September, 2017

 

Ricardo Blackman’s Caribbean Headlines News 09/29

By Ricardo Blackman | CDN Barbados

Dateline Bridgetown, BARBADOS:

The Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CCCU) is mobilizing regional and international financial resources with an initial target of US$1 Million, to provide relief in CCCU members and other citizens in general, who have been affected by the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.  The Confederation, in a Press Release, said it will render short, medium and long-term assistance to the affected countries in areas including donations of food and water supplies, financial assistance to students and parents who have been evacuated to Antigua from Barbuda to assist resettlement in schools, the provision of financial and other resources to facilitate the restoration of service to members by Credit Unions in Dominica, assistance with the provision of temporary structures to provide accommodation for schools, and general financial and technical support to Credit Unions and their members.

Dateline San Juan, PUERTO RICO:

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) Bondholder Group has announced that its members have offered a debtor in possession (DIP) financing loan to the Authority to help address the urgent need for repairs to the utility’s power and in the wake of Hurricane Maria following Hurricane Irma.  The loan would include $1 Billion in new cash from bondholders, as well as relief on existing bonds.

Dateline Roseau, DOMINICA:

In keeping with the stability and resilience for which the Citizenship by Investment programme and the island of Dominica are known, the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) is back in full operation, following the direct hit by Hurricane Maria.

Dateline Bridgetown, BARBADOS:

Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, says Barbadians are paying too high a price for the “stubbornness” of the Freundel Stuart government.  She was reacting to Standard & Poor’s second downgrade in six months, lowering the long-term local currency rating from CCC+ to CCC Wednesday.  In a Press Release, Mottley said it was Barbados’ 20th downgrade in nine years and they were so routine that Barbadians were becoming immune.  “Let us put this in context for Bajans.  Standard & Poor’s rates 130 countries.  After the last downgrade to CCC, Barbados lies in 128th position.  We are on par with Venezuela.  There are only two countries who are rated worse than us – Mozambique and Belize” the release added.

Patrick Tannis is preparing to cross the political divide.  Less than six months after being rejected as a Democratic Labour Party (DLP) candidate for the St. Michael South East constituency, Tannis has announced the pending change.  “I am going to join the BLP” he posted on social media site Facebook yesterday.  The former banker was later spotted at the first FinTech Forum at Hilton Barbados with another DLP defector, Taan Abed, in the company of Opposition Leader Mia Mottley.

Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur is urging Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerfrit to tread carefully with the appointment of Barbados-born economist Avinash Persaud as his senior economic advisor amid the devastation already caused to the hurricane-battered island.  Persaud, who was seen accompanying Skerrit to the United Nations (UN) in New York over the weekend where the Dominican leader delivered a speech pleading for assistance for his hurricane-ravaged country, has since confirmed that he will be playing a major role in Dominica’s rebuilding. However, given Persaud’s role in the failed Four Seasons project (otherwise referred to as the Paradise Development) in Barbados between 2010 and 2012, Arthur has called on Skerrit to think twice about putting his country in the hands of the ex-Paradise executive chairman.  Not mincing his words on the matter, Arthur further warned that while the wreckage caused to Dominica so far could largely be blamed on category five hurricane winds “you cannot explain it (wreckage) in the case of Paradise” where Persaud was part of a team trying, but failing to raise money to pay creditors.”

More than a week after BARBADOS TODAY broke news that Minister of the Environment, Denis Lowe had demanded the resignation of the entire Board of the Sanitation Service Authority 89SSA), Lowe is yet to clear the air on the matter.  However, Shadow Minister of the Environment, Wilfred Abrahams has turned up the pressure on Lowe, not only to issue an explanation, but also to step down from his position of Environment Minister, saying it was clear to him from all that had transpired so far that Lowe had acted on his own advice without the approval of Cabinet, in calling on the SSA Board to step down.  Abrahams also accused Lowe of using members of the Board as “scapegoats” instead of acknowledging his complete failure in his Ministry.

With 26 murders recorded in Barbados so far this year, President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Eddy Abed has raised concern about the frequency and brazenness of crime which he said was now sweeping every parish in an unprecedented fashion.  He also raised concerns about the impact of the crime situation on the bread and butter tourism industry.

