides” were to blame. At the urging of advisers, he then condemned white supremacists and neo-Nazis, but almost immediately told aides, “That was the biggest fucking mistake I’ve made” and the “worst speech I’ve ever given,” according to Woodward’s account.

When Cohn met with Trump to deliver his resignation letter after Charlottesville, the president told him, “This is treason,” and persuaded his economic adviser to stay on. Kelly then confided to Cohn that he shared Cohn’s horror at Trump’s handling of the tragedy — and shared Cohn’s fury with Trump.

“I would have taken that resignation letter and shoved it up his ass six different times,” Kelly told Cohn, according to Woodward. Kelly himself has threatened to quit several times, but has not done so.

Woodward illustrates how the dread in Trump’s orbit became all-encompassing over the course of Trump’s first year in office, leaving some staff members and Cabinet members confounded by the president’s lack of understanding about how government functions and his inability and unwillingness to learn.

At one point, Porter, who departed in February amid domestic abuse allegations, is quoted as saying, “This was no longer a presidency. This is no longer a White House. This is a man being who he is.”

Such moments of panic are a routine feature, but not the thrust of Woodward’s book, which mostly focuses on substantive decisions and internal disagreements, including tensions with North Korea as well as the future of U.S. policy in Afghanistan.

Woodward recounts repeated episodes of anxiety inside the government over Trump’s handling of the North Korean nuclear threat. One month into his presidency, Trump asked Dunford for a plan for a preemptive military strike on North Korea, which rattled the combat veteran.

In the fall of 2017, as Trump intensified a war of words with Kim Jong Un, nicknaming North Korea’s dictator “Little Rocket Man” in a speech at the United Nations, aides worried the president might be provoking Kim. But, Woodward writes, Trump told Porter that he saw the situation as a contest of wills: “This is all about leader versus leader. Man versus man. Me versus Kim.”

The book also details Trump’s impatience with the war in Afghanistan, which had become America’s longest conflict. At a July 2017 National Security Council meeting, Trump dressed down his generals and other advisers for 25 minutes, complaining that the United States was losing, according to Woodward.

“The soldiers on the ground could run things much better than you,” Trump told them. “They could do a much better job. I don’t know what the hell we’re doing.” He went on to ask, “How many more deaths? How many more lost limbs? How much longer are we going to be there?”

The president’s family members, while sometimes touted as his key advisers by other Trump chroniclers, are minor players in Woodward’s account, popping up occasionally in the West Wing and vexing adversaries.

Woodward recounts an expletive-laden altercation between Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter and senior adviser, and Stephen K. Bannon, the former chief White House strategist.

“You’re a goddamn staffer!” Bannon screamed at her, telling her that she had to work through Priebus like other aides. “You walk around this place and act like you’re in charge, and you’re not. You’re on staff!”

Ivanka Trump, who had special access to the president and worked around Priebus, replied: “I’m not a staffer! I’ll never be a staffer. I’m the first daughter.”

Such tensions boiled among many of Trump’s core advisers. Priebus is quoted as describing Trump officials not as rivals but as “natural predators.”

“When you put a snake and a rat and a falcon and a rabbit and a shark and a seal in a zoo without walls, things start getting nasty and bloody,” Priebus says.

Hovering over the White House was Mueller’s inquiry, which deeply embarrassed the president. Woodward describes Trump calling his Egyptian counterpart to secure the release of an imprisoned charity worker and President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi saying: “Donald, I’m worried about this investigation. Are you going to be around?”

Trump relayed the conversation to Dowd and said it was “like a kick in the nuts,” according to Woodward.

The book vividly recounts the ongoing debate between Trump and his lawyers about whether the president would sit for an interview with Mueller. On March 5, Dowd and Trump attorney Jay Sekulow met in Mueller’s office with the special counsel and his deputy, James Quarles, where Dowd and Sekulow reenacted Trump’s January practice session.

Dowd then explained to Mueller and Quarles why he was trying to keep the president from testifying: “I’m not going to sit there and let him look like an idiot. And you publish that transcript, because everything leaks in Washington, and the guys overseas are going to say, ‘I told you he was an idiot. I told you he was a goddamn dumbbell. What are we dealing with this idiot for?’ ”

“John, I understand,” Mueller replied, according to Woodward.

