Earlier this month, people breathe a sigh of relief after President Donald Trump finally approved a relief budget for Puerto Rico and other Americans on the mainland who were also recovering from natural disasters. The $19 billion approved budget came more than a year and a half after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Needless to say, Trump was dragging his feet to give Puerto Rico the money they deserved to survive. Now it seems he is dragging his feet once again.
This couldn’t come at a more terrible time because, as CNN reports, Puerto Rico’s food stamp program was shut down six months ago. This money isn’t just for food but for basic necessities such as hygiene products, diapers, and water.
The delay in food stamps not only affects Puerto Ricans on the island but also possibly citizens on the mainland.
According to Eater, the food stamp program is going under a major overhaul which could delay more than 400,000 households without food stamps.
“Currently, federal guidelines allow states to offers families assistance if their annual gross income is 200 percent of the federal poverty level,” Eater reports. “The new limits, which officials anticipate will be introduced soon, are expected to prevent states from providing food assistance to families earning more than 130 percent of poverty guidelines or $33,475 for a family of four.”
So what’s the holdup? A lot of red tape, which could mean delays until September.
Glorimar Andújar Matos, executive director of the Departamento de la Familia, told the Washington Post that more than a million people on the island rely on food stamps, which means if they don’t get those funds soon, there will be another crisis on our hands.
Since his inauguration last month, Joe Biden has reversed many of Donald Trump’s nightmarish policies established over the last four years. In the first 24 hours alone, he rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, reinstated protections for LGBTQ+ people, ended a travel ban on majority-Muslim countries, and retracted the country’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization.
Now, the Biden administration has also announced its intentions with the proposed TikTok ban, as it assesses whether the short-form video app really poses a national security threat.
The Biden administration has halted the proposed ban on TikTok.
According to the BBC, the suspension means that both TikTok and the messaging app WeChat, two Chinese-owned apps implicated in the ban, can continue to operate in the US while government staff familiarize themselves with the case.
Trump had claimed that TikTok presents privacy and security concerns, echoing hacktivist collective Anonymous’s allegations that the app is: “essentially malware operated by the Chinese government running a massive spying operation.”
The suspension signals that US-based TikTokers won’t have to worry about the platform being banned anytime soon – roll on more sea shanty success stories and viral style challenges.
Originally Published July 30, 2020: President Donald Trump is renewing his attempt to ban TikTok from the U.S. There has been more scrutiny on TikTok as more people delete the app from their phone over security and privacy concerns. Yet, Microsoft is now interested in buying the social media platform.
President Donald Trump is reportedly getting ready to tell Chinese-owned ByteDance to sell their U.S. stakes in TikTok
While President Trump continues his attempts to get rid of TikTok, Microsoft is swooping in to save the social media platform by acquiring it now. It is unclear how far the talks are between Microsoft and TikTok but it would protect the app from being banned in the U.S. ByteDance the company that owns TikTok is valued at $100 billion.
Original: With millions of teens and young adults – a demographic I think I still fit – under lockdown orders thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans turned to TikTok.
The fun, 15-second video app has been downloaded more than 200 million times in the U.S. since the beginning of the pandemic, with users sharing everything from dance and recipe videos to starting now-viral trends. The app is loved by its users and they’re proving they’ll stand by it when it comes under threat. Which is exactly what they’re doing now as the Trump administration has announced a potential ban on TikTok.
According to some officials, Trump is looking to ban TikTok.
According to senior administration officials – and Trump himself – the TikTok app is a threat to U.S. national security and at risk of being banned in the country. Some are suggesting it’s a way for Trump to retaliate against China over its handling of the Coronavirus, others suggest it’s Trump retaliating against ‘TikTokivists’ who helped make his Tulsa rally a total disaster. Either way, news of a possible ban on TikTok has sent its users into overdrive.
Trump’s comments came after Secretary of State Michael Pompeo told Americans not to download the app unless they want to see their private information fall into “the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Trump didn’t offer specifics about a potential decision and Pompeo seemed to walk back the idea of a ban in a later statement, saying that the U.S. efforts to protect American consumers’ data don’t relate to any one particular company.
TikTok, an app known for quirky short videos, is facing political heat because of its ties to China.
TikTok has in fact come under increased scrutiny in recent months – not just in the U.S. – for it’s ties to China. TikTok is owned by a Chinese company and many countries around the world are worried about that connection. Citing national security concerns, India banned TikTok last week. The US Army and Navy have banned service members from downloading the app to government-issued phones. Even Amazon has raised concerns. On Friday, the huge online retailer barred employees from using the app on devices that connect to the company’s email, citing “security risks.”