Dateline Kingston, JAMAICA:

Minister of Tourism Ed Bartlett says unmasking the full economic potential of tourism remains at the heart of the region’s quest for sustainable and inclusive growth.  Bartlett noted that authorities in the region have been aggressively seeking to leverage tourism as a source of local economic development.  He argued that if achieved, this would result in sustainable economic livelihoods, social capital, poverty alleviation, peace and unity, community renewal and environmental sustainability in pursuit of the internationally benchmarked Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Leader of the Opposition People’s National Movement (PNP), Dr. Peter Phillips, has named two non-parliamentarians to his 27-member team of shadow spokespersons and deputies.  The two – outspoken politician Damion Crawford and attorney Donna Scott-Mottley – are however expected to replace Opposition senators Mark Golding ands Angela Browne-Burke in the Senate after the two con test upcoming by-elections in St. Andrew South and St. Andrew Southwest respectively.

Dateline Port of Spain, TRINIDAD:

Former FIFA Vice President, Jack Warner has lost his lawsuit challenging the extradition to the United States to answer charges of fraud arising out of the massive FIFA bribery scandal.  Warner’s attorneys had challenged the process used by the office of the Attorney General in signing off on the US government’s request for his extradition in May, 2015.


With cell service crippled, Puerto Ricans look skyward for a signal

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Reuters) – On a busy highway bridge over San Juan Bay in Puerto Rico on Wednesday, cars pulled to the side of the road. Their occupants emerged clutching cellphones in search of one of the rarest finds on the island: a working mobile network.

A week after Hurricane Maria came ashore as the most powerful storm to hit Puerto Rico in nearly 90 years, knocking out its electric grid, 90.9 percent of cell phone sites on the island remain out of commission, according to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

For miles, cell phones deliver one frustrating message: “No Service.”

The search for the elusive sliver of places now capable of providing a signal has become a frantic treasure hunt. Across this U.S. territory, motorists desperate to communicate are herding on the sides of highways, bridges and exit ramps, hoping that their cell phones will come back to life.

Stephanie Trigo, 28, was among those leaning against the concrete barrier of the Highway 17 bridge on Wednesday.

“At least now we’re getting service in some places. At night, when we’re home, we have no means of communication,” she said.

Suddenly, Trigo’s phone rang. “I have a call!” she cried and answered it.

At another location outside San Juan, people approached a cell tower with handsets extended, hoping to see bars appear on their phones. Such scenes attract other motorists to stop to see if they might get lucky.

“Everywhere that I see people parked, I figure they have a signal,” said Jose Alduende, 74, from the Highway 17 bridge.

The outage in Puerto Rico is far worse than those of two other hurricanes that came ashore in Texas and Florida in the past month. Cell service in those two states was almost completely restored in storm-affected areas a week after hurricanes Harvey and Irma made landfall.

In the few San Juan hotels with working cell service and Wifi, adults have broken down in tears upon making their first communication with the outside world.

The Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino has become a particular oasis in the telecom desert. On Wednesday, Puerto Ricans and tourists crammed the hotel’s lobby, clustered around power outlets bristling with adapters and extension cables, making calls or tapping away at phones and computers to stay connected.

‘VICIOUS CIRCLE’

“We have lost all telecoms,” Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello told cable news channel CNN on Wednesday.

Puerto Ricans are heavily dependent on cell phones, a prominent source of internet access on the island, which has a cell phone penetration rate of nearly 100 percent, government data showed.

There are five main mobile service providers in the territory’s vibrant market: AT&T, T-Mobile, Claro, Sprint and Open Mobile.

“The Puerto Rican market is so profitable for mobile operators that when they do their first phase of deployment of new technologies, Puerto Rico is always in the first group of locations,” said Jose Otero, director of Latin America and the Caribbean for 5G Americas, a mobile broadband trade association based in Bellevue, Washington.

Mobile phone service providers such as AT&T and Sprint have sent teams to Puerto Rico to restore coverage. They have waived certain fees for customers and set up services that will help people get the word out to friends and families about their progress.

Among the challenges to restoring service is the collapse of the island’s power grid, which has cut power to mobile facilities.

“Power is essential to restoring wireless and wireline communications. Given the breadth of power outages across the islands, we’re deploying portable generators as quickly as allowed,” AT&T said.

