Things That Matter

After Calling Trump Out On His Response To Puerto Rico, Lin-Manuel Miranda Is Doing His Part To Send Relief

Lin-Manuel Miranda used Puerto Rican town names for the lyrics.

Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico was personal for Lin-Manuel Miranda and millions of Puerto Ricans worldwide. As relief efforts from the federal government dragged at a disappointingly slow pace, several celebrities used their platform to send assistance to those on the Caribbean island. Pitbull sent a plane to assist cancer patients, Jennifer Lopez has worked to raise funds (she also donated $1 million of her own money) and Bethenny Frankel sent planes with supplies. Now, Miranda, along with 25 other artists, have created a new song to raise money for the Hispanic Federation called “Almost Like Praying.” The song, which is mostly in Spanish, features J.Lo, Fat Joe, Gina Rodriguez, Camila Cabello, Luis Fonsi, Rita Moreno, Marc Anthony and so many more artists singing about Puerto Rico. The lyrics focus on all the different cities and towns throughout the island, like Isabela, Maricao, Fajardo, Dorado.

“Well, the only lyric that really unites us and that makes the most sense for a fundraising song is if I can somehow write a lyric that includes all 78 towns in Puerto Rico so that no one feels left out and no one’s town feels forgotten,” Miranda told NPR about how his social media timelines were filled with people searching for family from different towns. “There’s been a lot of heartbreaking stories coming out of Puerto Rico. But one of the ones that broke my heart was actually not the story but the headline. The headline in The [New York] Times on Sunday was, ‘Many Towns In Puerto Rico Feeling Forgotten,’ and that broke my heart.”

You can tap here to get the song on SpotifyiTunes, or here for Google Play.


READ: President Trump’s One-Day Visit To Puerto Rico Was Packed With Tone Deaf Moves

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HUD Officials Say They Intentionally Withheld Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria Recovery Money

Things That Matter

HUD Officials Say They Intentionally Withheld Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria Recovery Money

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It’s been more than two years since Hurricane Maria hit the island of Puerto Rico and the recovery efforts have shown no signs of stopping anytime soon. Those efforts have been exponentially slowed down by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Two officials from the department, HUD head of Community Planning and Development David Woll and Chief Financial Officer Irving Dennis, appeared at a congressional hearing last week saying that they purposely missed a September deadline to release billions of dollars in hurricane recovery funds to the island.

Their reasoning behind the delayed money is simply a lack of trust between them and the U.S. territory’s housing agency to handle the money properly. This new development is a new chapter in the long dispute between the Trump administration and Puerto Rico over federal support following Hurricane Maria. President Trump has called Puerto Rico an “island with deep-rooted economic problems” and similar to what HUD officials voiced, he has stated that he doesn’t trust giving the U.S. territory more funds.  

“We want to have a belt and suspenders plan in place to make sure that, A: we’re protecting taxpayers but, B: more importantly, that the money is going to the people of Puerto Rico and not being wasted or abused,” Woll told lawmakers.

While it’s already been two years since Hurricane Maria hit, Puerto Rico has only received a third of the $43 billion Congress allocated toward hurricane recovery efforts, which includes the construction of rebuilding damaged homes. 

Credit: @nicolemarie_A / Twitter

According to NBC News, HUD officials were supposed to file funding notices to 18 different states that were directly affected by natural disasters back on Sept. 4. The agency did indeed publish the notices expect for Puerto Rico. If the notice was filed, it would have let Puerto Rico start creating the framework for a plan to manage the allocated funds. 

Despite the delay, Woll said at the hearing that the agency was committed to helping Puerto Rico but not without any proper oversight of future funds. 

“All of us at HUD stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Puerto Rico,” Woll said at the hearing. “At HUD we are committed to the recovery of all Americans whose homes and communities were devastated by natural disasters, and we are steadfast in our stewardship of the funding and trust in us by you in your colleagues in Congress.”

During the hearing, Woll and Dennis voiced similar concerns about the lack of oversight when it comes to the financial troubles that have affected Puerto Rico for years. The two also brought up the recent resignation of Ricardo Rosselló as governor and the islands decade long debt issues as reasons why they delayed the funds. 

“When you think of $20 billion going through an entity that has no infrastructure for that, that does not get developed overnight. When you think of the capacity they need, they need people, they need processes and they need technology,” Dennis said at the hearing. “We’re trying to make sure it is that there is good oversight and controls and policies in place.”

The hearing resulted in some members of Congress saying that the delay violated federal law that was set in the appropriations bill that included the funds.

Credit: @repchuygarcia / Twitter

The statements from Woll and Dennis prompted some backlash from lawmakers who weren’t pleased to hear that funds were being withheld due to political reasoning. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), chair of the Appropriations Committee, called HUD’s planned delay as “perpetual stonewalling.”

“No caveats. No carve-outs. No exemptions,” Lowey said. “It’s not just unacceptable: It is unlawful.”

The action from HUD was also criticized by top Republican on the subcommittee who also voiced their concerns on the delayed funds. 

“Look, I understand that there may be factors outside of our witnesses’ control that led to miss this deadline,” said Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL). “But I’m troubled—I’m always troubled, and I don’t care which administration [does] it—when any administration doesn’t meet requirements set in statute.”

