Trump Admin Tells UN There Is ‘No International Right To An Abortion’

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar railed against abortion rights on Monday during a speech at the United Nations General Assembly.

Azar presented a joint statement on behalf of the U.S. and 18 other nations, which expressed opposition to terms such as “sexual and reproductive health and rights” being used in U.N. documents because “they can undermine the critical role of the family and promote practices, like abortion, in circumstances that do not enjoy international consensus and which can be misinterpreted by U.N. agencies.”

Arguing that there is “no international right to an abortion,” the HHS secretary said that the aforementioned terms “should not be used to promote pro-abortion policies and measures.”

Azar also stated that the 19 countries, including the U.S., only support sex education that “appreciates the protective role of the family” and “does not condone harmful sexual risks for young people.”

“We therefore request that the U.N., including U.N. agencies, focus on concrete efforts that enjoy broad consensus among member states,” Azar said. “To that end, only documents that have been adopted by all member states should be cited in U.N. resolutions.”

Bahrain, Belarus, Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen co-signed the statement.

[Talking Points Memo]

Trump Pushes Baseless Smear That Ilhan Omar ‘Partied’ on 9/11

President Donald Trump on Wednesday used his Twitter account to boost a baseless smear claiming that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) danced at an event last week on the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, a claim that’s based on footage that wasn’t actually taken from that day.

Trump’s tweet circulated a video from conservative personality Terrence Williams, in which Williams declared that Omar “partied on the anniversary of 9/11.” In his video, Williams comments on footage of the Muslim congresswoman dancing and fumes that she’s disrespecting the memory of the Sept. 11 attacks.

But the footage of Omar dancing actually came from a Sept. 13 event hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus and wasn’t taken on the eleventh, as Williams and Trump wrongly claimed. 

Trump, however, used Williams’ video to declare that Omar would help Republicans win Minnesota. “Ilhan Omar, a member of AOC Plus 3, will win us the Great State of Minnesota,” the president tweeted. “The new face of the Democrat Party!” 

Williams’ original tweet was deleted from Twitter at some point on Wednesday. Twitter confirmed to The Daily Beast that the video post was not removed by the social-media site’s administrators but was instead deleted by Williams or someone with access to his Twitter account.

Williams did not respond to a request for comment.

Omar blasted Trump’s smear on Wednesday, tweeting that he has put her life in danger.

“The President of the United States is continuing to spread lies that put my life at risk,” she wrote. “What is Twitter doing to combat this misinformation?”

Trump has frequently targeted Omar with smears, inspiring death threats against the Somali-American lawmaker. In July, Trump suggested that Omar had married her own brother to commit immigration fraud—a baseless claim that’s become increasingly popular on the right, despite being based entirely on a single, anonymous message-board post. 

[The Daily Beast]

Mike Pence speaks at fundraiser for anti-LGBT hate group – a week after the White House denied he is homophobic

On Thursday, September 13, Pence was the headline speaker at the black tie gala for evangelical group Concerned Women of America, which lobbies against LGBT+ inclusion.

Anti-extremism watchdog Southern Poverty Law Center notes that the group has claimed that “gay marriage entices children to experiment with homosexuality”, and that “homosexuality carries enormous physical and mental health risks”.

The CWA has claimed: “Homosexual activists use same-sex ‘marriage’ as a political juggernaut to indoctrinate young children in schools to reject their parent’s values and to harass, sue and punish people who disagree.”

The $100-a-head gala was hosted at the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC, and was also addressed by Second Lady Karen Pence and anti-LGBT+ Republican Mike Huckabee.

Mike Pence hails ‘freedom to discriminate’ orders.

In his speech, Pence cited the Trump administration’s creation of “conscience rights” loopholes in discrimination protections, adding: “We’ve had two and a half years of action… and we’re just getting started.”

He said: “The source of our prosperity is that foundation of faith and ideals of the American people, things the CWA has been all about from the beginning. President Trump has been busy strengthening the constitutional foundation and the commitment to those ideals from day one.

“I promise you, this is an administration that will always defend the freedom of religion of every American.

“The president promised back in 2016 to defend your right to fully practice your religion as individuals, as business owners, and as academic institutions, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”

CWA founder Beverly LaHaye said in a release: “This event is so special for me and for Concerned Women for America.