Puerto Rico’s relative isolation is a huge impediment as well. When Harvey hit Texas and Irma slammed Florida, mobile phone companies were able to get personnel and equipment from other states quickly into position to restore service.

Heavy equipment must be sent to Puerto Rico by ship. Once there, moving it to distant parts of the island is tough due to damaged roads.

Security is a concern as well. The president of the Telecommunications Regulatory Board, Sandra Torres told the El Nuevo Dia newspaper that the theft of diesel used for generators and copper in the cellular infrastructure is making it harder to restore service.

“This has become a vicious circle,” she said.

OLD SCHOOL COMMUNICATIONS

Puerto Rico’s crippled cell service has hurt recovery efforts at a time when social media has proved crucial in mobilizing resources and volunteers during disasters.

When Harvey hit Texas, for example, people stranded in flood waters sent out tweets and posts that were quickly relayed to rescuers who responded, often in a matter of minutes.

In remote areas of Puerto Rico, people have resorted to painting “Help” and “Send Food” on roads, buildings and signs, in the hopes of being spotted.

They have also built word-of-mouth networks and sent messages seeking the whereabouts of loved ones through local radio stations.

Maryland resident Brittany Roush and her ad hoc volunteer group ViequesLove sent an air cargo shipment of satellite phones to Vieques, a small island of about 10,000 full-time residents to the east of Puerto Rico’s main island.

She said residents there now queue in long lines daily near the town square in Isabel, the island’s largest city, for a chance to conduct half-minute conversations with family and friends.

“This is the only way to communicate on the ground in Vieques right now,” Roush said from her home near the U.S. capital.

Reporting by Robin Respaut and Dave Grahama in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale; Editing by Marla Dickerson


[OPINION] Let’s Make Politics Out of Bounds on Sundays

By Armstrong Williams 
When the referees in charge of NFL football games make questionable calls, a challenge can be issued, subjecting the decisions to closer review.  The choice by President Trump to attack a group of our nation’s top professional athletes deserves that same treatment.
 
 Upon closer review, I cannot help but conclude that the President’s rhetoric and his comments on social media related to athletes choosing to exercise their rights to protest were both ill-timed and ill-considered. 
 
 Ours is a nation continuing to look for ways to bridge the racial rifts that opened up over Charlottesville and other events.  On the political side, we are a nation increasingly divided by socioeconomic and party lines.  We see this manifesting in a Congress that is at times unwilling and at other point unable, to compromise and collaborate in a bipartisan fashion to solve our nation’s most vexing problems.
 
 I praised President Trump in a recent column for his overture to Democrats in Congress to finally address and fix the immigration mess that he inherited from his predecessor in the White House.  As someone who wants to see President Trump’s agenda succeed, I am frustrated by the self-inflicted controversy and distraction that he continues to foment.
 
 Are the NFL football players and the other athletes whom the President has scorned perfect?  No.  But they are people with their own opinions, unique personal histories and perspectives.  Most importantly, they are Americans who live in a free nation where every one of us who lives here should feel empowered to express ourselves in the manner in which we see fit. 
 
Many of the players who had chosen to carry out their own personal and peaceful protests are among 70 percent of African American players in the league, and many are active in their own communities and doing what they can to help inspire, support and lift up others. 
 
 Kneeling during the national anthem as a way to call attention to perceived injustice is not something that I would ever choose to do or condone.  I agree with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones who said, “I do not think the place to express yourself in society is as we recognize the American flag.”
 
Yet as an American, I champion the right of others to do just that.  If the President wants to disagree with their actions then that is certainly his prerogative.  But he should never have chosen to do so with such coarse language, which is not only un-presidential, but also totally uncalled for.
 
While we may disagree with our fellow countrymen, it’s inappropriate to resort to crass name-calling and vulgarities.
 
 So what has been the result of the President’s needless fixation on the sports world in recent days?  He has created division and anger within the country while doing what previously seemed impossible: bringing together the NFL’s executives, owners, unions, coaches and players in solidarity against him.
 
 
 
I believe that President Trump has the capacity and the desire to bring out critical changes for the betterment of our country, but he keeps getting in the way of that.  He is also making it harder for those who support his agenda to defend his unpredictable and unproductive actions.
 
