Trump Doubles Down on Claims That Hurricane Dorian Threatened Alabama as Storm Hits U.S.
- President Trump received backlash after displaying a forecast of Hurricane Dorian’s expected path modified with a Sharpie to include Alabama.
- Trump previously said Alabama would be hurt by the storm and doubled down on his claim, even after the National Weather Service said it was incorrect.
- Trump argued a forecast from Aug. 28 had shown the storm hitting Alabama, but others pointed to an official White House photo from Aug. 29 that showed Trump looking at an updated forecast that did not include the state.
- Dorian has already caused lasting damage to the Bahamas, where 20 people were killed in the storm. It has now made its way up to the U.S., causing floods and blackouts along the Carolina coast.
Sharpie Drawn on Hurricane Map
President Donald Trump doubled down Thursday on his claims that initial forecasts said Hurricane Dorian would have significantly hurt Alabama.
The day before, the president was criticized for displaying a forecast map that appeared to be modified with a Sharpie to include Alabama as a state that would be at risk.
Some have speculated that the move was an apparent attempt to validate a claim made by Trump on Sunday.
“In addition to Florida – South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,” Trump wrote in the tweet.
The National Weather Service quickly responded by issuing its own tweet contradicting the president’s assertion.
“Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian,” NWS wrote. “We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”
However, Trump still repeated that claim while speaking at FEMA headquarters later that day.
“It may get a little piece of a great place: It’s called Alabama,” the president said, speaking about Dorian. “And Alabama could even be in for at least some very strong winds and something more than that, it could be. This just came up, unfortunately. It’s the size of — the storm that we’re talking about.”
Trump Doubles Down
Trump again insisted it was a fact that original forecasts showed Alabama as a threated area after Jon Karl of ABC News reported that what Trump said was false.
“Such a phony hurricane report,” the president wrote on Twitter.
After Trump showed the altered map on Wednesday, The Washington Post asked Trump about the incident. He told The Post that his briefings included a “95 percent chance probability” that Alabama would be hit.
When asked if the chart had been drawn on, Trump said: “I don’t know; I don’t know.” However, White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley seemed to confirm that the drawing was made using a black Sharpie.
“Watching the media go ballistic over a black sharpie mark on a map would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad,” he wrote on Twitter.
Trump also defended his statement in a tweet, where he showed an official forecast from August 28.
“This was the originally projected path of the Hurricane in its early stages,” he wrote. “As you can see, almost all models predicted it to go through Florida also hitting Georgia and Alabama. I accept the Fake News apologies!”
Trump is correct that the earlier forecast from that date did show that Alabama had a chance of getting hit by Dorian. However, others pointed out, there are official White House photos from August 29 that show Trump being briefed on the hurricane forecast.
In those pictures, Trump can be seen looking at the updated forecast, the same one that had the Sharpie on it, which by that time made it clear that Alabama was not at risk of being affected by the storm.
The president appeared to press the point even further Thursday. In a series of tweets, Trump argued that “certain models strongly suggested that Alabama & Georgia would be hit.”
“Alabama was going to be hit or grazed, and then Hurricane Dorian took a different path (up along the East Coast),” he added in a later Tweet. “The Fake News knows this very well. That’s why they’re the Fake News!”
Meanwhile, Hurricane Dorian is currently right off the Carolina coast where it is causing massive power outages and flooding, as well as spurring small tornadoes.
Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia have all declared states of emergency, and a number of coastal counties all across the Eastern Seaboard have also issued mandatory evacuation orders.
According to CNN, more than 240,000 customers have reportedly lost power in Georiga and the Carolinas. Most of the outages were in South Carolina, where around 225,000 were reported and where about 360,000 people have been evacuated.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency have also put out a warning that surge waters could flood up to eight feet in some areas.
Right now, experts anticipate the Carolina coast will be experiencing extreme weather conditions for a full 24 hours. After that, Dorian is expected to travel further north up the coast, where tropical storm watches are ongoing.
While damages are expected, they are not anticipated to be as severe as the destruction caused by Dorian in the Bahamas, where it made landfall as a category 5 hurricane on Sunday.
With the storm just recently receding, the total damages to the islands are not yet clear. Whole neighborhoods have been decimated, leaving many without homes. Streets were flooded and massive power outages, some of which have spanned entire islands, were reported.
According to early reports, around 13,000 homes and businesses were destroyed, but officials expect that number to be much higher.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced that the death toll in the Bahamas was officially at 20, though he said he expected that number to rise. Minnis also described Dorian as “the greatest national crisis in our country’s history.”
Search and rescue efforts were also made much more difficult due to massive flooding in hospitals and airports, including one airport which local reports have said is entirely underwater.
While the hurricane rages on, some have argued that Trump’s insistence that Alabama could be hit is dangerous —both because it could create panic in Alabama despite the lack of a storm threat, and also because some believe he should be focusing on delivering correct emergency information to people who need it.
Others have also pointed out that there is actually a federal law that says it is illegal to alter official government weather forecasts.
If you want to help out those affected by Hurricane Dorian, here are a few places you can donate: (Bahamas Red Cross) (World Central Kitchen) (GlobalGiving)
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (CNN) (Fox News)
Survey and Census Data Shows Record Number of Americans are Struggling Financially
Americans are choosing not to pursue medical treatment more and more frequently as they encounter money troubles.
A recent federal survey shows that a record number of Americans were worse off financially in 2022 than a year prior.
Coupled with recent census data showing pervasive poverty across much of the country, Americans are forced to make difficult decisions, like foregoing expensive healthcare.
According to a recent Federal Reserve Bureau survey, 35% of adults say they were worse off in 2022 than 2021, which is the highest share ever recorded since the question was raised in 2014.
