The president, furious over the failure of Congress to pay for his wall on the southern border with Mexico, began Friday by threatening in a Twitter post shortly before 9 a.m. to veto a $1.3 trillion spending bill passed hours earlier by Congress. That raised the specter of another government shutdown at midnight, this one precipitated entirely by Mr. Trump.
By 1:30 p.m., Mr. Trump had begrudgingly signed the bill and, in a hastily arranged appearance in the Diplomatic Reception Room, called it a “ridiculous situation.”
In the frantic hours before the signing, two senior officials said they were uncertain whether the president would veto the measure and prompt a shutdown or ultimately relent. White House officials raced to schedule an afternoon briefing for the news media, although they had no idea what they would end up telling reporters.
John F. Kelly, the chief of staff, in the meantime swung into action to pull the president back from the brink of a veto. Mr. Kelly summoned Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to the White House, aides said, to make the case for the military funding included in the bill.
In the Oval Office, Mr. Mattis; the homeland security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen; and Vice President Mike Pence — who had postponed a trip to Atlanta because of the president’s veto threat — told Mr. Trump that the military spending level in the bill was historic and urged him to sign. Mr. Trump finally agreed. He then tweeted that he would hold a “news conference” on the subject himself.
What followed was a bizarre spectacle that was part-signing ceremony and part venting session as Mr. Trump presented his audiences with his dilemma in real time. He raged against the bill’s contents and the process that yielded it.
“Nobody more disappointed than me,” Mr. Trump said in a verdict from a president who has called himself a master dealmaker.
The whipsaw on spending came hours after the president forced out his national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, and replaced him with John R. Bolton, a hard-line former American ambassador to the United Nations, catalyzing fears of a sharp turn toward military confrontation on Mr. Trump’s national security team.
Mr. Mattis, viewed as a moderating force on the president, told colleagues before the appointment was announced that he would find it difficult to work with Mr. Bolton, people briefed on the conversation said.
Mr. Bolton’s appointment followed Mr. Trump’s announcement of tariffs on $60 billion worth of Chinese imports, which sank financial markets on Thursday and ignited fears of a trans-Pacific trade war. New steel and aluminum tariffs also took effect on Friday, though the White House exempted several allies from the measures, sowing equal measures of relief and confusion.
The tumult occurred against the ominous backdrop of the Russia investigation. The resignation of Mr. Trump’s lead lawyer, John Dowd, on Thursday signaled that the president was determined to sit down with investigators for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, even as he takes a more combative stance toward the overall investigation.
Shortly before the president went on television on Friday to fume about the spending bill, several of his top advisers — including Mr. Mattis; the commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross; Ms. Nielsen; and Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner — could be seen huddling in the Palm Court of the White House. They were deep in what appeared to be serious conversation.
Also on Friday, the departing national security adviser, General McMaster, bid farewell to the staff of the National Security Council. Staff members gave him a three-minute standing ovation, and there was talk of an exodus of career officials. Some were stunned by the sudden change in leadership, even though General McMaster’s status with Mr. Trump was known to have been shaky for weeks.
General McMaster was later spotted walking briskly out of the White House complex.
As Mr. Bolton prepares to replace General McMaster, people briefed by the White House said, the president has told Mr. Bolton that he needs to cut down on leaks, like the disclosure this week that Mr. Trump disregarded his briefing materials in a call with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
That has prompted a debate over whether Mr. Bolton should carry out a housecleaning of the security council or leave the existing staff in place.
Democrats and others said Mr. Bolton’s record of advocating military action against Iran and North Korea raised the risk of war.
“Mr. Bolton’s tendency to try to solve every geopolitical problem w/ the American military first is a troubling one,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, said in a tweet on Thursday. “I hope he will temper his instinct to commit our armed forces to conflicts around the globe, when we need to be focused on building the middle class here at home.”
Daryl G. Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, said in a statement, “Bolton’s extreme views could tilt the malleable Mr. Trump in the wrong direction on critical decisions affecting the future of the Iran nuclear deal, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and the strained U.S. relationship with Russia, among other issues.”
Rumors swirled at the White House that the president’s purge might soon continue with the firing of David Shulkin, the embattled secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department.
Mr. Trump is methodically shedding himself of those who have clashed with his views, including Rex W. Tillerson, his secretary of state, who was fired last week. But the president is also losing aides like Hope Hicks, his communications director and confidante, whose resignation is effective soon.