I am heartened by the fact that Dr. Ben Carson, whom I count among my closest friends and for whom I have worked alongside as his business manager for many years, continues to believe in President Trump and his mission.  For me, it means something that Dr. Carson has strong and steadfast faith in the President and his ability to lead.
 
 Yet, for millions of Americans, it is becoming increasingly harder to promote and defend some of the distractions whipped up by our Commander in Chief.  There are serious challenges confronting our nation that need steady leadership and resolve. 
 
 North Korea continues to threaten us with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear tests in bald defiance of the global community.  The President will soon decide on how to proceed with the deeply flawed Iran nuclear deal.  The economy, which has surged since Trump took office, still has a long way to go to reach the levels of growth and prosperity that will put America back on top.
 
 In America today there are two arenas which I would like to see returned to as safe zones: houses of worship and sports.  For the faithful all across the United States, prayer time with loved ones and community are a source of inspiration and spiritual connection.  Instead of zeroing in on the vagaries of man, we should be able to focus instead on our Creator.
 
Sports is another important key pillar of our society where men, women and children can go to be entertained, inspired and brought together.  Perhaps the President and the players can find common ground by agreeing that on Sunday of all days, in church and as we celebrate sports, the American people should be able to enjoy them with politics and partisanship called out of bounds
 
 
Mr. Williams is Manager / Sole Owner of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the year.   Watch our Right Side Forum every Saturday Live Newschannel 8 TV 28 in DC, 10:30 am – 11:00 am and repeats 6:30 pm est.
 
Follow me on Twitter @arightside

Ricardo Blackman’s Caribbean Headlines News 09/28

By Ricardo Blackman | CDN Barbados

Dateline Bridgetown, BARBADOS:

Barbados’ creditworthiness has taken another beating.  International ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) yesterday downgraded the island for the second time in about six months.  Suggesting that government seemed to have one eye on its fiscal and economic problems and the other on the next general election, S&P lowered the Barbados long-term, local currency rating from CCC+ to CCC.  And in giving the rating a negative outlook, S&P said this “reflected the potential for a downgrade over the next twelve months, should the government fail to advance measures to significantly lower its high fiscal deficit, strengthen its external liquidity and reverse its low level of international reserves.”

Staff at the State-run Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) are on strike and should be off the job for a second consecutive day today.  A statement from the Barbados Workers Union yesterday evening said a strike had been declared and its executive would meet shortly to give “full formal endorsement to and support” for industrial action and to determine whether it would be escalated.  A B WU spokesman said it was the second occasion in recent times that a statutory board “having agreed at ministerial level to pay increments to workers who have not had their performance appraisal system put in place, refused to pay the increments, or has decided to only pay the part that it finds convenient.”

Dateline Port of Spain, TRINIDAD:

Two police officers were each placed on $1 Million bail for allegedly being in possession of illegal guns, ammunition and marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.

Combating and suppressing of serious organized crime is the mandate of the Organized Crime Intelligence Unit (OCU), a newly formed unit launched recently by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.  The OCTUI represents the merging of the Organized Crime Narcotics and Firearms Bureau (OCNFB) and the Criminal Gang and Intelligence Unit (CGIUU).  The new unit is an initiative of the TTPS and was created with the strategic and policy guidance from the Minister of National Security, Edmund Dillon.  The remit of the new unit is to pursue, target, dismantle, disrupt and prosecute organized criminal groups and organized criminal networks in Trinidad and Tobago.

Dateline Kingstown, ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES:

St. Vincent and the Grenadines former Opposition Leader, Arnham Eustace, has signaled he still has political life, declaring plans to contest the next general election.  Last November, the veteran politician who led the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) in the last three general elections, handed over the reins of the party to Goodwin Friday.  However, he held on as Member of Parliament for East Kingstown and has announced that he will be going after the seat for a sixth time.  Eustace is 73.

Dateline Kingston, JAMAICA:

The Opposition People’s National Party has launched a crowd funding campaign to raise funds for its party.  In a release, the PNP said it is seeking to change the way in which funds are raised for political parties in Jamaica and is looking to achieve greater participation in the party’s fortunes amongst supporters.  Party President Dr. Peter Phillips, according to the release, had mandated that the initiative be designed to leverage technology and actively engage the many supporters of the PNP in Jamaica and in the diaspora, providing them with an easy way to contribute. In the Jamaica spirit of “every mickie mek a mickie”, the party said the innovative fund-raising effort seeks to build on the successful examples of other political leaders and parties across the world, such as Barack Obama in his first run for the Presidency of the United States.

