Sunday, March 29, 2020

Trump praises Coast Guard, swipes at media in Texas

Trump praises Coast Guard, swipes at media in Texas. President Trump praised the Coast Guard and took a swipe at the media Saturday during a stop on his trip to Texas to visit victims and local responders in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. “I hear the Coast Guard saved 11,000 people," Trump told the Coast Guard and other first responders at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston before leaving for Louisiana. "Think of it, almost 11,000 people by going into winds that the media would not go into," Trump continued, before gesturing toward the press, "They will not go into those winds, unless it’s a really good story." The president looked to set a different tone during his visit on Saturday, visiting those who had sought shelter after the storm and handing out food. "It’s been really nice. It’s been a wonderful thing," Trump said after visiting a shelter in Houston. "As tough as this was, it’s been a wonderful thing, I think even for the country to watch it and for the world to watch. It’s been beautiful." The death toll from the storm, which stands at 47, is expected to grow as search and rescue teams look for missing people.

Sunday shows preview: Trump faces aftermath of Harvey

Sunday shows preview: Trump faces aftermath of Harvey. The president and first lady Melania Trump met with volunteers and were photographed handing out food to people and playing with children at a shelter. "We saw a lot of happiness," the president told reporters after visiting Houston's NRG Center. “It’s been really nice. It’s been a wonderful thing,” he said. Greg Abbott (R), who has touted close communication with Trump in recent days, is also slated to appear on CNN's "State of the Union" and "Fox News Sunday," while Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) will be on NBC's "Meet the Press." CBS’s “Face the Nation”: Turner and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long will discuss Harvey recovery efforts and the storm’s aftermath on the program. CNN’s “State of the Union”: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will appear on the program to discuss recovery efforts in his state. “Fox News Sunday”: Abbott and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin will make appearances on the program.

Justice Dept: No evidence of Trump Tower wiretapping

The Justice Department confirmed in a court filing late Friday that neither it nor the FBI has evidence that Trump Tower was the target of surveillance efforts by the Obama administration during the 2016 presidential election. The Motion for Summary Judgement was filed in D.C. district court in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the watchdog group American Oversight, which is seeking government records of surveillance in Trump Tower. The motion confirms that neither the FBI nor the Justice Department's National Security Division have records documenting wiretaps as alleged by President Trump in a series of tweets earlier this year. The Friday filing marked the Justice Department's first official denial of the substance of Trump's wiretapping tweets earlier this year. But the Trump administration did not provide evidence that such surveillance took place, and a spokesman for Obama rejected that the administration wiretapped the real estate mogul's building. Likewise, former FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired in May, denied that the Obama administration surveilled the Trump campaign. "The FBI and Department of Justice have now sided with former Director Comey and confirmed in writing that President Trump lied when he tweeted that former President Obama ‘wiretapped’ him at Trump Tower," Austin Evers, America Oversight's executive director, said in a statement. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in March that documents provided to lawmakers by the Justice Department provided no evidence to support the president's wiretapping claim. The Justice Department also said in the motion on Friday, however, that it could neither confirm nor deny the existence of other responsive records related to wiretaps that fall outside of those described by Trump in March. Updated: 3:45 p.m.

Trump returns to Texas for visit with hurricane victims

Trump returns to Texas for visit with hurricane victims. President Trump returned to Texas on Saturday to tour flood-devastated areas, and met with volunteers and victims of Hurricane Harvey. "People appreciate what's been done. It's been done very efficiently and very well," Trump said following the visit to a Houston disaster relief center, ABC News reported. "As tough as this was [the response] has been a wonderful thing, I think, even for the country to watch." He and First Lady Melania Trump handed out food and played with children at the center that temporarily houses evacuees. Trump landed in Houston at around noon on Saturday to meet with the Texas delegation as well as volunteers and victims from the storm that devastated parts of southeast Texas last weekend. On his previous visit last Tuesday, Trump was briefed on the disaster recovery and search and rescue efforts by a number of federal, state and local officials, and avoided visiting the hardest hit areas as not to divert valuable resources from the ongoing operations, according to CNN. However, critics called his first appearance a failed test for the new president and one that lacked empathy. The president is also set to visit Louisiana on Saturday, and tour areas that sustained severe damage from the massive storm.

