Category: Did You Know?

UPDATE: Protests in Puerto Rico Heard; Rossello Steps Down

UPDATE

Reuters reports Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello will resign as of August 2nd instead of staying in office until the end of his term.

Rossello bowed to pressure from 12 days of protests after the release of damning messages between him and 11 top advisors that drove Puerto Ricans into the streets. This came on top of ongoing corruption and financial troubles as well as citizens still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria in 2018.

Once they learned the news, protestors erupted into celebration.

 

 

His expected successor, Secretary of Justice Wanda Vazquez, has not gained public acceptance either. Puerto Rican citizens held signs stating, “Wanda, you’re next!” and “Wanda, we don’t want you either!”

Vazquez is viewed as too close to Rossello and reportedly does not want the job.

Vázquez was next in line for the job after the current embattled leader, Ricardo Rosselló, announced his resignation on Wednesday.

“I have no interest in occupying the position of Governor,” Vázquez said on Twitter.

According to Puerto Rico’s order of succession, the secretary of state should be next in line after the governor. But the man holding that position, Luis G. Rivera Marín resigned July 13. He was one of the participants in a group chat at the heart of the scandal that led to protests and Rosselló’s resignation.

This made Vázquez the next in line.

She said in a tweet that while the constitution calls for her to be the governor, she hopes Rosselló appoints a new secretary of state who can then take over.

(CNN)

 

According to Reuters, leaders of Rossello’s pro-statehood party are “scrambling to … negotiate another successor” that the people will accept.

The people have been heard in Puerto Rico. Mainland American citizens should take a page from their book.

Did you know?

Gwendolyn J

 

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Judge Rules House Subpoena For Trump Accounts Will Stand (Video)

Another attempt to block the investigation into Trump’s pre-election finances has been crushed by a well-informed federal judge.

Chairman Elijah Cummings, head of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, subpoenaed financial records from an accounting firm that has been handling financials for Trump and several of his businesses for many years.

 

Congressman Elijah E. Cummings Source: Oversight..House.gov

From LawFareBlog.com:

On May 20, Judge Amit Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued his decision in Trump v. Committee on Oversight and Reform, ruling that President Trump cannot block the committee’s subpoena to Trump’s accountant, Mazars. The judge found that the committee had demonstrated a facially valid legislative purpose for its investigation and the issuance of the subpoena.

 

 

Judge Ahmit Mehta denied Trump’s legal counsel’s assertion that Congress had no power to investigate a sitting President, for illegal activity. Judge Meta cited the Watergate investigation as well as the Congressional investigation into President Bill Clinton’s conduct with Whitewater before he took office.

Source: CNN.com

Trump’s counsel stated Congressional motives were suspect, but Judge Meta disposed of this by writing:

“Congress’s motives are off-limits.”

And…

It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a President for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct—past or present—even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry.

Congress plainly views itself as having sweeping authority to investigate illegal conduct of a President, before and after taking office. This court is not prepared to roll back the tide of history.

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Puerto Rico Erupting in Protests Against Govenor

https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/22/us/puerto-rico-protests-monday/index.html

Did you know that for 11 straight days Puerto Ricans have been protesting all over the island, demanding the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rossello.

One of the sparks that lit the fire in PR came from the release of racists, sexist, and homophobic messages between Rossello and 11 top aides. Puerto Ricans are displaying their fury by taking to the streets and calling for Rossello’s immediate resignation.

This is not the beginning of PR residents’ discontent. Puerto Rico has been dealing with high unemployment, coupled with ongoing debt. As you can see from the chart below, Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate has been consistently higher than in mainland US states.

After Hurricane Maria swept the island in September 2017, some waited 11 months for power to be restored. Delayed federal aid has done little to alleviate the issues. Rossello drew criticism when his administration granted a small company from Montana a $300 million contract to help clean up Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

Several officials were arrested for corruption just days before the messages came to light. These officials funneled $15.5 million to unqualified, personally connected vendors.

 

The two former Puerto Rico leaders — Julia Keleher, who was the secretary of the island’s department of education before stepping down in April, and Ángela Ávila-Marrero, who led Puerto Rico’s Health Insurance Administration until last month — were arrested by FBI agents on Wednesday.