Later that month, Dowd told Trump: “Don’t testify. It’s either that or an orange jumpsuit.”

But Trump, concerned about the optics of a president refusing to testify and convinced that he could handle Mueller’s questions, had by then decided otherwise.

“I’ll be a real good witness,” Trump told Dowd, according to Woodward.

“You are not a good witness,” Dowd replied. “Mr. President, I’m afraid I just can’t help you.”

The next morning, Dowd resigned.

A Venezuelan soldier speaks with a man as motorists queue outside a gas station of the Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA in San Antonio, Venezuela September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

UREÑA, Venezuela (Reuters) – Frustrated Venezuelan drivers faced lengthy lines for gasoline in border states on Tuesday as the government struggled to roll out a new payment system that President Nicolas Maduro says will reduce smuggling of heavily-subsidized fuel.

Maduro says the payment system will pave the way for charging international prices for fuel – a massive increase given that gas is now almost free – as his government seeks to shore up state coffers amid a hyperinflationary economic meltdown.

Any increase would mark the first time in 20 years that the OPEC member has significantly raised domestic fuel prices, which have been a sensitive issue ever since deadly riots broke out in 1989 in response to austerity measures that included higher gasoline prices.

The pilot program that began on Tuesday in eight states was supposed to provide service stations with wireless devices that use a state-backed identification document called the Fatherland Card to carry out fuel transactions.

“I see a lot of disorganization because they haven’t started making this work yet,” said Jose Coronel, 26, a civil servant, as he waited in line at a gas station in the border town of Ureña. “I can see that it’s difficult to control smuggling.”

At gas stations along the border with neighboring Colombia, the new machines were either not installed or not functioning properly, according to drivers filling up their tanks and two gas station attendants in two different states.

The new payment system will provide a subsidy to motorists with a Fatherland Card, directly reimbursing them for gasoline purchases, once the domestic fuel price hikes take effect. Maduro says that will help soften the impact of a steep price increase.

Drivers on the border started lining up as early as Monday afternoon on concerns that the price hikes would be immediate or that stations would run out of fuel.

The Information Ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Experts estimate Venezuela – where shortages of food and medicine have fueled hunger, disease and a mass exodus of citizens – loses at least $5 billion per year as a result of not selling gasoline at international prices.

Maduro on Monday said gasoline would rise to international price levels by October, without offering details.

The use of the Fatherland Card has drawn intense criticism from government critics, who say it is a mechanism to gather information about citizens that the ruling Socialist Party can use against adversaries by withholding basic services from them.

The government offers some benefits including subsidized food, access to scarce medicine and cash bonuses to holders of the card. Maduro says it will help combat an “economic war” led by opposition politicians with the help of Washington.

Fuel prices have stayed relatively steady for years even though inflation is projected by the IMF to reach 1,000,000 percent.

Unay Bayona, 24, an independent merchant, said he doubted prices would ever rise enough to match those in Colombia, and that residents would continue to view contraband as an option.

“Smuggling is going to continue because there is no other way to make a living,” Bayona said, at the entrance to a service station in Ureña.

Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Tom Brown

    Fred Guttenberg (L), the father of Jamie Guttenberg, a victim of the February 14, 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, reaches out to try to shake hands with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh during his U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate confirmation hearing for Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court pick, descended into chaos on Tuesday, as Democrats protested about Republicans blocking access to documents concerning the nominee’s White House work more than a decade ago.

    With Democratic senators repeatedly interrupting the Judiciary Committee’s Republican chairman Chuck Grassley at the outset of the hearing and dozens of shouting protesters removed one by one by security personnel, the session quickly became a ruckus.

    “This is the first confirmation for a Supreme Court justice I’ve seen, basically, according to mob rule,” Republican Senator John Cornyn said, a characterization Democrats rejected.

    “What we’ve heard is the noise of democracy,” Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said.

    News photographers clicked pictures of a smiling Kavanaugh – the conservative federal appeals court judge picked by Trump for a lifetime job on the top U.S. judicial body – as he entered the hearing room with family members. But moments after Grassley opened the session, Democrats decried the withholding of the documents and asked to have the proceedings adjourned.

