Things That Matter

Puerto Rico, Still Recovering From Hurricane Maria, Is Losing Recovery Dollars To Fund Part Of The Border Wall

When Donald Trump began his campaign for president, one — if not the most important — promise he made was that Mexico would pay for the border wall. Trump’s border wall, which would extend throughout the south as a barrier between the U.S. and Mexico, has been his No. 1 mission as president of the United States. Now, four years after making this promise, Mexico has still not paid a single cent for the construction of any such barrier that has been built or will be built. 

In order for Trump’s border wall to get constructed, he’s still very short on funds, and since Mexico is obviously not going to pay, the president is taking money away from Puerto Rico’s hurricane recovery budget. 

Credit: @Nicolemarie_A / Twitter

Trump has allocated $400 million to go toward building the wall and will take it directly from funds that were intended to help Puerto Rico and their hurricane recovery. The Department of Defense announced that several hurricane-related projects in Puerto Rico would be halted because their funding would be diverted to building the border wall. Some of those projects include a National Guard Readiness Center, a Power Substation/Switching Station Building, and an Aircraft Maintenance Hangar in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

According to NBC News, a senior Defense official said that people shouldn’t worry because these projects in Puerto Rico will get done, eventually. “We don’t see ourselves delaying those projects. We’re fully committed to that recovery,” the official said since many of them wouldn’t begin until 2020.

The president still needs billions more for the wall, at least $25 billion more, so he’s taking money from various military sources in the U.S. and its territories. The total amount he’s diverting is $3.6 billion.

Credit: @ChrisLu44 / Twitter

Aside from Puerto Rico, 117 other military construction projects will be halted and/or delayed now because of funds. People might assume diverting funds away from Puerto Rico’s recovery or other sources isn’t a big deal because it doesn’t seem like tangible needs. However, people familiar with the military centers and operations know that it is a huge deal and almost appears like robbery by the highest level office. 

“I visited the current RPA training facility at Holloman earlier this year. The building is falling apart, with some equipment being held together with duct tape. To say this facility, which supports training for 100 percent of the Air Force’s MQ-9 crews, urgently needs to be replaced would be an understatement,” Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., said in a statement, according to NBC News. 

Other projects losing funds include $160 million of construction projects at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; $85 million operations facility at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico;  $40 million for an information systems facility at White Sands Missile Facility, and much more. 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is planning to file a lawsuit to prohibit Trump from taking $3.6 billion away from Puerto Rico and the rest of the country and territories. 

Credit: @ACLU / Twitter

“The fact that the government sat on these so-called ’emergency funds’ for seven months further confirms that this is nothing but an unlawful power grab,” ACLU attorney Dror Ladin said in a statement, according to The Hill. “We’ll be back in court very soon to block Trump’s latest effort to raid military funds for his xenophobic wall,” he added.

Despite claiming that Mexico would pay for the wall for years, Trump already said that he didn’t mean that literally. 

Credit: @realDonaldTrump / Twitter

In January, the president tried to backtrack four years of declarations that Mexico would pay for the wall by insisting that he wasn’t speaking in direct terms but indirectly. We know, it makes no sense.

“When — during the campaign, I would say, ‘Mexico is going to pay for it.’ Obviously, I never said this and I never meant they’re going to write out a check. I said, ‘They’re going to pay for it.’ They are. They are paying for it with the incredible deal we made, called the United States, Mexico, and Canada USMCA deal.”

Yes, the president said he never said what he said. We feel a headache coming on. To illustrate how many times Trump said Mexico would pay for the wall, Factbase Inc. listed each of them. He has referenced the border wall at least 456 times

READ: New Border Wall Is Being Constructed In California But It Is Not The Same Border Wall Trump Promised His Voters

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Trump Labels Cuba A State Sponsor Of Terrorism As His Own Supporters Face Similar Allegations

Things That Matter

Trump Labels Cuba A State Sponsor Of Terrorism As His Own Supporters Face Similar Allegations

Yander Zamora/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In a move that is sure to complicate things for the incoming Biden administration, Trump has moved to put Cuba back on the list of nations that allegedly sponsor terrorism.

Obama had taken Cuba off of that list in 2015 and with four years to Cuba back on the list, many agree that Trump has simply put Cuba back on the list to make life difficult for President Biden.

The Trump administration has put Cuba back on the list of countries that “sponsor terrorism.”

With just days left in office, Trump has moved to label Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism” in a last-minute move that is sure to complicate things for the incoming Biden administration.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo justified the controversial move which reverses Barack Obama’s 2015 decision to remove Cuba from the list after more than three decades – by accusing Havana of “repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbour to terrorists”.

Pompeo also alleged Cuba was engaging “in a range of malign behavior across the region”, highlighting its support for Venezuela’s authoritarian leader Nicolás Maduro who Trump has unsuccessfully tried to overthrow.