Dateline Basseterre, ST. KITTS:

In the wake of widespread looting after Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Dominica, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has announced the appointment of a National Security Advisor from Jamaica as the authorities focus on improving citizen security.

Dateline Washington, USA:

The World Bank has approved a US$6.3 Million  grant to support Eastern Caribbean countries to preserve ands strengthen resilience of coastal and marine resources and implement regional policies to stimulate blue growth.    This will allow countries to better manage natural infrastructure which is the first line of defence against storm surges and damage from rising frequency of extreme weather events, such as the recent hurricanes.  The Caribbean Regional Oceanscape Project will be implemented through the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission in collaboration with OECS member-states.


Ricardo Blackman’s Caribbean Headlines News 09/27

By Ricardo Blackman | CDN Barbados


Date line Bridgetown, BARBADOS:

Minister of Finance, Chris Sinckler has reiterated the government’s commitment to improving business facilitation in Barbados.

Minister Sinckler has also strongly denied that he is a shareholder in Cost-U-Less, the warehouse-type food and general merchandise store in St. Thomas.

Barbados owes in excess of US$7 Million to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Development Fund, making it the second most indebted to the regional facility, which was established by CARICOM governments to provide financial and technical assistance to disadvantaged countries.

Parliament yesterday debated a resolution in support of a near $5 million national debushing exercise with the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) raising concern that it might be a cover for the ruling DLP to undertake electioneering activity.

After making nearly $150 million in payments to contractor Al Barrack, government is still leasing the Warrens office complex from Barrack Construction Ltd, Minister of Housing Denis Kellman revealed in the House of Assembly yesterday.

Dateline Port of Spain, TRINIDAD:

Two police officers who were arrested with four crocus bags filled with packages of marijuana and three illegal firearms, spent last night in prison custody, after being denied bail upon their appearance in court.

Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit says xenophobia should have no place in the Caribbean, where the countries may have to take turns in helping one another.  Skerrit, who spoke to CNC3 News, was asked to respond to some citizens of Trinidad and Tobago who reacted negatively to a call last week by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley for Trinidad and Tobago to open its homes to displaced Dominicans.  Skerrit said there would always be those who will look to politicize and he would not pay attention to negative comments from anywhere.

Dateline Kingston, JAMAICA:

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the government remains committed to environmental protection while promoting sustainable development and growth.

A delegation from Indonesia is in Jamaica to explore opportunities for joint projects in a number of areas.

Britain’s offer to partially fund a new prison in Jamaica is off the table as far as the new British High Commissioner is concerned, unless the Jamaica government wishes to look again at the proposal.  “The prison issue is not part of my agenda,” said Asif Ahmad, adding it could change only if the Prime Minister is interested.

Dateline Roseau, DOMINICA:

A United Nations disaster assessment official visiting Dominica, which was battered by Hurricane Maria, said that an estimated 60,000 to 65,000 people, or 80% of the total population, has been affected and that food and water are the most immediate needs.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Skerrit has assured overseas students that their education would continue to be taken care of.  He said the places of students at the University of the West Indies (UWI) were secure and he would send a letter to the pro-pvice chancellor requesting that no action be taken against them.


Ricardo Blackman’s Caribbean Headlines News 09/26

By Ricardo Blackman | CDN Barbados

Dateline Bridgetown, BARBADOS:

Opposition Leader Mia Mottley sees one way out for the Barbados economy from the present “crisis”.  However, addressing the 60th Anniversary Dinner and Awards Ceremony of Hinds Transport at the weekend, she warned that there was still too much stifling the performance of the local business sector.  “We are not going to get ourselves out of this crisis unless Barbadian businesses and Barbadian individuals earn their way through their businesses” Mottley warned, while pointing out that “governments do not grow, business and individuals do.”  ‘And I want us to understand this because it is against this background that we recognize that it is out solemn duty to make it easier to do business in this country.”