    Protesters, mostly women, took turns yelling as senators spoke, shouting, “This is a travesty of justice,” “Our democracy is broken” and “Vote no on Kavanaugh.” Demonstrators voiced concern about what they saw as the threat posed by Kavanaugh to abortion rights, healthcare access and gun control.

    “We cannot possibly move forward. We have not had an opportunity to have a meaningful hearing,” Democratic Senator Kamala Harris said. Democratic Senator Cory Booker appealed to Grassley’s “sense of decency and integrity” and said the withholding of the documents by Republicans and the White House left lawmakers unable to properly vet Kavanaugh.

    Grassley called the Democrats’ request to halt the hearing “out of order” and accused them of obstruction. Republicans hold a slim Senate majority and can confirm Kavanaugh if they stay united. There were no signs of Republican defections.

    If confirmed, Kavanaugh is expected to move the court – which already had a conservative majority – further to the right. Senate Democratic leaders have vowed a fierce fight to try to block his confirmation. Democrats signaled they would press Kavanaugh on abortion, gun rights and presidential power when they get to question him on Wednesday in a hearing due to run through Friday.

    Republican Orrin Hatch accused Democratic senators of political opportunism, noting, “We have folks who want to run for president,” though he did not mention any by name. There has been speculation Booker and Harris might consider 2020 presidential runs.

    Hatch grew visibly irritated as protesters interrupted him.

    “I think we ought to have this loudmouth removed,” Hatch said.

    Trump nominated Kavanaugh, 53, to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement on June 27.

    Democrats have demanded in vain to see documents relating Kavanaugh’s time as staff secretary to Republican former President George W. Bush from 2003 to 2006. That job involved managing paper flow from advisers to Bush. Republicans also have released some, but not all, documents concerning Kavanaugh’s two prior years as a lawyer in Bush’s White House Counsel’s Office.

    Republicans have said Democrats have more than enough documents to assess Kavanaugh’s record, including his 12 years of judicial opinions as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

    STARING STRAIGHT AHEAD

    Kavanaugh sat, fingers intertwined, quietly staring ahead at the committee members as protesters in the audience screamed while being dragged out of the room. He occasionally jotted notes on paper.

    “A good judge must be an umpire – a neutral and impartial arbiter who favors no litigant or policy,” Kavanaugh said in written remarks released in advance of the hearing. “I don’t decide cases based on personal or policy preferences.”

    As the hearing paused for a lunch break, Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter who was killed in the Parkland, Florida high school mass shooting in February, tried to talk to Kavanaugh but the nominee turned away. Video of the encounter was shared widely on social media.

    There is a long history of heated fights over U.S. Supreme Court nominations, with anger in both parties. But the Democratic frustrations that boiled over on Tuesday had been simmering for more than two years.

    Democrats have accused Senate Republican leaders of stealing a Supreme Court seat by refusing to consider Democratic former President Barack Obama’s nominee to the high court Merrick Garland in 2016, allowing Trump to fill a Supreme Court vacancy instead.

    Republicans also last year reduced the margin for advancing Supreme Court nominations from 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate to a simple majority in order to force through the confirmation of Trump’s first high court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

    Grassley sought to turn the attention to Kavanaugh’s qualifications, calling him “one of the most qualified nominees – if not the most qualified nominee – I have seen.”

    The Senate is likely to vote on confirmation by the end of September. The court begins its next term in October.

    The hearing gave Democrats a platform to make their case against Kavanaugh ahead of November’s congressional elections in which they are seeking to seize control of Congress from Republicans.

    Liberals are concerned Kavanaugh could provide a decisive fifth vote on the nine-justice court to overturn or weaken the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion nationwide.

    Kavanaugh is likely to be questioned about his views on investigating sitting presidents and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and Trump’s campaign.

    “I find it difficult to imagine that your views on this subject escaped the attention of President Trump, who seems increasingly fixated on his own ballooning legal jeopardy,” Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said.

    Republican Senator Jeff Flake, a frequent Trump critic, said he shared Democratic concerns about how Kavanaugh sees the U.S. government’s separation of powers and the rule of law.

    Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Additional reporting by Andrew Chung, Amanda Becker, Lisa Lambert; Editing by Will Dunham

    Governor Will Lead Effort to Help the More Than 11,000 Displaced Puerto Ricans Are Living in New York

    Governor Cuomo: “We’re going to work with Puerto Rican families and sue the President of the United States because New York is standing with Puerto Rico the way we said we would.”

    Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York will lead the effort for displaced Puerto Ricans in New York – with the latest count exceeding 11,000 people – to file a lawsuit against President Donald Trump and the federal government for failing to adequately respond and provide assistance following Hurricane Maria.

    “President Trump never tried to help Puerto Rico. Florida got attention, Texas got attention, and Puerto Rico got the short end of the stick. That is not just wrong and unethical and despicable, it is also illegal,” Governor Cuomo said. “We’re going to work with Puerto Rican families and sue the President of the United States because New York is standing with Puerto Rico the way we said we would. We are going to fight back and we’re going to show this President that the law is the law.”

    “The federal government turned its back on our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico and failed to help them rebuild and recover,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “In New York we’re proud to provide resources and assistance to those impacted by Hurricane Maria, and we will continue to help displaced families. This lawsuit is the next step in holding President Trump and the federal government accountable for their inaction and making sure Puerto Ricans are able to fully recover.”

    Last week a report indicated that the facts show more than 3,000 people died in aftermath of the hurricane, making this one of the deadliest disasters in U.S. history, and showing again the federal government’s inability to provide the assistance Puerto Rico needed in the wake of the disaster.

    The Governor announced a commitment to lead the effort to file a lawsuit against the federal government due to the obvious discrepancies in federal response to and treatment of citizens impacted by Hurricane Harvey, which primarily hit Texas, and Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico and other areas. The disparities include:

    ·         A three week wait: It took at least three weeks for federal helicopters – critical for saving victims and delivering emergency supplies – to fly above Puerto Rico, contrasting with the 73 U.S. Northern Command helicopters that few over Houston within six days of Hurricane Harvey.

    ·         Lack of funding: Nine days after the hurricanes, FEMA had approved $141.8 million in individual assistance to Harvey victims, versus just $6.2 million for Maria victims.

    ·         Lack of food and water: During the first nine days after Harvey, FEMA provided 5.1 million meals, 4.5 million liters of water and over 20,000 tarps to Houston. In that same period, FEMA delivered just 1.6 million meals, 2.8 million liters of water and roughly 5,000 tarps to Puerto Rico.

    ·         Sparse resources: Nine days after Harvey, the federal government had 30,000 emergency and response personnel in the Houston region, compared with 10,000 at the same point after Maria. Additionally, it took just 10 days for FEMA to approve permanent disaster work for Texas, compared with 43 days for Puerto Rico.

    ·         Unacceptable relief: Seventy-eight days after each hurricane, FEMA had approved 39 percent of federal applications for relief from victims of Harvey, versus just 28 percent for Maria.

    “We’re going to work with Puerto Rican families and sue the President of the United States because New York is standing with Puerto Rico the way we said we would.”

    The announcement follows a number of efforts the Governor has spearheaded to show New York’s support of the island’s recovery, including the completion of the summer-long, New York Stands with Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding Initiative on August 25. More than 650 SUNY and CUNY students and volunteers returned after logging nearly 41,000 hours of work cleaning, restoring and rebuilding homes on the island. The Governor’s commitment to helping Puerto Ricans sue the federal government also builds on New York’s most recent investment to connect Puerto Rican families to employment, housing and health care services, including Health Home Care Managers and community-based services. This investment adds to the $11 million commitment the Governor made to support housing and workforce development for displaced Puerto Ricans.

    New York State Assembly Member and Chair of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force Marcos A. Crespo said, “The disparities between Washington’s response to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria are shameful. ‎From day one, the people of Puerto Rico have been ignored, too many lives have been lost and not enough assistance has been delivered to the island. Action must be taken to hold the Trump administration responsible and there is no better champion than Governor Cuomo to fight for our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters for the recognition and assistance they have long deserved.”

    Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. said, “Despite President Trump and our elected leaders in Washington turning their backs on Puerto Rico, Governor Cuomo has continuously filled the void and is once again standing up for the thousands of Puerto Ricans whose lives have been torn apart by Hurricane Maria. The island’s residents and the thousands of displaced Puerto Ricans in New York are owed the same amount of respect as the rest of our fellow American citizens, and today’s announcement marks an important step to ensure our brothers and sisters receive the assistance and respect they deserve. I want to thank the Governor for his tireless advocacy for the Puerto Rican community.”

