Cassidy on new health-care plan: ‘It’s not for Susan, it’s for the Mainers’ – Washington Post

A group of Senate Republicans spearheading a rollback of the Affordable Care Act tried to persuade three skeptical but critical senators to support their efforts over the weekend — but were unable to extract any promises that would guarantee the embattled measure’s success.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (La.), who introduced a revised version of his health-care bill earlier Monday, told The Washington Post in an interview that he mostly focused on tweaking the policy and left outreach up to two other Republican colleagues who helped craft the measure: Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.).

Cassidy said Graham and Santorum facilitated conversations with Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine) and John McCain (Ariz.), whose states would receive more federal health-care funding under his revamped bill compared to a previous version.

[New GOP health-care bill in jeopardy as Sen. Rand Paul expresses opposition]

Murkowski and Collins, whose votes are crucial to the success of the Cassidy-Graham measure, have insisted that any attempt to replace parts of the ACA must not hurt their states. Asked whether he designed those changes with the two moderate Republicans in mind, Cassidy insisted that many states — not just Alaska and Maine — would benefit.

But he acknowledged that the new version would indeed provide more funding to those states compared to the first iteration of his bill, stressing that it would include $1 billion more in block grants for Maine. And he expressed hope that Collins would support the measure.

“If there’s a billion more going to Maine . . . that’s a heck of a lot,” Cassidy said. “It’s not for Susan, it’s for the Mainers. But she cares so passionately about those Mainers, I’m hoping those extra dollars going to her state . . . would make a difference to her.”

[Want the inside skinny on health care? Get The Health 202]

The Louisiana Republican also suggested that Collins, who is considering running for governor in 2018, could help implement the measure if it passes.

“Imagine what a smart governor who knew health insurance so well as Susan does could do with that money to benefit lower-income Mainers,” he said.

Cassidy-Graham has been met with sharp resistance from several GOP senators, and seemed headed for a collapse before a vote that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he would hold this week.

Republicans can afford to lose the support of only two senators because of their slim 52-48 margin in the chamber, and time to deliver on a signature campaign promise is running short. On Saturday, special budget rules that allow them to pass health-care legislation without Democratic support will expire. President Trump has also urged Senate Republicans to pass the bill.

And Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Monday morning that the changes to Cassidy-Graham aren’t enough to persuade him.

Nonetheless, the Louisiana senator appeared exuberant that his measure has gained as much traction as it has, after Republicans failed to pass several other Obamacare replacement measures in July.

“Two years ago people thought I was Don Quixote. A month ago people thought things were dead. Two weeks ago, people smiled – and now folks say, ‘Wow, they may still pull it off,’” Cassidy said. “If you keep your head down and keep plugging, good things happen.”

Cassidy contended that naysayers like Paul should recognize that the new measure would save the country from the single-payer system that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and some Democrats are pushing for.

“I’m hoping Senator Paul would kind of have that epiphany,” Cassidy said.

The legislation would broadly convert federal Medicaid funding for expansion programs and subsidies for low-income Americans to purchase health insurance into block grants for states to design their own health-care systems. But the new state-by-state formula in the revised measure introduced Monday morning has some winners and losers, with Alaska gaining 3 percent more than it would have under the old bill; Maine securing 43 percent more; and Arizona receiving 15 percent in additional federal funding. The measure would redistribute federal health-care funding among all states, not just the ones that expanded Medicaid under the ACA.

Cassidy defended the new distribution of funding, saying conversations with the moderates were about “how do we hold your state harmless.”

“All of this was designed to as much as possible hold states harmless while benefiting those non [Medicaid] expansion states where there are so many folks who would benefit if the state could afford to provide them better coverage,” he said.

Cassidy said he’s holding out hope that with the boosted funding — along with a Monday afternoon Senate Finance Committee hearing on the measure, where he will testify — Murkowski, Collins and McCain will ultimately vote for the bill.

