Yearly Archives: 2018

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are expecting their first child in the spring of 2019, around a year after their glittering wedding injected Hollywood glamour into the British royal family.

Harry, 34, younger son of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, married the U.S. television star Meghan Markle in May at a ceremony that mixed traditional British pomp with a gospel choir and other nods to her American heritage.

British media said Meghan, 37, was believed to be about 12 weeks pregnant. The baby will be seventh-in-line to the British throne.

“Their Royal Highnesses have appreciated all of the support they have received from people around the world since their wedding in May and are delighted to be able to share this happy news with the public,” the couple’s Kensington Palace office said in a statement.

The news emerged shortly after the royal couple landed in Australia for their first overseas tour, a busy trip which will also take in New Zealand and the South Pacific islands of Tonga and Fiji.

British media said Harry and Meghan broke the news of their pregnancy to the royal family on Friday, when they attended the wedding of Harry’s cousin Princess Eugenie at Windsor Castle, where Harry and Meghan themselves were married five months ago.

There had been media speculation for a number of weeks that Meghan might be pregnant, and the couple had made no secret of their desire to have children.

“Hopefully we’ll start a family in the near future,” Harry had said in a TV interview when they announced their engagement in November last year.

The child will not be a prince or a princess unless the queen authorizes such a title before the birth. Instead, royal experts said if a boy, the child would officially be styled the Earl of Dumbarton – one of Harry’s subsidiary titles – and Lady Windsor if a girl.

“My warmest congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on the happy news they are expecting a baby in the Spring,” British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Twitter. “Wishing them all the best.”

After their arrival in Australia on Monday, Meghan and Harry were escorted by a motorcade to the residence of Australia’s Governor-General on Sydney’s north shore.

Braving rain, well-wishers lined the streets to Admiralty House where the pair were later spotted by local press enjoying a walk, hand in hand, through the grounds as they recovered from the long plane journey.

Their official duties will begin on Tuesday with a ferry trip across Sydney Harbor and past the Opera House, a visit to Taronga Zoo to see koalas and a viewing of a contemporary indigenous dance troupe.

Reporting by Melanie Burton in Melbourne and Michael Holden in London; Editing by William Schomberg, Janet Lawrence and Peter Graff.

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      Derwin Leichty descends from inspecting the cabin of a new model combine at the 2018 Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, U.S., August 29, 2018. REUTERS/Jordan Gale

      LUÍS EDUARDO, Brazil/BOONE, Iowa (Reuters) – The Bella Vita luxury condominium tower rises 20 stories over the boomtown of Luís Eduardo Magalhães in northeastern Brazil. Its private movie theater and helipad are symbols of how far this dusty farming community has come since it was founded just 18 years ago.

      Local soybean producers shell out upwards of a half-million U.S. dollars to live in the complex. Nearby farm equipment sellers, car dealerships and construction supply stores are bustling too.

      Meanwhile, nearly 5,000 miles to the north in Boone, Iowa, farmers are hunkering down. At a recent agriculture trade show here, Iowa corn and soybean grower Steve Sheppard reflected the cautious mood.

      “I’m not buying any machinery, I’m not spending any money,” Sheppard said.

      Two countries. Same business. Two very different fates. The reason: China.

      A growing trade war between the United States and China is re-ordering the global grains business. In response to Trump administration tariffs on Chinese goods, Beijing this year imposed levies on U.S. agricultural products. Among them was a 25 percent tariff on soybeans, the single most valuable U.S. farm export. U.S. growers sold $12 billion worth to China last year alone.

      The fallout has been quick. China, the world’s largest importer of soybeans, has scaled back purchases of U.S. grain to feed its massive hog herd.

      It is turning instead to Brazil, which has ridden the wave of Chinese demand for two decades to become a global agricultural powerhouse. Brazilian soybean exports to the Asian country jumped 22 percent by value between January and September, compared to the same period a year ago.

      Brazilian producers are not only selling more grain, their soy is fetching $2.83 more per bushel than beans from the United States, up from a premium of just $0.60 a year ago, thanks to stepped up Chinese purchases.

      Prices for U.S. soybeans, meanwhile, recently sunk to decade lows that farmers say are below the cost of production. The slump has made the agricultural sector a drag on an otherwise healthy U.S. economy. The Trump administration said in July it would spend up to $12 billion in taxpayer funds to help U.S. farmers offset trade-related losses, although the aid package could shrink.