    New York City Council Member Carlina Rivera said, “The federal government’s response to Hurricane Maria has been nothing short of disgraceful. Puerto Ricans have been disregarded and treated as second class citizens, and 3.5 million Americans have been left to deal with the storm-ravaged island on their own. I applaud Governor Cuomo’s continued efforts to help Puerto Rico recover and for holding President Trump and the federal government responsible. The families here in New York deserve assistance and support as they work to rebuild their lives in the wake of this devastation and we as a state will support.”

    New York’s Efforts in Puerto Rico 

    Since Hurricane Maria’s landfall in September 2017, Governor Cuomo has traveled to Puerto Rico five times, including the most recent trip in late July. The Governor announced new agricultural trade partnerships between New York and Puerto Rico to strengthen both the island’s economy and the ties between the two communities as Puerto Rico continues to recover and rebuild.

    In the immediate aftermath, New York established the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort, ultimately distributing at least 4,400 pallets of supplies collected from 13 donations sites across the state. New York also deployed more than 1,000 personnel, including hundreds of utility workers and power experts to help with power restoration and grid stabilization.

    In December, Governor Cuomo and members of the New York Congressional Delegation released a Build Back Better Assessment Report that called for a $94.4 billion federal aid package to help Puerto Rico build back stronger. The plan identified specific sectors needing investments, including housing, power grid and resiliency, agriculture and others. Together with $487 million for public safety and first response and $9 billion for long-term recovery management, the total funding need is $94.4 billion.

    A spectacular concert celebrating the life and extraordinary career of Aretha Franklin brought thousands of joyful fans to their feet in Detroit Thursday, honoring the “Queen of Soul” on the eve of her funeral.

    More than 40 artists took to the stage at what was billed “A People’s Tribute to the Queen,” powering through some of her greatest hits two weeks after her death in her Michigan hometown.

    The US music icon, beloved by millions around the world, died of cancer on August 16, closing the curtain on a glittering six-decade career that made her one of America’s most celebrated artists.

    The concert spanned the R&B, Gospel, Jazz and Blues, even classical genres in which Franklin excelled. Her grandchildren spoke briefly, delivering heartfelt thanks on behalf of their family and grandmother.

    She influenced generations of female singers from the late Whitney Houston to Beyonce, with unforgettable hits including “Respect” (1967), “Natural Woman” (1968) and “I Say a Little Prayer” (1968).

    “The concert is wonderful. I mean for people that couldn’t be here you just don’t know what you’re missing,” said Tembley Reynolds, 60, a medical records clerk from Saginaw, Michigan. “Everyone was great!”

    Free tickets were snapped up within minutes of being made available online at the 5,000-seat, waterfront outdoor Chene Park Amphitheatre, where Franklin herself had performed.

    – ‘Fit for a queen’ –
    Dancing, excitedly taking selfies and filming parts of the concert on their cellphones, the evening was a chance for Detroit to celebrate the life and legacy of a towering figure regarded as local royalty.

    Performances included Franklin’s hits “Freeway of Love” — an anthem to the Motor City — and “Say A Little Prayer,” with an all-cast rendition of “Respect” scheduled to bring the house down in finale.

    Her signature song, the feminist anthem became a rallying cry as African-Americans rose up nationwide in the 1960s to fight peacefully for racial equality.

    Headliners included The Four Tops, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Angie Stone, while a gospel choir took everyone to church, rousing the crowd to their feet with an electric, upbeat performance of classics and a powerful rendition of “Amazing Grace” by Tasha Page-Lockhart.

    Tenor Rod Dixon even sang “Nessun Dorma” in a tribute to Franklin’s last-minute performance of the Puccini aria when Luciano Pavarotti called in sick at the last minute at the 1998 Grammy Awards.

    The concert followed three days of public viewings of her open, golden casket that drew thousands — at her father’s New Bethel Baptist Church, and the Charles H. Wright Museum for African-American History.

    On Thursday, she lay resplendent in the church dressed in a rose gold outfit and matching Christian Louboutin stilettos. On Tuesday, she wore a red dress with matching heels and on Wednesday she was in blue.