CARICOM must equip itself to lead the charge in responding to the plight of countries within the grouping when national disasters strike, rather than waiting for the international response.  Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to CARICOM, Dr. Clarence Henry was emphatic about this yesterday, telling a news conference that CARICOM, the individual sovereign states and all the institutions of CARICOM “must fashion a new discussion and a new methodology to deal with challenges posed by disasters.”

The costs associated with Hurricane Maria could reach historic levels for Dominica.  While still early, executive director of Caribbean Disaster Management Agency (CDEMA), Ronald Jackson, estimated the cost of the Category 5 hurricane Maria could be way above the US$500 million of Tropical Storm Erika in 2015.  ‘I can tell you that if Erika was in the region of half a billion dollars, this is going to be multiple times that,” Jackson said during a media conference at CDEMA Headquarters at Lower Estate, St. Michael yesterday.

Controversial Anglican cleric, Charles Morris, is wondering where the leadership of his church has gone in the wake of two super storms that have devastated several countries in the northern Caribbean.  Morris contended that with hurricanes Irma and Maria causing death and destruction, Archbishop of the West Indies, Dr. John Holder should have been out there offering prayerful solace to the suffering.  Instead, he charged, Holder, also Bishop of the Diocese of Barbados, had gone eerily silent, leading Morris to question whether the Archbishop understood his role in a time of crisis.

Dateline Basseterre, ST. KITTS:

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) is standing firmly with its member countries that have been impacted by Hurricane Irma.  The bank has disbursed a grant of EC$1 Million to the governments of Anguilla and Antigua and Barbuda, to support relief and early recovery.

Dateline Port of Spain, TRINIDAD:

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley, has described as “malicious and misleading”, a suggestion by Express columnist Ralph Maharaj that he, Rowley, influenced a Joint Select Committee (JSC) of parliament to reject a hearing into the operations of state-owned Petrotrin.

Dateline Kingston, JAMAICA:

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the government will be partnering with faith-based organizations to undertake social intervention in communities that are impacted by crime.


Trump cites progress after NFL’s Cowboys, Cardinals skirt anthem protest

(Editor’s note: Please be advised that language in paragraph 6 may offend some readers)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday applauded two National Football League teams that largely steered clear of controversy by standing for the national anthem at Monday night’s game, even as players protested in other ways.

At the match-up in Phoenix, the Dallas Cowboys linked arms and knelt on the playing field, then stood for the playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Arizona Cardinals players also joined arms but did not kneel.

“But while Dallas dropped to its knees as a team, they all stood up for our National Anthem. Big progress being made-we all love our country!” Trump wrote in a series of early-morning posts on Twitter, continuing his war of words with the multibillion dollar NFL.

“Ratings for NFL football are way down except before game starts, when people tune in to see whether or not our country will be disrespected!” he added.

It was the latest salvo from Trump, a former reality television show host and political neophyte who took office in January, after he ignited the fight with the players in the biggest-grossing U.S. pro sports league last week.

On Friday, he told a political rally that any protesting player was a “son of a bitch” who should be fired, and urged a boycott of NFL games, touching off protests by dozens of players, coaches and some owners before games on Sunday.

Kneeling during the anthem began last year when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand to protest police shootings of African-Americans.

Several players have made similar gestures, saying their actions are a call for social justice and protected by the American right to free speech, not a slight against the country or its flag. Critics, including Trump, have said it is disrespectful.

Trump’s verbal assault may play well with his conservative base at a time when the Republican president is grappling with North Korea’s nuclear threats, a humanitarian crisis in hurricane-struck Puerto Rico, an investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and a healthcare struggle in Congress.

The weekend controversy so far appeared to have a mixed impact on televised games. CBS Corp said overall viewership of its broadcasts were higher on Sunday while NBC, owned by Comcast Corp, said viewership was down. Fox, owned by Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, also reported lower viewership, CNN reported.


Trump says Puerto Rico in trouble after hurricane, debt ‘must be dealt with’

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday Puerto Rico is in “deep trouble” after being hit by Hurricane Maria and that its billions of dollars of debt to the Wall Street and banks “must be dealt with.”

“Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble,” Trump wrote in a series of posts on Twitter.

“It’s (sic) old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with.”