      Many American farmers, overwhelmingly conservative voters who helped propel Donald Trump to the presidency, are standing by their man. They believe he will eventually negotiate a better trade deal with China, whose appetite for soybeans is so vast that it cannot completely wean itself off U.S. grain.

      But for the time being, Trump trade policies are handing precious market share, money and momentum to Brazil, the United States’ most formidable agricultural competitor. Some fear the lost ground will be hard to reclaim.

      “Bad news on tariffs in the U.S. is good news for them,” Robert Crain, general manager for the Americas for equipment dealer AGCO Corp (AGCO.N), said about Brazilian farmers in an interview at the Iowa show.

      BOON TO BRAZIL

      Like their U.S. counterparts, Brazil’s farmers produce much more grain than is needed at home. Foreign customers are responsible for the country’s agricultural boom. Nearly 80 percent of Brazil’s soy exports now head to China.

      The city of Luís Eduardo Magalhães is a testament to the importance of this international trade. Located in the state of Bahia, with farms stretching in every direction, the formerly unincorporated rural area in less than two decades has swelled to 85,000 people. That is bigger than Sioux City, Iowa’s fourth-largest city.

      Major employers in Luís Eduardo, as most locals call the city, include fertilizer factories, seed producers and processors of soy and cotton. The area “relies 100 percent on agriculture,” said Carminha Maria Missio, a farmer and president of the local growers union.

      While Brazil’s overall economy is stuck in a ditch, the nation’s farm sector rolled to 13 percent growth last year. The John Deere dealership in Luís Eduardo saw its sales rise 15 percent in 2017 and is expecting double-digit growth again this year, managing partner Chico Flores Oliveira said.

      The local real estate market is surging too. Another new luxury condo tower is slated to open next year. Single-family homes are sprouting throughout the city. Prices for prime farmland are up 37 percent since 2012, according to consultancy Informa Economics IEG FNP.

      Brazil’s total soy area is expected to expand to a record 36.28 million hectares this season due to robust Chinese demand, according to a Reuters poll of analysts.

      Farmers here also are bullish on this month’s presidential election in Brazil. Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who is leading in the polls, favors rolling back fines for farmers who deforest illegally or break other environmental laws. Like Trump, Bolsonaro, is wary of China. But producers here trust him not to blow it on trade.

      “Rural producers support Bolsonaro emphatically,” said Congresswoman Tereza Cristina, head of the powerful agriculture voting bloc in Brazil’s Congress. “We have access to him…and I am certain that he is smart and sensible.”

      U.S. FARM BELT PINCHED The outlook is much gloomier in Iowa, the long-established heart of U.S. agriculture.

      It is the nation’s top corn-producing state and the No. 2 producer of soybeans. But its access to some global markets has suffered under Trump.

      The president walked away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that would have opened valuable markets such as Japan to more American ag products. His renegotiation of the NAFTA accord had Mexico, the largest importer of U.S. corn, exploring other suppliers, including Brazil. Now the Chinese are pulling back.

      Boone lays smack in the state’s center, surrounded by miles of row crops, hogs and poultry. Farmland values here fell 12 percent from 2012 to 2017, according to Iowa State University. Worries about the U.S.-China trade war loomed over the recent Farm Progress show, which comes to town every other year.

      Equipment dealer Lee Randall jotted down prices at an auction of used tractors and implements at the show. Prices have dropped on trade tensions and low crop prices, he said, shaking his head as a green and yellow Deere & Co (DE.N) combine sold for $118,000 and another fetched $82,000.

      “Five years ago you could have added 30 percent to every one of these pieces,” said Randall, whose business, Randall Brothers, is based in Ohio.

      Nearby, Brett Begemann, chief operating officer for Bayer Crop Science (BAYGn.DE) said farmers were likewise scrutinizing purchases of seeds and chemicals. The trade dispute is making it difficult for Bayer to predict 2019 earnings for its agriculture unit.

      A two-hour drive north of Boone in Algona, Iowa, a town of about 5,500 people, farm doldrums are crimping business at the local Deere and Harley-Davidson Inc (HOG.N) dealerships, the operators said.

      “Ultimately this area lives and dies by the farmer,” said Jim Wilcox, an owner of the Harley store.

