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One day after their visit to Puerto Rico to meet people affected by and working on rebuilding after Hurricane Maria, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump flew to Las Vegas to meet with victims of and first responders to the Mandalay Bay massacre on Sunday, October 1, 2017.

The flag at the White House was at half mast on Tuesday, October 3:

On Wednesday, October 4, the Trumps flew to Las Vegas with this objective:

The Trumps’ first stop was the University Medical Center, which received over 100 patients on the evening of October 1.

This is a composite video (no dialogue, only music; another copy here):

Four people in particular stood out during this visit.

The first was Thomas Gunderson, who insisted on standing to meet the president. The first lady and a man in the room helped him up:

This is the sign outside of his hospital room:

The second person is this teenager:

After the Trumps left, she gave a brief interview:

The Trumps also met with the family of Rose-Marie Melanson, who is in hospital. The Daily Caller recapped the story:

A family who survived the Las Vegas massacre spoke highly of President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, calling the Trumps real human beings who are sympathetic and caring.

Steve Melanson was at the concert with his daughters Stephanie and Paige along with their mother Rose-Marie, who was shot and is currently recovering.

“They’re real people. He’s a real human. She’s a real human,” Stephanie praised the Trumps on CNN’s “New Day” Friday.”They had a heart. They were caring. They were sympathetic. They had a listening ear. He sends his condolences.”

Melania ran over to hug the daughter and reassured her that her mother would pull through.

“Before he [Trump] could finish talking, she [Melania] got up and just b-lined over to us, and just hugged me and told me: Your mom is strong. She’s a fighter. She’ll be okay. She’s going to make it,” Stephanie said.

Stephanie began to tear up before calling her mother a “warrior.”

The Trumps also met with a Las Vegas policeman, Officer Cook, who had been in the job for only two days:

Upon leaving, President Trump expressed his gratitude to the doctors and nurses attending the patients. He refused to discuss the shooting but said that in the weeks to come we would find out what a ‘sick’ individual the shooter was. Later on, the president said he had extended an open invitation to the White House for everyone they met and said he would be there for them:

The Trumps’ next stop was to police headquarters. The president praised the response and efforts of the police, sheriff — and the taxi drivers — that night:

Afterwards, he gave a brief address:

President Ronald Reagan’s elder son Michael had high praise for the Trumps:

I’ll close with this:

Anyone not writing about what happened is correct in so doing. Many of us are gathering data from what has appeared in the media, especially social media.

I pray that the truth comes out about this horrific incident. It is unlikely to be what it appears. May God shine a blinding light on it in the weeks to come.

In the meantime, prayers for those who are recovering and for the families of the deceased.

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When President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visited Puerto Rico on October 3, 2017, they also met with Governor Kenneth Mapp of the US Virgin Islands (USVI) on board the USS Kearsarge that afternoon.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We have received Big Media hysteria about Puerto Rico for two weeks now but hear and read next to nothing about the USVI.

That is because Governor Mapp is grateful for the help and wants to work with the president on recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Therefore, Mapp cannot aid and abet the media’s diabolical agenda. So, no coverage for him.

Here is a video of the meeting:

This is a transcript of the public remarks of the meeting, excerpts of which follow:

THE PRESIDENT: … we were so nicely treated by the U.S. Virgin Islands, frankly, over the years. They’re great people, and were helping out.

And we have with us Governor Kenneth Mapp, who has been very generous with what he said about Brock, about everybody at FEMA, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, the Coast Guard, the whole thing. And Kenneth, we very much appreciate your remarks, and I appreciate it very much …

And your people have been very resilient, and they have done a great job. They[‘]re already starting the rebuilding process. And you got hit twice. You were hit very hard.

GOVERNOR MAPP: In 12 days.

THE PRESIDENT: In 12 days, you got hit twice. And Puerto Rico got hit twice. They had a grazing one that actually the United States took a lot of brunt from, and then they got hit by Maria, and that was dead center.

So Kenneth, thank you very much. I very appreciate it. Would you like to say something?

GOVERNOR MAPP: Yes, I would, Mr. President. I want to, on behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands, first, thank you and your entire federal family and federal team of FEMA, of DOD, for all the help that you[‘]ve been providing to the people of the Virgin Islands. The people of the Virgin Islands asked me to extend the gratitude and appreciation to you. It has hastened our rebuilding.

We want to let our folks and our friends and brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico know that we stand with them. We extend our condolences to the folks in Las Vegas for the tragedy that occurred. But because of your commitment, Mr. President, and the work and the calls that you have made with us and with me, from Irma to now, were now talking about opening schools and cruise ships returning.

We’ve got a lot of work yet to do. We’ve still got roofless homes, and were working with Brock and FEMA to make sure that we take care of those issues. But we have advanced beyond where we were in any of the hurricanes that we’ve experienced. And I just want to really express my gratitude on behalf of the wonderful people of the Virgin Islands to you and your team.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. They are wonderful people too, and I really appreciate that. I feel that we[‘]re old friends, you know, because we[‘]ve spoken so many times over the last month. And you are — you have done a terrific job.

GOVERNOR MAPP: Thank you …

Read this tweet thread, which has no positive comments at all but, interestingly, goes back to the Russian collusion:

I am personally grateful to see such level-headedness from the governor, which is in stark contrast to the hysteria coming from the mayor of San Juan, who cannot bring herself to work with FEMA.

Caribbean News Now! provided an update on Wednesday, October 4, excerpted below (emphases mine):

Updating reporters at Government House, St Croix, on Tuesday, Governor Mapp described his meeting with the US president, aboard the USS Kearsarge as “very productive,” adding he did not know of “any country on the planet … today that can respond to a disaster like … the United States of America.”

Reacting and responding to a disaster is no easy task, the governor observed, adding: “We as Americans, we’re getting better at this process. It’s not perfect, but we’re getting better at it.”

Mona Barnes, director of the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA), said what stood out for her was Trump and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator William “Brock” Long saying they were with the US Virgin Islands for the long haul.

“I took that and I saw the sincerity in which it was said, and so I say to the people of the Virgin Islands, truly, I am proud to be an American and you should, too,” she said.

Their positive outlook and remarks do not mean that everything is restored. Much work remains to be done, with preliminary cost estimates between $500 million and $750 million.

Governor Mapp said the islands have lost two hospitals, four schools, several government buildings as well as infrastructure.

Mapp’s immediate concern is the progress of the Blue Roof Program, which he says is going slower than anticipated. That said, he was scheduled to discuss the matter with Lieutenant General Todd Semonite from the US Army Corps of Engineers last Friday.

Although the islanders have been hard hit, Mapp and his administration remain positive:

We’ve made this progress because we can say from a real perspective, all hands are on deck. We’re all working towards a common goal of the recovery of the territory,” the governor said, noting that US Virgin Islanders’ “fortitude” and “ability to stay the course” have been the keys to the territory’s recovery.

“I’ve been in four or five hurricanes, and in less than a month, I think we’ve made very good progress,” Mapp said, adding that he was looking forward to the next 30 days.

Mapp thanked the people of the US Virgin Islands for their productive criticism and ideas to improve the recovery process, and commended them for their sense of community and kindness, highlighting those who have taken in others in need, giving them clothes, and cooking hot meals for the community.

“At the end of the day, the Virgin Islands, and the people of the Virgin Islands, are going to be a lot better off than before Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Maria came to our shores,” he said.

What a great outlook. Rather than moan or exaggerate, Governor Mapp has a practical, yet grateful and hopeful, perspective.

It’s sad that men and women like Governor Mapp and his team do not receive a greater share of the media limelight.

Thank you, Governor Mapp. May God richly bless you and the people of the US Virgin Islands in your recovery from Hurricane Maria.

On Tuesday, October 3, 2017, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visited Puerto Rico, several days after Hurricane Maria struck the island.

The Trumps landed in the morning at Luis Muñiz Air National Guard Base, where Governor Ricardo Rosselló welcomed them:

The Trumps went immediately to a progress meeting involving the governor and his wife, FEMA, the military, other first responders and various mayors of cities in Puerto Rico. Here, President Trump greeted Carmen Yulín Cruz, the outspoken mayor of San Juan. Trump held his ground at the weekend with several tweets about her, including this:

She is the only mayor out of 78 to refuse to attend FEMA meetings. This was her first one. Governor Rosselló is on the right in the photo:

She wore stilettos. A comment on the First Lady, perhaps? Mrs Trump wore work boots in Puerto Rico — and flats on the flight — by the way:

Although Mayor Yulín was at the head table, she sat far away from the president, on the right:

The following clip does not show Mayor Yulín scowling, but features President Trump praising Governor Rosselló as a man who ‘doesn’t play games’. One can imagine that she did scowl at that:

She was upset that Trump said Puerto Rico had thrown off the national budget. He said it in a tongue-in-cheek way, but Yulín thought differently. Of course, she and CNN had to get together once again. Did you know that CNN brought her the ‘we are dying’ shirt?

The next day, she appeared on television in a new tee shirt:

I do not recall in my many hours of reading that Trump called Yulín either of those things.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders discussed Mayor Yulín in her Press Briefing on Thursday, October 5 (emphases mine):

MS. SANDERS: The mayor of San Juan had that shirt saying “NASTY.” What does this White House believe? The President went there; it was very controversial, his appearance there.

