Trump waives Jones Act to aid Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

Published: Thursday, September 28, 2017 @ 8:54 AM

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 27: U.S. President Donald Trump addresses supporters as he speaks at the Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center September 27, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Trump spoke about his Republican tax plan. (Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
Joshua Lott/Getty Images
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 27: U.S. President Donald Trump addresses supporters as he speaks at the Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center September 27, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Trump spoke about his Republican tax plan. (Joshua Lott/Getty Images)(Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Thursday morning waived a little-known federal law aimed at protecting the U.S. shipping industry in an effort to help Puerto Rico recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria.

>> Read more trending news

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the decision in a tweet Thursday morning.

“At (Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello’s) request, (Trump) has authorized the Jones Act to be waived for Puerto Rico,” Huckabee Sanders said. “It will go into effect immediately.”

The Jones Act bars foreign-flagged ships from taking goods and passengers between U.S. ports.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke waived the law earlier this month to help ease fuel shortages in the Southeast following hurricanes Harvey and Irma. That order included Puerto Rico, but expired last week shortly after Hurricane Maria struck.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Hurricane Maria Makes Landfall In Puerto Rico

Related

Report: CDC given list of 'forbidden' words for budget

Published: Saturday, December 16, 2017 @ 12:47 PM

WATCH: CDC Given List of ‘Forbidden’ Words

The Trump administration has issued a list of seven words and phrases that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are "forbidden" from using in documents related to next year's budget, The Washington Post reported Friday.

The list of banned words includes: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based and science-based, according to The Washington Post report. In certain cases, alternative phrasing was offered. CDC employees were encouraged to use the phrase, “the CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes," in place of “science-based” or “evidence-based” according to a source cited in The Washington Post report.

 >> Read more trending news 

It is not clear why the Trump administration issued such a directive, but The Washington Post notes that other federal agencies, like Health and Human Services, have altered language addressing sexual orientation in its documentation since Trump took office.

The directive was met with an "incredulous" reaction when it was announced at a meeting Thursday with CDC employees, The Washington Post reported.

The White House has not released a response to The Washington Post report.

Related

House Ethics Committee probe launched after Kihuen accused of sexual harassment

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 1:37 PM

This Nov. 14, 2016 file photo Rep.-elect Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev.,right, speaks with reporters as Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., left, listens on Capitol Hill in Washington. The chairman of the House Democrats' campaign committee called on Kihuen to step down after a report Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, that he allegedly sexually harassed his campaign's finance director. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen,File)
Cliff Owen/AP
This Nov. 14, 2016 file photo Rep.-elect Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev.,right, speaks with reporters as Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., left, listens on Capitol Hill in Washington. The chairman of the House Democrats' campaign committee called on Kihuen to step down after a report Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, that he allegedly sexually harassed his campaign's finance director. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen,File)(Cliff Owen/AP)

The House Ethics Committee announced Friday that it has opened an investigation into sexual harassment allegations levied against Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nevada.

>> Read more trending news

The announcement came after a pair of women accused the congressman Kihuen was sworn into office in January. Before representing Nevada’s 4th Congressional District in the House of Representatives, Kihuen served in the Nevada Senate.

A woman, who was not identified for fear of retribution, told The Nevada Independent on Thursday that she was working as a lobbyist when Kihuen was a state senator and that he “touched her thighs or buttocks on three separate occasions without her consent.”

She showed the newspaper a slew of suggestive text messages she said were sent to her by Kihuen during the 2015 legislative session, including one asking that she “come sit on his lap in the middle of a committee meeting,” the Independent reported.

She said she had previously dealt with a slew of inappropriate Facebook messages from Kihuen, all sent during the 2013 legislative session.

“I don’t think Ruben thinks what he did was wrong,” she told the Independent. “Like, I think he just thought he was playing around, which, I don’t think he realized the position he probably put people in.”

In a statement obtained by the Independent, Kihuen pointed to his 10 years in the state Legislature, during which time he “dated several different women,” he said.

“Out of respect for their privacy, I won’t discuss my communications or any other details of those relationship,” he said.

Prominent Men Accused Of Sexual Misconduct In 2017

Earlier this month, a woman told BuzzFeed News that she quit her job as a finance director for Kihuen’s 2016 congressional campaign after he made repeated sexual advances toward her.

The woman, identified only by the name Samantha, told the news site she began working for Kihuen in December 2015. She said ongoing sexual harassment led her to quit by April 2016. 

Twice, she said, he touched her thighs without her consent. She told Buzzfeed that Kihuen once touched her thigh while they were in a car together and after he asked if she had ever cheated on her boyfriend.

“She told him to stop, and said she said ‘no,’ and began talking about her boyfriend,” the news site reported.