For CWA to continue to draw notable honoured guests like our vice president of the United States, Mike Pence, and his lovely wife, Karen, and governor Mike Huckabee – is an indication of God’s continued favour over Concerned Women for America these last 40 years.

“I am grateful for that favour and blessing; it has truly been the honour of my lifetime to lead CWA.”

Vice president has anti-LGBT+ record.

Pence’s three years as vice president have become defined by frequent spats over LGBT+ rights and criticism over his closeness to anti-gay hate groups.

A 2018 report alleged that Pence has played a pivotal role in actions taken by the Trump administration to dismantle civil rights protections for LGBT+ people.

White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere claimed earlier this month that Mike Pence isn’t “anti-gay” because he had lunch with gay Irish leader Leo Varadkar and his partner.

He tweeted: “For all of you who still think our VP is anti-gay, I point you to his and the Second Lady’s schedule tomorrow where they will join Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his partner Dr. Matthew Barrett for lunch in Ireland.”

[Pink News]

Trump discourages black college students from becoming astronauts in bizarre anti-science rant

President Donald Trump went off-script and attacked astronauts as a career choice at an event for Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs).

The president made the anti-science rant while congratulating his administrations work with HBCUs.

“To give just a few examples, NASA is expanding outreach to HBCUs who want to become scientists, engineers and even astronauts,” Trump said.

“I don’t know about the astronaut,” he added, breaking from prepared remarks. “I don’t want to be an astronaut.”

Trump then polled the audience: “Does anybody want to be an astronaut? I see one. There’s one brave person.”

[Raw Story]

Media

Trump dismisses idea of allowing Bahamians into U.S. after Hurricane Dorian

President Donald Trump on Monday downplayed the idea of allowing Bahamians fleeing the destruction of Hurricane Dorian into the United States on humanitarian grounds, hours after his acting Customs and Border Protection chief said it was worth considering.

“We have to be very careful. Everybody needs totally proper documentation because the Bahamas had some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas that weren’t supposed to be there,” Trump said on the White House South Lawn before departing for a campaign rally in North Carolina, where he also planned to survey Dorian damage.

“I don’t want to allow people that weren’t supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States, including some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers.”

Earlier Monday, acting Customs and Border Protection chief Mark Morgan said during a press briefing that while there has not been any formal grant of temporary protected status, or TPS, for Bahamians affected by Dorian, it was not something he had ruled out. TPS provides legal status to migrants from countries affected by war or natural disaster and allows them to live and work in the U.S. for a set period of time.

Morgan said he had yet to discuss it with Trump but said, “I think it would be appropriate to have that circumstance. History shows we’ve done that before.” He added that if it’s a “lengthy time” before residents of the Bahamas can get back on their feet, he expected the discussion to happen.

Instead of allowing Bahamians into this country — which Trump said is “also recovering from the hurricane” — Trump suggested those struggling in devastated areas of the Bahamas could go to the “large sections” of their country that were not hit.

The conflicting stances came a day after more than 100 Bahamians were forced off a ferry boat before it could reach Florida, according to two U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.

Those removed from the boat were supposed to be taken to the Bahamas capital of Nassau first to get visas, a process that authorities in the United States have been coordinating with the Bahamas government on to ensure is done correctly, Customs and Border Protection officials said in a statement on Monday.

The ferry boat operator had not coordinated the evacuation with U.S. authorities first, the officials said.

Customs and Border Protection said in a statement on Monday that it is “supporting the humanitarian mission with interagency partners in the Bahamas” following Dorian, one of the strongest Atlantic storms ever recorded.

“CBP continues to process the arrivals of passengers evacuating from the Bahamas according to established policy and procedures — as demonstrated by the nearly 1,500 Hurricane Dorian survivors who arrived at the Port of Palm Beach, Fla., aboard a cruise ship on Saturday and were processed without incident,” the agency said.

The agency added it was “notified of a vessel preparing to embark an unknown number of passengers in Freeport and requested that the operator of the vessel coordinate with U.S. and Bahamian government officials in Nassau before departing The Bahamas.” The agency said that it has already processed nearly 1,500 storm survivors at the Port of Palm Beach, Fla., aboard a cruise ship on Saturday.

Video of the evacuees being ordered off the boat was first shared by Miami’s WSVN reporter Brian Entin late Sunday.

Anyone arriving in the U.S. from another country needs to first meet with a Customs and Border Protection officer at official ports of entry and must have valid identity and travel documents, the agency’s statement said.

