Trump Is Already Pushing Conspiracy Theories about Jeffrey Epstein’s Death
Catanzaro, meanwhile, leaves football with career earnings of just under $6.5 million in five years. It’s certainly good work if you can find it.
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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — In one of her first moves as Puerto Rico’s new governor, Wanda Vázquez announced late Sunday that she is suspending a pending $450,000 contract that is part of the program to rebuild and strengthen the island’s power grid, which was destroyed by Hurricane Maria.
Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority, which is more than $9 billion in debt, had been expected to sign the contract with Stantec, a consulting firm based in Canada. Vázquez did not explain why she was suspending the deal, saying only that transparency is a priority for her administration.
„We are evaluating all government contracts, no exceptions,” said Vázquez, who on Wednesday became Puerto Rico’s third governor in a week following popular protests over government corruption and mismanagement. „There is no room in this administration for unreasonable expenses.”
A Stantec official based in Puerto Rico did not respond to a request for comment.
However, a power company spokesman emailed a statement to The Associated Press saying that PREPA executive director José Ortiz planned to meet with Vázquez on Monday to explain why it was important to sign the contract. Ortiz said the contract has to be submitted before Oct. 6 so the U.S. territory can obtain federal hurricane recovery funds.
It is unclear whether Vázquez’s move will delay efforts to rebuild and bolster the power grid, which remains fragile and is prone to outages that have exasperated many of the island’s 3.2 million people. Power company spokesman Jorge Burgos said that he had no further details and that more information would be released after Monday’s meeting.
Puerto Rico’s power company has awarded several multimillion-dollar contracts since the Category 4 storm hit on Sept. 20, 2017, and many of those deals have come under intense scrutiny, with some being cancelled. Currently, Mammoth Energy Services’ subsidiary Cobra Acquisitions, which has some $1.8 billion in contracts with the power company, is facing a federal investigation.
Economist José Caraballo said he hopes Vázquez’s announcement is the first of more changes to come.
„I hope this isn’t a smoke screen and that there’s a real audit,” he said in a phone interview. „That’s what all these people who have lost trust in the government expect.”
Puerto Rico has been mired in political turmoil, with then-Gov. Ricardo Rosselló resigning Aug. 2 following large protests. The island’s Supreme Court then ruled that his replacement was illegally sworn in, which left Vázquez, the justice secretary, next in line to become governor. The U.S. territory also is struggling to emerge from a 13-year recession and trying to restructure some of its more than $70 billion public debt load.
As Pakistan-India tensions flare, a child mistakes a bomb for a toy
By Saad Sayeed
JABRI, Pakistan (Reuters) – Deep in the mountains of the Neelum Valley, where a river separates Indian and Pakistani Kashmir, is the small village of Jabri, usually far enough away to avoid being hit by exchanges of fire between the countries’ armies.
That changed late last month when Indian artillery shells hit the village and an unexploded device found its way into the hands of four-year-old Ayan Ali.
„He found a bomb that looked like a toy and he brought it here,” said Ali’s uncle, Abdul Qayyum, pointing to their home.
Ali showed the „toy” to his siblings as the family sat down to breakfast. It exploded, killing Ali and wounding eight of his siblings, his mother and a young cousin.
„They tried to snatch it from him and then it exploded. He died on the spot,” Qayyum said, adding that two of the children are in hospital in critical condition.
Pakistan’s military said the device was a cluster bomb, a weapon that releases many smaller bomblets that can kill or wound people over a wider area. They are prohibited under the Geneva Convention governing international warfare.
The Indian government and army denied the allegation, and two army officials told Reuters that its shelling across the border was proportionate and in response to Pakistani fire.
On a visit to the Jabri area on Friday, a Reuters journalist was unable to independently verify the type of device that killed Ali, though there were signs of damage in the home.
A small crater in the concrete floor marked the place where Ali was standing when the device exploded.
„The little kids were playing and then there was a loud sound. There was smoke everywhere, I couldn’t see anything,” said Sadaf Siddiq, Ali’s older sister.
A shell hit another nearby home, opening a large hole in the roof but nobody inside was injured, said its 37-year-old owner Muhammad Hanif.
The Pakistan military said they had cleared a number of unexploded devices from the area. One military official showed a toy-sized device that he said was part of a cluster bomb, which could not be independently verified by Reuters.
Cross border exchanges of fire have intensified in recent years and India and Pakistan accuse each other of regularly violating a ceasefire agreement along the 740-km (460-mile) Line of Control (LoC), which serves as a de-facto border in the disputed Kashmir region.
Tensions increased this week after India set a new policy to revoke Jammu and Kashmir state’s rights to set its own laws, arrested hundreds of political leaders and activists, and severed nearly all communications from Indian Kashmir.
Both countries claim Kashmir, and have fought two of their three wars over the Himalayan region, which they have disputed since partition and independence from British colonial rule in 1947.
(Writing by Saad Sayeed; Editing by Martin Howell and Darren Schuettler)
Conservative Alejandro Giammattei declared victory in Guatemala’s run-off presidential election
Guatemala City (AFP) – Conservative candidate Alejandro Giammattei declared victory in Sunday’s run-off presidential election in Guatemala, holding a major lead with the results from more than 90 percent of polling stations counted.
Giammattei had almost 60 percent of the vote to former first lady and social democrat Sandra Torres’s 40 percent in their bid to succeed corruption-tainted Jimmy Morales.
