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.

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

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“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

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Kasich talks arms control, ‘fraying’ Western stability under Trump

Published: Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 1:31 PM
Updated: Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 1:31 PM

Ohio Governor John Kasich talked to CNN's Anderson Cooper Monday morning about what his expectations would be from the Trump, Putin meeting.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said he hopes the U.S. and Russia will re-engage in arms control talks following President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

“What I hope they get out of this summit is an agreement to sit down and continue arms control discussions,” Kasich said Monday morning on CNN before the Trump-Putin summit. “It is in all of our interests, the world’s interest, for the two powers who control 90 percent of the nuclear weapons to sit down and re-engage in arms control.”

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At a press conference Monday, Putin said he Trump agreed to continue detailed discussions on arms control issues.

Putin said Russia and the U.S. should discuss a possible extension of the 2010 New START nuclear arms reduction treaty and the implementation of the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty. He added that Russia would like to also discuss U.S. missile defense plans and the weaponization of space.

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Kasich also said he is concerned the stability of the Western order is “fraying” under Trump’s “wrecking ball diplomacy.” Following Trump’s comments to CBS News over the weekend that he viewed the European Union as a foe, Kasich said Trump’s attitude toward the U.S.’s traditional allies bothers him.

“If you read the papers over the weekend, many of these European leaders are getting fed up, and they really are beginning to wonder if they can trust and rely on us,” Kasich said.

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The Associated Press contributed reporting from Helsinki.

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With Putin, Trump calls Russia probe a ‘disaster’

Published: Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 12:40 PM

After several hours of talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Finland, President Donald Trump on Monday called the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections a ‘disaster,’ as he seemingly rejected the findings of his own intelligence organizations, accepting the word of Putin that Russia did not meddle in the last campaign for President, and making the case that the investigation had undermined relations between the two countries.

“President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia,” Mr. Trump told reporters at a joint news conference. “I will say this – I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

“President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial,” Mr. Trump added, as the President wrapped up the news conference by attacking FBI official Peter Strzok, and declaring the probe of Special Counsel Robert Mueller “a giant witch hunt.”

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“It’s ridiculous – it’s ridiculous what’s going on with the probe,” the President said. “There was no collusion with the campaign.”

Asked directly about Russian interference, the President instead talked about the missing emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the computer server that Russians allegedly hacked at the Democratic National Committee, and ex-House IT aide Imran Awan.

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Ohio’s national parks could get more than $100M in additional funding

Published: Sunday, July 15, 2018 @ 12:51 PM
Updated: Sunday, July 15, 2018 @ 12:51 PM

The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. — Staff Photo by Ty Greenlees
The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. — Staff Photo by Ty Greenlees

Ohio’s national parks could get more than $100 million in additional funding for much needed renovations if a proposal introduced in the U.S. Senate in June is eventually signed into law by President Donald Trump.

Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s Restore Our Parks Act would alleviate a $12-billion backlog of deferred maintenance at areas overseen by the National Park Service. The billions in repair jobs that have been put off because of a lack of funding includes parks in every state, according to a listing of deferred maintenance.

It makes sense to try to address park maintenance now before it worsens and in turn costs taxpayers even more to repair, Portman told this news organization.

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“I have had a long time concern about this,” Portman said. “I just never thought it was fair to let the infrastructure around these parks deteriorate like they are.”

The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park at 16 S. Williams St., would get more than $1.8 million if the proposal becomes law, according to Portman’s office. Repairs to the building that houses The Wright Cycle Co. is one of the “highest priorities” on the National Park Service’s list of deferred maintenance, meaning it would almost certainly get funding if some form of the bill becomes law, Portman.

As introduced, the bill would cover the park’s entire deferred maintenance needs as of September 2017, according to documents from the National Park Service.

“Just in general terms, deferred maintenance covers HVAC systems, sidewalk repairs, roofing repairs,” said Kendell Thompson, new superintendent for Dayton’s historical park. “It’s stuff that just needs to be done as a part of a regular maintenance program. As projects are prioritized some will get funded and some will not.”

The William Howard Taft National Historic site in Cincinnati would get more than $2 million from Portman’s bill and the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Chillicothe, 75 minutes from Dayton, would receive more than $2.1 million from Portman’s bill.

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island would receive the most funding at $47.7 million. The 352-foot monument was established to commemorate the people who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.

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Ohio Cuyahoga Valley National Park would receive more than $45.8 million, the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument could get $1.9 million, the First Ladies National Historic Site may get $1.1 million and the James A. Garfield National Historic Site may be given nearly $719,000, according to Portman’s office.