Dorian has killed at least 44 people in the Bahamas, according to the country’s health minister. The storm hit the islands as a Category 5 last Sunday and Monday, leaving tens of thousands of residents homeless. It then slammed North Carolina’s Outer Banks Islands before pounding Canada’s Atlantic Coast.

[NBC News]

Trump administration raids military for border wall

The Trump administration is carrying out plans to raid $3.6 billion in military construction projects to build the border wall, further inflaming lawmakers who have accused President Donald Trump of illegally overriding Congress’ spending decisions.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper informed congressional leaders on Tuesday of the cash grab from a total of 127 military projects. Roughly half the money will come from funds previously dedicated to upgrading military bases abroad and the other half in the United States.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Esper told him some of the money will come from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in his home state of New York.

“It is a slap in the face to the members of the Armed Forces who serve our country that President Trump is willing to cannibalize already allocated military funding to boost his own ego and for a wall he promised Mexico would pay to build,” Schumer said in a statement.

Trump declared a national emergency in February in order to divert $8 billion from various federal accounts to build a physical barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, including a Treasury Department fund and Defense Department efforts to interdict illegal drugs.

Tuesday’s announcement comes on top of $2.5 billion the Pentagon already diverted from its budget toward the border barrier this spring over objections from leaders on the House and Senate Armed Services and Appropriations committees.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Esper told him some of the money will come from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in his home state of New York.

“It is a slap in the face to the members of the Armed Forces who serve our country that President Trump is willing to cannibalize already allocated military funding to boost his own ego and for a wall he promised Mexico would pay to build,” Schumer said in a statement.

Trump declared a national emergency in February in order to divert $8 billion from various federal accounts to build a physical barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, including a Treasury Department fund and Defense Department efforts to interdict illegal drugs.

Tuesday’s announcement comes on top of $2.5 billion the Pentagon already diverted from its budget toward the border barrier this spring over objections from leaders on the House and Senate Armed Services and Appropriations committees.

[Politico]

Ken Klukowski, a Breitbart.com writer and anti-LGBTQ lawyer, joins Trump administration

Breitbart.com writer Ken Klukowski has joined the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. The right-wing pundit and lawyer has a history of pushing anti-LGBTQ commentary, including telling readers there’s a “homosexual agenda” moving forward in the courts and falsely claiming that research proves that same-sex parents are bad for children. 

Klukowski has worked for a variety of right-wing organizations, including Breitbart.com, the American Civil Rights Union, First Liberty Institute, Liberty University School of Law, and Family Research Council. As a lawyer, Klukowski has filed numerous briefs supporting right-wing causes. He joined the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as a special counsel in late August. OMB, which is under the direction of Mick Mulvaney, “oversees the performance of federal agencies, and administers the federal budget.” 

Klukowksi was previously the director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council. Family Research Council is an influential and extreme anti-LGBTQ group with high levels of access to the Trump-Pence administration. The organization has compared LGBTQ people to pedophiles and advocated for the discredited and harmful practice of conversion therapy. It also  states on its website: “Family Research Council believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed.” 

Klukowski is also an ally of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), another of the most influential anti-LGBTQ groups in the country. Sarah Posner wrote in The Nation that “Klukowski has said that he attended ADF legal trainings, and he also authored a rosy profile of the organization for Breitbart in 2012, in which he lauded its ‘massive and growing impact in courtrooms across America.’” He joins numerous other ADF-allied lawyers who have held government positions; Media Matters has identified more than 100 such allies who worked in Congress, federal agencies, state and federal courts, city and state governments, and local school boards in 2018. 

As a commentator, Klukowski frequently warned against LGBTQ equality, claiming, for instance, that “the entire homosexual agenda is moving forward in federal court, where judges are disregarding the will of the American people.” He’s also attacked same-sex parenting, falsely claiming that research shows that having “two parents – one man and one woman” gives children the best chance to succeed. 

Klukowski: “The entire homosexual agenda is moving forward in federal court, where judges are disregarding the will of the American people.” From a September 2010 op-ed in the Washington Examiner by Klukowski, h/t GLAAD:

The Perry and Log Cabin cases, taken with the recent Massachusetts federal decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (currently on appeal), paint a picture of astounding judicial activism.

