Trump Twitter rages at ‘BAD DEMOCRAT Disaster Bill” that he claims will hurt farmers

President Donald Trump on Thursday urged Capitol Hill Republicans to vote against a bill proving disaster assistance.

The commander-in-chief referred to the legislation as a “BAD DEMOCRAT” bill, writing in all capital letters.

Trump claimed the bill would harm states, farmers, and border security.

“We want to do much better than this. All sides keep working and send a good bill for immediate signing,” Trump demanded.

[Raw Story]

Reality

The major sticking point for Trump is the additional funding Democrats included to help Puerto Rico rebuild after Hurricane Maria severely damaged the island and killed 3,000 people. It amounts to more than $3 billion, including $600 million for nutrition assistance.

Trump has pushed back against giving more money to Puerto Rico, incorrectly stating that the federal government has already allocated $91 billion to help Puerto Rico. It’s actually promised about half of that amount and spent only $11 billion.

Trump continues to mislead on immigration and Puerto Rico disaster funding

During his rally in Florida Wednesday night, President Donald Trump hit on a lot of familiar themes — the strong economy, building the wall, defeating ISIS and the 2020 election.

Among his “greatest hits,” Trump also repeated several false claims he’s made in the past.

First, the President claimed that Puerto Rico had received $91 billion after being hit by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, adding that was the highest amount ever given to “anybody” for disaster relief.

Facts first: This is false. Not only has Puerto Rico not received $91 billion, even if it had that figure would still fall below the amount of federal money allocated to recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina. In addition, Trump has opposed efforts in Congress to increase disaster relief funding, in part because some of the money would go to Puerto Rico.

So far, roughly $42 billion in federal disaster relief funding has been allocated to Puerto Rico. Only about a quarter of that ($12 billion) has actually been spent.

The $91 billion Trump cites is based on estimated future spending. As administration officials told the Washington Post, the additional $50 billion comes from an “internal Office of Management and Budget estimate of the potential liabilities over the life of the disaster that would need to be committed under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1988.”

In other words, the $91 billion is simply an estimate of what FEMA would have to spend to rebuild Puerto Rico, not what’s been allocated. This all comes as Congress battles over $17 billion in additional disaster fund relief, which includes funds for Puerto Rico.

In remarks Thursday afternoon, Trump repeated his $91 billion claims, again stating that Puerto Rico has gotten more money than it actually has.

The theoretical $91 billion is still less than the $114.5 billion the federal government spent on recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, causing an estimated $160 billion in economic damage.

[CNN]

Trump: I’ve Taken Better Care of Puerto Rico Than ‘Any Living Human Being’

President Donald Trump is dismissed criticisms from Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló on of how his administration has handled the island’s recovery from Hurricane Maria.

Trump took questions from reporters on his way out of the White House on Thursday, during which, he was asked about those who’ve said his administration hasn’t done enough to help the Puerto Rico. The question comes amid reports from a recent luncheon where supposedly Trump grumbled that Puerto Rico is getting too much aid while they continue to recover from the devastation caused by Maria in 2017.

“I have taken better care of Puerto Rico than any man ever,” Trump proclaimed. “Puerto Rico has been taken care of better by Donald Trump than by any living human being.”

Trump continued by taking shots at Rosselló and San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz,, saying “they don’t know how to spend the money. They are not spending it wisely, but I’m giving them more money than they have ever gotten.”

While Trump’s dislike of Cruz is well-established by now, it was believed for some time that he and Rosselló were on decent terms with each other. However, Rosselló recently gave an interview to CNN where he said Trump has not provided the disaster relief he promised the island, with his administration blowing off repeated requests.

[Mediaite]

Trump administration doubles down on opposition to Puerto Rico funding

The White House doubled down Wednesday on President Donald Trump’s comments opposing disaster funding for Puerto Rico, drawing outrage from Democratic members of Congress and raising questions about the administration’s rationale.

On Tuesday, Trump told Republican legislators at a closed-door Capitol Hill meeting that Puerto Rico had gotten too much money to rebuild after Hurricane Maria. The amount “is way out of proportion to what Texas and Florida and others have gotten,” Trump said, according to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who was in the room.

On Wednesday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere told NBC News that while Puerto Rico is on track to receive tens of billions of dollars in unprecedented aid, “the Trump administration will not put taxpayers on the hook to correct a decades-old spending crisis that has left the island with deep-rooted economic problems.”

Rep. Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y., who is Puerto Rican, blasted the administration’s comments in a statement.

“The President’s remarks as reported in the media have at long last laid bare the central reason for his Administration’s callous response to Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico,” said Velázquez, “namely that he does not value the lives of millions of American citizens who reside there.”

“For the President to vocally oppose and target aid to the most vulnerable in Puerto Rico is shameful, heartless and inexcusable,” the congresswoman added.