Prosecutors wrote in the indictment that the conspiracy involved the two former public officials giving four associates an inside track to contracts.

Once secured, authorities say the contractors benefited by paying “unauthorized commissions” to other individuals to lobby government for more contracts, a dynamic authorities described as “a corrupt bidding process.”

NPR

From NPR on July 11, 2019

TYT’s Ana Kasparian, Brooke Thomas, and Francesca Fiorentini discussed this issue on July 16. See the video below.

CBSN also covered the story:

The population of PR has been dwindling due to the lack of jobs and the ongoing conditions these citizens of the United States have been forced to live under.

The protesters have vowed to keep the pressure on Rossello, although he has stated he will not run for re-election. They want him gone now.

Did you now?

 

Gwendolyn J

 

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Did You Know: Trump Advised of Washington D. C. Financial Shortfall (And It’s His Fault)

Fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial to celebrate U.S. Independence Day in Washington D.C., the United States, July 4, 2019. Ting Shen | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

Did you know that Trump’s Fourth of July parade drained the coffers of Washington D.C.’s security fund?

Our nation’s capital maintains the Emergency Planning and Security Fund to cover the cost of security at state funerals -such as President George H. W. Bush’s- as well as inaugurations.

To pay for the 4th of July parade, Trump also redirected funds meant for the National Parks Service and he still ended up putting DC about $6 million in the hole.

The funds for Presidential inaugurations are generally put back into the EPSF, but true to form, Trump has yet to pay a penny back to people.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser informed Trump of the shortage of funds in a letter the week after the “Salute to America” parade.

 

 

Click image to read Mayor Bowser’s Letter to Trump Source: Nicholas Wu, USA Today

 

Mayor Bowser advised Trump that the funding for the EPSF was limited to $13 million per Congress, with “annual expenditure of about $16.5 million” (CNBC).

Let’s do some math.

Trump’s parade with tanks and military flyovers tapped the EPSF for $1.7 million.

The National Park Service paid in $2.5 million.

The Pentagon paid “at least” $1.2 million (CNBC).

If you’re keeping track, we are up to $5.4 million. For a parade.

 

That’s not taking into account the cost of security during the protests around the parade.

On a side note, TYT guest Ron Perlman notes that no veterans were invited to this event, but many of Trump’s top donors were VIPs.

Moving on…

Trump’s inauguration came in at $107 million, including about $10,000 in makeup and room service at various hotels. Yes, makeup.

Much of this was donated by corporations like AT&T, Bank of America, and Pfizer. Donations also came from wealthy Republican supporters, namely Sheldon Adelson and Andrew Beal (NYT).

A good chunk of the funds was “written off” (NYT) including:

  • $6.4 million for unused hotel rooms
  • $1.2 million in unrecovered revenue for a media center that never came to be
  • $1.6 million for Mrs. Trump’s friend/advisor Ms. Winston Wolkoff for a documentary that did not happen. Ms. Wolkoff, along with another friend of Mrs. Trump, Jonathan Reynaga, formed WIS Media Partners to produce the documentary.
  • $26 million to WIS as a general contractor and event overseer. Some of this was paid to other vendors.
  • $2 million to Trump campaign official Brad Pascale’s firm for advertising.
  • $2.7 million on flying in a performance group (working with Trump pal casino bigwig Steve Wynn)
  • $1.5 million to Trump International Hotel for use of a ballroom, an annex and “the townhouse”

See this New York Times article for a full rundown. Suffice it to say Trump has a track record of money problems.

 

 

Questions about the legitimacy of some of these expenses are still circulating nearly two years later.

Organizers that worked both President Obama’s and President Bush’s (the younger) inaugurations spent less than half of Trump’s committee.

President Bush’s (the older) funeral called for a paid holiday for all federal workers, at the cost of $450 million, which will be shouldered by American taxpayers.

As mentioned, Trump has problems paying what he owes. He has been sued repeatedly for shorting wages or just refusing to pay vendors and contractors.

TYT did an analysis of the parade cost with guest Ron Perlman.

 

 

Did you know?

Gwendolyn J

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