TikTok has tried responding to the issue. In an interview with CNBC, a TikTok spokesperson said, “TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S. We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”
The company has also made it clear that all data from American citizens is stored outside of China, on servers based in the United States. The company claims that its data centers are located entirely outside of China, and that none of their users’ data is subject to Chinese law.
Meanwhile, many TikTok users say they care less about potential Chinese snooping and more about Trump taking away their digital hangout. In the U.S., TikTok has been downloaded more than 165 million times, according to Sensor Tower.
“I don’t believe Trump is trying to take TikTok away because of national security, but more to retaliate against activism on the app and all the videos about him that drag him through the mud,” said Darius Jackson, an 18-year-old TikTok user, in a statement to CNBC.
“This is the first year I’ll be able to vote and I think activism on TikTok is going to make a big difference,” Jackson said.
Many view the move as retaliation for Trump’s failed Tulsa rally.
It’s hard to forget the epic fail that was Trump’s Tulsa rally. His planned ‘relaunch’ of his 2020 campaign after being forced to suspend his massive rallies because of Coronavirus.
Leading up to the event, Trump had touted record-shattering interest and ticket sales for the rally. He went so far as to say that millions of Americans had RSVP’d for it – and he wasn’t actually lying this time. However, there was one minor problem – hundreds of thousands of tickets were actually reserved in a massive campaign by Korean pop stans and TikTok users.
Thanks to a TikTok campaign, Trump’s ‘massive’ rally was an utter disaster attended by only a few thousand people. Many suggest that this campaign cold be why Trump is looking to target TikTok with some sort of ban.
Since the announcement, ‘TikTok Teens’ have launched a full-fledged assault against the Trump administration.
One of the pettiest (ie. best) moves the collection of ‘TikTokivists’ has made so far, is that tens of thousands flooded the Apple App Store and left scathing reviews of the Trump 2020 Campaign app. On Wednesday alone 700 negative reviews were left on the Official Trump 2020 app and 26 positive ones, according to tracking firm Sensor Tower.
“For Gen Z and Millennials, TikTok is our clubhouse and Trump threatened it,” said Yori Blacc, a 19-year-old TikTok user in California who joined in the app protest. “If you’re going to mess with us, we will mess with you.”
The efforts to push the app low enough so that Apple will remove it from the app store may be misguided. Apple doesn’t delete apps based on their popularity. The App Store may review those that violate its guidelines or are outdated, but not if their ratings sink. A similar tactic was tried in April to protest Google Classroom by kids frustrated with quarantine home-schooling.
But can the U.S. government actually ban an app?
According to most legal experts, the answer is no. Sure, the administration could attempt to but thanks to the U.S. legal system, a total ban wouldn’t last. Administrations have limited authority to ban outright any specific piece of software, like an app. But it could potentially lobby Congress to enact legislation that targets TikTok.
Prediction: You will want to check out Walter Mercado’s house in Puerto Rico, and maybe even buy it up and call it home. And what perfect timing, because the stars have aligned to bring you his Puerto Rico pad at an unbeatable price.
That’s right! Walter Mercado’s home in San Juan is up for sale!
Located in an “exclusive area” of San Juan, according to the property listing, the six-bedroom, five-bathroom estate is on sale for just $395,000.
Since you likely won’t fly to San Juan right now (thanks, COVID), you can check out the flamboyant cape aficionados sweet, two story tropical oasis on Realtor.com.
The listing photos show the home’s vibrant interior, which appears in the documentary, with yellow, red and green walls. The first floor boasts a large living room, kitchen and dining room. Tile-work leads up the stairs to the second level, where there’s yet another living room, dining room and a smaller kitchen — plus two balconies.
Outside, there’s a pool area with a gazebo and a patio, as well as a covered carport for at least four cars.
The home seems to be having trouble finding a buyer.
The estate originally hit the market for $495,000 in September 2020 but with no buyer in the cards, it then had its price slashed to $430,000 in December, according to Realtor.com. It’s now asking just $395,000.
Mercado already sold his Miami property in 2017 to cover financial difficulties.
While in Miami, Mercado maintained an apartment at The Grand in downtown for many years until 2017 when he decamped part time to New York.
Many in his family had hoped to turn his Puerto Rico home into a museum to the late icon, but due to zoning issues the family decided the best step forward was to list the home for sale. Regarding Mercado’s belongings that were contained within the home (so many of which we came to see in the Netflix documentary), one of his nieces told Pledge Times, that though family members have each kept some items, many were given to the Miami History Museum, and some items will go to Mexico. However, his cape with the Puerto Rican flag is being sent to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.