In September of 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico; its aftermath led to the deaths of at least 2,975 people and made it the deadliest U.S. natural disaster in a century. Trump has not yet publicly acknowledged or mourned the victims of the catastrophe following the revised figures.

On Wednesday, a White House official told NBC News on background some of the reasons why the administration was opposed to more spending.

But in doing so, the administration got some facts wrong.

The official said that the Puerto Rican government had not yet submitted a plan to fix the island’s power grid. However, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced on Tuesday that he’s ready to sign into law a bill approved by the Puerto Rican legislature that would determine how the island plans to privatize its public power authority, known as PREPA, and expand renewable energy.

The bill has been in the works for over a year, when the island’s government first announced its plans to privatize at least part of its power authority.

An official also said that Puerto Rican officials have mismanaged disaster funds that have been received.

The claim is not new; since last yearTrump has repeatedly asked Congress to stop providing relief and reconstruction money to Puerto Rico.

[NBC News]

Trump again swipes at Puerto Rico in closed door lunch with Republicans

President Donald Trump, in a closed door meeting Tuesday with Senate Republicans, again took a swipe at Puerto Rico’s fiscal management and the size of its disaster relief in the wake of damaging storms last week — and he brought a visual aid to try and back up his point, according to senators in the room.

Trump, as part of broader remarks that touched on everything from special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and health care to trade and North Korea, went out of his way to point out the totals of disaster relief aid that has been distributed in the wake of a series of storms and hurricanes in 2017. It is an issue Trump has had for months — mentioning Puerto Rico’s finances and total disaster relief in negative terms repeatedly in meetings with lawmakers and staff as they’ve worked through iterations of the next disaster relief bill.

“The point was — are we spending the money wisely?” Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican asked. “I have nothing against helping the people of Puerto Rico, but we have got to spend the money wisely.”

Trump, senators said, then utilized a chart to showed the difference between what Puerto Rico has received compared to other states like Texas and Florida. At one point, Trump noted that Puerto Rico has received more than $90 billion in aid. Congressional officials asked about the total mentioned by Trump that didn’t track with what Congress has provided in aid up to this point.

“He just talked about the sum total of it,” Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, told reporters of Trump’s Puerto Rico riff.

“I agree that you should always be accounting for how money is spent, but Puerto Rico certainly has needs that were different than some of these other places,” Rubio added, noting the island had been hit by multiple storms and was already in dire financial straits before that damage occurred.

Asked for comment on the senators’ description of Trump’s remarks, the White House responded in a statement.

“The Trump Administration is committed to the complete recovery of Puerto Rico. The island has received unprecedented support and is on pace to receive tens of billions of dollars from taxpayers. However, the Trump Administration will not put taxpayers on the hook to correct a decades old spending crisis that has left the island with deep-rooted economic problems.”

Sen. Richard Shelby, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said Trump was “making the point that Puerto Rico has gotten a lot of money before and a lot of it hadn’t been spent wisely, and I think that’s a given.”

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló blasted Trump’s reported comments in a lengthy statement, saying they “are below the dignity of a sitting President of the United States. They continue to lack empathy, are irresponsible, regrettable and, above all, unjustified.”

He said Puerto Rico has spent disaster aid responsibly and suggested that “Trump is receiving misleading information from his own staff.”

“I invite the President to stop listening to ignorant and completely wrong advice,” Rosselló said. “Instead he should come to Puerto Rico to hear firsthand from the people on the ground. I invite him to put all of the resources at his disposal to help Americans in Puerto Rico, like he did for Texas and Alabama. No more, no less.”

The issue of Puerto Rico — and the President’s stated frustration with what the island has received up to this point — is coming to a head now as lawmakers work to reach a deal on a disaster relief package. Senate Republicans, who unveiled their own $13.4 billion version Tuesday, include $600 million for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, for the island. The Senate voted Tuesday to begin consideration of the bill.

But the GOP effort falls short of what House Democrats are pushing for regarding aid to Puerto Rico.

“House Democrats oppose this bill because it does not adequately address disaster relief and recovery in Puerto Rico and the territories,” Evan Hollander, spokesman for House Appropriations Committee, said of the Senate bill. “If the Senate passes this bill, we will insist on going to conference to ensure that we meet the needs of all Americans.”

A spokesperson for Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida said that the topic of funding for Puerto Rico is an “ongoing conversation” between Trump and Scott.

“His view is that we need to get this bill done now since both Florida and Puerto Rico need this funding now,” spokesman Chris Hartline said. “The senator is committed to fighting for the people of Puerto Rico in the US Senate. It’s why his first floor speech and his first amendment filed was on nutrition assistance funding for Puerto Rico.”

[CNN]

Trump Again Denies White Nationalism is Rising Threat

Donald Trump said he did not view white nationalism as a rising threat around the world, as New Zealand is reeling from a white supremacist attack on two mosques that killed 49 people.