Melania Trump wears stilettos again on way to Texas

Melania Trump wears stilettos again on way to Texas. First lady Melania Trump wore stilettos for her departure Saturday to Texas to meet with victims of Hurricane Harvey, after facing criticism for wearing similar shoes on a trip earlier this week. The first lady wore a tan rain coat with the high heels as she boarded Marine One with President Trump on their way to Houston to meet with storm victims and volunteers. When Air Force One landed, Melania Trump exited wearing jeans, a blue shirt and sneakers as well as a hat with "Texas" on it. The first lady previously wore stilettos and a "FLOTUS" hat on her way to Texas with the president on Tuesday, which critics cited as being inappropriate given the circumstances of the visit. She later changed into white sneakers upon arriving, and returned to Washington wearing a "Texas" hat. Many have pointed to the controversial fashion choice on Saturday as a response to critics who bashed the fashion choice on her first visit to Texas. President Trump on Saturday was seen wearing a black rain jacket with slacks and brown shoes, and was carrying a campaign-style red trucker hat upon boarding the aircraft. The pair served storm victims at the NRG Center in Houston on Saturday. Just outside the airport, White House pool reporters noted gathered people with signs reading "We love Trump" and "Texans love stilettos."

Turkey’s Choice: Past or Future

Trending ISTANBUL -- Coming from the airport into this city of about 15 million people and 5 million cars, as my driver describes it, I pass ancient Roman ruins and blocks of upscale shops; an old hotel where Agatha Christie penned "Murder on the Orient Express," smoke shops and modest restaurants, and luxury car dealers. It is a metaphor for the choices Turks are being forced to make under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: forward to a better future and a recapture of their secular state, or back to a nostalgic past when Islam was the official religion of the Ottoman Empire. Recent waves of terrorist attacks throughout the country have raised security levels. My car was stopped and given a cursory search before being allowed to proceed to the hotel entrance where I was then required to pass through a metal detector and have my hand luggage scanned before approaching the registration desk. It was the late president Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who helped establish the Republic of Turkey, modeled on Western governments and their belief in church-state separation. In addition to questions about Turkey's future role in NATO, how would a Turkish Islamic state change the fight against "radical Islamic terrorism," as President Trump called it until recently when that label seems to have disappeared from his rhetoric? Asked about Islamic terrorism, he responded: "Turkey is not a country where moderate Islam prevails. The word Islam is uninflected, it is only Islam." Who SHOULD decide is the larger question. Unfortunately, with their prospects declining, many Turks today worry that their future may not be anything in which they can take delight.

Time to Drop Colleges’ Racial Quotas and Preferences

When a policy has been vigorously followed by venerable institutions for more than a generation without getting any closer to producing the desired results, perhaps there is some problem with the goal. That thought was prompted by a New York Times story headlined "Even With Affirmative Action, Blacks and Hispanics Are More Underrepresented at Top Colleges Than 35 Years Ago." It presented enrollment data from 100 selective colleges and universities -- the eight Ivy League schools, nine University of California campuses, 20 "top" liberal arts colleges, 14 "other top universities" and 50 "flagship" state universities. (They total 100 because UC Berkeley appears in two categories.) This assumption is behind the "affirmative action" policies that college and university admissions offices have been following with something resembling religious devotion since well before 1980. Unchallengeable data make clear that schools regularly admit blacks and Hispanics with much lower test scores than those classified as whites and, particularly, Asians. But Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in the Grutter decision, "25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary." This discrimination is harmful -- not least to university administrators, many of whom feel obliged to lie systematically about what they are doing. Its harm to those who are discriminated against is real but not overwhelming; most will find places in other selective schools. None of the 100 colleges and universities cited in the Times article has a black student percentage at or above that of the college-age population.

Four U.S. Companies Have Been Contracted to Build Prototype Border Walls

Four U.S. Companies Have Been Contracted to Build Prototype Border Walls. Caddell Construction, Fisher Industries, Texas Sterling Construction, and W.G. Yates & Sons Construction, have each been charged with building a concrete wall that's 30-feet long and up to 30-feet high, NBC News reports. The DHS is also expected to commission four non-concrete wall prototypes. On completion, the government will evaluate the designs to determine which is the most suitable to implement on a massive scale along the U.S.-Mexico border. The four contacts are each worth between $400,000 and $500,000. Read more: This Graphic Shows Why President Trump’s Border Wall Won’t Stop Immigrants From Crossing "This is the first new initiative that adds to our bigger plans," Ronald Vitiello, acting deputy commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection told NBC News. “Testing will look at things like the aesthetics of it, how penetrable they are, how resistant they are to tampering and then scaling or anti-climbing,” he added. According to Vitiello, construction will begin in the coming weeks with the review process expected to take between one and two months. [NBC News]