“Our hope is that Maine gets a billion dollars more for four to five years, that we correct some problems that have been evident in Alaska. . . . We’re having a hearing to vet these ideas that hopefully Senator McCain will say, ‘Wait a second, we’re having a hearing after all,’ ” Cassidy said.

McCain has complained about a lack of “regular order” — committee hearings, for instance — on major health-care legislation. He has said a single hearing isn’t enough to satisfy his request.

Read more at PowerPost

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Trump signs new travel ban with enhanced vetting – CBS News

President Trump has signed a presidential proclamation with new restrictions on travel to the United States as his existing ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries was set to expire Sunday, 90 days after it went into effect, according to senior administration officials.

On a background call about the new restrictions, the officials said restrictions will apply to Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, which have all been deemed to have “inadequate” identity-management protocols, information-sharing practices, and risk factors. The U.S. is implementing travel limitations and restrictions unique to the foreign nationals of each country. 

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke also assessed that Iraq did not meet the baseline but concluded that entry restrictions and limitations under a the proclamation are not warranted. Duke, according to officials, recommended that nationals of Iraq who seek to enter the United States be subject to additional scrutiny to determine if they pose risks to the national security or public safety of the U.S.

According to officials, the U.S. is easing restrictions on Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia and removed restrictions on Sudan altogether. And it added new restrictions or additional vetting of four new countries found not to be in compliant with U.S. vetting procedures — Chad, Iraq, North Korea and Venezuela.

While North Korea continues to pose as a threat to the U.S. with its continued nuclear provocations, Senior administration officials told reporters that the regime does not cooperate whatsoever on the baseline requirements of the administration’s ban. 

Officials said the lack of sharing between the two nations makes it difficult to validate the identification of those coming from North Korea and difficult for the U.S. to ascertain if a given individual is a threat to U.S..

The restrictions on individuals and new countries covered by executive order will not be implemented immediately. They’ll take effect October 18, in what senior administration officials called a “phased-in implementation period.”

The new order is intended to enhance vetting capabilities and processes for detecting entry to the U.S. by terrorists, as well as other public safety threats.

Duke, in a statement following the announcement, said the revised order will “protect Americans and allow DHS to better keep terrorists and criminals from entering our country.” She added the restrictions are “tough and tailored, and they send a message to foreign governments that they must work with us to enhance security.”

Mr. Trump tweeted shortly after the proclamation’s release, writing “Making America Safe is my number one priority. We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet.”

Making America Safe is my number one priority. We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017

Countries that were not already in compliant with the administration’s protocols were given 50 days to make improvements.

The officials said that those individuals who are covered by the previous executive order that the president signed but do not benefit from court ordered exceptions will be covered from the time of signature of the proclamation Sunday. The restrictions were a result of a “worldwide review based on a new baseline for information sharing and for vetting procedures for those seeking entry into the U.S.

Senior administration officials say that the ban is currently “condition-based and not time-based,” so countries may come off the restricted list at some point. Conversely, DHS may also recommend new countries to the list as they closely monitor necessary compliance. The citizens of countries that refuse to comply with DHS requirements can now face travel restrictions and more stringent screening measures that would last indefinitely, until their governments comply.

DHS had recommended more targeted restrictions on foreign nationals from countries it says have refused to share information with the U.S. or haven’t taken necessary security precautions.

The expiring ban barred citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who lack a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” from entering the U.S.

Unlike Mr. Trump’s first travel ban, which sparked chaos at airports across the country and a flurry of legal challenges, officials said they worked for months on the new rules, in collaboration with various agencies and in conversation with foreign governments.

The recommendations were based on a new baseline developed by DHS that includes factors such as whether countries issue electronic passports with biometric information and share information about travelers’ terror-related and criminal histories. The U.S. then shared those benchmarks with every country in the world and gave them 50 days to comply. Most nations met the vetting standards, but others failed to adequately comply. DHS sent its recommendations to the president with the list of noncompliant countries on Sept. 15.