Additionally, half of adults reported their budget was majorly affected by rising prices across the country, and that number is even higher among minority communities and parents living with their children.
According to recent census data, more than 10% of the counties in the U.S. are experiencing persistent poverty, meaning the area has had a poverty rate of 20% or higher between 1989 and 2019.
16 states report at least 10% of their population living in persistent poverty. But most of the suffering counties were found in the South — which accounts for over half the people living in persistent poverty, despite making up less than 40% of the population.
These financial realities have placed many Americans in the unfortunate situation of choosing between medical treatment and survival. The Federal Reserve study found that the share of Americans who skipped medical treatment because of the cost has drastically increased since 2020.
The reflection of this can be found in the overall health of households in different income brackets. 75% of households with an income of $25,000 or less report being in good health – compared to the 91% of households with $100,000 or more income.
See what others are saying: (Axios) (The Hill) (Federal Reserve)
Montana Governor Signs TikTok Ban
The ban will likely face legal challenges before it is officially enacted next year.
First Statewide Ban of TikTok
Montana became the first state to ban TikTok on Wednesday after Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) signed legislation aimed at protecting “Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party.”
The ban will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, though the law will likely face a handful of legal challenges before that date.
Under the law, citizens of the state will not be held liable for using the app, but companies that offer the app on their platforms, like Apple and Google, will face a $10,000 fine per day of violations. TikTok would also be subject to the hefty daily fine.
Questions remain about how tech companies will practically enforce this law. During a hearing earlier this year, a representative from TechNet said that these platforms don’t have the ability to “geofence” apps by state.
Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics, told the Associated Press that app stores could have the capability to enforce the restriction, but it would be difficult to carry out and there would be a variety of loopholes by tools like VPNs.
Montana’s law comes as U.S. politicians have taken aim at TikTok over its alleged ties to the CCP. Earlier this year, the White House directed federal agencies to remove TikTok from government devices. Conservatives, in particular, have been increasingly working to restrict the app.
“The Chinese Communist Party using TikTok to spy on Americans, violate their privacy, and collect their personal, private, and sensitive information is well-documented,” Gov. Gianforte said in a Wednesday statement.
Criticism of Montana Law
TikTok, however, has repeatedly denied that it gives user data to the government. The company released a statement claiming Montana’s law “infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people” in the state.
“We want to reassure Montanans that they can continue using TikTok to express themselves, earn a living, and find community as we continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana,” the company said.
The American Civil Liberties Union condemned Montana’s law for similar reasons.
“This law tramples on our free speech rights under the guise of national security and lays the groundwork for excessive government control over the internet,” the ACLU tweeted. “Elected officials do not have the right to selectively censor entire social media apps based on their country of origin.”
Per the AP, there are 200,000 TikTok users in Montana, and another 6,000 businesses use the platform as well. Lawsuits are expected to be filed against the law in the near future.
See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (Fast Company) (CBS News)
How a Disney-Loving Former Youth Pastor Landed on The FBI’s “Most Wanted” List
“Do what is best, not for yourself, for once. Think about everyone else,” Chris Burns’ 19-year-old son pleaded to his father via The Daily Beast.
Multi-Million Dollar Scheme
Former youth pastor turned financial advisor Chris Burns remains at large since going on the run in September of 2020 to avoid a Securities Exchange Commission investigation into his businesses.
Despite his fugitive status, the Justice Department recently indicted Burns with several more charges on top of the $12 million default judgment he received from the SEC.
Burns allegedly sold false promissory notes to investors across Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida. The SEC claims he told the investors they were participating in a “peer to peer” lending program where businesses that needed capital would borrow money and then repay it with interest as high as 20%. Burns allegedly also reassured investors that the businesses had collateral so the investment was low-risk.
The SEC says that Burns instead took that money for personal use.
Burns began his adult life as a youth pastor back in 2007 before transitioning into financial planning a few years later. By 2017, he launched his own radio show, The Chris Burns Show, which was funded by one of his companies, Dynamic Money – where every week Burns would “unpack how this week’s headlines practically impact your life, wallet, and future,” according to the description. He also frequently appeared on television and online, talking about finances and politics.
The SEC alleges that he used his public appearances to elevate his status as a financial advisor and maximize his reach to investors.
His family told The Daily Beast that he became obsessed with success and he reportedly bought hand-made clothes, a million-dollar lakehouse, a boat, several cars, and took his family on several trips to Disney World. His eldest son and wife said that Burns was paying thousands of dollars a day for VIP tours and once paid for the neighbors to come along.
Then in September 2020, he reportedly told his wife that he was being investigated by the Securities Exchange Commission but he told her not to worry.
The day that he was supposed to turn over his business documents to the SEC, he disappeared, telling his wife he was just going to take a trip to North Carolina to tell his parents about the investigation. Then, the car was found abandoned in a parking lot with several cashier’s checks totaling $78,000
FBI’s Most Wanted
The default judgment in the SEC complaint orders Burns, if he’s ever found, to pay $12 million to his victims, as well as over $650,000 in a civil penalty. Additionally, a federal criminal complaint charged him with mail fraud. Burns is currently on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.
Last week, the Justice Department indicted him on several other charges including 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud.
“Burns is charged for allegedly stealing millions of dollars from clients in an illegal investment fraud scheme,” Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “Financial crimes of this nature can cause significant disruptions to the lives of those who are victimized, and the FBI is dedicated to holding these criminals accountable.”
His family maintains that they knew nothing of Burns’ schemes. His wife reportedly returned over $300,000 that he had given to her.
She and their eldest son, who is now 19, told The Daily Beast they just want Burns to turn himself in, take responsibility for his actions, and try to help the people he hurt.
“Do what is best, not for yourself, for once. Think about everyone else,” Burns’ son said in a message to his father via The Daily Beast.