MS. SANDERS: Actually, it wasn’t controversial.

Q Well, some people —

MS. SANDERS: It was actually widely praised, even by a Democrat governor. I think that it is sad that the mayor of San Juan chose to make that a political statement instead of a time of focusing on the relief efforts.

The President invited her to be part of that conversation. He specifically asked in the meeting where many were present, including a couple dozen other mayors who were very happy with the recovery efforts — the governor, the congresswoman. He opened the floor up for discussion, and she actually made zero comments. To me, that would have been the time and the place that she should have weighed in and asked for what she needed, and laid out what she was asking for for San Juan. She didn’t.

Instead she chose to wait until the President left and then criticize him on TV, which I think is the wrong thing for her to do for her constituents. And I hope next time she’s given the opportunity to help her constituents, she’ll take it.

Geraldo Rivera of Fox News met up with President Trump later:

Trump spoke with him, mentioning that, coming from New York, he cares a great deal for Puerto Rico. He also thanked the federal agencies, military and first responders for the progress they have made in challenging conditions:

Afterwards, the Trumps toured the area around San Juan and spoke with the people they met.

They saw this supporter along the way:

Governor Rosselló took the Trumps to the Calvary Chapel in Guaynabo, not far from San Juan:

There, the president handed out supplies, including paper towels:

The president also talked with residents of Guaynabo:

The mayor expressed his gratitude:

Trump also spoke with residents of San Juan, who requested photo ops:

Unrelated to anything in particular, how did everyone end up with the same facial expression?

On another stop, President Trump comforted a serviceman:

The day concluded with a visit aboard the USS Kearsarge, where Trump received a further briefing — and met with Governor Kenneth Mapp of the Virgin Islands, whom I will cover in a separate post.

This was the first time Marine One has landed on the Kearsarge:

The Trumps also met with the Navy personnel and Marines aboard the ship:

The president pledged his continued support:

USNS Comfort arrived that day:

FEMA continued to hand out supplies:

Customs and Border Patrol were hard at work:

As a thank you for her support, the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico got to board Air Force One:

In closing, difficult recovery situations remain — click on the man cleaning his kitchen (top left):

New communications lines are being stolen (why??):

People are leaving the island:

Difficult questions also remain:

Even so, it seems as if many Puerto Ricans appreciate the president. This man says he is doing ‘an awesome job’:

This lady thanks God for President Trump and Vice President Pence:

Amen!

Next stop, Las Vegas in the aftermath of the Mandalay Bay massacre:

I will cover that next week.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visited Puerto Rico on Tuesday, October 3, 2017.

I will cover their visit in a separate post, but one thing President Trump said upon his return to the White House that day was that truckers must start work again (see at 55-second mark):

Part of the reason supplies are not reaching Puerto Ricans is because some of the truckers will not drive.

On October 2, my post included a piece on transport on the island. I stated that I needed more research to complete the picture.

In summary, the Teamsters there are part of Local 901, based in San Juan. Alexis Rodriguez is the Secretary-Treasurer of Local 901.

There is another trucking organisation called Frente Amplio de Camioneros (FAC). It is led by Victor Rodriguez.

These are two different organisations led by two different people.

The Teamsters have asked for volunteers from the United States to help their Alexis Rodriguez and his members in Puerto Rico. The response has been favourable:

Victor Rodriguez established FAC in 2003.

Over the past few days, Victor — known as ‘the toothless guy’ — has been giving inflammatory interviews to Puerto Rican television and radio. He wants the island’s governor to give in to their demands before his drivers get behind the wheel again. He also has blamed FEMA, as I wrote the other day, citing a Hollywood LA News which has a video of him from last week (emphases mine below):

it’s the diesel supply of which FEMA is in charge that’s the problem and that their truck drivers have been ready to drive all along. One can discern the skepticism on the face of the interviewer, who then brings up the fact that authorities have put out a call for independent non-union drivers to volunteer because of a lack of people willing to do the work.

That’s the point in the video after which Mr. Rodriguez bombastically started spouting curse words urging the people to pressure FEMA to release fuel and other supplies. By his side is the president of UTRA (Unión de Transporte y Ramas Anexas).

Puerto Ricans on social media are very critical. The top comment for this particular video is from a woman who says that no one is so ignorant to believe that FEMA is to blame for the mess. Others point out that the truckers are refusing to get in line for gasoline and are thus putting lives at risk.

Here is another video of Victor threatening strike action unless FAC’s demands are met. These are the drivers who are not behind the wheel:

Hollywood LA News had a helpful follow-up article on October 2, ‘How You Can Help Puerto Rico (Frente Amplio Edition)’.

The article began with a post of October 1 from FAC’s Facebook page. The second demand has already been answered. President Trump waived the Jones Act at the weekend:

Many friends abroad ask me what they can do to help Puerto Rico. This is what matters the most is to advocate for: 1. a moratorium or an amnesty on Puerto Rico’s national debt. 2. the repeal of the Jones Act or a permanent exemption for Puerto Rico. 3. the repeal of the PROMESA law and the Fiscal Control Board. Now more than ever, we need the removal of these three colonial fetters. The island is completely destroyed. Only if we are free from these three yokes will we be able to begin reconstruction in a just manner.

Esto es de Mara Pastor y yo suscribo para quienes estamos en USA:
Muchas amigas y amigos en el extranjero me preguntan qué pueden hacer para ayudarnos. Lo más importante: abogar por la moratoria o amnistía de la deuda billonaria que nos quieren cobrar, por la eliminación de las leyes de cabotaje o exencion permanente para Puerto Rico de esas leyes, por la eliminación de la ley Promesa y de la Junta de Control Fiscal. Ahora más que nunca, necesitamos que se eliminen estos tres grilletes coloniales. La isla está completamente destruída. Sólo liberándonos de estos tres yugos comenzaremos a reconstruirnos de manera justa.

First, dealing with the debt will take time and negotiation. Secondly, there needs to be some control in place until then, hence PROMESA.

I highlighted the text so that you can see what a lefty Victor is.

Hollywood LA News tells us (emphases in the original):

Victor Rodriguez has been the most visible and vocal leader of professional truck drivers in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, appearing in many media interviews to denounce the governor.

The Facebook page of the “Frente Amplio de Puerto Rico” mentioned first on this page has this in their About section:

The Frente Amplio de Puerto Rico was founded on February 8, 2012 as a political coalition with the purpose of uniting the parties, groups, political causes leftist, sovereign and independence under a single political movement. We seek the union between leftist / pro-independence parties and groups like MAS, MINH, MST, PPT, MUS, Nationalist, Socialist and Communist Party, OSI, FUPI, UJS, PIP, sovereignty within the PPD, recruit independents & leftists who do not vote, recruit those who vote in mixed fashion, those who have no political affiliation among others.

That page also has emblems from various left-wing Puerto Rican independence groups, including one which has a hammer and sickle.

Again, it’s important not to confuse Alexis Rodriguez’s Local 901 with Victor Rodriguez’s Frente Amplio de Camioneros. The first is on the roads; the second is at home.

It is unimaginable that drivers would allow politics to get in the way of delivering life-saving supplies to their fellow countrymen. But that’s the way the radical Left rolls.

Hollywood LA News continues to investigate the transport situation and posted another article on October 2, ‘Puerto Rico Teamsters’. Excerpts follow, emphases in the original.

First, we discover a bit more about Victor:

Those who doubt that Victor M. Rodriguez is the leader speaking for the truck drivers are very out of the loop. Anyone who has even heard of a transport strike on the island in the last two decades knows who he is.

The old man was listed as far back as 2009 in Wikipedia as a notable homeboy of the town of Trujillo Alto. He’s a leftist hero who’s a product of the University of Puerto Rico and he had the cachet to negotiate with the government until he met his match this year with the new governor taking office.

Secondly, we learn that Local 901 are blaming transport delays on paperwork clearance at the port:

The Local 901 affiliated with Joint Council 16 of New York represents a little over 2,000 workers (not just drivers) in the entire island, which has a population of 3.4 million.

The Teamsters of Puerto Rico have argued that the reported non-movement of relief goods from the shipping terminals / ports is actually due to paperwork issues pertaining to the cargo’s release to business owners on the island.

How then will bringing in more volunteer Teamsters from New York speed up the clearing of paperwork?

The Teamsters have not replied to this particular review.

I have looked for an update on the containers still in port but have not been able to find anything, including on El Nuevo Día. To be continued.

There was much to read at the weekend from Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Therefore, this is a continuation of yesterday’s post.

As I write on Tuesday afternoon (UK time), October 3, 2017, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are on their way to Puerto Rico. A meeting with San Juan’s mayor is on the agenda. The governor of the US Virgin Islands will be flying into Puerto Rico to meet with the president.

Media gaslighting

The American media will continue to gaslight:

Canadian media were at it, too:

But good things continue to happen

Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló has had high praise for the Trump administration’s relief and rescue efforts.

On September 27, Breitbart posted a good article on the interviews he has given to American media.