In a separate incident in March, Samantha told BuzzFeed that Kihuen grabbed the back of her thigh in March 2016 as she was trying to help him with his computer while he was making fundraising calls.

“I asked him what he was doing and he stopped,” she said.

Democratic Party leaders have called on Kihuen to step down in the wake of the accusations. 

“In Congress, no one should face sexual harassment in order to work in an office or in a campaign,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said Dec. 2, after Samantha came forward. “The young woman’s documented account is convincing, and I commend her for the courage it took to come forward. In light of these upsetting allegations, congressman Kihuen should resign.”

Kihuen said last week that he has no intention to resign in light of the allegations, according to CNN.

“I’m definitely not resigning,” he said on Dec. 6. “That’s all I can tell you for now.”

Blake Farenthold won't seek re-election amid harassment claims

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 10:46 AM
Updated: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 11:37 AM

In this Jan. 3, 2017, file photo, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. administers the House oath of office to Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, during a mock swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington. The House Ethics Committee said Dec. 7 it is expanding its investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Farenthold. The committee said it will investigate whether Farenthold sexually harassed a former member of his staff and retaliated against her for complaining. The committee also said the panel would review allegations that Farenthold made inappropriate statements to other members of his official staff. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
Jose Luis Magana/AP
In this Jan. 3, 2017, file photo, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. administers the House oath of office to Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, during a mock swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington. The House Ethics Committee said Dec. 7 it is expanding its investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Farenthold. The committee said it will investigate whether Farenthold sexually harassed a former member of his staff and retaliated against her for complaining. The committee also said the panel would review allegations that Farenthold made inappropriate statements to other members of his official staff. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)(Jose Luis Magana/AP)

U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold announced he won’t seek re-election, less than a week after a House committee opened an investigation into sexual harassment claims from a former aide.

>> Read more trending news

Prominent Men Accused Of Sexual Misconduct In 2017

State attorneys general ask FCC to delay net neutrality vote

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 4:13 PM

Understanding Net Neutrality

The attorneys general of nearly 20 states asked the Federal Communications Commission to delay a vote on changing the country’s net neutrality rules as they investigate reports that impersonators posted hundreds of thousands of fake comments on the commission’s notice of the proposed change.

>> Read more trending news

“If the well of public comment has been poisoned by falsified submissions, the Commission may be unable to rely on public comments that would help it reach a legitimate conclusion to the rulemaking process,” the attorneys general of 18 states said in a letter sent Wednesday to the FCC. “Or, it must give less weight to the public comments submitted which also undermines the process.”

The FCC plans to vote Thursday on gutting the Obama-era rules, meant to stop broadband companies such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon from exercising more control over what people watch and see on the internet.

“This is akin to identity theft on a massive scale – and theft of someone’s voice in a democracy is particularly concerning,” said the letter, led by Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and signed by the attorneys general of 17 other states: California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

>> Read the full letter sent to the FCC on Wednesday

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman accused the FCC last month of stonewalling his office’s investigation into thousands of suspicious comments made the to the commission’s net neutrality rule change notice. Since then, Schneiderman said his office has gotten more than 5,000 complaints from people whose identities were used to submit fake comments to the FCC’s notice.

In its letter to the FCC, the 18 other state attorneys general said they have received similar complaints.

>> Related: New York AG investigating fraudulent net neutrality comments to FCC

“I’m sick to my stomach knowing that somebody stole my identity and used it to push a viewpoint that I do not hold,” an Ohio resident wrote in one of the complaints. “This solidifies my stance that in no way can the FCC use the public comments as a means to justify the vote they will hold here shortly.”

A South Carolina resident said one of the false comments was posted using his or her mother’s information, even though she died in 2009.

“This is terrifying,” a Missouri resident wrote in another complaint. “Who knows what else has been said falsely under my name?”

As many as 2 million comments posted to the notice are believed to have been made using stolen identities, Schneiderman said Wednesday.

“The FCC is moving full steam ahead with a vote based on this corrupted process, while refusing to cooperate with an investigation,” Schneiderman said. “As we’ve told the FCC: moving forward with this vote would make a mockery of our public comment process and reward those who perpetrated this fraud to advance their own hidden agenda. The FCC must postpone this vote and work with us to get to the bottom of what happened.”

Net-neutrality rules bar cable and phone companies from favoring certain websites and apps — such as their own services — and give the FCC more oversight over privacy and the activities of telecom companies. Supporters worry that repealing them would hurt startups and other companies that couldn't afford to pay a broadband company for faster access to customers.

Critics of the rules say that they hurt investment in internet infrastructure and represent too much government involvement in business. Phone and cable companies say the rules aren't necessary because they already support an open internet, and have lobbied hard for their repeal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Related