There were roughly 15 countries that were flagged by DHS and alerted by State, CBS News’ Margaret Brennan reported, and that number included the six already affected by the prior travel ban. 

Mr. Trump last week called for a “tougher” travel ban after a bomb partially exploded on a London subway.

“The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!” he tweeted.

Critics have accused the president of overstepping his authority and violating the U.S. Constitution’s protections against religious bias. He had called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” during his campaign.

The administration is still defending the prior ban from lawsuits. Next month, on Oct. 10, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the revised travel ban. It is not clear what impact this will have on how the high court reviews the legality of the prior six-country ban.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Here’s what Jackie Robinson had to say about the national anthem –

For a lot of people, athletes expressing their political viewpoints by protesting the national anthem is a relatively new concept. But the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Jackie Robinson is celebrated every year across baseball on April 15, marking the day he broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Robinson was an activist well beyond that momentous occasion, highlighting issues black athletes face as editor for Our Sports magazine. He openly criticized then-GM of the Yankees George Weiss on television for the lack of diversity on his team. He helped spur restaurants and hotels to serve black people by criticizing their segregation publicly. Robinson became the first black vice president of an American corporation when he joined coffee company Chock full o’Nuts, and he became the first black baseball analyst when he joined ABC’s Major League Baseball Game of the Week. Of course, Robinson was also the first black member of baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Robinson had an issue with the national anthem as well. As Deadspin’s Lindsey Adler pointed out, Robinson wrote about the anthem in his memoir, I Never Had It Made.

There I was the black grandson of a slave, the son of a black sharecropper, part of a historic occasion, a symbolic hero to my people. The air was sparkling. The sunlight was warm. The band struck up the national anthem. The flag billowed in the wind. It should have been a glorious moment for me as the stirring words of the national anthem poured from the stands. Perhaps it was, but then again perhaps the anthem could be called the theme song for a drama called The Noble Experiment. Today as I look back on that opening game of my first world series, I must tell you that it was Mr. Rickey’s drama and that I was only a principal actor. As I write this twenty years later, I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world. In 1972, in 1947, at my birth in 1919, I know that I never had it made.

Robinson is referring to systemic power that has entrenched whiteness and ostracized blackness. Robinson may have ascended as one of the greatest players of all time and he may have broken the color barrier, but the league was still owned and run entirely by white people, which is what he meant by referring to himself as a “principal actor” in Branch Rickey’s “drama.” Rickey was the white executive who signed Robinson and supported him as the color barrier was broken. Robinson could not have done what he did without the aid of white people like Rickey who have the ability to leverage their systemic power.

Without question, Robinson would have supported the protests of Colin Kaepernick and many others who want to bring attention to the unfair ways in which black people interact with the police and the justice system. And it makes one realize that the people who purport to admire Robinson and his many accomplishments would have said the same things they say about Kapernick et. al. now to Robinson back in 1947. And to Muhammad Ali. And to John Carlos and Tommie Smith. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Jose Bautista ran onto the field on Sunday afternoon, alone, in what was likely his last hurrah as a Blue Jays player. The 36-year-old outfielder signed a one-year, $18 million contract with the club prior to the 2017 season and is not expected to get his $17 million option picked up for 2018. During Sunday’s series finale, he got a fond farewell befitting a decade-long career as one of Toronto’s most prolific hitters, drawing standing ovations every time he stepped up to the plate.

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The Blue Jays came out swinging against the Yankees, building an eight-run lead on Teoscar Hernandez’s first-inning home run and a smattering of hits and productive outs from Darwin Barney, Russell Martin, Josh Donaldson and Kendrys Morales. Bautista supplemented the drive with his own RBI single in the fourth inning, plating Hernandez on an 0-2 fastball from reliever Bryan Mitchell.

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Later in the inning, he nearly scored a second run on a Kendrys Morales two-RBI single, but was caught at the plate on the relay by Starlin Castro.