This is worth noting (emphases mine):

the Associated Press reported on more praise and appreciation from Puerto Rico’s governor. What especially stands out is Rosselló’s praise for the administration’s pro-active pre-planning, and the island’s Resident Commission informing us that Puerto Rico has never received this kind of coordination before:

Rosselló and other officials praised the federal government for planning its response in detail before the storm hit, a contrast with what Puerto Rico has long seen as the neglect of 3.4 million Americans living in a territory without a vote in Congress or the electoral college.

“This is the first time we get this type of federal coordination,” said Resident Commission Jenniffer Gonzalez, Puerto Rico’s non-voting representative in Washington.

Pajamas Media has so much more, including a breakdown of the massive amount of supplies and resources already delivered.

Democrats are whistling in the wind

Yesterday’s post showed a letter from Democrat legislators requesting an investigation into the Trump administration’s handling of Maria in Puerto Rico.

Democrats are whistling in the wind with that one.

Because communications were down, photos from Puerto Rico started emerging only on Monday, September 25, five days after Maria struck. However, FEMA, the Coast Guard, the military were already there and/or in Washington, such as the Federal Communications Commission working with counterparts in Puerto Rico on communications issues:

Communications have been gradually coming back. With regard to mobile phones:

Florida takes in Puerto Ricans

On Wednesday, September 27, Puerto Rico’s El Nuevo Día reported that Florida has been taking in tens of thousands — possibly up to 100,000 — of the island’s residents:

“Everyone here in Florida has family in Puerto Rico, and every Puerto Rican has lost something on the Island, those Puerto Ricans are going to come and take refuge with their relatives. Personally, I have seven relatives who are coming to my house,” said Florida State Representative Bob Cortés, who estimated a potential influx of 100,000 Puerto Ricans.

Among the measures being taken, Cortés mentioned that students arriving from Puerto Rico will not have to submit documents such as birth certificates, vaccination or credit transcripts in the 67 Florida school districts that agreed to offer such exemption.

In addition, they are coordinating efforts for the Florida Department of Health state to offer services to those who arrive without health coverage. Likewise, agreements were reached with firms such as Disney and Walmart to provide jobs to those migrating.

No information was given on where the arrivals would live. The three comments in Spanish following the article — likely to be from people on the mainland — were far from positive about this development.

A local television station from Jacksonville had an article on the subject, which stated that Florida’s governor, Rick Scott:

has also called on Florida colleges and universities to offer in-state tuition for Puerto Rican students. Florida International University said Friday that it would do so for students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

State Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam also announced that Puerto Rican students displaced by the hurricane can get free school meals through the National School Lunch Program.

“To any families fleeing Puerto Rico and coming to Florida, you will not have to worry about how you’re going to pay for your child’s school meals,” Putnam said in a prepared statement.

Some see a cynical political opportunity here:

Life-saving drug supply appears good

One of Puerto Rico’s main industries is pharmaceuticals, many of which are exported to the United States and other parts of the world. On Tuesday, September 26, Fortune reported:

The drug industry has a large presence in Puerto Rico with dozens of drug and device manufacturers operating on the island, including Abbott, Baxter, Merck, Novartis, and Pfizer thanks to a now expired federal tax incentive Section 936 that encouraged drug companies to move there.

The industry is critically important to Puerto Rico’s economic recovery; it’s responsible for nearly 90,000 jobs on the island. About a quarter of all pharmaceutical drugs exported from the U.S. are made in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico’s drug manufacturing industry is also an essential supplier of pharmaceuticals and medical devices that thousands of U.S. hospitals and outpatient clinics use daily, including cancer drugs, immunosuppressants used by transplant patients, and devices needed for people with diabetes.

On Friday, September 29, Fox Business had this update:

While many residents of Puerto Rico continue to hang on without shelter, power, food and clean drinking water after being slammed by two massive hurricanes in less than a month, a lot of big pharmaceutical companies – who manufacture critical life-saving drugs on the island – are scrambling to ensure that drug shortages around the world don’t happen as a result.

Earlier this week, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb released a statement saying the agency is “very concerned” about the possibility of a drug shortage.

“Since Friday, we have undertaken swift and extensive efforts to prevent or limit the loss or shortage of multiple drugs critical to American patients due to the challenges related to refrigeration, storage and transportation. The agency has been working closely – throughout the weekend and into [Monday] – to relocate products in coordination with our federal and local government colleagues and pharmaceutical companies,” Gottlieb said.

Fortunately, the recovery time could be quicker than anticipated:

FOX Business reached out to some of the top drug makers who manufacture on the island to see if shortages are imminent and what drugs are at risk.

Pfizer Inc. (PFE), one of the world’s largest drug makers in oncology and cardiology, told FOX Business it has completed a preliminary assessment of its properties and only one of its three sites experienced minimal to moderate damage …

Eli Lilly and Co. (LLY), whose top drugs treat oncology, cardiovascular and diabetes, told FOX Business that its two manufacturing sites in Puerto Rico also suffered minimal damage, but it’s not expected to hinder operations as infrastructure begins to recover.

“Our inventory strategy for products is designed to protect against this type of event and we see no product supply risk to global markets at this time,” Tammy Hull, a spokesperson for Eli Lilly and Co., said.

Instead, the company said it’s using its facilities as temporary shelter for some of its more than 1,100 employees on the island …

Novartis (NVS) said while it does not have manufacturing facilities in Puerto Rico, it is working closely with its partners, distributors and the government to maintain business and supply continuity.

Baxter (BAX), who markets and distributes more than 84 drugs in the U.S., said it’s still in the process of trying to connect with its employees in Puerto Rico who work at the company’s facility. But as it relates to product supply, the company made preparations in advance to ensure products wouldn’t be affected …

That is good news, indeed.

Arecibo Observatory damage not as bad as thought

Hurricane Maria severely damaged the world’s second-largest radio telescope, located at Arecibo Observatory:

On September 22, Space.com reported:

While the overall structure of the telescope is still standing, it sustained some pretty serious damage from Hurricane Maria, according to an update from the Universities Space Research Organization (USRA), which helps to operate the Arecibo Observatory.

One telescope operator at Arecibo managed to contact USRA officials Thursday (Sept. 21) via a short-wave radio transmission. National Geographic’s Nadia Drake reports that Pennsylvania State University professor Jim Breakall spoke with the telescope operator, who was identified as Ángel Vazquez, and said staff members and their families were safe after sheltering at the facility. Vazquez also detailed some of the damage done to the iconic telescope. 

The article has technical details of the radio telescope.

On September 26, National Geographic reported that, while the telescope is inoperative, Arecibo Observatory is routinely stocked with food and running water, making it useful for local relief efforts:

More importantly, the observatory’s staff sheltering on-site are safe, and the facility is in good enough condition to potentially serve as a local center for the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, reports Arecibo deputy director Joan Schmelz.

Because of its deep water well and generator, the observatory has been a place for those in nearby towns to gather, shower, and cook after past hurricanes. It also has an on-site helicopter landing pad, so making sure the facility is safe in general is not just of scientific importance, but is also relevant for local relief efforts.

Better news emerged on September 29, when Science News reported that the iconic observatory might not be as badly damaged as first thought:

The observatory is conserving fuel, but plans to resume limited astronomy observations September 29, deputy director Joan Schmelz tweeted earlier that day. “#AreciboScience is coming back after #MariaPR.”

But the direct whack still raises the issue of when – and even whether – to repair the observatory: Funding for it has repeatedly been on the chopping block despite its historic contributions to astronomy.

Let’s hope it can be fully restored. The observatory has played a big role in research on gravitational waves and fast radio bursts of energy. More notably, in 1992, Arecibo identified the first planets outside the solar system.

Trump ‘didn’t botch’ Maria response

Former US Navy Captain Jerry Hendrix gave an interview to Bloomberg on September 30.

Captain Hendrix said that Trump’s White House and the Pentagon made ‘smart preparations’.

Excerpts follow:

Now a senior fellow with the Center for a New American Security, Hendrix served for decades both on the high seas and in high-level staff jobs, including with the Chief of Naval Operations’ Executive Panel and the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy’s Irregular Warfare Quadrennial Defense Review. Few people know more about military history than Hendrix, who has degrees from Purdue, Harvard, the Naval Postgraduate School and a Ph.D. from Kings College in London. Little wonder that in 2012 was named the service’s director of naval history.

Here is a lightly edited transcript of our discussion: 

TH: So, it seems like everybody has blasted Trump administration’s response to the Puerto Rico crisis. Has that criticism been fair?

JH: No, I don’t think so. First of all, there was a fair amount of anticipatory action that is not being recognized. Amphibious ships including the light amphibious carriers Kearsarge and Wasp and the amphibious landing ship dock Oak Hill were at sea and dispatched to Puerto Rico ahead of the hurricane’s impact.

These are large ships that have large flight decks to land and dispatch heavy-lift CH-53 helicopters to and from disaster sites. They also have big well-decks — exposed surfaces that are lower than the fore and aft of the ship — from which large landing craft can be dispatched to shore carrying over 150 tons of water, food and other supplies on each trip. These are actually the ideal platforms for relief operations owing to their range of assets. The ships, due to their designs to support Marine amphibious landings in war zones, also have hospitals onboard to provide medical treatment on a large scale. That these ships were in the area should be viewed as a huge positive for the administration and the Department of Defense

TH: Many critics feel that Florida and Houston had much better preparation before their storms hit this month. What could have been done better in advance in Puerto Rico, and what can be done in the rebuilding process to help minimize damage next time around?