„The aim is fulfilled,” said Giammattei.
The central American country’s next president will be under immense pressure from the United States to implement a controversial migration pact that would allow Washington to send most Honduran and Salvadoran asylum seekers who passed through Guatemala back to the poor, crime-stricken country.
The two candidates had both avoided committing to strong positions on the US deal.
Corruption was the main issue leading up to the first round of elections in June — which Torres topped — but that has been superseded by the political scandal over the migration deal.
– ‘Lose-lose scenario’ –
Neither candidate arrived with a glowing reputation.
The center-left Torres, whose ex-husband Alvaro Colom was president from 2008-2012, has been suspected of involvement in corruption.
Influential businessman Dionisio Gutierrez recently described her as „a questionable politician with a history that should worry any citizen.”
Giammattei has hardly come off any better.
Investigative website Nomada branded him as „impulsive… despotic, tyrannical… capricious, vindictive,” among other undesirable traits.
But the 63-year-old, a doctor by profession, scored well on voter concerns such as the economy, corruption and security, according to Risa Grais-Targow of the Eurasia Group.
Should he win, though, he „would face a lose-lose scenario” regarding the migration pact, Grais-Targow said.
One of Morales’s last acts as president was to authorize an agreement with the US administration of Donald Trump designating Guatemala as a „safe third country,” which would permit Washington to turn away asylum seekers who didn’t seek refuge when passing through Guatemala.
The pact — part of Trump’s campaign to stem the flow of migrants to the southern US border — has proved highly unpopular in Guatemala, with demonstrators blocking roads and occupying the University of San Carlos in protest.
In a poll by Prodatos for the Prensa Libre newspaper, 82 percent of respondents opposed it.
– ‘Risk of retaliation’ –
But rejecting the migration pact would run the „risk of retaliation from Trump,” Grais-Targow said, after the US leader threatened a travel ban, tariffs and remittance fees if the country didn’t bend to his will.
Remittances from Guatemalans in the US are a crucial part of the economy, reaching a record $9.3 billion last year. That compares to Guatemala’s export revenue of $10.5 billion.
According to the World Bank, remittances account for 12 percent of the country’s GDP.
The agreement was reached last month despite Guatemala’s constitutional court having earlier granted an injunction blocking Morales from signing the deal.
Almost 60 percent of Guatemala’s 17.7 million citizens live in poverty, and the country has one of the highest murder rates in the world.
Around half the killings are blamed on drug trafficking and extortion operations carried out by powerful gangs.
Morales, barred by Guatemalan law from seeking a second term, turned up to vote wearing his favorite football team’s jersey.
He urged his replacement to reduce undocumented migration, improve education and tackle chronic malnutrition in the under-fives, which affects 46 percent of infants.
Guatemalans aren’t subject to Trump’s proposed migrant measures, but given that poverty in some indigenous areas reaches 80 percent, many embark on the journey in search of the „American dream” despite the dangers.
Since December, at least five Guatemalan children have died in US custody after crossing into the country from Mexico.
And in June, a woman and three children died from heat and dehydration in Texas.
„The problem is that as there’s no work in Guatemala, many people want to migrate and it’s sad what’s happening to our Guatemalan brothers who die or are killed,” Emilio Canel, a 26-year-old farmer in Sumpango, told AFP.More than 250,000 Guatemalans were detained between October 2018 and July this year for trying to enter the US illegally, Washington’s embassy said.
UK energy firm says power cut was not caused by cyberattackView photos People wait for trains at King’s Cross station in London Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 a day after all services in and out of the station were suspended when a power cut caused major disruption across the country. Operators of Britain’s electricity network say a power cut that affected a million people and caused travel chaos was not the result of a cyberattack. (Abbianca Makoni/PA via AP)LONDON (AP) — A power cut that affected a million people and caused travel chaos was not the result of a cyberattack, operators of Britain’s electricity network said Saturday.National Grid operations director Duncan Burt said Friday’s blackout was caused when two power stations failed almost simultaneously, leading the system to cut off power to some parts of the country in order to preserve the rest.He said the company was „very confident that there was no malicious intent or cyberattack involved.”Burt said the loss of two power plants at once was a „very, very rare event” and something similar last happened in 2008.Tim Green of the Energy Futures Laboratory at Imperial College London said failures were at a gas-fired power plant in southern England and a wind farm in the North Sea. He said it was unclear whether the two near-simultaneous outages were connected or it was a coincidence.Britain’s energy watchdog, Ofgem, said it has asked for „an urgent detailed report from National Grid so we can understand what went wrong and decide what further steps need to be taken. This could include enforcement action.”The cut hit a large swath of England and Wales, knocking out traffic lights and railway signals and bringing electric-powered trains to a standstill. Electricity was restored within 90 minutes but many travelers were stuck for hours on trains.Delays and cancellations continued Saturday at London’s King’s Cross, one of the country’s busiest train stations.Andrew Adonis, a former chairman of Britain’s National Infrastructure Commission, said National Grid had „some big questions to answer” about how a relatively brief power cut had caused nationwide mayhem on the railways.”Why … did their systems allow the national transport system to collapse in the way it did? Because that absolutely shouldn’t happen,” he said._This story has been corrected to give the name of the energy watchdog as Ofgem, not Ofgen.