      Farmers’ woes are showing up on bank balance sheets as well. The proportion of the region’s agricultural loans reported as having repayment problems was up in the second quarter, reaching mid-year levels not seen since 2002, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

      Rodney Jensen, who farms near Algona, regrets not making deals to sell soybeans from his autumn harvest when prices were higher. Like many, he is storing his crop, waiting for better times.

      He worries China will not buy as much U.S. soy as it used to, even if the two nations patch things up.

      “It’s been pretty pessimistic around here,” Jensen said.

      Reporting by Jake Spring in Luis Eduardo Magalhães; and Tom Polansek in Boone, Iowa; Editing by Caroline Stauffer and Marla Dickerson

      Nueva York (EE.UU.), 9 oct (EFE).- El receptor puertorriqueño Christian Vázquez pegó batazo de cuatro esquinas y selló la victoria de los Medias Rojas de Boston, que vencieron a domicilio por 3-4 a los Yanquis de Nueva York y se ganaron el derecho de disputar el título de campeonato de la Liga Americana.

      Con su victoria los Medias Rojas pusieron números de 3-1 en la serie de División que se jugaba al mejor de cinco.

      Los Medias Rojas, que consiguieron marca de 108 victorias en la temporada regular, llegaron a la serie de campeonato de la Liga Americana por primera vez desde la temporada del 2013.

      Un año después de haber sido eliminados en la serie de División ante los Astros de Houston, los Medias Rojas iniciarán en su campo la serie de Campeonato en su campo el “Fenway Park”, el sábado, precisamente contra los Astros.

      Ninguno de los dos equipos ha dado a conocer a sus respectivos abridores para la serie que se jugará al mejor de siete.

      En el cuarto episodio, Vázquez (1) conectó batazo de vuelta entera por todo lo alto del jardín derecho.

      Con su cuadrangular el boricua puso números de 4-0 en la pizarra para sellar la victoria de la novena de Boston.

      Vázquez viajó tres veces a la caja de bateo y conectó sólo en una ocasión, castigando con batazo de cuatro esquinas que hizo volar la pelota 338 pies (103 metros).

      El puertorriqueño conectó su toletazo al cazar la serpentina del relevo Zach Britton.

      El antesalista dominicano Eduardo Núñez apoyó el ataque pegando dos veces en cuatro enfrentamientos contra el bateador y remolcó una de las cuatro carreras de los Medias Rojas.

      En la tercera entrada Núñez pegó sencillo a lo profundo del jardín izquierdo y empujó a la contadora al segunda base Ian Kinsler para poner en la pizarra números de 3-0.

      En la lomita la victoria correspondió al abridor Rick Porcello (1-0) en trabajo de cinco episodios completos, que permitió cuatro imparables, una carrera y retiró a un bateador.

      Por los Yanquis, el receptor dominicano Gary Sánchez pegó volado de sacrificio por todo lo alto del jardín izquierdo y empujó a la registradora al parador en corto Didi Gregorius.

      Sánchez, que pegó 1 de 3, remolcó la tercera carrera de los Yanquis, pero su esfuerzo fue insuficiente y la novena de Nueva York se quedó corta y queda eliminada de la postemporada de las Grandes Ligas.

      En la quinta entrada, el guardabosques Brett Gardner pegó de sacrificio y mandó a Sánchez a la registradora.

      El segunda base venezolano Gleyber Torres pegó una vez en cuatro viajes a la caja de bateo.

      El corredor emergente Adeiny Hechevarria no pudo llegar a la registradora.

      La derrota de los Yanquis la cargó su abridor C.C. Sabathia (0-1) en tres entradas al aceptar cinco imparables y tres anotaciones, quién además regaló dos pasaportes y retiró a uno.EFE

        Трейдер на фондовой бирже в Нью-Йорке. 12 мая 2015 года. Фондовые рынки США завершили торги вторника разнонаправленно, а индекс S&P 500 незначительно поднялся после трехдневного падения благодаря акциям финансовых компаний и производителей потребительских товаров. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

        LONDON (Reuters) – European markets fell on Monday as investor confidence took a knock from last week’s spike in Treasury yields and from a Chinese market slump brought on by concern that an escalating trade war with the United States could curb China’s growth.