JH: Puerto Rico is an island that suffers from its position in the middle of the Caribbean and its physical separation from the U.S. Its roads were in disrepair and its electrical grid was antiquated prior to the hurricane. The island has also suffered for years from ineffective local government and rising local territorial debt …

I will have a post on Trump’s trip to Puerto Rico soon.

In the meantime, English speakers can follow local Puerto Rican news at the English version of El Nuevo Día.

I spent half the weekend following what was happening in Puerto Rico more than a week after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

There has been more fact and fallacy in news coverage over recent days, since I last covered it on Friday, September 29, 2017.

Media strategy

As I wrote a few days ago, the media’s — and Democrats’ — strategy is to set up Hurricane Maria to be Trump’s Katrina:

What follows is CNN’s admission, referred to above in the second tweet, which the channel hoped would ruin President Donald Trump. General Honoré, interviewed below, took over the relief effort after Hurricane Katrina. The mayor referred to below is that of San Juan:

Two comments about the CNN interview.

First, I followed Katrina closely for weeks; I do not recall that General Honoré was lauded by anyone at the time, or afterwards.

Secondly, it is unlikely San Juan’s mayor is living on a cot. I saw many photos and a few videos of her at the weekend. She looks very clean and has a change of clothes for her many photo opportunities.

Of course, CNN, the Dems and the rest of the Left will continue to push their twisted narrative, but some Americans are already tiring of it — and are particularly annoyed with the mayor of San Juan:

Note the Podemos sticker behind her!

We still don’t know definitively where she got the tee shirt, although there is information on it below. Someone probably brought it over.

Democrat complaint

Below is a request from Democrat congressmen asking for an investigation into Trump’s handling of Maria in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It is dated September 28:

Good luck with that. FEMA and the military can prove detailed plans were in place before Maria struck the US territories.

San Juan’s mayor

Carmen Yulín Cruz is the mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan.

Last week, she commented favourably on relief efforts. She changed her tune at the weekend and gave an interview to CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Gloria Vanderbilt’s son and ex-CIA operative, in the tee shirt you see above:

Strangely, her Twitter feed has no videos or photos of her in the ‘We are dying’ shirt, but there are many other photo ops from the past few days.

Unlike President Trump, Mayor Yulín sees no need to help hand out supplies or lunches to her constituents:

Now, particularly note the following tweet. San Juan received supplies from the US government, but Yulin did not distribute them to the people of San Juan. She donated them to another community:

Fair enough. But there is more.

She then made it look as if Goya, the foods company, was the saviour. They probably planned all along to make a donation, which arrived soon after she gave FEMA supplies to Comerío:

Afterwards — standing in front of numerous pallets of Goya products — she gave the interview to Anderson Cooper in the SOS hat and ‘We are dying’ tee. In a press conference, wearing the same attire, she said:

I will do what I never thought I was going to do. I am begging, begging anyone who can hear us to save us from dying. If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency.

On October 1, The Hill reported that Jose Fuentes, a former Attorney General for Puerto Rico, does not think much of Mayor Yulín:

The article says, in part:

Former Puerto Rico Attorney General Jose Fuentes on Sunday took aim at San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, accusing her of attacking President Trump and using hurricane relief efforts to lay the groundwork for a gubernatorial bid.

“The mayor of San Juan is a political hack,” Fuentes said on CNN’s “New Day.”

Fuentes accused Cruz of making an about-face, saying she supported Trump until her political adviser suggested the idea of running for governor. 

Now, here’s an interesting comment from Fuentes about the ‘We are dying’ tee shirt (emphases mine):

She is singing the praises of the president until her political adviser, [Rep.] Luis Gutiérrez from Chicago, got there and brought her the t-shirts and said, ‘Hey you want to run for governor, if she wants to run,” he continued until the anchor cut him off, pointing to audio issues.

Wow — typical CNN response! Cut the audio, claiming technical issues. They have done that several times over the past year. Each time, a nugget of truth half comes out until CNN cuts the rest of someone’s statement.

Mayor Yulín then took a swipe at Trump, who said that the government couldn’t do everything. People would have to help each other, too. Again, she’s not lifting a finger, only talking. Her caption is more fitting than she thinks:

In this ABC interview with George Stephanopolous from October 1, she backtracked on Trump a bit, saying she would meet with him if he requested it. He will be in Puerto Rico on Tuesday, October 3.

There is something else.

Yulín is the only mayor in Puerto Rico who is not actively working with FEMA:

The results can be harmful to people who have elected someone to be their mayor.

This is the Paineful Truth of the matter:

Geraldo Rivera

Geraldo’s reports from Puerto Rico have been excellent. I feel I’m watching the young investigative reporter I remember from the early 1980s.

This is what he has to say:

Puerto Rico situation summed up

This eight-minute video from a Cuban immigrant really gets to the heart of the matter. This woman takes issue with Yulín, goes into the mayor’s support of an FALN terrorist Obama freed and explains the issue with truckers getting supplies from the ports to towns and cities across the island. The teamsters have a grievance with the governor, some truckers cannot get to work but many others can. Some fuel is being sold on the black market. This lady says that everyone in Puerto Rico knows what is really going on:

On Friday, September 29, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters said they are looking for qualified volunteers to help with transport:

(WASHINGTON) – The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is working closely with Joint Council 16 in New York and the AFL-CIO to provide qualified volunteers to provide much needed support to the people of Puerto Rico. Teamsters Local Union 901 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, an affiliate of Joint Council 16, represents more than 2,000 working men and women across the island.

“Our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico are suffering under unimaginable conditions wrought upon them by Hurricane Maria,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “We are working to identify ways in which the union and our members can best assist those in need.”

The Teamsters are joining with labor unions from across the nation to identify skilled workers to travel to Puerto Rico next week to provide much needed support in critical areas.

“This is a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions,” said Teamsters International Vice President and Joint Council 16 President George Miranda. “It is imperative that we provide the manpower and financial support necessary to get Puerto Rico on the road to recovery.”

“Tronquistas (Teamsters) are in the street working since the first day after the hurricane passed and we will continue working to bring peace back to our people,” said Alexis Rodriguez, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 901. “The only goal of the Tronquistas is to raise Puerto Rico back up, stronger and better.”

Alexis Rodriguez’s name is on the listings for Local 901 in San Juan.

At the weekend, there were many mentions of a video with a Victor Rodriguez, the ‘guy with no teeth’, who is said to be the president of Frente Amplio de Camioneros. It is unclear where he fits into the picture.

A Facebook post by a Pedro Gonzalez says:

…este Sr se llama Víctor Rodríguez, es el presidente del frente amplio de camioneros. Ha dado instrucciones para q ningún camionero saque vagones de los puertos y mucho menos gasolina en P.R. A ti Victor, te hacemos responsable por el caos próximo a suceder en la Isla por tus caprichos políticos en contra del Gobierno de turno. Eres un narco político, un vividor y buscon. Con la necesidad del Pueblo puertorriqueño no se juega, so CHARLATÁN!

Gente compartan esto para que llegue a todos los puertorriqueños fuera y dentro de la isla!!

Translated, that says:

This is Mr. Víctor Rodríguez, he is the president of the broad front of truck drivers. He has instructed that no truck driver should remove wagons from ports and much less gasoline in P.R. To you Victor, we hold you responsible for the chaos next to happen on the Island for your political whims against the government in turn. You are a political narco, a vividor and buscon. With the need of the Puerto Rican people, we do not play, just CHARLATÁN!

People share this so that it reaches all Puerto Ricans outside and inside the island !!

The assumption that many online readers of various blogs and news sites made over the weekend is that Victor is from Local 901.

However, someone on Twitter pointed out that Victor is not a union official (see here and here).

Alexis is.

That said, Victor created a non-profit corporation called Frente Amplio Camioneros de Puerto Rico (F.A.C.) Inc. in 2003. It is still in operation.

The relationship between FAC and the union is unclear. But, there must be something, because Victor appeared on television last weekend. Hollywood LA News has the video, courtesy of a Facebook user. Hollywood LA News is under the impression that Victor is an official of Local 901, when he is not.

In any event, Victor said:

it’s the diesel supply of which FEMA is in charge that’s the problem and that their truck drivers have been ready to drive all along. One can discern the skepticism on the face of the interviewer, who then brings up the fact that authorities have put out a call for independent non-union drivers to volunteer because of a lack of people willing to do the work.

That’s the point in the video after which Mr. Rodriguez bombastically started spouting curse words urging the people to pressure FEMA to release fuel and other supplies. By his side is the president of UTRA (Unión de Transporte y Ramas Anexas).

Puerto Ricans on social media are very critical. The top comment for this particular video is from a woman who says that no one is so ignorant to believe that FEMA is to blame for the mess. Others point out that the truckers are refusing to get in line for gasoline and are thus putting lives at risk.

There is more transport information and intrigue from other news sources in that article, so please take the time to read it.