Asked by a reporter on Friday if he saw an increase globally in the threat of white nationalism, the US president responded: “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess, if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s a case. I don’t know enough about it yet.”

There have been more than a dozen deadly white supremacist attacks across the globe in the last eight years. In Norway in 2011, 77 people were killed in a bomb attack and shooting that targeted a youth camp of the country’s Labor party. The shooter said he wanted to prevent an “invasion of Muslims”.

A shooter with anti-Muslim views killed six people during evening prayers at a Quebec City mosque in 2017. The gunman said he feared refugees would kill his family.

Later that year, in London’s Finsbury Park, a man shouting “I want to kill all Muslims” drove a van into worshippers outside a mosque, killing one and injuring twelve others.

In the US, violence by far-right attackers has surged since Trump took office. There has been a documented rise in anti-Muslim hate groups in the country in the last three years, and the FBI has reported a steady increase in reports of hate crimes. Last year, a shooter with far-right views killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

The suspected perpetrator of the massacre during Friday prayers in New Zealand had posted online before the attack and displayed white supremacist symbols on his weapons during the killings.

New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, described the carnage as one of the country’s “darkest days”.

Ardern told reporters on Saturday that she did not agree with Trump’s assessment that white supremacy wasn’t a growing problem.

Ardern also said she had spoken to Trump following the attack in Christchurch. Responding to a question from the president about what he could do after the attack, she asked him to show all Muslim communities “sympathy and love”.

“He acknowledged that and agreed,” Ardern said.

Ardern said she and Trump had not discussed reports that the suspect, Brenton Tarrant, had mentioned the president in an anti-Muslim manifestohe posted online before the attacks.

Trump made the remarks about white supremacy at the Oval Office while announcing his decision to overrule Congress in his effort to protect his declaration of a national emergency and secure funds for a US-Mexico border wall.

Announcing his veto, the president said, “People hate the word invasion, but that’s what it is.”

Trump’s claims about immigration trends and an “invasion” are similarly unsupported by facts. Unauthorized border crossings have declined dramatically since record highs in the early years of the 21st century.

Trump, who proposed a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the US during his 2015 campaign, has a history of sparking widespread criticisms for his response to far-right violence.

In 2017, he said there were “very fine people on both sides” after a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

[The Guardian]

Reality

Right-wing extremism in the United States appears to be growing. The number of terrorist attacks by far-right perpetrators rose over the past decade, more than quadrupling between 2016 and 2017. The recent pipe bombs and the October 27, 2018, synagogue attack in Pittsburgh are symptomatic of this trend. 

Trump tweets Thoughts and Prayers to New Zealand

President Donald Trump tweeted condolences to the people of New Zealand on Friday, hours after devastating shootings at two mosques in Christchurch.

“My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!” he wrote on Twitter.

On Thursday night, immediately after reports of the shooting surfaced, Trump tweeted a link to Breitbart News, which was posting coverage about the attacks. He later deleted the tweet; his Friday morning tweet was his first comments.

[AOL]

Trump CRITICIZES airplane technology after Boeing crash: ‘I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot’

Donald Trump has suggested that modern planes are too complex in the wake of two deadly crashes in the past five months.

The US president said that the additional “complexity creates danger” and hinders pilots from making “split second decisions” to ensure their passengers’ safety.

“Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better,” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter.

He added: “Split second decisions are… needed, and the complexity creates danger. All of this for great cost yet very little gain. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!”

His remarks come after several countries, including the UK, China and Australia, grounded the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.

The aircraft crashed in Indonesia last year and in Ethiopia on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board. 

At least nine Britons and one Irish citizen were among the dead, as were scientists, doctors, aid workers and three members of a Slovakian MP’s family.

Mr Trump participated in a signing ceremony for a $15 billion (£11 billion) deal between US-based Boeing and the Vietnamese government during his trip to Hanoi for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last month.

The lucrative deal includes Vietnam’s Bamboo airways agreeing to purchase ten 787-9 Dreamliners worth about $3 billion, while airline VietJet’s order is for 100 737 Max planes valued at $12.7 billion, Boeing said.

The 737 series is one of Boeing’s most popular planes but the Max 8 model has raised safety concerns for possibly hindering pilots’ ability to overpower automated functions. 

America’s Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) said on Monday that it believes the Boeing 737 Max is airworthy. 

Boeing has also said no new safety guidance is planned for the moment. “The investigation is in its early stages, but at this point, based on the information available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance,” the company said in a statement.

However three senators have called for Mr Trump to take action as a precautionary measure. 

Republican senator Mitt Romney said on Tuesday: “Out of an abundance of caution for the flying public, the @FAANews should ground the 737 MAX 8 until we investigate the causes of recent crashes and ensure the plane’s airworthiness.”

Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Richard Blumenthal have also raised concerns.