That view…. | Photo: Instagram @enriquealexgarde
Talk about doing daring things for love. Traveler and filmmaker Enrique Alex recently went to Brazil and while there, took a shot of this very romantic — and dangerous — kiss.
The location is Pedra do Telégrafo on the south-eastern coast of Brazil and not far from Rio de Janeiro. It’s one of the most famous photo spots in the world for tourists and locals alike.
Offering stunning views of the ocean and terrain of Brazil, there can often be a line to get a picture on this particular rock. But the results can be worth it.
Just look at Alex’s shot.
Wow is right.
However, looks can be deceiving. In fact, the edge of the rock is only several feet away from the ground. Thanks to camera angles, though, it can look much more daring.
Here’s a shot of the cliff from a distance, showing the crowds, someone hanging off it, and what it all really is.
Doesn’t make it any less amazing, of course.
The world is a beautiful place
Alex, who landed on our list of 19 cute Instagram travelers, releases new videos on YouTube every week.
A few days ago, he posted his video of his time in Brazil. He starts the video off, naturally, by hanging from the rock.
Here are some other great shots from his travels in Brazil.
Got a news tip? Want to share your story? Email us .
PPK y otros 5 presidentes de América Latina que no pudieron terminar sus mandatos por acusaciones de corrupción| http://ow.ly/qx7j30j7dv4
¡Apoyemos a nuestro pescadores! Consumamos pescado fresco. @DptoAgricultura@SecDAgricultura https://twitter.com/metro_pr/status/976934046998593536 …
The situation is unsustainable for coffee farmers in the Coffee Sector of the Farmers’ Association of Puerto Rico . With losses amounting to $ 100 million as a result of the passage of Hurricane Maria on the island, to resurge from the crisis, coffee workers clamor for access to the most basic ingredient of their recipe: the seed.
“The interest of the private company and the coffee growers is aligned in the efforts to raise coffee production. We need the Department of Agriculture to go hand in hand with these parties, focusing their resources for planting, growing and harvesting coffee in Puerto Rico , “said Germán Negrón, general manager of Puerto Rico Coffee Roasters .
“The coffee industry is the backbone of the mountain economy,” said Iris Jannette Rodriguez, president of the coffee sector of the Farmers’ Association of Puerto Rico.
The group of coffee farmers joined yesterday to make a public call with one voice. To that end, they held a round table, “Coffee after the hurricane”, where they presented the needs of the coffee industry before the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on their farms.
At the meeting, which took place at the Convention Center, the industry said that after the hurricanes it has not been able to begin its recovery process, because they do not have the necessary programs and resources.
They reiterated that if an aggressive program of rescue and promotion of planting is not started, the recovery could take up to 10 years. More than six months after the passage of atmospheric phenomena in September of last year, the response of the Department of Agriculture (DA) has not been effective.
“The coffee industry is the backbone of the mountain economy. The income that it generates stays in Puerto Rico; he does not leave here. Every dollar that a coffee farmer pays to his workers is money that is reinvested in the local economy of the towns where coffee is grown, “said Iris Jannette Rodríguez, president of the coffee sector of the Farmers’ Association of Puerto Rico. On the island, the coffee industry is developed in 22 municipalities.
With a market that is around 240 thousand quintals per year of coffee consumption in Puerto Rico (according to data from the DA), the margin of opportunity for coffee growers to expand production and sale is great. It is about one trillion coffee rates per year. But the industry is much more complex than the calculation with the naked eye.
The last three coffee harvests at island level during the three years before María had reached 65 thousand, 45 thousand and 40 thousand hundredweight respectively. The harvest that was planned precisely for the months of September and October 2017 would have surpassed the previous ones, but María destroyed it, explained Wilfredo Ruiz, president of the Association of Beneficiaries .
Projections indicate increase in coffee import
The demand that fails to satisfy local coffee production, is supplied by the DA with imported products. From what was left of last year’s harvest, it is estimated that there are about 15 thousand quintals, to which another 10 thousand will be added in the harvest of this year. This means that local coffee growers will only be able to satisfy 10% of consumption in Puerto Rico, while 90% would be coffee harvested abroad. It is a projection that keeps alive hope of at least rescuing 10%, although there is a risk that the harvest will be zero. Due to the current state of the plantations, if the DA does not take immediate action the projections could be repeated during the next years.