Anyone who dares to volunteer to drive a lorry in Puerto Rico under these conditions can do so:

Overall, this is a highly complicated situation, one that only those who live in or are from Puerto Rico understand.

American media are not explaining it properly, so I would suggest hanging fire before committing to knee-jerk reactions.

Latest news developments

During the weekend, three-star general Jeffrey Buchanan arrived in Puerto Rico:

Governor Ricardo Rosselló gave an update on Sunday:

The Department of Defense has a summary of Rosselló’s briefing. Highlights follow:

The number of DoD personnel deployed to help their fellow citizens in Puerto Rico jumped from around 4,600 to around 6,400 members, Gov. Ricardo Rossello said during a San Juan news conference today …

There are more than 720 gas stations open across the island. The island will receive more fuel in the coming days with close to a million barrels of diesel and half-a-million barrels of gasoline arriving on the island. This is important as diesel is needed to run generators providing electrical power for key infrastructure — such as hospitals — in areas where Maria knocked out the power grid …

“One of the main efforts that the DoD will take on is making sure that we can air supply food and water to those communities while we establish direct connection through the roads,” Rossello said.

The governor said the commonwealth will increase the number of regional distribution centers from the current 11 to 25 or more. “The more of these we have throughout Puerto Rico, the easier it is to get food and water for these municipalities,” he said. “DoD and FEMA and our government are working together so we can establish these locations and make sure food and water get distributed appropriately” …

The Navy’s hospital ship USNS Comfort is expected to arrive at the island October 3 or 4 and will bring its 1,000-bed capability.

DoD personnel will establish a logistics effort for two areas on the island where more hospital support is needed, the governor said.

“The DoD will establish some alternative locations, those being in the southeastern part of the island and in the middle north of the island, so we can get patients to the hospital and the service that they need,” Rossello said.

More tomorrow.

 

Yesterday’s post provided an update on Puerto Rico one week after Hurricane Maria hit.

This post has more news — from Puerto Rico, not the mainland — and will discuss the island’s weak infrastructure.

Latest news

Someone on another site posted a PDF from The San Juan Daily Star dated Thursday, September 28, 2017.

The paper’s articles refute the misinformation that the big American media outlets are reporting. Big media are trying to set up a crisis situation for President Donald Trump, when, in fact, the US government’s response has been nothing short of excellent.

A summary of the articles follows. Emphases mine below.

‘Lengthy Power Restoration Effort Seen in Puerto Rico: US Power Companies’

Damage assessments are still ongoing to determine what human and equipment resources are needed. The Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC) is working with the US government and private electricity concerns, including the American Public Power Association (APPA) which represents the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA):

We thank (U.S.) President (Donald) Trump for authorizing 100-percent cost sharing by the federal government for 180 days of emergency work to help begin the process of repairing damaged energy infrastructure,” said APPA President and Chief Executive Sue Kelly …

The rates PREPA charged were not enough for the utility to maintain its infrastructure, in part due to ineffective collection efforts and longstanding mis-management that had left it in a $9 billion hole before declaring bankruptcy in July this year.

PREPA’s equipment was already “degraded and unsafe,” according to a draft fiscal report the company filed in April.

‘FEMA Activating Army to Help Restore Energy Grid’

Alejandro de la Campa, FEMA director for Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, said that:

the federal agency will for the first time activate the Army to assist in the restoration of the electrical energy system on the island following the destruction wrought by Hurricane Maria.

The Army will work with PREPA.

In addition:

He also said FEMA will increase staff and resources for the island.

‘Pentagon to Set Up Local Command Center, Send Hospital Ship’

This is about the anticipated arrival of USNS Comfort and Brigadier General Richard Kim’s establishment of a command center to oversee reconstruction efforts.

Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón said:

I am grateful to the federal executive branch for all the work they continue to do as well as my colleagues in Congress, who have expressed their full support for working for Puerto Rico.”

‘US Mulls Request by Lawmakers to Waive Shipping Limits on PR’

This is about lifting the Jones Act, which would enable non-US vessels to get fuel to Puerto Rico.

As I said yesterday — which this article supports — lifting the Jones Act is unnecessary because the necessary fuel is already in port. It just needs delivery across the island:

Puerto Rico has long railed against the Jones Act, saying it raises the cost of imported basic commodities, such as food, clothing and fuel. But the [Department of Homeland Security] official said that the Defense Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have not indicated there is a lack of ships to get food and goods to the island

The real challenges happen to be on the island itself,” the official said, adding that there were plenty of U.S.-flagged barges and tugs available.

‘DACO Chief Urges Around-the-Clock Deliveries for 500 “Operational” Gas Stations’

Michael Pierluisi Roja, the island’s Consumer Affairs (DACO) director, announced that more than 500 filling stations are ‘operational’. That means a) they are ready to receive fuel or b) already received it but ran out.

Roja wants fuel distributors and retailers to get on the ball:

Now, he said, “it is up to the distributors to put get on the ball and respond quickly, responsibly and urgently to the gas stations,” he said. “We have done everything we can to ensure that they have operating conditions. Retailers who have not communicated with wholesalers should do so immediately and in whatever manner is necessary.”

The official acknowledged that there are wholesalers who cannot operate at night due to the lack of electricity at the Yabucoa terminal.

And he also called on gasoline retailers “to allow consumers to fill their gas tanks, so they do not have to return daily to [wait in long lines] in the middle of the crisis.”

‘Federal Agents Now Escorting Some Gasoline Deliveries’

After describing efforts to get fuel deliveries out to various towns, there is notice from Puerto Rico’s Public Affairs and Public Policy Secretary Ramón Rosario Cortés and Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares that it is time for public employees to get back to work:

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares said Tuesday that “government employees should report to their work stations” or, alternatively, public workers should report to the nearest headquarters of their agency or public corporation. If these are not operational, they should report to the nearest municipal Emergency Operations Center, “where their mayor will inform them where to receive aid.”

Rosario Cortés added that “personnel working in school cafeterias and food stores, school teachers and directors should report to their workstations to help with school repairs.”

Other news

An article on page 4 of the PDF lists all the relief activity to date.

Another says that 86 firefighters from the state of New York have arrived to help.

On page 5, there is an article about Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón’s meetings in Washington with legislators and federal agencies about long-term recovery for Puerto Rico.

The generals involved

Big Media are making a big deal about the ‘delay’ in the appointment of a general to oversee recovery efforts.

However, they are wrong.

Thomas P Bossert, President Trump’s assistant for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, took questions from reporters at the White House Press Briefing on September 28. An excerpt from the transcript follows:

Q I’m not sure if I still understand — why has it taken eight days to get a three-star general on the ground to start organizing this? We know the island situation, et cetera. But why eight days?

MR. BOSSERT: Yeah, well, because it didn’t require a three-star general eight days ago. Let me explain to you how the process works. It will be the best way of explaining the answer.

We have a three-star general in charge of this, and we had one in charge of this out of San Antonio from day minus-eight and day minus-two and all the way through until today. We forward-deployed a one-star general — a brigadier general — to take care of ground force command once we realized the problem of logistics distribution had outstripped the capacity of the affected municipal governments …

the change, move here[,] on day eight was to take that three-star general and to put him there, physically located in the field. I don’t anticipate he’ll stay there long, but he needs to get there, have his eyes on it, and make sure that he’s comfortable with the interaction between his forces and the governor and the municipal forces, because it’s a little bit of a different business plan model in the field, and because it’s unique and it’s an island 1,100 or so miles away from the nearest land in Florida.

And so once he’s satisfied, I think — or would expect that three-star general to recede back into his appropriate command structure. But for now, both he and his one-star subordinate command will be there in charge of ground forces and overall military marshals, and we’ll end up with a lot more people there over the coming days to try to address this really significant problem and significant need.

The rest of Bossert’s Q&A has more details on what has been done in Puerto Rico to date and what lies ahead.

Stars and Stripes has a good article from Monday, September 25, outlining all the military support that Puerto Rico will receive for the foreseeable future. In summary:

WASHINGTON – The Defense Department has dispatched about 2,600 troops to aid Hurricane Maria victims in the U.S. Virgin Islands and in Puerto Rico, where access to power and communications remained severely limited five days after the Category 4 storm struck the U.S. territory.

The military has focused primarily on conducting search and rescue operations, delivering life-sustaining supplies and providing generators and fuel to power critical infrastructure such as water treatment facilities and hospitals, Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday …

“We have the capability to do exactly what we’re doing, and we’re going to do all we can for the people of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean in the wake of these disastrous storms,” he said. “This is a long-term effort. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and [the Defense Department] will continue to support them as long as support is needed.”

Elderly electricity grid

Puerto Rico’s electricity grid was in dire straits before Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck.

The Washington Examiner explains that the aforementioned PREPA mismanaged finances and lost a lot of manpower as workers moved to the United States:

PREPA’s power plants are 44 years old on average, Reuters reported, compared to the industry-wide average of 18 years.

Puerto Rico derives most of its power from Venezuelan oil, and PREPA relied on selling bonds to pay for the imported oil it burned at its aging power plants that need billions of dollars worth of repairs.

