Trumps Visit Puerto Rico for Day of Photo Ops
Featured Story, The Latest News

Trumps Visit Puerto Rico for Day of Photo Ops

He Throws Paper Towels; Melania Rocks in Khaki and White; Next Stop, Las Vegas

Catastrophe. Trump suggested to Americans living in Puerto Rico that Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island, wasn’t “a real catastrophe like Katrina.”

Two weeks after Maria hit, aid is trickling into towns, but many families are receiving meager portions. About 95% of the island is without power. More than half don’t have running water. The official death toll now stands at 32, although local journalists believe the count to be much higher.

Food stamps cannot be used to purchase hot meals; the government turned down a request to allow hurricane victims who lost their kitchens to use food stamps for hot restaurant meals.  Thousands are leaving Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, at least temporarily.

Today, Trump is scheduled to “pay my respects” in Las Vegas, where gunman Stephen C. Paddock on Sunday killed 59 people, including himself, and wounded 530 others.

Gerrymandering. The Supreme Court heard that it was “the only institution in the United States” that can prevent partisan gerrymandering that would distort democracy. “Politicians are never going to fix gerrymandering,” said Paul M. Smith who is representing Democratic voters who challenged a 2011 redistricting plan drawn by Wisconsin Republicans. The case is Gill v. Whitford. In the election after the new district maps were adopted, Republican candidates won 48.6% of the statewide vote but won a 60-to-39 seat advantage in the State Assembly.

Guns. House Republicans said they don’t expect legislation that would make it easier to buy gun silencers to come to the House floor after the mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed at least 59 and injured 530. The dead include a kindergarten teacher, Jennifer Parks; Californian Jack Beaton who was killed shielding his wife; and Melissa Ramirez, the daughter of Mexican immigrants who became U.S. citizens.

Health insurance. Until Congress renews the Children’s Health Insurance Program, states are cut off from additional federal funding. The program covers 9 million children in lower- and middle-income families who make too much to be eligible for Medicaid. A House bill would extend funding for the program for five more years. Funding lapsed Sept. 30. States can use some of their unspent federal funds to continue their programs. Several states are expected to run out of money before the end of 2017, and most of the rest will run out by next summer.

Cuba. The State Department ordered 15 Cuban diplomats to leave the United States in response to what the United States said is unexplained attacks that have sickened 22 American diplomats in Havana. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ordered more than half the U.S. embassy staff and all family members to leave Havana for their safety. The Cubans were ordered to leave to keep the missions the same size. U.S. officials have not accused Cuba of causing the illnesses.

October 4, 2017