Trump did not offer a pathway for dealing with Puerto Rico’s debt. The U.S. territory, struggling with $72 billion in debt, filed the biggest government bankruptcy in U.S. history earlier this year.

Maria, the most powerful hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in nearly a century, devastated the Caribbean island when it struck the U.S. territory with ferocious winds and torrential rains last week.

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello on Monday asked for more government aid to avert a humanitarian crisis in the island, which is home to 3.4 million people.

Puerto Rico’s government on Monday asked a judge for up to four extra weeks to meet key deadlines in its bankruptcy case after Hurricane Maria brought its fragile infrastructure to its knees.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters in Washington that the administration was engaged in a fact-finding process to figure out how much help Puerto Rico needs.


Tuesday Morning Briefing

(Reuters) – North Korea said U.S President Donald Trump had declared war, tension escalated over anthem protests at NFL games and a Palestinian gunman killed three Israeli guards at a West Bank settlement.

North Korea

North Korea has boosted defenses on its east coast, a South Korean lawmaker said, after the North said U.S. President Donald Trump had declared war and that it would shoot down U.S. bombers flying near the peninsula. Tensions have escalated since North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3, but the rhetoric has reached a new level in recent days with leaders on both sides exchanging threats and insults.

U.S. keeps up diplomatic efforts to deal with North Korea crisis

U.S.

The Supreme Court signaled it may dismiss a challenge to Trump’s controversial travel ban after the White House announced tailored restrictions on eight countries that legal experts said stand a better chance at holding up in court.

U.S. appeals court to consider rights of gay workers

Obamacare repeal on the ropes as pivotal Republican rebuffs Trump

Proposed healthcare bill may hurt U.S. economy: S&P

Reuters TV: Weiner weeps as given jail sentence for sexting scandal

NFL

Two National Football League teams largely steered clear of a controversy over national anthem protests that have ensnared U.S. President Donald Trump and threatened to damage the game’s popularity, staging a “moment of unity” instead. The entire Dallas Cowboys team, including owner Jerry Jones, linked arms and knelt on the playing field for a moment before the game, but then stood respectfully as the “Star-Spangled Banner” was performed by singer Jordin Sparks.

Gallery: Athletes protest racial injustice

Podcast: The backlash and the business

World

A Palestinian man with security clearance to work at a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank opened fire at a checkpoint, killing two Israeli security guards and a paramilitary policeman.

Rights group accuses Myanmar of crimes against humanity

Mattis seeks Indian role in Afghanistan, vows to fight militant shelters

Iraq refuses to discuss Kurdish independence after referendum  

Dubai staged a test flight for what it said would soon be the world’s first drone taxi service under an ambitious plan by the United Arab Emirates city to lead the Arab world in innovation.

Business

World stocks and the euro fell for a fourth day, as investors that had piled into both all year took a step back as the list of global uncertainties began to lengthen again. The list included a new low in U.S. and North Korean relations, a jolt to the right in German politics, rising oil prices, falling tech stocks and the prospect of signals later from the ECB and Federal Reserve on their next moves.

Breakingviews – German vote bodes ill for utilities and autos

SEC hackers accessed authentic data used by companies in tests – sources

Western Digital to seek injunction to block Toshiba’s $18 billion chip unit sale

Under activist pressure, Nestle sets margin goal

Alibaba takes control of logistics business, pledges $15 billion to expand network

Commentary

The Trump administration is hacking away at disability rights, writes columnist Samuel R. Bagenstos. The Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee has moved forward a bill that would “gut key protections” for people with disabilities.

“Rather than protecting legitimate business interests, the bill pending in Congress would give a reprieve to enterprises that have had 27 years to comply with the law but have not yet done so,” says Bagenstos.

“It is just the latest Republican betrayal of the historic bipartisan support for disability rights.”


[OPINION] “Tax Returns”

By Armstrong Williams 

During a recent press conference, a reporter with MSNBC hollered from the press corps, “Where is President Trump hiding his tax returns?”

Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, astutely responded, “We’ve found a very secure place and I’m certain they won’t be found.”

“And just where is that?”, said the reporter, sarcastically.

Mrs. Sanders grinned sardonically and said, “They are underneath Obama’s college records, his passport application, his immigration status as a student, his funding sources to pay for college, his college records, and his Selective Service registration.

“Next question?”