Sensitive to price shocks in the oil market, PREPA charges the island’s residents high rates, more than any U.S. state but Hawaii, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The power company is also grappling with a manpower shortage. PREPA has lost 30 percent of its employees since 2012 as locals migrate to the mainland to escape the island’s financial woes and stagnant economy.

The entire operation was failing both organizationally, and in the energy generation system and transmission and distribution systems,” said Tom Sanzillo, the director of finance at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, told the Washington Examiner. “They were vulnerable. So the surprise to me is the electricity is on at all in Puerto Rico, with the storm or no storm. It is that serious and has been that serious.”

In May 2017, Puerto Rico entered a process similar to bankruptcy protection in order to restructure $70 billion in debt. Congress appointed a board, PROMESA, to oversee the restructuring process.

Tom Bossert said at yesterday’s press briefing that nothing had been determined yet about Puerto Rico’s dire financial situation, but that the US government would certainly help rebuild not only the electricity grid — but also the island’s water system:

Those are the two concerning elements where they’re going to have to be rebuilt, they’re going to have to be rebuilt under proper management, and they’re going to have to be rebuilt under proper rebuilding codes and standards to make sure that they can withstand a future hurricane, and that we don’t just go back to sticks and wires in the future.

So we’re going to put federal money into this. We should do it wisely and prudently. I’ve said that from this podium here before. President Trump believes in that seriously. I don’t think we’re going to have to address the debt restructuring issue in this next go-around, but if we do, and if Congress wants us to, President Trump is up to that challenge.

Financial mismanagement

In 2016, a Republican congressman, John Fleming of Louisiana, took issue with Puerto Rico’s dire financial situation and said he would vote against PROMESA. It’s a moot point now, but these were his reasons as laid out in the Daily Signal:

Puerto Rico is facing a financial mess. Much of it has been caused by poor governance on the island, but also exacerbated by the heavy hand of the United States government.

No one said it better than Pedro Perluisi, the Democratic Delegate from Puerto Rico to the U.S. House of Representatives, when he spoke at a hearing on the Puerto Rico bankruptcy bill. He said, “Part of this over-spending is definitely the result of mismanagement. I admit it. It’s embarrassing.”

But then he went on to blame Obamacare not spending enough money on Medicaid. Prior to Obamacare, he said that Puerto Rico received $350 million per year. After Obamacare, they are receiving $1.2 billion per year, but conditions are worse. And he seems to think it is because the federal government needs to spend more money.

Earlier that year, Wilbur Ross, who was still restructuring failed companies at the time — he is now Trump’s Secretary of Commerce — said:

Puerto Rico is the US version of Greece.

Yet, going back further to 2015, Breitbart said that comparing Puerto Rico to Greece was unfair to Greece. More Greeks work than do Puerto Ricans. More Puerto Ricans are reliant on government handouts than Greeks.

This is because, because of US law, Puerto Rico has an unsustainably high minimum wage which prohibits entry-level jobs from being created. The only choice is to apply for welfare:

An unsupportably high minimum wage has meant that entry level jobs simply don’t exist in Puerto Rico, USA. Official unemployment is only 12 percent, but that is only because the labor force participation rate is about 43%, as opposed to 63% on the mainland.

Perhaps to make up for this disastrous employment policy, welfare and entitlement payments are kept high. As a result, the incentive to give up public assistance in favor of a job has been substantially reduced for Puerto Rico, USA. Less than half of working age males are employed, 35 percent of the island’s residents are on food stamps, and 45.4 percent of Puerto Rico, USA is in poverty.

Even worse:

Puerto Rico USA is actually worse off than its impoverished neighbor Cuba. Although Puerto Rico’s $103 billion annual GDP is twice the size of Cuba’s, Puerto Rico’s debt of $73 billion is now over three times larger than Cuba’s debt of $23.44 billion.

The article concludes:

A quick look at Puerto Rico USA demonstrates how destructive America’s socialistic labor and tax policies can be to a group of Americans.

Indeed.

Corruption and high crime rate

In January 2014, Fox News had an article about Puerto Rico’s deep corruption and high crime rate.

At that point, 13 people had been murdered over the course of five consecutive days. Four murders took place on one night alone.

Despite it being a US territory, Puerto Rico’s murder rate is more in line with developing countries such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

Angelo Falcón, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy, told Fox News:

“The crime rate has been neglected for so long that it looks like the problem is not going to go away anytime soon.”

Falcón added that Puerto Rico has locked in a three-fold predicament when trying to tackle its violent crime rate – an unstable economic situation that limits available resources, a recent shake-up in the island’s police department, and a lack of attention from federal law enforcement to territory’s position as an increasingly important drug transit zone.

In 2013, Obama’s Department of Justice gave Puerto Rico $10 million to clean up police corruption over a 10-year period. I reckon that money’s long gone and the corruption even deeper.

In any event, drug trafficking has ballooned:

Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean are beginning to see a trafficking surge reminiscent of the 1980s heyday of the Colombia-South Florida drug trade.

The article blames the US government for not sending more money. As if that’s going to do anything much. Surely, this is a question of morality and ethics.

On February 13, 2017, a big cocaine distribution network was busted. Insight Crime has the story:

Ten individuals — including several airport officials — have been arrested for trafficking 20 metric tons of cocaine from Puerto Rico to the United States since 1998, a reminder of the importance of this oft-overlooked territory as a drug transshipment point

US and Puerto Rican authorities arrested ten individuals on February 13 in a sting operation against the cocaine trafficking group, reported Hoy Los Ángeles. A previous police operation in November 2016 resulted in the arrest of two other suspects that belonged to the network

The group would contract drug “mules,” or low-level human smugglers, to ensure that their luggage would board the plane unchecked. The US indictment indicates that up to five mules would board a plane at a time, registering two pieces of luggage that each contained between eight and fifteen kilos of cocaine.

The estimated worth of the drugs smuggled between 1998 and 2016 was $100 million.

The article also says:

The increased drug smuggling through Puerto Rico is due to greater security pressure in the Dominican Republic that has led to a shift in trafficking routes, according to the 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). 

A significant portion of the cocaine moving through Puerto Rico is sold to domestic users. According to the DEA’s 2016 annual report, between 70 and 80 percent of the cocaine that arrives on the island is sent to the United States, while the rest is consumed by the local market.

Wow.

Conclusion

Puerto Rico is in a lot of trouble structurally, financially and morally.

Throwing excessive money their way may only exacerbate these problems. There has to be a better way.

When Hurricane Maria slammed into the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday, September 30, 2017, the Trump administration already had a relief plan in place.

To find out that the Left — Democrats, the media and their acolytes — are criticising President Donald Trump for doing nothing or not doing enough is maddening.

You’ll see Hillary Clinton’s criticism below. The media are hard at it, too: CNN, PBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Atlantic and many more outlets.

That people believe such rubbish because a) their minds are already made up or b) they are too lazy to search for the truth is equally infuriating.

President Trump was at the United Nations General Assembly last week. Regardless, the appropriate government agencies and departments were keeping him informed of Maria’s path and planned relief efforts.

On September 19, he tweeted:

The day Maria hit, everyone — including Trump — was watching:

I said in my post of September 21 that Puerto Rico’s dilapidated electricity grid collapsed. No one had power. Nor would they have power in the near future. Phone masts were — and continue to be — down, complicating communication.

Much of the island’s infrastructure — including ports and airfields — is ruined, making Maria’s strike catastrophic. This made rescue and relief efforts impossible in the immediate aftermath. It remains difficult today.

On Saturday, September 23, The Conservative Treehouse gave this update:

The U.S. military is the tip of the spear in attempting to get aid and supplies to the residents in coordination with FEMA and emergency officials. CTH had numerous conversations today with teams trying to get as much into the island as possible.

The leadership of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Expeditionary Strike Group 2, met with key leaders with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Puerto Rico National Guard to plan and coordinate for Hurricane Maria response efforts in Puerto Rico. The Department of Defense (DoD) is supporting FEMA, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort.

The day after the Marines and Navy landed, Hillary Clinton piped up:

That same day, The Conservative Treehouse detailed the efforts made thus far (emphases mine below):

The reality of Clinton’s disconnect is only exceeded by her jawdroppingly ridiculous undertones of division.  Obviously Hillary Clinton has no idea what is going on in Puerto RicoThe U.S. military have been leading FEMA rescue, relief and recovery efforts from the first moment the winds died down

Even before Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico the U.S. military, including the Navy, were mobilized in advanced preparation for what was predictedSEE HERE– …

The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard is working to open ports. There are hundreds of sunken vessels impeding navigation. The Navy and Coast Guard led recon missions to determine clear entry paths (rapid recon) and are RIGHT NOW guiding in relief ships through the waters surrounding the island.

The U.S. Marines are airlifting hundreds of tons of relief supplies via fixed wing and helicopter air missions. The U.S. response includes five warships, helicopters, cargo aircraft, National Guard troops and amphibious units as part of the relief operations …

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are the actual ground force opening the ports of destination and the airports. They reopened the major airport in San Juan to military relief flights on September 22nd and established the air-traffic command center.