The entire homosexual agenda is moving forward in federal court, where judges are disregarding the will of the American people, as expressed through the democratic process. Agenda-driven judges are doing this by declaring brand new constitutional rights not found anywhere in the words of the Constitution, mowing down every law that stands in their way.

Klukowski: “The fundamental institution of human civilization should be preserved as it has been known through the entirety of American history and Western civilization.” In an August 2010 op-ed he wrote for FoxNews.com with Family Research Center’s Kenneth Blackwell, Klukowski warned Republicans against accepting same-sex marriage, writing: 

The GOP platform could not be more explicit: Marriage is the union of one man and one woman. The fundamental institution of human civilization should be preserved as it has been known through the entirety of American history and Western civilization. Supporters of same-sex marriage had the full opportunity to make their case to the party. They made it, and they lost.

Klukowski falsely argued that same-sex parents won’t give “children the best chance to become happy and successful.” In a 2011 Daily Caller op-edwritten with Blackwell, Klukowski claimed that research proves that same-sex parents are inferior to opposite-sex parents. In reality, Cornell University’s Public Policy Research Portal wrotethat there’s “an overwhelming scholarly consensus, based on over three decades of peer-reviewed research, that having a gay or lesbian parent does not harm children.” 

The data contradicts [MSNBC host Chris Matthews’] televised encyclical.

Children thrive best in a household with a father and a mother. Not just two individuals who call themselves “parents” — and if both adults are of the same gender, it is biologically impossible for them to both be the natural parents — but a father and a mother.

Men and women are equal, but not interchangeable. The research — as exemplified by our colleague Dr. Pat Fagan in his new report — show that the economics are compelling: While there are exceptions to every social norm, men and women tend to bring different strengths to raising children. Firmness and gentleness. Physical security and emotional security. Challenges and comfort. Discipline and nurturing.

Many families do not have the benefit of both parents. Often the reasons behind this reality rightly tug on our heartstrings. And millions of single parents deserve lavish praise for their magnificent work at raising wonderful children, with inspiring personal success stories.

But the ideal remains. Two parents — one man and one woman — raising their children in a loving and supportive marriage gives children the best chance to become happy and successful.

Klukowski: “The social science is clear that children thrive best not just in the two-parent home but in a home with a biological father and biological mother.” Klukowski also repeated his false claim about same-sex parenting during a February 23, 2012, appearance on Fox Business’ Stossel (via Nexis):

JOHN STOSSEL (HOST): If the state approves marriages between heterosexuals people, why not gays?

KEN KLUKOWSKI: Well, the states are softening in that regard and every chance that the states have had to speak in that regard where the voters of the states 30 of them have adopted — have adopted constitutional amendments —

STOSSEL: It’s not the tyranny of the majority just because we have majority rule. Why can’t —

KLUKOWSKI: In this regard, the states are sovereign and the social science is clear that children thrive best not just in the two-parent home but in a home with a biological father and biological mother. People fall short of that all time but government has a vested interest in promoting the ideal even if we all fall short of it to one extent or another. 

Klukowski criticized the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell because “in the military you are often forced into quarters so close that they’re sometimes nothing short of intimate.” Klukowski wrote in his book Resurgent: How Constitutional Conservatism Can Save America of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: 

A fantastic example of a failure of leadership is President Obama calling on Congress to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law (DADT). Ever since the founding of the Republic, homosexuals have not been able to serve openly in the military. Setting aside religious beliefs, moral convictions, and natural law, this still makes sense, given that in the military you are often forced into quarters so close that they’re sometimes nothing short of intimate, with no privacy or personal space whatsoever in an extremely stressful, emotional, and adrenaline-filled environment. As a sop to the gay rights community, when Democrats had control of both Congress and the White House, President Bill Clinton softened this policy to say that it was still illegal for gays to serve in the military, but that no one could ask you about it so you were okay as long as you didn’t tell anyone or get caught doing anything.

The military is no place for social engineering. No doubt many homosexuals can be trusted not to make sexual advances, just as many heterosexuals can likewise be trusted in close quarters. But we don’t allow men and women to bunk together, or deploy them alone together in a forward position with no privacy, even though we trust them to remain professional and adhere to standards of conduct. Homosexuals should not get any special treatment denied to heterosexuals.