Though there are still several legislative hoops for Portman’s parks bill to jump through, but the senator said he’s “hopeful” it’ll become law as it currently has the support of Democrats, Republicans and the White House.

“I’m really interested in getting funding for those kind of purposes,” Portman said. “With the exception to the Department of Defense, the parks have the most assets and a lot of them are falling apart.”

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Russia probe looms over Trump-Putin summit meeting

Published: Sunday, July 15, 2018 @ 5:44 PM

As President Donald Trump flew to Helsinki, Finland for his Monday meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Democrats in Congress demanded that Mr. Trump scrap the summit, pointing to last week’s federal indictments of a dozen Russian Intelligence officers as part of the sweeping investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States election.

“Donald Trump must press Putin hard on the issue of election interference,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer on Sunday, as Democrats made clear they want tough words from the President on the Russia investigation relayed directly to the Putin.

The President’s schedule said Messrs. Trump and Putin would meet one-on-one for 90 minutes, to be followed by a working lunch with top aides.

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Schumer said during those meetings, the President should formally request that Russia extradite the 12 Russian Intelligence officers indicted last Friday by a federal grand jury, on charges that they hacked computers in the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee , in a bid to influence the 2016 election.

The Senate’s top Democrat communicated those demands in a Sunday phone conversation with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was accompanying the President to the Putin summit.

“If President Trump insists on meeting with Putin, I can’t stop him,” said Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA). “But I will insist he confront Putin at every turn for his interference in our democracy.”

On the eve of his meeting with Putin, the President wasn’t taking shots at the Russian leader, but rather, the U.S. press corps, Democrats, and the Russia investigation in general.

“Much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people,” the President tweeted on Sunday, as he prepared to leave his golf retreat in Scotland for the flight to Finland.

Over the weekend, Mr. Trump brushed off the highly detailed indictments leveled against Russian Intelligence, blaming the success of cyber attack on the Obama Administration.

“Why didn’t they do something about it, especially when it was reported that President Obama was informed by the FBI in September, before the Election?” the President tweeted.

Lawmakers in Congress were not only focused on the issue of election interference, but also expressing concern about what Mr. Trump might do with regards to other issues, as Democrats also publicly urged the President not to relax economic sanctions placed on Russia, after its moves to annex Crimea, and amid ongoing Russian-sponsored military action inside eastern Ukraine.

While GOP lawmakers say they want a better relationship with Moscow, they have publicly cautioned the President to be careful in negotiations with the Russian leader.

“Putin is tough, he’s smart, he’s ruthless,” said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL). “He’s probably going to want to get a lot, and give nothing.”

“President Trump is doing the right thing,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said Sunday about the meeting with Putin, though the Kentucky Republican made clear that, “Russia shouldn’t meddle in our elections.”

“Putin is an autocrat, he’s a thug,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” as he urged the President to realize who he’s dealing with.

In recent days, the President has given no indication that he will bring up the issue of election interference in 2016 by Russia, as Mr. Trump continues to deride the investigation of possible ties between Russian actions and his campaign as a ‘witch hunt’ and a ‘hoax.’

But last Friday’s indictments painted the most complete picture yet of just how active Russian Intelligence was in hacking emails and documents from Democrats, spreading those materials to Wikileaks via the fake persona “Guccifer 2.0” – who claimed to be Romanian.

When a company hired by the DNC publicly blamed Russian Intelligence for hacking efforts in June of 2016, prosecutors said the Russians simply lied.

“In response, the Conspirators created the online persona Guccifer 2.0 and falsely claimed to be a lone Romanian hacker to undermine the allegations of Russian responsibility for the intrusion.”

Among the highlights of the latest indictment by the Office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller:

+ Extremely detailed allegations against a dozen GRU (Russian Intelligence) agents for hacking into the DNC and DCCC.




+ The indictment says a candidate for Congress is 2016 contacted Guccifer 2.0 – which was really Russian Intelligence – and received ‘stolen documents’ about their election opponent.




+ Details about contacts between “Organization 1” – which is clearly Wikileaks – and Russian Intelligence, about leaking emails from John Podesta and other documents from inside the DNC and DCCC. The only response from Wikileaks has been this video:

+ Russian Intelligence not only targeted state election boards and websites, but also county election websites, in at least three states. Also, more than 100 spear phishing emails were sent to groups involved in elections in “numerous Florida counties.”




+ Russian Intelligence also obtained “analytics” developed by the Hillary Clinton campaign, by hacking into the company that ran its ‘cloud’ resources. It wasn’t clear from the indictment what was done with that inside campaign information.




You can read the latest Special Counsel indictments at this link.

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