        Chinese markets re-opened after a week’s holiday, and stocks recorded their biggest one-day drop since February, with the Shanghai-Shenzhen CSI300 down more than 4 percent for only the second time in more than 2 1/2 years.

        This helped set the tone for the European open and stock markets fell with the pan-European index down 0.8 percent and Germany’s DAX 0.8 percent lower.

        The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, fell 0.35 percent.

        The fall in global equities boosted demand for the dollar as investors rushed for safety. Against a basket of its rivals the U.S. currency rose 0.3 percent, edging towards a 14-month high hit in mid-August.

        Investor fears of higher U.S. interest rates, global protectionism, emerging market weakness and an Italian budget row have all combined to send equities sharply into the red in October, with world stocks down more than 2 percent already.

        “Europe is stuck between China and the US, it is feeling the heat from draining dollar liquidity and the continued anti-trade rhetoric,” said Talib Sheikh, manager of the Jupiter Flexible Income Fund.

        “We don’t think this is a dip to be buying across the eurozone. Nothing there looks desperately appealing, and if the macro headwinds don’t look to abate, further cheapening of valuations looks to be warranted.”

        The dark mood in China sent shivers across Asian markets and will add to investors nervousness — the MSCI benchmark emerging markets equity index dropped 0.8 percent to its lowest level since May 2017 and is now down 5.5 percent in October, the biggest monthly loss since January 2016.

        Growth concerns led the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) on Sunday to cut the level of cash that banks must hold as reserves, aimed at lowering financing costs as policymakers worry about the fallout from the tariff row with the United States.

        “China just cut reserve requirement ratios and expanded monetary policy, which is a response to the fact that China’s economy is slowing down, but the market doesn’t believe there is enough stimulus to cut the slowdown,” said Guillermo Felices, a senior strategist at BNP Paribas Asset Management, calling the current concerns markets face a “powerful cocktail”.

        “They’ve injected more liquidity into the market to contain the slowdown, which has already translated into weaker equity prices.”

        The Chinese slide comes after U.S. Treasury yields hit seven-year highs on Friday, following data that signaled a continued tightening of the labor market and increased inflationary pressures – adding to the reasons for the U.S. Federal Reserve to continue with its hiking cycle.

        Diverging monetary policy between Beijing and Washington pushed the offshore yuan to its lowest since mid-August at 6.937 against the dollar.

        Brazil outperformed other emerging markets on Monday after far-right former army captain Jair Bolsonaro won nearly half the votes in the first round of presidential elections on Sunday.

        London-listed Brazilian ETFs were up 6-7 percent, while the real was forecast to open stronger.

        U.S. trading is likely to be muted on Monday, with markets closed for Columbus Day.

        ITALY UNDER PRESSURE

        Renewed concerns over Italy’s budget also added to the risk-off tone in European equities. The FTSE MIB skidded 2.3 percent to its lowest since 21 April 2017, as government bonds yields hit new highs, putting pressure on bank shares.

        The European Commission has told Italy it is concerned about its budget deficit plans for the next three years since they breach what the EU asked the country to do in July, but Rome insisted on Saturday it would “not retreat” from its spending plans.

        Italy’s 10-year government bond hit four-and-a-half-year highs on Monday IT10YT=RR, and its spread over Germany reached 309 basis points, its widest in five years. As a result, the euro fell 0.44 percent to $1.1469, close to its lowest since Aug, 20.

        Germany’s 10-year government bond, the benchmark for the region, remains close to four-month highs at 0.559 percent.

        Oil dropped back to $82.93 per barrel after Washington said it may grant waivers to sanctions against Iran’s oil exports next month, and as Saudi Arabia was said to be replacing any potential shortfall from Iran.

        For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets open a news window on Reuters Eikon by pressing F9 and type in ‘Live Markets’ in the search bar

        Reporting by Virginia Furness, additional reporting by Andrew Galbraith; editing by Larry King

          SPOTSYLVANIA, Virginia (Reuters) – The last time U.S. congressional elections were held in this central Virginia district, Meg Sneed voted for the Republican incumbent, Representative Dave Brat. Her friend, Cheryll Lesser, did not vote at all.

          Last week, the two women sat in the second row at a campaign event in a martial arts’ studio listening to the Democrat running against Brat, Abigail Spanberger. They nodded in agreement with much of what she had to say.