Going forward, Dennis and Woll say that a quicker disbursement of the money will happen once Puerto Rico’s housing department, Departamento de la Vivienda, can ensure the agency that it can handle the large incoming money being allocated to them. There have been concerns that the agency doesn’t have enough staffing and oversight to handle the large influx of money which again raises concerns about the mishandling of funds.

“No one more than Puerto Ricans want oversight, but what we’ve seen so far doesn’t work,” Miguel Soto-Class, founder and president of the Center for a New Economy, a nonpartisan think tank, told NBC News. “We don’t want punishment disguised as oversight.”

READ: New Study Finds Taíno DNA Is Still Present Despite Paper Genocide Perpetrated By European Colonizers

The New Cinderella Remake Tapped Camila Cabello To Play The Princess And Billy Porter To Be The Fabulous Godmother

Entertainment

The New Cinderella Remake Tapped Camila Cabello To Play The Princess And Billy Porter To Be The Fabulous Godmother

This year, two 90s classics were remastered and re-launched. The CGI version of The Lion King and the live-action of Aladdin sent movie theaters into a frenzy. And with the success they had in the box office, Disney has announced a few more classics to be retold in the coming years. With live-action remakes taking over the world, interest in all things Disney is skyrocketing. So Sony Studios is giving us a new Cinderella live-action with a modern touch that sounds fairly different from the last remake from 2015, which was firmly traditional and palatable.

Here’s what we know about the latest re-imagining of the classic fairytale set to premiere on February 5, 2021.

Sony’s 2021 Cinderella already has an all-star cast

credit Instagram @camila_cabello

Few details are known about the plot yet, but according to The Hollywood Reporter, “Sony is putting the project on the fast track for production,” so more details will likely be released soon. Unlike 2015’s Cinderella starring Lily James, this will not be a Disney production. The Hollywood Reporter noted that the remake will be produced James Corden, and that the Grammy-nominated Camilla Cabello has been cast to play the part of the rags-to-riches princess, Cinderella. The singer is also said to be heavily involved in the music for the film, she might even inject some of her son cubano into the kids’ classic, but either way, we’re in for a treat. 

“Playing Cinderella is, honestly, a dream for me,” Cabello told “Entertainment Tonight” in August. “It’s a little bit terrifying, but I’m so excited because anybody that knows me knows I’m obsessed with musicals.” “I’m really happy that we’re at a point now in a culture where ‘Aladdin’ or ‘The Little Mermaid’ … little girls can see themselves being represented,” the pop singer added. “I think that is so important, and it’s about time.” The 22-year-old (how is she only 22!) is also working on a new album, so she has a big year ahead. 

The voice behind Frozen princess Elsa, will play the evil step-mother.

Credit Instagram @Idinamenzel

Deadline reported earlier this month that Idina Menzel, is set to assume the role of Evelyn, Cinderella’s evil stepmother. Menzel voiced Elsa, the princess behind Frozen’s iconic viral song, ‘Let It Go‘. She is also a Tony and Grammy Award-winning actress who is a Broadway mainstay from shows like Rent and Wicked

Bibidi-Bobbidi-boo, we’re getting a fabulous fairy godmother!

Credit Instagram @theebillyporter

Sony’s upcoming rendition of the classic tale just got a lot more fabulous with the announcement of the new fairy godmother. Billy Porter confirmed his involvement with the film during a panel at the 20th New Yorker Festival. And if you’re anything like us, you have to agree that his theatricality both on and off-screen more than qualify him for the role. The actor shared his excitement via the New Yorker’s Instagram stories where he first broke the news. “I have a couple movies that I’m working on,” Billy said. “I’m gonna be playing the fairy godmother in the new Cinderella movie with Camila Cabello.” In September, Porter became the first openly gay black man to win the Emmy for best actor in a drama for his work on Pose. Prior to that, he earned a Tony and a Grammy for his role in Broadway’s Kinky Boots. 

The new imagining of the poor girl turned princess grew from an original idea by Carpool Karaoke’s James Corden.

Credit Instagram @thelateshow

The film is set to be a modern musical rendition of the classic, all-too-traditional fairytale. The idea for the new take on Cinderella grew from an original idea from James Corden, the late-night talk show host who has made major musical inroads thanks to his popular “Carpool Karaoke” segments. Corden is producing the project with Leo Pearlman, his partner at Fulwell 73, the production banner that has found success with documentaries such as The Class of ’92, the BAFTA-nominated Bros: After the Screaming Stops and Karaoke. The new rendition will be written and directed by Kay Cannon, who is known for her writing and producing work on the movie series Pitch Perfect and 30 Rock. Cannon got her start working on NBC’s 30 Rock, for which she earned three Emmy nominations. 

She made her directorial debut with Blockers, a female-centric losing-your-virginity comedy whose cast included Kathryn Newton and John Cena. 

All other plot details are being kept in a shoebox, but the story is described as a modern reimagining of the traditional tale of the orphaned girl with an evil stepmother, with a musical bent thrown in for good measure. Camila’s part in the movie would be her debut into film and we’re certain that it won’t be her last adventure in the silver screen. The new Cinderella film is just one of many Disney movies getting rebooted, and we can’t wait to see what this non-Disneyfied version has in store.