It’s an encouraging end to what has overwhelmingly been a disappointing season for the Toronto slugger. Entering Sunday’s finale, he slashed .201/.309/.365 with a franchise single-season record 161 strikeouts in 658 plate appearances, numbers that somewhat obscure the six straight All-Star nominations, four MVP bids and 54-homer campaign he once enjoyed with the team. Even a bounce-back performance in 2018 likely wouldn’t command a $17 million salary, but there’s no denying his impact on the Blue Jays’ last 10 years, from his signature bat flip to his tie-breaking home run in the 2015 ALDS.

The Blue Jays currently lead the Yankees 9-2 in the top of the sixth inning. Expect a few more standing O’s before the end of the game.

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Bruce Maxwell was the first baseball player to kneel for the National Anthem. There may be others who do so, but I don’t suspect many will. Indeed, I’m pretty confident that the protests we’re seeing in the NFL today, and will see more of once basketball season begins, will not become a major thing in baseball.

Some will say it’s because baseball or baseball players are more patriotic or something, but I don’t think that’s it. Yes, baseball is a lot whiter and has a lot of conservative players who would never think to protest during the National Anthem or, for that matter, protest anything at all, but I suspect there are many who saw what Colin Kaepernick and other football players have done — or who have listened to what Steph Curry and LeBron James have said — and agreed with it. Yet I do not think many, if any of them will themselves protest.

Why? I think it mostly comes down to baseball’s culture of conformity.

Almost everyone in baseball comes through a hierarchy. Even the big names. Even if you are the consensus number one pick, you do your time in the minors. Once there, conformity and humility is drilled into you. This happens both affirmatively, in the form of coaches telling you to act in a certain way and passively, by virtue of all players being in similar, humbling circumstances. Bus rides, cheap hotels, etc. In that world, even if you are ten times better and ten times richer than your teammates, you fall in with the crowd because doing otherwise would be socially disruptive.

The very socialization of a baseball player is dependent upon them learning to talk, walk and carry themselves like all those who came before. No one is given special treatment. In the rare cases they are, it’s head-turning. Bryce Harper was a more or less normal minor leaguer, but since he got their earlier by bypassing his final years of high school, he was thrown at and challenged in ways no other minor league stars are. It does not take much for a guy to be singled out for punishment or mockery and even the superstars like Harper are not on solid professional ground as long as they’re still in the minors. Indeed, between a player’s education, as it were, in the minors and their pre-free agency residency in the majors, it can be a decade or more before a unique personality or a true showman is able to shine through, and by then few are willing. They’ve been conditioned by that point.

Even budding superstars can be roundly criticized for the tiniest of perceived transgressions or the most modest displays of individuality. Think about all of the “controversies” we have about the proper way to celebrate a home run or run the bases. If that’s a cause for singling out and, potentially, benching or being traded or being given a shorter leash, imagine the guts a baseball player has to have in order to do something like take a knee during the National Anthem. A guy with multiple MVP Awards would likely be in an uncomfortable spotlight over such a thing, so imagine how brave someone like Bruce Maxwell, who has barely 100 games under his belt, has to be to have done it.

CC Sabathia, a 17-year veteran, spoke out yesterday, but I suspect he won’t kneel for the National Anthem when he lines up with his teammates before the Wild Card game next week. Other ballplayers will likely wade into the fray in the coming days. But I suspect baseball’s very nature — it’s very culture — will keep ballplayers from following in the footsteps of the many NFL players who took a knee today.

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Trump: North Korean leaders ‘won’t be around much longer’ if they strike US – Fox News

Greg Palkot reports from South Korea

If North Korea’s foreign minister hoped to draw a response from U.S. President Donald Trump with his Saturday speech to the U.N. General Assembly, he succeeded.

“Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N.,” the president tweeted late Saturday. “If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!”

The president was referring to Ri Yong Ho, who on Saturday called Trump “a mentally deranged person full of megalomania,” and promised that a strike on the U.S. mainland was “inevitable.” 