          But the real reason they were there was basic: Donald Trump. They don’t like the president, and they weren’t about to vote for anyone, like Brat, who supports him.

          “More than the policy, it’s the animosity he is fostering within the country,” Sneed said of Trump.

          Voters such as Sneed and Lesser are a significant reason why Democrats now believe that in the Nov. 6 congressional midterm elections, the party can win more than the 23 seats they need to seize control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Some predict Democrats could take as many as 40 seats by flipping districts like Brat’s in Virginia.

          Earlier this year, Brat’s seat was considered safe. But if a so-called “blue wave” materializes, it would roll through a district like his, which includes pockets of suburban voters who increasingly have been turning away from Republicans.

          “Republicans are playing defense in more and more places,” said Doug Heye, a former official at the Republican National Committee. “The Democrats’ map continues to get bigger. The Republicans’ map continues to get smaller. That’s a real problem.”

          Democrats have poured resources not only into Brat’s district, but others that have come onto their battleground list, in places such as Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Southern California and other parts of Virginia such as the district currently represented by Republican Scott Taylor.

          They have been backed in the effort in Virginia by deep-pocketed advocacy groups such as House Majority PAC, which started running anti-Brat television ads last month, and NextGen, funded by California billionaire Tom Steyer, which decided this summer to launch efforts to turn out young voters in the district.

          In response, the Congressional Leadership Fund, a Republican political-action committee, is running ads attacking Spanberger, a sign that the party is genuinely worried about losing the seat.

          “IN MY GRILLE”

          Brat is a high-value Democratic target for several reasons.

          In 2014, he shocked the political order by beating then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Republican primary. Since taking office, he has aligned himself with the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, which has become a reliable ally of the Trump White House.

          Last year, as protesters crashed his events in the midst of a House push to repeal former President Barack Obama’s healthcare program, Brat remarked that “women are in my grille no matter where I go.”

          Those words have followed him ever since.

          In September, Brat held his first town hall in a year and did so with supportive audience of older veterans.

          Sarah Montgomery, a librarian for the U.S. Department of Defense who attended Spanberger’s event in Spotsylvania, said that after Brat’s district was re-drawn in 2016 to include her home, she researched him, and the video of his “grille” remark was the first thing she found.

          “He obviously has no respect for women,” she said.

          The firestorm over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault while in high school, came at a perilous moment for Brat, given his already difficult reputation with some women voters.

          Trump has played a part. Both Sneed and Lesser were angry that he chose to attack Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, at a rally last week.

          “It was disgusting,” Lesser said.

          Kavanaugh was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Saturday. Democratic activists hope discontent with his nomination will linger through November.

          Republicans, however, see the Kavanaugh fracas as galvanizing conservatives who have been looking for a reason to come out and vote in November’s elections.

          “It has mobilized and energized Republican voters in a way that only a Supreme Court nomination can,” said Matt Gorman, communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the arm of the party that supports House candidates like Brat.

          Brat has been a solid supporter of Kavanaugh, even though the House served no role in his nomination, and reasserted that support last week in a Facebook post.

          His campaign rejected the notion that he is not supportive of women, pointing to his efforts to combat human trafficking and the opioid epidemic and the passage of tax reform last year.

          “Congressman Brat has worked hard on issues affecting women since day one,” said a spokesperson, Katey Price.

          A MODERATE TONE

          A 39-year-old former officer for the Central Intelligence Agency, Spanberger looks like she could be the face of the Resistance, the woman-driven protest movement against Trump.

          But she has been careful to not alienate the independent and moderate voters she needs to win the district. At the Spotsylvania event, she didn’t mention Trump, Brat or Kavanaugh, focusing on domestic-policy issues such as healthcare and education.

          Asked for her position on Kavanaugh’s nomination, her campaign declined to comment.

          Instead, Spanberger touched on the thing that attracted voters such as Meg Sneed to her: turning down the volume in the civic discourse.

          “We’ve reached a place where we need to restore a level of civility to our conversations,” she told the crowd.

          Tom Davis, a former Republican congressman from Virginia, said it remains Brat’s race to win, and that Kavanaugh may be the issue that pulls him over the finish line.

          “It’s still a southern district,” Davis said. “There’s nothing like a good fight to keep your base in line.”