The controversial step places Cuba alongside Iran, North Korea and Syria as state sponsors of terror.

However, most officials agree that Trump’s claims about Cuba are bogus.

Many international observers – including U.S. allies – aren’t impressed by the administration’s claims that Cuba is sponsoring terrorism.

In an interview with The Guardian, Christopher Sabatini, a senior fellow for Latin America at Chatham House, said “These are trumped up charges. Terrorism as an international definition is committing acts of violence against unarmed civilians intended to frighten the population. Cuba doesn’t do that. Yes, it represses its own people – but so does Saudi Arabia.”

Groups that favor greater U.S. engagement with Cuba criticized the announcement.

“There is no compelling, factual basis to merit the designation,” according to Ric Herrero, executive director of the Cuba Study Group, a Washington DC-based organization that supports engagement with the island. “Instead it appears to be another shameless, last-ditch effort to hamstring the foreign policy of the incoming Biden administration and set the stage for the next election in Florida, all at the expense of the Cuban people and relations between our countries.”

Many observers agree that Trump’s move is simply a gift to party hardliners in Florida, and likely a deliberate attempt to make life difficult for the incoming Biden administration who may wish to end deténte with Cuba.

Of course, Cuban officials reacted angrily to the announcement.

After the announcement, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez tweeted: “We condemn the US announced hypocritical and cynical designation of #Cuba as a State sponsoring terrorism. The US political opportunism is recognized by those who are honestly concerned about the scourge of terrorism and its victims.”

Reversing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s action would require the Biden administration to certify to Congress that there has been a fundamental change in leadership in Cuba and that the government is not supporting acts of international terrorism, has not for the previous six months and will not do so in the future.

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Guardians Of The Galaxy Star Offers Reward To Find Who Mutilated A Manatee With The Name ‘Trump’

Things That Matter

Guardians Of The Galaxy Star Offers Reward To Find Who Mutilated A Manatee With The Name ‘Trump’

Michael Wood/Stocktrek Images

Just when we thought Trump supporters couldn’t disgust us more, one disfigured a manatee by etching “Trump” into its back.

Sadly, last week, a manatee was found in Florida’s Homosassa River with the name “Trump” scratched into its back. The discovery has prompted federal officials to open an investigation into the disfigurement of the threatened species.

A mutilated manatee was found over the weekend with the name Trump scratched into its back.

According to a report published by the Citrus County Chronicle, it is unclear when and how the manatee was mutilated. It is also unknown whether the current investigation has made any leads in regards to the perpetrators. Still, footage of the abused animal has sparked outrage online.

Douglas Nowacek, a professor of Conservation Technology at Duke University told Vice that the incident is “one of the most horrifying things I have ever seen done to a wild animal.” In a separate email, Ruth Carmichael, a Senior Marine Scientist at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and a Professor of Marine Sciences at the University of South Alabama described the act a “horrific” to VICE saying “I have no words to express how deeply troubling, thoughtless, and potentially cruel this is.” 

Guardians of the Galaxy actor Dave Bautista has offered a $20,000 reward to anyone who finds the person who etched “Trump” into the Florida manatee’s back.

Bautista offered the reward on Twitter, writing “if there’s not already a reward for the arrest and conviction of the low life scummy MAGATs that did this I’ll throw in $20,000. And I promise there will be bonuses to that reward!”

Marine biologists say that it is unclear just how much harm the mammal endured.

“It’s a little hard to see the extent of damage from the video,” Carmichael explained. “It is harassment regardless. If the scrape penetrates the skin, then it likely caused some pain and stress. The animals have nerves and sensory hairs in the skin. Additionally, open wounds could become infected.” 

According to Graham Worthy, Department Chair and Pegasus Professor at the University of Central Florida who spoke to VICE the letters could mostly be shallow, and may mostly be algae scraped off the animal’s back making“ injury would be virtually non-existent.”

Still, physically hurt or not, the manatee in question was clearly harassed by a person. As such the perpetrator could face severe penalties if found. 

“Violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act may result in fines of up to $100,000 and one year’s imprisonment for individuals and up to $200,000 for organizations,” Worthy told Vice. “It is illegal to approach and make contact with these animals let alone deface or injure them. It is illegal to feed or harass wild marine mammals including dolphins, porpoises, whales, seals, sea lions, and manatees. You are not allowed to feed, swim with, or harass these marine animals… They should be observed from a distance of at least 50 yards.”

The mutilated manatee is a West Indian manatee and is a herbivorous mammal found in coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. Up until 2017, the species was considered endangered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Today, conservation status is listed as “threatened.”  

As many users of social media have noted, perhaps one of the most disturbing aspects of the images that humans already cause so much pain and suffering to innocent animals. When does it stop?

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