Klukowski: “The media is as much in the tank for gay marriage as it is for every other major part of President Barack Obama’s agenda.” From a July 2013 Breitbart.com column criticizing PolitiFact’s reporting: 

In case you just arrived from a different planet and didn’t yet know the media is as much in the tank for gay marriage as it is for every other major part of President Barack Obama’s agenda, you need only read Politifact’s recent post on Tony Perkins, where reporter Amy Sherman claims Perkins’s recent statements on how some wedding vendors are being forced to participate in same-sex marriages “under threat or even jail” are only “half true.”

In fact, Perkins’ claims are entirely true. For an organization that supposedly investigates facts (and incidentally is part of a solidly-liberal newspaper), to say Perkins’ claims are only half true is to post a story that is half fiction.  

[Media Matters]

Trump 2020 logo looted from white supremacists

A Trump Pence 2020 logo that appears at the end of a video posted by President Donald Trump’s Twitter account Wednesday appears to be the exact same logo used by a pro-Trump Dutch Twitter account that has promoted white supremacism, according to a report at Mediaite. That group’s Twitter account was at some point suspended.

But there are more links between the Trump campaign and the white supremacists group. Their name, “Lion Guard,” appears to have come from a tweet – quoting fascist dictator Benito Mussolini – posted by none other than candidate Donald Trump in 2016. In case there were any question, he even uses the Twitter handle of the account he obtained the quote from. It’s based on Mussolini’s nickname, Il Duce.

“The use of the same logo appears to have been first reported by former Snopes Managing Editor Brooke Binkowski, who revealed the similarity via a series of tweets,” Mediaite notes:

The second image in the above tweet is a screenshot of a tweet from VDARE, an anti-Semitic and racist website that has ties to white supremacists and is popular with the alt-right. VDARE was recently in the news when the Dept. of Justice sent an email to all its immigration judges with a link to an anti-Semitic article at VDAREthat criticized immigration judges.

Mediaite also points to this 2015 Talking Points Memo article, “Trump Thanks Self-Described Dutch White Supremacist For His Support.”

Mediaite does not note this in their reporting but there is a watermark on the video Trump posted that reads: “@som3thingwicked.” That is the name of a Twitter account that says it is a “CONTENT CREATOR” (in all-caps.) Trump’s social media director Dan Scavino follows that account.

This is not the first time Trump has looted a logo. The coat of arms for Mar-a-Lago and Trump’s other golf courses was swiped from a former ambassador to the Soviet Union.

[Raw Story]

Trump Attacks Puerto Rico Ahead of the Storm—When the Island Is More Vulnerable Than Ever

Hurricane Dorian is set to make landfall today in Puerto Rico, with the potential of winds up to about 75 mph and heavy rains. The storm will strike only weeks before the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, which tore the island apart in September 2017. Even though Zoé Laboy, the governor’s chief of staff, told reporters on Sunday that “Puerto Rico is ready,” recovery takes a long time—and even longer given the political and fiscal challenges the island has faced both internally and from the Trump administration.

“The recovery process from disasters, particularly from a catastrophic event like Maria, is measured in years, in decades,” says Samantha Montano, an emergency management and disaster science expert at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. “When you’re looking at a community already undergoing a recovery process, you’re in a more vulnerable state.”

Both during and after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane, the island’s devastation and recovery dominated the headlines. Maria left nearly 3,000 Puerto Ricans dead, and damage to the electrical grid meant that almost half a million residents were without power for more than four months. Puerto Rico’s electrical grid had already been in need of an upgrade before the storm, and it took 11 months before the island regained power. An estimated $95 billion in damages burdened a colony already in a decade-long economic slump, unable to contend with $120 billion in outstanding debts and obligations. Economic conditions and the storm caused the island to lose roughly 4 percent of its population, with many young people and families moving to Florida—a dynamic that has further slowed the recovery.

On Tuesday, President Trump falsely claimed on Twitter that Congress granted Puerto Rico $92 billion in aid. According to FEMA’s data on disaster funding, Congress has allocated a total of almost $42.7 billion, less than half of the sum Trump claimed, to the Puerto Rican government for disaster assistance, flood control, and other services related to recovery. Of the amount Congress has approved for Puerto Rico, less than $14 billion has been disbursed to the island so far. In 2017, Trump visited the island in the aftermath of Maria and memorablytossed paper towels to Puerto Ricans in an aid distribution center before cutting short his perfunctory visit to the United States territory.