    – ‘Truly missed’ –
    “I wanted to come here in the jubilance, the joyousness, the celebration of Aretha and her legacy,” said Dorlena Orange, 68. “We’re like a party. It’s like a beautiful, wonderful thing.”

    The New Bethel Baptist Church held a special place in Franklin’s heart. It was there that she hosted Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for parishioners and the needy, and also recorded an album.

    On Friday, former president Bill Clinton and Smokey Robinson are among those due to address her six-hour, invitation-only funeral with musical tributes coming from Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande.

    “I think it’s going to be a very upbeat service. I think it’s going to be a very jubilant service,” said Bishop Charles Ellis, pastor at the Greater Grace Temple where the funeral is being held.

    Franklin won 18 Grammy awards and was feted for her civil rights work, raising money for the cause and uplifting activists with her anthems.

    The daughter of a prominent Baptist preacher and civil rights activist, Franklin sang at the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the inaugurations of presidents Clinton and Barack Obama.

    She was awarded America’s highest civilian honor by George W. Bush in 2005. Letters from Bush and Obama are expected to be read at the funeral.

    Related video: Last public viewing for Aretha Franklin draws thousands (Provided by USA TODAY)

     

      A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that Donald Trump remains an extraordinarily polarizing president, with a majority of the public “strongly” disapproving of him. According to the poll, 60 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump while 36 approve. But what is more striking is the measure of intensity, which show that those who dislike Trump do so with a passion. Fifty-three percent “strongly disapprove” of Trump while only 24 percent “strongly approve” of him.

      Aside from the topline approval/disapproval results, the poll also shows the public is behind the Mueller investigation and wary of the president’s attempts to shut it down.

      “But 63 percent of Americans support Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, with 52 percent saying they support it strongly; 29 percent oppose the probe,” The Washington Post reports.

      The president’s efforts to challenge the legitimacy of the investigation and build sympathy for his convicted former campaign chair Paul Manafort have made little head way. “Trump has complained that Manafort was treated unfairly by Mueller’s prosecutors, and after a jury convicted Manafort earlier this month the president tweeted that he felt ‘very badly’ for him,” the newspaper notes. “But 67 percent of Americans think Mueller’s case against Manafort was justified, while 17 percent say it was unjustified, according to the poll.”

      Trump is most unpopular with African-Americans, where he is at a minuscule 3 percent approval. He is most popular among white men with no college degree, but even with that group he has slipped from a career high of 70 percent to 55 percent.

       

        U.S. Latino Population Growth and Dispersion Has Slowed Since Onset of the Great Recession

        Between 2007 and 2014, Buffalo, Rochester, Dunkirk and Erie, PA. the latino population grew by 28.67 percent and is expected to grow by over 35 percent by the next scheduled US Census count. 

        The nation’s Latino population has long been characterized by its rapid growth and by its wide dispersion to parts of the country that traditionally have had few Latinos. But a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data finds that the growth and dispersion of the U.S. Latino population has slowed since 2007, when the Great Recession started, immigration from Latin America cooled and Latino fertility rates declined sharply.

        Between 2007 and 2014, the U.S. Hispanic population grew annually on average by 2.8% (its pace of growth has been an even slower 2.4% between 2010 and 2014). This was down from a 4.4% growth rate between 2000 and 2007 and down from 5.8% annually in the 1990s. As a result, the Hispanic population, once the nation’s fastest growing, has now slipped behind Asians (whose population grew at an average annual rate of 3.4% from 2007 to 2014) in its growth rate.

        This slowdown has been driven by two, large demographic trends affecting the Hispanic community. Immigration, which in the 1980s and 1990s was the principal driver of Hispanic population growth, began to slow in the mid-2000s. And, in the case of Mexico, immigration has now reversed back toward Mexico since 2009. As a result, the main driver of Hispanic population growth shifted to U.S. births. But here too, change is underway: Throughout much of the early 2000s birth rates of Hispanic women ages 15 to 44 were about 95 births per 1,000 women, reaching a peak of 98.3 in 2006. However, since the onset of the Great Recession, their birth rates have declined, steadily falling to 72.1 births per 1,000 Hispanic women ages 15 to 44 in 2014.