Boeing also announced late on Monday night that it has been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX, developed in light of the Indonesian crash.

It will be put into effect in the coming weeks, to “make an already safe aircraft even safer”. It includes changes to “flight control law, pilot displays, operation manuals and crew training”. 

The announcement came after the FAA said it would mandate “design changes” no later than April.

[The Telegraph]

Trump Defends Rhetoric After Coast Guard Lt. Arrested for Planned Terror Attacks: ‘I Think My Language is Very Nice’

President Donald Trump was asked about his rhetoric in the wake of a self-described “white nationalist” Coast Guard officer being arrested for planning on carrying out multiple terrorist attacks.

He also had a hit list of prominent congressional Democrats and media personalities, usually those who are heavy critics of Trump.

“It’s a shame. It’s a very sad thing when a thing like that happens. I’ve expressed that. But I’m actually getting a complete briefing in about two hours,” Trump said.

“Do you think you bear any responsibility for monitoring your language,” a reporter asked.

“No, I don’t. I think my language is very nice,” he replied.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked earlier in the day if she thought Trump’s rhetoric helps fuel terror plots against journalists and politicians.

“I certainly don’t think that,” she said. “The president [hasn’t], at any point, has done anything but condemn violence, against journalists or anyone else. In fact, every single time something like this happens, the president is typically one of the first people to condemn the violence and the media is the first people to condemn the president.”

[Mediaite]

Donald Trump heads to California, again blaming fires on forest management

President Donald Trump headed to California on Saturday to see firsthand the grief and devastation from the deadliest US wildfire in a century, as confusion continued over how many people remain unaccounted for.

Authorities confirmed a new death toll of 71 and said they were trying to locate 1,011 people even as they stressed that not all are believed missing.

But Trump has stirred resentment among survivors and many others over comments he made two days after the disaster on Twitter, then reiterated on the eve of his visit.

In an interview scheduled for broadcast on Fox News Sunday, Trump said he was surprised to see images of firefighters removing dried brush near a fire, adding, “This should have been all raked out.”

Asked if he thought climate change contributed to the fires, he said: “Maybe it contributes a little bit. The big problem we have is management.”

Before boarding Air Force One to California on Saturday morning, Trump was asked about forest management again and repeated his stance. “Everybody now knows that this is what we have to be doing … It should’ve been done many years ago,” he said.

Those comments, and those in his Fox interview, echoed his initial reaction to the fires on 10 November when he blamed the wildfires on poor forest management and threatened then to withhold federal payments. His words caused widespread outrage, though Trump subsequently approved a federal disaster declaration and he has since repeatedly praised the work of first responders, including just before leaving Washington DC.

“I want to be with the firefighters and the Fema first responders,” Trump said.

California’s outgoing and incoming governors, both Democrats and vocal critics of Trump, planned to join the president on his trip to the fire-ravaged region in the north of the state. Governor Jerry Brown and governor-elect Gavin Newsom welcomed Trump’s visit, declaring it was time “to pull together for the people of California”.

The blaze that started 8 November all but razed the town of Paradise, population 27,000, and heavily damaged the outlying communities of Magalia and Concow. It destroyed more than 9,800 homes and at its height displaced 52,000 people.

This patch of California, a former Gold Rush region in the Sierra Nevada foothills, is to some extent Trump country, with Trump beating Hillary Clinton in Butte County by 4 percentage points in 2016.

But Trump has stirred resentment among survivors with his comments.

“If you insult people, then you go visit them, how do you think you’re going to be accepted? You’re not going to have a parade,” Maggie Crowder of Magalia said this week outside an informal shelter at a Walmart store in Chico.

But Stacy Lazzarino, who voted for Trump, said it would be good for the president to see the devastation up close: “I think by maybe seeing it he’s going to be like ‘Oh, my goodness,’ and it might start opening people’s eyes.”

Authorities attribute the death toll in part to the speed with which flames raced through the town of 27,000, driven by wind and fueled by desiccated scrub and trees.

Nearly 12,000 homes and buildings burned hours after the blaze erupted, the California department of forestry and fire protection said. Thousands of additional structures are still threatened as firefighters, many from distant states, work to contain and suppress the flames.

The big rise in the number of missing is because of a detailed review of emergency calls and missing people reports, and the extension of the search for victims.

More than 5,500 fire personnel are still battling the blaze that covered 228 square miles (590 sq km) and was 50% contained, officials said.

Firefighters were racing against time with a red flag warning issued for Saturday night into Sunday, including winds up to 50mph (80km/h) and low humidity. Rain was forecast for midweek, which could help firefighters but also complicate the challenging search for remains.

Officials acknowledge that the huge number of missing could easily contain duplicate names and unreliable spellings of names. The roster also probably includes many people who fled the blaze and do not realize they have been reported missing.

[The Guardian]

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