          Editing by Jason Szep and Cynthia Osterman

          Mayor Byron Brown and The Buffalo Common Council in collaboration with the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library cordially invite you to attend…

          The Isaías González-Soto Branch Library

          Dedication Ceremony and Celebration

           

          Monday, October 15th, 2018 at 5:00 p.m.

          280 Porter Avenue (corner of Niagara Street)

          Dedication Ceremony and Ribbon-Cutting

           Entertainment and Light Refreshments

          Bilingual Family Story-time

          The Buffalo Bills pulled off another upset on Sunday afternoon, defeating the Tennessee Titansby a score of 13-12 at New Era Field. Stephen Hauschka was the hero for the Bills, connecting on a 46-yard field goal to win the game as time expired. Today’s links has all of the coverage from Sunday’s win, with updates from Lorenzo Alexander, Jerry Hughes, Josh Allen, and much more.

          Hauschka: “It was a Huge Victory for the Team” – BuffaloBills.com
          Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka spoke to the media following the team’s win against the Titans. Hauschka spoke about making the game winning field goal and what was going through his head as he prepared for the attempt.

          What Josh Allen, Bills said about passing game struggles vs. Titans | NewYorkUpstate.com
          Allen threw for 82 yards on 10 of 19 passing with no passing touchdowns and an interception.

          What to make of Josh Allen’s fourth quarter comeback for the Bills | NewYorkUpstate.com
          The first and last drive of the game illicit hope. Everything in between those two drives, however, was shaky at best.

          The Bills pull one out in their first close game of the season | WGR 550 SportsRadio
          Josh Allen came through when he was needed the most

          Sean McDermott: “We Got Into a Good Rhythm” – BuffaloBills.com
          HC Sean McDermott spoke to the media following the Bills’ victory over the Tennessee Titans on October 7th. Topics included: Defensive development, communication improvements, and Josh Allen’s growing level of confidence.

          Why didn’t Bills’ Jerry Hughes finish sack of Titans QB Marcus Mariota? | NewYorkUpstate.com
          Hughes had Mariota in a bear hug and what seemed to be a quarterback sack before Mariota broke free.

           

          FILE - In this Oct. 3, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump tosses paper towels into a crowd at Calvary Chapel in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. Trump congratulated Puerto Rico for escaping the higher death toll of "a real catastrophe like Katrina" and heaped praise on the relief efforts of his administration without mentioning the sharp criticism the federal response has drawn. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

          Far more people died from Hurricane Maria than Katrina, but the House and Senate have asked fewer questions.

          After Hurricane Katrina crashed into the Gulf Coast in 2005, Congress sprang into action.

          Seventeen days after the storm made landfall, the Republican-led House created a bipartisan select committee to investigate the Bush administration’s response to the storm. In the Senate, the committee with oversight over the Federal Emergency Management Agency held 22 hearings in six months. Within eight months, both committees had released 500-plus-page investigations into the Bush administration’s handling of the crisis with dozens of recommendations for reform.

          In the year since Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, killing nearly 70 percent more people than Katrina, the GOP-led House has yet to create a select committee to oversee the Trump administration’s recovery efforts. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees FEMA, has held just two hearings related to the storm. Neither the House nor the Senate have issued any major reports, and none appear to be in the works.

          The lack of congressional oversight is especially striking since serious questions remain unanswered about a hurricane that killed an estimated 2,975 people, according to researchers at George Washington University. President Donald Trump falsely claimed last week that the death count was inflated as part of a partisan Democratic attack. But with only limited oversight from Congress, disaster experts contend, it is difficult to hold officials accountable for delayed responses last year, to help FEMA learn from its mistakes or to provide a documented accounting of what happened in order to refute claims like the one in Trump’s tweet.

          “Puerto Rico is getting far less attention, in spite of it being one of the worst disasters in modern American history, than Katrina and far less attention than we got for Superstorm Sandy,” said Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University. “From the beginning, the handling of Maria’s consequences both from the White House and Congress has been abysmally inadequate.”

          After being slow to demand further oversight from congressional leaders,Democrats are now sharply criticizing Republicans for failing to act, calling for an independent commission to investigate the storm and promising to open a new investigation if they win back the House in November. They say that Republicans are providing political cover for Trump, whose response to the Puerto Rican disaster was slower than his efforts to clean up damage from Hurricane Harvey in Texas just a month earlier.