        General population growth and economic opportunities in places that traditionally had few Latinos led to the dispersal of the Latino population across the U.S. beginning in the 1990s, just as Latino population growth was accelerating. 1 In the 1990s, North Carolina led in Latino population growth as new immigrant arrivals and their families moved there to pursue job opportunities in agriculture and manufacturing. In the 2000s, counties in Georgia saw some of the fastest growth nationally in their Latino populations. By 2014, a record 1,579 counties (about half of all U.S. counties) had at least 1,000 Latinos, up from just 833 in 1990. Overall, these 1,579 counties in 2014 contained 99% of the U.S. Latino population.

        Yet the new analysis shows that Hispanic population dispersion, while continuing, has also slowed since 2007. For example, the share of U.S. counties with at least 1,000 Hispanics rose more rapidly before the onset of the Great Recession than after: Between 2000 and 2007, there was an 8-percentage-point gain in the share of U.S. counties with at least 1,000 Hispanics, rising to 46% from 38% in 2000. Yet while half of U.S. counties met this criterion in 2014, the share that did so was up only 4 percentage points since 2007, when 46% of all counties did. Other measures of dispersion show a similar slowing trend (see Chapter 1 for more details).

        The slowdown in Latino settlement to traditionally non-Latino areas reflects changes in the demographics of Latinos, but also that the counties with few Latinos today are generally smaller counties overall. The 1,562 counties with fewer than 1,000 Hispanics in 2014 are largely located in non-metropolitan areas of the country and have a median population of about 13,000 people. In the coming years, while some Latinos may move there, it is possible that the slowdown in dispersion will continue.

        These two trends – rapid population growth and geographic dispersion – have led to a number of Latino-driven demographic changes nationwide since 1990. As of 2012, 17 states had kindergarten student populations that were at least 20% Latino, up from just eight states in 2000. And the growing and dispersing Latino population has led to rising electoral influence of Latino voters in recent elections as the number eligible to vote has grown in many battleground states such as Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and North Carolina, even though Latino voters are largely concentrated in non-battleground states like California and Texas. Yet the slowdown in Latino population growth and dispersion may slow these trends as well in the coming years.

        However, since the start of the Great Recession counties in North Dakota have topped the list. Williams County, Stark County and Ward County have all seen their Hispanic populations more than double from 2007 to 2014 (though from a small base). In fact, North Dakota’s statewide Hispanic population nearly doubled to 18,000 in this same time period, making it the state with the highest Hispanic growth rate (though it ranks 49th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia by Hispanic population). 3 Other counties outside the South that are among the 10 fastest-growing include Luzerne County in Pennsylvania, Beadle County in South Dakota, Duchesne County in Utah and Burleigh County in North Dakota. Overall, just three of the top 10 fastest growing counties by Hispanic population since 2007 were in the South.

        More generally, the median growth rate of Latino populations in counties across the nation from 2007 to 2014 was about 27%. Counties that exceeded this average – fast-growing Latino counties – were largely metropolitan, were located in the South and had relatively small Latino populations. Because of the relatively small size of the Latino population in these counties, they account for just 37% of the nation’s Latino population growth.

        Accompanying this report are interactive county maps documenting the Hispanic population in the nation’s counties in 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010 and 2014; an interactive state map and demographic and economic profiles of the Hispanic population in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia (see Chapter 4 for an overview of the Hispanic population in the states); and an interactive map and demographic and economic profiles of the 60 metropolitan areas with the largest Hispanic populations (see Chapter 5 for an overview of the Hispanic population in metropolitan areas). The metropolitan area interactive also has a table showing the largest population and shares for the 11 largest Hispanic origin groups: Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Salvadorans, Cubans, Dominicans, Guatemalans, Colombians, Hondurans, Spaniards, Ecuadorans and Peruvians.

        Other key findings from the report include:

        National population growth

        • Despite slowing population growth, Latinos still accounted for more than half (54%) of the nation’s population growth between 2000 and 2014.

        Latinos in the counties

        • Latinos account for more than half of the population growth in 41% of U.S. counties with at least 1,000 Latinos in 2014. About a third of these counties were located along the Southwest border and about half are in non-metropolitan areas.
        • The nation’s Hispanic population is not growing everywhere. Between 2007 and 2014, the Hispanic population declined in 38 counties with at least 1,000 Hispanics in 2014, most of which were located in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.
        • Among the nation’s counties with at least 1,000 Latinos in 2014, 23 counties are majority foreign born among Latinos.