The U.S. Coast Guard is dropping supplies and working from their base in Puerto Rico, and simultaneously coordinating with Dutch, British and French ships delivering relief supplies around St. Thomas and St. Croix

Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rossello, told PBS on Tuesday, September 26, that he is very satisfied with the response from the United States. President Trump has spoken to him several times and the FEMA director has visited him twice:

Here is the governor himself:

San Juan’s mayor is also satisfied with relief efforts:

This FEMA page is dedicated to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Here are two recent articles from the Department of Defense on their efforts in the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. The DoD also has a good set of pictures showing their work not only in the US Virgin Islands but also in Dominica.

In addition to government agencies, Florida’s governor, Rick Scott — a Republican — has placed the state’s National Guard and Wildlife Commission on standby to fly to Puerto Rico if Rossello formally requests their help.

President Trump will be visiting Puerto Rico and possibly the Virgin Islands on Tuesday, October 3. At his press briefing during the visit of Spain’s president Mariano Rajoy Brey on Tuesday, September 26, he said that he had spoken with Governor Rossello that morning. All federal agencies on Puerto Rico are doing their utmost in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria:

The Conservative Treehouse had an update that day on the US Coast Guard’s work and the tremendous uphill tasks they face in Puerto Rico. Critics should take note of this:

The majority of people who are providing media opinion on Puerto Rico recovery efforts really don’t have any understanding of the scale of the logistics involved when the impact zone is an island.

Hurricane Maria destroyed hundreds of vessels in and around the various PR ports making entry and exit into harbors a maze of submerged vessel and sunken debris avoidance. In addition, the ports’ infrastructure systems (power, utilities, docking equipment, pump stations, fuel depots, etc) were severely impacted, and in many ports 100% wiped out. Buoys, markers, harbor-lights, towers, all gone – completely destroyed.

Puerto Rico is an island, so bringing in relief supplies by cargo ship is the only way to deliver massive tonnage of supplies, heavy equipment and material needed to begin any restoration and recovery effort. Without ports those supplies cannot be offloaded. Especially think about fuel shipments. See the issue?

However, in a stunning feat of skill, ingenuity and determination the harbor entries have been mapped for navigable passage by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard while simultaneously the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been working on the land-based side of the port infrastructure

The U.S. Coast Guard has 13 cutters and 10 aircraft working on this mission and are working hand-in-hand with the U.S. Navy. Their ability to open these ports is a remarkable feat of logistics and speaks to the incredible coordination between the Dept. of Defense and FEMA.

That post also has a current update of the status of ports. A few are still closed. Some are open only during daylight hours. Others have restrictions.

Fox News reporter Chad Pergram reported on the dire situation Puerto Ricans are enduring:

Puerto Rico’s National Guard is responding. Their video shows the devastation:

In closing:

Everything that can be done is being done in Puerto Rico.

Yesterday’s post asked whether NFL would come to mean No Fans Left.

I will not rehash the contents except for two items.

First, it is illegal not to stand with hand on heart for the national anthem. That makes President Donald Trump wrong when he says it is permissible to stand with arms locked with the guys next to you.

Here is a citation of the American statute stipulating conduct during the national anthem. It is 36 US Code 301 (emphases mine):

(a)Designation.—
The composition consisting of the words and music known as the Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem.

(b)Conduct During Playing.—During a rendition of the national anthem—
(1) when the flag is displayed—
(A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;
(B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and
(C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and
(2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.
(Pub. L. 105–225, Aug. 12, 1998, 112 Stat. 1263; Pub. L. 110–417, [div. A], title V, § 595, Oct. 14, 2008, 122 Stat. 4475.)

So there. Case closed. Let the police arrest all the miscreants on the field. That would be much more interesting than their stupid ball game.

Secondly, what follows is the full story of why Americans have such profound respect for the national anthem. I encourage everyone to watch it and share it with younger family members. This isn’t taught in school and, even when it is, isn’t done in such a fulsome way. Some of the history was news to me:

And the fourth verse, rarely sung, really points out the importance of the American flag standing after a night of attacks from the British on Fort McHenry (see the 30-second mark):

Nobody understands the protest

Over the past 48 hours, I have read numerous comments online asking for an explanation of the protests since 2016. Slavery? Inequality? Trump?

Hey, players, give it a rest. You’re only alienating your fans. The general public does not understand what is going on:

A Colorado car dealer, Phil Long, who senses what way the wind is blowing, has suspended the Denver Broncos’ Von Miller from its adverts:

Phil Long Dealerships:
We are evaluating the events of the weekend. It is important to state that we haven’t fired Von. We are in the middle of contract renewal and this weekend’s events remind us that sometimes we feel that we best represent ourselves. We support Von and his first amendment rights, we know Von and he’s a good person. He donated a police car to his hometown police dept. All that notwithstanding when we bring in celebrities to represent us we run the risk of being misrepresented

Latest news

In yesterday’s post, I singled out the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Kneelers’ Alejandro Villanueva for doing the right thing.

I was wrong.

Dallas Cowboys

In the Cowboys’ latest game on Monday, September 25, 2017, they tried to please everyone by kneeling before the national anthem was played, then standing with locked arms for the anthem itself. Terrible — and, as mentioned above — illegal.

Apparently, this was to show solidarity with all the other teams in the latest kneeling and arm-locking protest: disapproval of Trump’s criticism of their disrespect of the national anthem.

As someone said at The_Donald:

This is incredibly cringey.

Someone else wrote:

Life long Cowboys fan here. I was sick to my stomach and turned it off. I am completely done. I can’t believe it. I really thought they were going to pull through. No more NFL for me. I’m in shock.

Everybody had hopes the Cowboys would not fall for this. Only a few days ago, owner Jerry Jones supported standing for the national anthem and:

urged the team’s Leadership Council to stay true to that long-standing practice.

Tom Landry must be rolling in his grave.

Pittsburgh Kneelers

On Sunday, the only Pittsburgh Steeler to go out and salute the flag was Bronze Medal recipient Alejandro Villanueva. I wisely did not show his picture which was all over the Twittersphere.

On Monday, the retired US Army Ranger apologised for doing the right thing, saying he made a mistake and is ’embarrassed’ every time he sees that photo of him showing up, standing and saluting for the national anthem. The rest of his team were in the locker room.

I’m embarrassed for him. Why could he not stand up to his coach, his team-mates and the NFL?

It’s not as if these guys are being paid peanuts and he needs the job.

The public looks on in confusion

Most NFL ticket holders have to fit the cost of admission, team regalia, car parking, refreshment and so on into their annual family budgets.

Most NFL ticket holders are on average incomes.

On the other hand, the players they are going to see are very wealthy men:

Also think of the hundreds of millions of additional dollars in sponsorship contracts.

Oppressed? My foot!

NFL receives taxpayers’ money

The NFL is a non-profit organisation that relies heavily on taxpayer subsidy.

Mic.com has an excellent article (thanks, Sundance) that explains how this happened:

the legislation wasn’t a big deal 47 years ago. In fact, the NFL had already been classified as a non-profit organization as early as 1942. It’s just that that status only became codified in 1966.

These days:

Litigator Andrew Delaney has alleged that the NFL uses its non-profit status to launder money. As a trade association that promotes the interests of its 32 for-profit franchises, the NFL sells lucrative licenses for such things as apparel and television contracts through for-profit business such as NFL Enterprises, LLC. The individually-owned franchises receive compensation and, in turn, make annual “dues and assessments” to the NFL, all of which is tax-deductible. The money just goes around in a circle.

Such practices have led Delaney to call the NFL a “glorified tax shelter.” Gregg Easterbrook argues in The Atlantic that the decision to add professional football leagues under Section 501(c)(6) “has saved the NFL uncounted millions in tax obligations, which means that ordinary people must pay higher taxes, public spending must decline, or the national debt must increase to make up for the shortfall.”

Television contracts are also lucrative. Stadia are involuntarily publicly funded:

More important to the NFL business strategy, however, is the big-time television contracts. At the time Public Law 89-800 granted the NFL a monopoly on its broadcasting rights, cable television did not begin to approach the immense revenue it generates today. ESPN and the NFL Network did not exist; it was regional channels that were important. Thus, in 1966 the NFL received antitrust-exempt media rights with little to no opposition. Now those rights are worth billions of dollars annually.

What makes these contracts so profitable, however, is the relatively low overhead costs. Thanks to John Q. Taxpayer, team owners receive the lion’s share of those contracts while only making a minimal contribution, if any, to the stadium the game is being played in.

Thus, the dirty secret behind why professional football is so profitable is because most stadiums are publicly funded. Teams pay a modest rent to perform in their stadiums, but they retain the exclusive right to air those games on televisions. Those rights are then pooled among the 32 teams and sold to the highest bidder.

That I did not know, nor this:

As the ink dries on the NFL’s highly-lucrative broadcasting contracts, states facing major budget cuts continue to throw taxpayer money at NFL teams. Annually, “NFL stadium subsidies and tax favors add up to perhaps $1 billion.” In addition to these taxpayer contributions, “many cities, counties, and states also pay the stadiums’ ongoing costs, by providing power, sewer services, other infrastructure, and stadium improvements.” Essentially, franchise owners are having their product bankrolled by the public.

The article offers these solutions:

In order for there to be a meaningful change, two changes need to be made. First, Section 501(c)(6) is amended to no longer include the “professional football leagues” language. Until the NFL is more transparent with its finances, it does not deserve its tax-exempt benefits from being a non-profit organization.