“Because of federal and local neglect, Puerto Rico is still not prepared for another natural disaster,” says José Caraballo-Cueto of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research at the University of Puerto Rico. “Two years after Maria, thousands of residents are without roofs, the electrical grid is more or less in the same, weak condition, and many roads and bridges in the countryside were not completely restored.” Caraballo-Cueto, who is also the former president of the Puerto Rico Economists Association, says that instead of establishing a systematic approach to using the funds for recovery, the two entities responsible for distributing the money—the local government and the unelected, federally appointed fiscal control board that makes decisions about how Puerto Rico can spend money—”prefer to depend almost exclusively on NGOs and on the federal government to recover.” 

Although Dorian likely won’t hit the island with a force comparable to Maria’s Category 4 strength, with its 155 mile an hour winds and torrential rain that stalled over the island, for the thousands who remain without roofs, “it doesn’t matter how much it rains, it’s a big issue,” says Jenniffer Santos-Hernández, an expert in emergency management at the University of Puerto Rico’s Centro de Investigaciones Sociales. Santos-Hernández acknowledges that even though the government and some communities have more resources than they did during and after Maria, “the way that FEMA and the emergency management agency in Puerto Rico collaborate is not necessarily the best, because it’s very politicized.” Emergency management in Puerto Rico is “not really a professional career, but a political appointment.” Given Puerto Rico’s colonial status, the “lack of trust among the actors…becomes amplified.”

Puerto Rico’s recent political turmoil further complicates the issue of both preparedness and recovery, should the storm bring greater damage to the island’s already compromised infrastructure. On July 24, less than two weeks after the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo published889 pages of a chat group featuring misogynistic and homophobic language and possible evidence of corruption among the governor and 11 of his associates, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló resigned. On his way out of office, he appointed Pedro Pierluisi as secretary of state—an attempt to ensure that Pierluisi would succeed him as governor—only for a court to rule five days later that the process had been unconstitutional, disqualifying Pierluisi from service. Wanda Vázquez Garced, the island’s secretary of justice, who has faced allegations that she didn’t fully investigate issues around aid distribution after Hurricane Maria, was sworn in as governor on August 7.

The political upheaval caused FEMA to require extra documentation for reimbursement, applicant information, and work plans in Puerto Rico. This policy had been enacted in the fall of 2017 after Hurricane Maria but was eventually rescinded after the government of Puerto Rico established internal controls for the spending. The day after Rosselló’s resignation, FEMA reinstated the policy citing “the ongoing leadership changes within the Puerto Rican government, combined with continued concern over Puerto Rico’s history of fiscal irregularities and mismanagement.”

How that decision would potentially affect funding or additional support should Dorian cause major damage to the island is unclear. But in a response to a March 2019 General Accountability Office review of disaster funding in Puerto Rico, the island’s government said the policy “places an undue burden” on residents applying for federal aid and “significantly delays” reimbursement. The government’s letter asserted, “FEMA has never implemented such a [system] for any previous disaster in the nation.” FEMA did not respond to a request for clarification of this policy.  

A punitive federal response to Puerto Rico’s internal political problems was not restricted to FEMA. The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced on August 2 that roughly $9 billion in disaster mitigation funds earmarked for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands would be separated from overall disaster mitigation funding for nine other states. Before the HUD decision, funding for the states and the territories was going to be disbursed together, but the new decision allowed HUD to give money to the states while delaying money for the territories. In a statement, HUD Secretary Ben Carson said, “Recovery efforts in jurisdictions prepared to do their part should not be held back due to alleged corruption, fiscal irregularities and fiscal mismanagement occurring in Puerto Rico.” He cited the July 10 arrest and indictment of Julia Keleher, the island’s former education secretary, on charges of improperly steering sizable contracts to associates in 2017.

[Mother Jones]

Trump whines about paying for disaster relief in Puerto Rico as another storm barrels down on US territory

President Donald Trump complained — again — about disaster relief aid for Puerto Rico for hurricane relief as another storm approached.

The president has repeatedly and falsely claimed that Congress had allocated $92 billion of aid money to the U.S. territory for relief aid for 2017’s Hurricane Maria, which inflicted an estimated $90 billion in damage.

In fact, the island was allocated $42.5 billion but actually received only a fraction while the bulk of the aid has remained in Washington as part of a bureaucratic approval process.

The president tweeted out another complaint about the spending as Tropical Storm Dorian approached Puerto Rico.

[Raw Story]

1 2 3 4 71