All that imported production would reach the island through the Agricultural Business Development Administration (ADEA) of the DA, which brings the product and sells it to the roasters that complete the process until it reaches the consumer. According to Ruiz, who is also a nurseryman, the global coffee market at this time is around $ 140 per quintal semi-battered. Assuming that the DA acquired the quintal at that price, it must have sold it to the roaster at approximately $ 322 per quintal, with a profit margin of $ 182.
“We want part of the money to be invested in us by the coffee growers, in raising the plantations again,” said the coffee grower. “We are talking about 200 thousand quintals that may be imported this coming year, part of which is invested in the industry. ”
“The Department of Agriculture, unfortunately, instead of being a facilitator, has become a merchant, what is the mission of the Department of Agriculture, to help us raise the industry or do business?” Ruiz questioned.
“We know from the crisis that Puerto Rico is going through, what we are asking is that from the money that the industry (of coffee) gives, part of it is invested in the industry,” he added.
What represents an opportunity to increase up to 10 times its current production to supply the local market.
“If we work to increase coffee production in Puerto Rico to replace the 225,000 quintals that ADEA will import in 2018 to cover the current deficit in the demand for coffee to be made in Puerto Rico, we would achieve that our coffee growers receive directly into their pockets at the of farm $ 75,000,000 annually. Money that currently the Puerto Rican consumer already pays and that mostly comes as income for the Department of Agriculture through the coffee that the agency imports, “added Rodriguez.
They ask Agriculture for changes in protocols and regulations
In an almost unanimous consensus, coffee farmers understand that the most pressing problem is the lack of coffee seed, the quality of coffee and how the DA assigns that seed to coffee farmers. So that a nurseryman can supply the seed to the coffee grower, said matter must be certified exclusively by the Agricultural Experimental Station of the Mayagüez Campus of the University of Puerto Rico, as established by the DA.
The Experimental Station, for example, is the one who goes to another country and receives recommendations from a specific coffee plantation that could be resistant to pests. Then it brings the seed, germinates it and observes it for five years, before it can be distributed to nurserymen and coffee growers, explained Ruiz.
“The Department of Agriculture for the past 30, 40 years has been responsible for the stagnation of agriculture,” said agronomist Héctor Iván Cordero, president of the Farmers’ Association.
“We can not wait five years because what we are going to live on, we are willing to take the risk,” he said, while affirming that it is essential to “break with that protocol.” That is, nurserymen want to be able to import they seed themselves and germinate it, which would allow them to produce six to eight coffee seeds a year -versus the two million that are sown today- and increase production and harvest.
But obtaining permits through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to import seeds is a step that coffee farmers assured they can achieve. The biggest problem is that said seeds do not enjoy technical support or incentives from Agriculture at the state level. According to the current policy of the agency, in addition, those seeds could not be insured and, consequently, neither the harvests.
“They do not give the opportunity for the farmer to develop new cultivation initiatives, new varieties.The Department of Agriculture for the past 30, 40 years has been responsible for the stagnation of agriculture,” said the agronomist Héctor Iván Cordero, president of the Farmers Association.
They also pointed out the delay in the payment of agricultural insurance by the Agricultural Insurance Corporation. The claims to this insurance surpass $ 50 million, indicated the coffee growers. The DA promised to pay the total money no later than February, but to date the disbursement to farmers has not exceeded 50%, according to the coffee growers at the round table.
“You can imagine how farmers are, the need for that money and how slow Agriculture is,” said Ruiz.
They also denounced the lack of fertilizer, the elimination of the crop protection program, the shortage of lime, the lack of soil evaluation, lack of financial aid and the few DA initiatives to mitigate the damage caused by the hurricanes.
For his part Germán Negrón, general manager of Puerto Rico Coffee Roasters (PRCR), committed to produce over 3,000,000 coffee trees in the next two years, in an attempt to supply the seed needs of coffee growers. The PRCR currently has a temporary permit to import limited quantities of seeds. He also announced that he will make an investment of $ 300,000 for the construction of two additional coffee nurseries, one in Manatí and another in Jayuya, doubling the seed production capacity in the next year.