Second, Congress must enact legislation prohibiting the privatization of television images performed in publicly funded stadiums. Only with the threat of losing their television contracts worth several billion dollars will the NFL be inclined to privately finance their own stadiums. Such a drastic measure would prevent the public from being gouged for the construction and maintenance of stadiums that serve as the playground for the uber rich.

Fortunately, a Republican in Louisiana is stepping up and speaking out:

Here is an excerpt from The Advocate‘s article:

Louisiana State Rep. Kenny Havard, R-St. Francisville, said Monday morning that he wants to cut millions in state tax dollars, exemptions and credits allocated to the New Orleans Saints, the NFL and any of those groups’ associated facilities that receive funding …

Havard’s statement didn’t specify the amount of state money that he proposed be diverted from the Saints the NFL. According to a 2015 Forbes story, Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson was “set to rake in an estimated $392 million from state subsidies through 2025.

The report said during the Mercedes-Benz Superdome lease “the state will pay Benson at least $198 million in increased revenue from the Superdome, $142 million in rental payments on property Benson owns, $10 million in bonuses for bringing the Super Bowl to New Orleans and $2.6 million in tax breaks. Benson will get another $40 million from private rent payments to a tower he bought as part of the deal.”

Havard rightly says:

It is time the taxpayers quit subsidizing protest on big boy playgrounds. I believe in the right to protest but, not at a taxpayer subsidized sporting event. Do it on your own time. There are plenty of disabled children, elderly and veterans in this state that would appreciate the money.

Why Trump is so incensed

I think President Trump is angry because the NFL receives taxpayer money to promote the military.

Townhall has a good article on the taxpayer-funded military-NFL programme that started under Obama. I had no idea this was going on:

In 2009, Barack Obama’s Department of Defense began paying hundreds of thousands towards teams in a marketing strategy designed to show support for the troops and increase recruitments. The NFL then required all players and personnel to be on the sidelines during the national anthem, in exchange for taxpayers[‘] dollars. Prior, the national anthem was played in the stadium but players had the option of staying in the locker room before heading out to the field. 

Furthermore, teams that showed “Veteran’s Salutes” during games were paid upwards of $5.1 million dollars

Stop the racket!

You know President Trump is ready for kick-off.

No wonder the NFL’s up in arms. They’re afraid he’s going to stop that gravy train. I hope he does.

I have many, many more links on the NFL and hope to write about them if I have time.

Nearly a year ago I posted ‘American flag desecrated — SAD!’

It showed an elderly man picking up an American flag lying on the sidelines during a high school football game. For my readers who are not American, Old Glory must never touch the ground. That used to be taught in school. No longer, it would seem.

My post said in part:

Their coach and the school should talk about the importance of the flag at a mandatory hour-long class assembly.

I realise this desecration is being done because of a certain trendy, yet ignorant, professional football player whose name will never appear on my site. Why anyone gave him the oxygen of publicity I will never know.

Said football player could not find a team to sign him for the 2017-2018 season. Good. Unfortunately, he is sitting pretty. I heard one report that he is already worth over $200m.

Also sad is that his legacy of disrespect for the national anthem has continued into the current NFL (National Football League) season. The only two teams who have told their players to stand for the national anthem are the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears. The Cowboys issued a directive several months ago. The Bears did so just before last weekend’s game.

I’m not an American football fan. I personally know what dimwits some of the college players were in the 1970s — race immaterial, because many were white.

I would like to see today’s guys — college and professional — play in Rugby Union or Rugby League. Those bumper stickers I used to see in the 1980s about having leather attributes to play the game are 100% correct. Rugby players are also consummate gentlemen.

President Donald Trump is sick and tired of these political, anti-American gestures. He said so on Thursday, September 21 at a political rally in Alabama in advance of a special senatorial election there.

You can see a clip of Trump in Judge Jeanine Pirro’s opening statement for her Fox News show which aired at the weekend. She also refers to the USA Today article which details the criminal offences that NFL players have committed. (Here is one such example — and that player was reinstated!) The convictions and police records amongst NFL players is disproportionate to that of the United States as a whole:

Yes, players claim that kneeling on one knee is a legitimate protest against notional American oppression of minorities. And, now, nearly every team is getting in on the act — including, ironically enough, Bob Kraft’s New England Patriots. (They won the Super Bowl earlier this year.) Patriots, my eye. This was Trump’s response to the press:

That’s right. Trump is not going to tell his good friend Kraft or anyone else what to do or think — however, they will have to accept the consequences of their actions. Trump will sit back and watch.

Now back to the team protests. This isn’t the 1960s. There is no reason to legitimately protest against the United States for discrimination. All of it, starting with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, has been gradually legislated out of existence over the past 50+ years. As for police brutality, minorities are many times more likely to be shot and/or killed by other minorities — civilians.

Here is an example of the NFL’s idiocy, aptly explained yesterday at The Conservative Treehouse:

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens are in England today for a game in London.  When the U.S. National Anthem was played both teams disrespected the USA and yet stood up for the U.K National Anthem ‘God Save The Queen’.   Think about that.

This is what happened:

Here’s more from The Conservative Treehouse:

The NFL, writ large, is nuts.  They’ve lost their minds. The NFL players, managers, league officials and owners, along with downstream sport punditry and networks, obviously think virtue signaling their collective unity plays well -mostly in their echo-chamber because of the support from left-wing media- but outside their bubble they are destroying their own business model.  Watch what happens.

Yep. And the NBA (basketball) and MLB (baseball) are starting to do it, too.

This man explains the idiocy of disrespecting the national anthem. Ticket sales will plummet. (Not to mention car park revenues!) Political activists don’t attend sports events, everyday patriotic Americans do:

Alex Jones also had a good commentary, discussing how the NFL owners have taken against the American president. That’s a big mistake. Jones also points out how the American symbols that teams used to put on uniforms or branding have pretty much disappeared over the years. He also talked about the game held in London:

Most importantly, Jones mentioned an excellent video about The Star-Spangled Banner, which Francis Scott Key wrote. I did not know the full history as shown below.

The British fired at Fort McHenry relentlessly in one battle, yet, the next day, even though it had holes in it, the American flag still stood. Both sides thought it was miraculous. They had never seen such a thing before. And, Francis Scott Key was actively involved throughout. All Americans should see this and share it with their children:

The fourth verse, in particular, reflects the awe at seeing the flag still standing and what that meant for the young republic (see at 30-second mark):

With regard to the protests, fans began turning off NFL last season when all this stupidity started. It doesn’t help when a player spits on a fan, either. As MSNBC’s Morning Joe‘s Joe Scarborough — a Trump loather — says:

This is because sport is entertainment, not a political forum. People attend sporting events for a break from the dismal reality of life, including politics.

Yet, the NFL owners and managers are angry with Trump. Trump, they say, should keep his mouth shut. But the NFL started it all by protesting, right?

Former NFL fans and ticket holders burnt team shirts and season tickets at the weekend. Other American fans are cancelling certain cable subscriptions whilst more will boycott NFL sponsors:

This is a good move, too:

I also enjoyed this:

Ironically, although most teams refused to stand for the national anthem — including the Pittsburgh Steelers, excepting Alejandro Villanueva, the veteran who saw three tours in Afghanistan — Sunday, September 24 was Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s (sic) Day.

Since 1936, the last Sunday in September has been Gold Star Mother’s Day. On Saturday, September 23, the president expanded this to include families.

Fox News reported on all the errant teams on Sunday and included Trump’s reaction, including the following tweet:

The display marked a tumultuous weekend between the NFL and Trump, who called the players kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” disrespectful. Trump took note of the incidents at the start of the games on Sunday.

He also tweeted:

Contrary to what some on social media are saying — one example — there is no NFL rule on players’ conduct during the national anthem or when the flag is present. Atlanta’s NBC affiliate has also checked the rule book (as have I). Whilst there are rules about players’ physical appearance and attire — and making or gesturing statements — there is nothing about the national anthem.

Now, one could argue about gestures and statements. Remember that Tim Tebow was censured for dropping one knee in thanks for making a touchdown. Also recall last year that players who war 9-11 ‘Never Forget’ footwear on the field were similarly censured. Many think the same judgement should be applied to this current lot of players.

To make a case, here is a citation of the American statute stipulating conduct during the national anthem. It is 36 US Code 301 (emphases mine):

(a)Designation.—
The composition consisting of the words and music known as the Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem.

(b)Conduct During Playing.—During a rendition of the national anthem—
(1) when the flag is displayed—
(A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;
(B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and
(C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and
(2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.
(Pub. L. 105–225, Aug. 12, 1998, 112 Stat. 1263; Pub. L. 110–417, [div. A], title V, § 595, Oct. 14, 2008, 122 Stat. 4475.)

So there. Case closed.

There is a military element to this, too.

Veterans, rightly, are speaking out against these NFL clowns. Here is a Benghazi survivor, Kris Paronto:

I will have more on this tomorrow:

Meanwhile, I’m contemplating the real possibility that NFL will come to mean No Fans Left. Maybe the Pittsburgh Steelers will be known as the Pittsburgh Kneelers, too. Poetic justice.

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