News & Politics

The Morning Briefing: Harvey Explosion, Trump's Tax Reform, Sanctuary City Law Smacked Down and Much, Much More

Volunteer Kyle Denison assist Rosemarie Carpenter after she was rescued by boat during flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey in Orange, Texas, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Good Thursday Morning.

Here’s what is on the President agenda today:

  • In the morning, President Donald J. Trump will receive his daily intelligence briefing.
  • The President will then meet with National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.
  • In the afternoon, the President will meet with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney.

Pence to visit Texas on Thursday

The latest on Hurricane Harvey

Harvey’s death toll is at 30 and is expected to rise.

In Texas, the official death toll surpassed 30 on Wednesday and was expected to climb as authorities investigated several other deaths to determine whether they were storm-related. Officials fear that the number of fatalities will climb sharply in coming days as neighbors, emergency workers and family members search for the missing – and discover the bodies of people trapped in waterlogged homes or encased in underwater graves inside cars. And the death toll might rise even further in the recovery phase, from car crashes, carbon monoxide poisoning or other accidents during cleanup.

“The sad thing is, of the deaths we’ve seen, we’re going to see more, unfortunately,” said Jeff Schlegelmilch, the deputy director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University. “That number doesn’t stop moving up until we’re well into the recovery phase.”

Great American generosity continues. J.J. Watt raises his Hurricane Harvey relief goal to $5 million. Hollywood celebrities step up to help. Sandra Bullock has donated $1M. The Rock, Ellen DeGeneres, Sean “Diddy” Combs, JLO, and Leonardo DiCaprio have also pledged money.

A monster truck has joined the rescue efforts.

Oil refineries have released millions of pounds of chemicals.

In addition to slamming homes and hospitals, the storm struck the heart of Texas’ refining industry, where roughly a third of America’s oil is processed. In its wake, more than two million pounds of hazardous chemicals have been released into the air, according to filings reported with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and first reported by Politico.

In some cases, companies were forced to intentionally burn chemicals as a means of disposing them in anticipation of the storm. Chevron Phillips, the company that reported the largest release, burned close to 800,000 pounds of chemicals — nearly 300,000 of which were the colorless, odorless, and potentially deadly gas carbon monoxide — as it shuttered its plant to prepare for Harvey.

Politico came under fire yesterday for running a tasteless cartoon depicting the hurricane victims as “as God-obsessed, Confederate Tea Partiers who show insufficient appreciation for the government’s assistance.” Here’s a link to the “funny” cartoon, it remains on their website but did get deleted from Twitter. Everyday, I am astonished how out-of-touch the media is with humanity. Corpses are floating in the flooded waters, families have had their lives wiped out, a city has been crippled —  and yet the media’s mind is directed at taking a cultural swipe.

And if the flooding and destruction weren’t enough: a chemical plant just exploded in Crosby, Texas.

Here’s a good description how the private sector is stepping up to help out Houston and Harvey victims.

Here’s another hero of Harvey:

https://youtu.be/BbghAWSo7ss

President Trump talks tax reform in Missouri

President Trump spoke in Missouri yesterday to kick off the administration’s tax-reform efforts, “including lower rates and a reworking of the tax code, and placed pressure on Congress to deliver on the pledges.”

“I don’t want to be disappointed by Congress,” said Trump in Springfield. “I think Congress is going to make a comeback. I hope so the United States is counting on it.”

Trump promised “the biggest tax cut in the history of our country,” and said he aims to cut tax loopholes, lower business tax rates to 15 percent and craft a tax code that “creates more jobs and higher wages for Americans.”

He also took a swipe at Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill: “Your senator, Claire McCaskill, she must do this for you. And if she doesn’t do it for you, you have to vote her out of office.”

SO far, we don’t have any details about the tax overhaul. “The specifics of the plan are extraordinarily important, but right now what the president is doing is casting a vision, and I think that’s just as important,” the official, who insisted on anonymity, said.

Judge blocks Texas sanctuary cities law

A federal judge has temporarily blocked most of Texas’ “sanctuary city” law.

A federal judge late Wednesday temporarily blocked most of Texas‘ tough new “sanctuary cities” law that would have let police officers ask people during routine stops whether they’re in the U.S. legally and threatened sheriffs with jail time for not cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

The law, known as Senate Bill 4, had been cheered by President Donald Trump’s administration and was set to take effect Friday. It was widely viewed as the toughest immigration measure in the nation since Arizona passed what critics called a “Show Me Your Papers” law in 2010, which was later partially struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio was handed down as anxieties about immigration enforcement in Texas have again flared in the wake of Tropical Storm Harvey. Houston officials have sought to assure families fleeing the rising floodwaters in the nation’s fourth-largest city that shelters would not ask for their immigration status.

“The court cannot and does not second guess the Legislature,” U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia wrote. “However, the state may not exercise its authority in a manner that violates the United States Constitution.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the state will appeal immediately and was confident the state would ultimately prevail.

Picture of the day

Sunday’s editions of New York City’s newspapers carry headlines of the auto accident that killed Princess Diana, her friend Dodi Fayed, and their chauffeur early Sunday morning, Aug. 31, 1997, in Paris, France. The crash happen shortly after midnight in a tunnel along the River Seine, while being chased by photographers on motorcycles. (AP Photo/Adam Nadel)

Other morsels

Tributes laid for Princess Diana on 20th anniversary of death

Freedom Caucus chair approves keeping gov’t open without border wall funding

Sen. John McCain to return to Senate next week

Dem Sponsored Investigation Into Trump’s Interior Secretary Ends On Lack Of Evidence

Bus company worker stole 36,000 amusement park tickets worth over $1M from her job: prosecutors

Stolen military equipment worth more than $1M sold on eBay, testimony reveals

Boaters from around the country helping with water rescues in flood-ravaged Texas

At mayor’s urging, Astros will return to storm-ravaged Houston this weekend and play ball

Florida board votes to scrub Confederate general’s name from school

Ex-chief of troubled Baltimore police unit faces racketeering charges

U.S. charges five with hiding meth in 1,300 pounds of wax candles

House panel rejects request to probe Arpaio pardon

Man dresses up as Spider-Man to cheer up children in Houston hurricane shelter

Fire Ants Are Yet Another Hazard in Houston’s Flooded Streets

Report: Germany Could Allow 390,000 Migrants To Bring Family Members Next Year

Mom pulls out gun during ‘back to school’ brawl at Walmart

Philly sues Sessions over crackdown on sanctuary cities

Unruly passenger ordered to pay airline nearly $100K

Sleeping teen badly burned in ‘Hot Water Challenge’ stunt

‘Punks’ charged with murder after pushing 81-year-old Sears employee to ground while stealing TV sets

$127 ice cream cone launches at London boutique

And that’s all I’ve got now go beat back the angry mob!