        States

        • The five states with the largest Hispanic populations are California (15 million), Texas (10.4 million), Florida (4.8 million), New York (3.7 million) and Illinois (2.2 million). Together, these states hold 65% of all Hispanics.
        • But New Mexico leads the states for the share of the state population that is Hispanic (48%), followed by California and Texas (39% each). Arizona and Nevada round out the top five states for the share of the population that is Hispanic with 31% and 28%, respectively.
        • In most states, U.S.-born Hispanics outnumber foreign-born Hispanics. However, there are two exceptions: In the District of Columbia 53% of Hispanics were foreign born in 2014, and in Maryland half of Hispanics were foreign born. Most of the top 10 states ranked by the foreign-born share among Hispanics are located in the South.

        Metropolitan areas

        • In 2014, more than half of U.S. Hispanics resided in the 15 largest metropolitan areas by Hispanic population. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA topped the list with 6 million Hispanics – more than the Hispanic population in all but two states, California and Texas.
        • Behind the Los Angeles metropolitan area are New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA (4.8 million), Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL (2.6 million), Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX (2.3 million), Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA (2.2 million) and Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI (2.1 million).
        • Among the 15 largest metropolitan areas by Hispanic population, only two are majority foreign born. In Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL, 61% of the area’s 2.6 million Hispanics are immigrants. Following that is the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV metropolitan area, where 53% of Hispanics are immigrants.
        • The geographic settlement of Hispanics is closely linked with Hispanic origin. Hispanics of Mexican origin are the largest Hispanic origin group in many Southwest border metropolitan areas, but along the East Coast there is more diversity. Cubans are the largest Hispanic origin group in the Miami metropolitan area, while Puerto Ricans are the largest origin group in the New York, Orlando, Philadelphia and Hartford, CT metro areas. Meanwhile, Salvadorans are the largest origin group in the Washington, D.C., area.
        • BY RENEE STEPLER AND MARK HUGO LOPEZ

         

         

         

         

         

         

          WASHINGTON — John McCain is being laid to rest at the U.S. Naval Academy after a five-day procession that served as a final call to arms for a nation he warned could lose its civility and sense of shared purpose.

          The private ceremony in Annapolis, Maryland, was as carefully planned as the rest of McCain’s farewell tour, which began in Arizona after he died Aug. 25 from brain cancer and stretched to Washington.

          On Saturday, speeches by his daughter Meghan and two former presidents — Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama — remembered McCain as a patriot who could bridge painful rivalries. But even as their remarks made clear their admiration for him, they represented a repudiation of President Donald Trump’s brand of tough-talking, divisive politics.

          “So much of our politics, our public life, our public discourse can seem small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insult and phony controversies and manufactured outrage,” Obama said. “It’s a politics that pretends to be brave and tough but in fact is born in fear. John called on us to be bigger than that. He called on us to be better than that.”

          McCain was gone, said Bush, who called his 2000 rival for the GOP presidential nomination a friend.

          “John’s voice will always come as a whisper over our shoulder — we are better than this, America is better than this,” Bush said.

          But it was Meghan McCain’s emotional remarks that most bluntly rebuked Trump, who had mocked her father for getting captured in Vietnam. At the pulpit of the spectacular cathedral, with Trump’s daughter Ivanka in the audience, McCain’s daughter delivered a broadside against the uninvited president.

          “The America of John McCain,” she declared with a steely stare, “has no need to be made great again because America was always great.”

          The audience of Washington’s military, civilian and other leaders burst into applause.

          With that, McCain’s family, including his 106-year-old mother, Roberta, is escorting his remains to Annapolis on Sunday.

          McCain’s choice of burial location was as deliberate as the other details of his procession. He picked the historic site overlooking the Severn River over the grandeur of Arlington National Cemetery, where his father and grandfather, both admirals, are buried. Larson, McCain’s beloved friend from their Class of 1958, had reserved four plots at the storied cemetery — two for McCain and himself, and two for their wives, now widows. Larson died in 2014, and McCain wrote in his recent memoir that he wanted to be buried next to his friend, “near where it began.”

          Trump was to remain in Washington. He spent Saturday tweeting and golfing in Virginia.

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