          Republicans reject the criticism that they have not fully investigated the storm. They point to hearings across different committees, congressional trips to Puerto Rico and thousands of documents reviewed by congressional staff. The House has also twice passed bills aimed at helping FEMA to better prepare for future disasters.

          “[The committees] have conducted rigorous oversight of the U.S. government’s response following the storms including holding full committee and subcommittee hearings, a field hearing, and bipartisan briefings,” said AshLee Strong, press secretary for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) “This work is not over as we continue to conduct oversight including Congressional requests of the Government Accountability Office and forthcoming review of the Inspector General’s audit.”

          Nonetheless, a two-month POLITICO review of Congress’ actions after Katrina and Maria found that the House and Senate acted far more aggressively in the year after Katrina than in the past year after Maria.

          Soon after Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, House GOP leaders called for an investigation and created a select committee to investigate the storm. Democrats, in fact, voted almost unanimously against the creation of the committee, arguing that Republicans, who would lead the committee, would use it to whitewash the Bush administration’s response to the storm. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told Democrats to boycott the committee altogether, but representatives from the Gulf states participated anyway, believing that the committee, despite its makeup, was the best chance to get information out of the administration.

          Former Rep. Charlie Melancon of Louisiana, the ranking Democrat on the committee, recalled that he didn’t remember the committee accomplishing much. “In my mind, it was to make it look like Congress or GOP leadership was doing something,” he said.

          Still, the committee held nine public hearings and reviewed more than 500,000 pages of documents, according to the 582-page report, titled “A Failure of Initiative,” that was released less than six months after Katrina. It provided an avenue for Democrats to keep pressure on the administration to hand over documents related to the storm and make officials available for interviews.

          “The mere fact that there was a bipartisan select committee appointed by the speaker is pretty profound in light of what we’re seeing with Puerto Rico now,” said Casey O’Shea, a former chief of staff to Melancon who is now serving as a senior adviser to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “In Katrina, we always said that an unprecedented catastrophe deserves an unprecedented response. That was our mantra. With Maria, what we’re seeing with Puerto Rico is anything but that.”

          Former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), who chaired the committee, defended its work, arguing that it was ultimately critical of the administration. “We were very serious about it,” he said.

          Across the Capitol, the Senate conducted its own investigation into the Bush administration’s response to Katrina through the Senate government affairs committee. Over six months, the committee held 22 hearings with 85 witnesses, reviewed over 838,000 pages of documents and interviewed 325 people involved in the response. Many of the hearings focused on narrow issues, such as search-and-rescue efforts after the storm, and the committee produced its own 737-page report, titled “A Nation Still Unprepared.”

          “We really did devote a lot of time to it,” said former Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who was the top Democrat on the committee. “We went down to the Gulf Coast a couple times. As a result, the media followed us, certainly to the Gulf Coast area but more broadly. That meant it was harder for the executive branch to ignore us.”

          Unlike in 2005 and 2006, oversight after Maria has been split among a number of different committees, which critics say dilutes the impact of any individual probe.

          The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has held two hearings—both subcommittee, not full committee hearings—related to the 2017 hurricane season, reviewed more than 17,000 documents and held multiple briefings for committee members. The Transportation committee has held four hearings on the 2017 hurricanes, as well as a roundtable discussion, and it has had briefings for staff and meetings with agency officials. The Energy and Commerce Committee and Committee on Natural Resources have each held four hearings, while the Homeland Security Committee has held two hearings.

          Democrats remain critical of the oversight. On Sept. 6, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Oversight committee, released a reportcomplaining about a lack of hearings and criticizing the committee chairman, Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, for refusing to request documents from the administration, including communications between FEMA and Department of Homeland Security leaders.

          “It’s not that Democrats aren’t doing anything,” said a senior Democratic aide. “It’s just that Democrats don’t control the gavels. We can’t call up administration witnesses each week.”

          The same day that Democrats released their report, Gowdy sent a letter to FEMA requesting all communications from 13 FEMA officials related to 10 different aspects of the agency’s response to the storm, including the lack of qualified personnel, wiring issues with the electrical system and problems with existing disaster plans. It was just the second letter requesting information about FEMA sent by the committee and the first since Oct. 11, 2017.

          Amanda Gonzalez, communications director for the Oversight committee, defended its work, noting that the committee has been in touch with FEMA on a “near-weekly” basis. The committee also intends to reschedule a hearing, originally scheduled for Sept. 7, with FEMA Administrator Brock Long, which was postponed as a result of Hurricane Florence.

