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Trump Doubles Down on Claims That Hurricane Dorian Threatened Alabama as Storm Hits U.S.

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  • 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!” 

Hurricane Dorian

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

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Florida Cracks Down on “Vaccine Tourism”

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  • Florida is now requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get vaccinated against COVID-19. 
  • The state has been hit with “vaccine tourism” as many people, predominantly wealthy individuals, fly to the state from other parts of the U.S. and abroad just to get the shot. 
  • So far, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses administered in Florida went to out-of-staters, though it is unclear if all those people were tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents.

Florida Requires Proof of Residency

Florida is cracking down on “vaccine tourism” and requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get a COVID-19 shot.

Previously the state was allowing anyone 65 and older, including non-residents, to get the vaccine. This resulted in people flying to the Sunshine State from across the U.S. and abroad just for the purpose of receiving it. 

According to state data, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses Florida has administered have gone to out-of-staters. It is unclear if all these out-of-staters are tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents. 

Now, people must show a form of identification like a driver’s license or mortgage payment to receive it. Exceptions will be made for healthcare workers. 

Vaccine Supply Continues to Be Limited

Wealthy people in particular were quick to schedule travel plans to Florida for this reason. According to the Wall Street Journal, there was an influx of Canadians booking private jets to Florida. Some were looking to book flights there and back on the same day, leaving just enough time for them to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. 

Meanwhile, people in Florida and across the country are waiting in long lines and struggling to book appointments on glitching websites to get their shots. Vaccine supply continues to be incredibly limited and not everyone in high-risk groups have received them.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said this rule is not made to impact snowbirds, people who live in Florida during the winter to escape cold weather up north. 

“They go to doctors here or whatever, that’s fine, DeSantis said, according to CNN. “What we don’t want is tourists, foreigners. We want to put seniors first, but we obviously want to put people that live here first in line.”

See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (CNN) (Travel + Leisure)

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Amanda Gorman Wows the Nation With “The Hill We Climb”

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  • Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, impressed the nation when she read “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration, making her the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history.
  • Gorman’s said the Jan. 6 attack on the nation’s Capitol inspired her to focus on a message of hope, community, and healing in her poem.
  • Big names like Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, Barack Obama, and Lin-Manuel Miranda have all praised her work.

Amanda Gorman Becomes Youngest Inaugural Poet

Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman wowed the nation on Wednesday as she spoke of healing, unity, hope, and what it means to be American while reading her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

At 22-years-old Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she was the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles in 2014 at the age of 16. She then became the first national youth poet laureate in 2017. 

Now, her books are topping Amazon’s Best Sellers list and they are not even scheduled to be released until the fall.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden became a fan of Gorman after watching her give a reading at the Library of Congress. She then suggested that Gorman be a part of the ceremony. 

“Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped That even as we tired, we tried,” Gorman recited during inauguration. “That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division.”

Like President Biden, Gorman has struggled with a speech impediment and has been open about her experience overcoming it. She actually used poetry as a tool to correct it. First, she used it as a way of expressing herself without having to speak. Then she used it to bring her poems to life.

“Once I arrived at the point in my life in high school, where I said, ‘you know what? Writing my poems on the page isn’t enough for me,” she told CBS News. “I have to give them breath, and life, I have to perform them as I am.’ That was the moment that I was able to grow past my speech impediment.”

What Inspired “The Hill We Climb”

Gorman said the inaugural committee gave her freedom and flexibility when it came to choosing what to write about. She was well on her way before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Those events then influenced her writing. 

“It energized me even more to believe that much more firmly in a message of hope, community and healing. I felt like that was the type of poem that I needed to write and it was the type of poem that the country and the world needed to hear,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.  

That message came across clearly and the insurrection was depicted in part of “The Hill We Climb.”

“It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy and this effort very nearly succeeded,” she said. “But while democracy can be periodically delayed it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future history has its eyes on us.”

Nation Impressed by Gorman

“Wow…Wow, I just, wow you’re awesome,” Cooper said when closing his interview with her. “I am so transfixed.” 

Lin-Manuel Miranda also cheered Gorman on. “The Hill We Climb” notably references a line of scripture that appears in a “Hamilton” song. Gorman also said she used to sing the song “Aaron Burr, Sir” to help her say her R sounds and correct her speech impediment. 

“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise!” Oprah Winfrey wrote. “Brava Brava Amanda Gorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I.”

Winfrey also gave Gorman a ring with a caged bird on it—a reference to the famous Angelou poem— which Gorman wore during the inauguration. 

Actor Mark Ruffalo joined the onslaught of praise, saying that her words will lead the nation. 

Former President Barack Obama echoed that idea as well, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Gorman promised to run for president one day. 

See what others are saying: (CBS News) (New York Times) (Los Angeles Times)

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SAT Drops Subject Tests and Optional Essay Section

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  • The College Board will discontinue SAT subject tests effective immediately and will scrap the optional essay section in June. 
  • The organization cited the coronavirus pandemic as part of the reason for accelerating these changes.
  • Regarding subject tests, the College Board said the other half of the decision rested on the fact that Advanced Placement tests are now more accessible to low-income students and students of color, making subject tests unnecessary. 
  • It also said it plans to launch a digital version of the SAT in the near future, despite failing to implement such a plan last year after a previous announcement.

College Board Ends Subject Tests and Optional Essay

College Board announced Tuesday that it will scrap the SAT’s optional essay section, as well as subject tests.

Officials at the organization cited the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the reason for these changes, saying is has “accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to simplify our work and reduce demands on students.”

The decision was also made in part because Advanced Placement tests, which College Board also administers, are now available to more low-income students and students of color. Thus, College Board has said this makes SAT subject tests unnecessary. 

While subject tests will be phased out for international students, they have been discontinued effective immediately in the U.S. 

Regarding the optional essay, College Board said high school students are now able to express their writing skills in a variety of ways, a factor which has made the essay section less necessary.

With several exceptions, it will be discontinued in June.

The Board Will Implement an Online SAT Test

In its announcement, College Board also said it plans to launch a revised version of the SAT that’s aimed at making it “more flexible” and “streamlined” for students to take the test online.

In April 2020, College Board announced it would be launching a digital SAT test in the fall if schools didn’t reopen. The College Board then backtracked on its plans for a digital test in June, before many schools even decided they would remain closed.

According to College Board, technological challenges led to the decision to postpone that plan.

For now, no other details about the current plan have been released, though more are expected to be revealed in April. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (The New York Times)

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