“Let’s not forget that we, the coffee growers, are the ones who initiate the chain of this industry. Those who wake up every day, those who do not have holidays or vacations, those who can not get sick, those who with our effort, dedication, passion, sweat and tears, because the tears came down with each storm of the hurricane, we get up and we continue to produce the best coffee in the world, Puerto Rican coffee, “said Iris Jannette Rodríguez, president of the coffee sector of the Puerto Rico Farmers’ Association.
Issues indicated by the coffee growers at the round table:
- Low productivity of the farms
- Lack of certification program and production of quality seeds
- Low availability of seed
- Little genetic variety (only 2 varieties tolerant to rust)
- Programa de transferencia de tecnológicas ausente y conjunto tecnológico obsoleto
- Falta de investigación e innovación por parte de la academia
Retos y amenazas:
- Efecto socioeconómico adverso a la economía de la montaña si no hay acción inmediata
- Resurgimiento de una mentalidad gubernamental de reglamentación excesiva y control absoluto
- Baja poblacional – abandono de las fincas
- Riesgo de perder el arancel y protección por la baja producción
- Mercado de 240,000 quintales de consumo local
- Fuente de creación de empleo en la montaña (10,000 empleos directos e indirectos)
- Colaboración entre el sector privado, académico y gubernamental
- Oportunidad de redefinir y comenzar de nuevo luego del huracán.
- Reintegración de la academia con rol activo al desarrollo de la industria
- Estructura de incentivos con enfoque en volumen y productividad
- Que se incluya en el seguro agrícola federal a los caficultores, incluyendo a los viveristas.
- Que señale vistas públicas para la Resolución Conjunta del Senado 175 de autoría del Senador Luis Berdiel.
- Reactivación y creación de centros de cal.
- Que se dirijan la totalidad de los fondos del café importado a la revitalización de la industria y no para administrar el Departamento de Agricultura.
- Que los incentivos estén disponibles para todas las plantas del café no tan solo para las que provee el Departamento de Agricultura.
- Pago de segurosagrícolas (Corporación de Seguros Agrícolas del Departamento de Agricultura)
- Programa para el desarrollo de viveristas y reestablecimiento de la infraestructura de los viveros; semillas de calidad locales y/o importadas; promoción de siembre/resiembra nuevas asistida.
- Coffee trees at low cost (seeds) 6-8 million / year for three years (2018-2021) of seeds of high productivity and tolerant to coffee rust.
- Subscription subsidy based on new plantings and guaranteed production before hurricanes.
- Program machinery for cleaning and reconstruction of roads.
- Training for post-hurricane farm management and correct sowing practices o Support programs for complementary crops (banana, Chinese, etc.) and shorter cycle to ensure income.
- Guarantees of purchase with minimum prices but without a maximum so that the quality is stimulated with a view to producing first for the local market and then for export.
Esto establece que los fondos del Departamento de Justicia federal no pueden ser utilizados para evitar que Puerto Rico implemente sus propias leyes que autorizan el uso, la distribución, la posesión o el cultivo del cannabis medicinal.
Continuamos trabajando arduamente junto con la comisionada residente, @Jenniffer2012 para asegurar trato igual para los ciudadanos americanos residentes en Puerto Rico.
Diario Metro de Puerto Rico–13 hours ago
Primera Hora–7 hours ago
Telemundo Puerto Rico–Mar 20, 2018
El Vocero de Puerto Rico–Mar 21, 2018
In-Depth–Univision–Mar 21, 2018
Here’s the good news — a full 93 percent of Puerto Ricans now have electricity again, while 99 percent have their water supply back on, a clear sign that the Caribbean island is recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Maria. But here’s the sobering news — Maria struck the U.S. territory six months ago, and it’s taken all of that time for the vast majority of its population to get its water and electricity returned. If the recovery from say, Hurricane Harvey, which struck Houston and the surrounding area seven months ago, had taken half as long the outrage likely would’ve been twice as loud.
Hurricane Maria destroyed two-thirds of Puerto Rico’s power grid and caused $100 billion in damage, and 100,000 people there are still without power today, even as federal power contractors have begun pulling out since most of their work is done. All power is expected to be restored by May. This should be of little concern to the 135,000 Puerto Ricans who have left the island to start a new life somewhere else, mostly in Florida and on up the East Coast.
Puerto Rico slowly recovering
Here’s the good news — a full 93 percent of Puerto Ricans now have electricity again, while 99 percent have their water supply back on, a clear sign that the Caribbean island is recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Maria. But here’s the sobering …