          In the Senate, oversight has come largely from the Government Affairs Committee and Energy and Natural Resources Committee, each of which has held two hearings into the storm. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, visited Puerto Rico in November, while Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Oversight Committee, visited the island last October.

          Republicans also point to the Disaster Recovery Reform Act as a major reform effort resulting from the 2017 hurricane season. The legislation, which includes many changes designed to help communities better prepare for a major disaster, was introduced in the House last November and has passed the lower chamber twice. Johnson, along with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), the ranking member of the committee, introduced similar legislation in June. The full Senate has yet to take it up.

          While many disaster recovery experts are optimistic about those reforms, they remain critical of the lack of oversight after Maria and said it’s a missed opportunity to learn lessons from the storm. In the House, the disparate nature of the oversight meant no single committee has been looking comprehensively at the response. The piecemeal approach, they said, reduces attention toward the government’s response, lessening the pressure on the Trump administration and resulting in important issues falling through the cracks.

          It’s also resulted in the administration turning over far fewer documents to Congress. The Oversight Committee has reviewed roughly 17,000 documents related to the storms, compared with more than 500,000 documents reviewed by the Katrina select committee. Other committees did not respond to questions about how many documents they have reviewed related to the 2017 hurricane season.

          Meanwhile, the Senate has barely investigated the storms at all. Johnson, for instance, hasn’t sent a single letter to FEMA requesting documents or further information about the administration’s response to the storm, according to the committee’s website.

          Ben Voelkel, communications director for the committee, defended its response: “The chairman and his staff continue to conduct oversight and push forward legislation to enhance our nation’s response to and recovery from disasters.”

          A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

          Disaster-recovery specialists portrayed the Senate’s response as lackluster and its failure to hold hearings a missed opportunity.

          “A lot of times, there’s a lot of lessons learned that can come out of those hearings,” said Michael Coen, who was chief of staff at FEMA during the Obama administration. “They aren’t going to find anything if they didn’t look.”

          Davis, the former chairman of the Katrina select committee, said that increased partisanship has made it harder for Congress to conduct oversight as any findings become political fodder for the other side. He declined to comment on whether Congress should create a select committee to investigate the administration’s response to Hurricane Maria, saying it was “leadership’s choice” but said select committees can work well if you get “serious members and take partisanship out of it.”

          He added, “But it’s hard to get there these days. Everyone gets caught up in elections. We need to get back to that and get some good answers and let the chips fall where they may.”

          Democrats have introduced legislation in the House and Senate to set up an independent commission to investigate the response to the storms. Lieberman, who co-authored legislation with the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that created a similar commission after 9/11, said such commissions can work well and worried that it becomes harder to conduct such oversight as time goes by.

          “People in Puerto Rico really suffered, and there is a need for a full-fledged investigation soon or else all the evidence will get stale,” Lieberman said.

          For Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, one big problem, experts said, is a lack of representation in Congress. As territories, they each have one nonvoting representative in the House and no senators. That makes it even harder to pressure congressional leaders to investigate the storms.

          “It feels like Maria is kind of a peripheral issue,” said the senior Democratic aide. “It’s an island in the Caribbean in that most people don’t think about regularly and that’s just the disaster of having a disaster in Puerto Rico.”

          The aide added that Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló did not help his own cause when he refused to criticize the Trump administration’s response in the first few weeks after the storm. “He tried to play both sides in this. He tried to cozy up to the Trump administration, play to Trump’s ego, say everything is good. But when he talked to congressional Democrats, he said we really are getting screwed here.”

          “I do think he has a point in playing it that way,” the aide added, “[but] it took the wind out of the sails for oversight.”

          Redlener, the disaster management expert at Columbia, agreed that a select committee would be helpful to conduct oversight into the storm. But he said that Congress needs to go further a create a permanent select committee charged with investigating the government’s response to natural disasters, from hurricanes to wildfires.

          “It goes beyond getting information and headlines but what is the enduring agenda that helps make sure the lessons are absorbed properly, learned and applied,” he said. “There’s the experience of the disaster and those experiences should be learned as lessons. But if we don’t apply those lessons from the last disasters, we’ll be left with repeating the same mistakes over and over again.”

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