“Little Rocket Man” was Trump’s now-infamous label for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.


A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle takes off from the Kadena runway Sept. 23, 2017, at Kadena Air Base, Japan.

 (Senior Airman Quay Drawdy/U.S. Pacific Command)

With his tweet, Trump seemed to reiterate a previous asserton that any strike by North Korea against the U.S. or its allies would be met with an overwhelming response.

The address by Ri in New York City began as the Pentagon announced it had flown bombers and fighter escorts to the farthest point north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone by any such American aircraft this century.  

“This mission is a demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat,” Defense Department spokesman Dana White said in a statement.

“North Korea’s weapons program is a grave threat to the Asia-Pacific region and the entire international community. We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the U.S. homeland and our allies,” White said.

The Pentagon said B-1B bombers from Guam, along with F-15C Eagle fighter escorts from Okinawa, Japan, flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea on Saturday. Unlike on previous so-called “show of force” missions, the U.S. aircraft were not accompanied by South Korean or Japanese planes.

“While conducted unilaterally, this mission was coordinated with regional allies – namely the Republic of Korea and Japan – and was a strong testament to our ironclad alliance,” U.S. Pacific Command spokesman Cmdr. Dave Benham told Fox News, using the official name for South Korea.

B-1 bombers are no longer part of the U.S. nuclear force, but they are capable of dropping large numbers of conventional bombs.

U.S. Pacific Command would not be more specific about many years it had been since U.S. bombers and fighters had flown that far north of the DMZ, but Benham noted that this century “encompasses the period North Korea has been testing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.”

At the United Nations, Ri said that his country’s nuclear force is “to all intents and purposes, a war deterrent for putting an end to nuclear threat of the U.S. and for preventing its military invasion, and our ultimate goal is to establish the balance of power with the U.S.”

He also said that Trump’s depiction of Kim as “Rocket Man” makes “our rocket’s visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable all the more.”

Trump on Friday had renewed his rhetorical offensive against Kim.

“Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!” the president tweeted.

On Thursday, Trump announced more economic sanctions against the impoverished and isolated country, targeting foreign companies that deal with the North.

“North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile development is a grave threat to peace and security in our world and it is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal, rogue regime,” Trump said as he joined Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in for a meeting in New York.

Hours later, Kim responded by saying Trump was “deranged” and vowed the president would “pay dearly” for threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea if the U.S. was forced to defend itself or its allies against an attack.

In a speech last week at the United Nations, Trump had issued the warning of potential obliteration and mocked the North’s young autocrat as a “Rocket Man” on a “suicide mission.”

Trump’s executive order expanded the Treasury Department’s ability to target anyone conducting significant trade in goods, services or technology with North Korea, and to ban them from interacting with the U.S. financial system.

Trump also said China was imposing major banking sanctions, too, but there was no immediate confirmation from the North’s most important trading partner.

If enforced, the Chinese action Trump described could severely impede the isolated North’s ability to raise money for its missile and nuclear development. China, responsible for about 90 percent of North Korea’s trade, serves as the country’s conduit to the international banking system.

North Korea has said it intends to build a missile capable of striking all parts of the United States with a nuclear bomb. Trump has said he won’t allow it, although the U.S. so far has not used military force to impede the North’s progress.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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‘If anyone can hear us … help.’ Puerto Rico’s mayors describe widespread devastation from Hurricane Maria – Washington Post

Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz recounts the many struggles Puerto Rico’s capital city is facing as it tries to regain its footing after Hurricane Maria.

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO — In the northern Puerto Rican town of Vega Baja, the floodwaters reached more than 10 feet. Stranded residents screamed “save me, save me,” using the lights in their cellphones to help rescue teams find them in the darkness, the town’s mayor said.

In Loiza, a north coastal town that already had been ravaged by Hurricane Irma, 90 percent of homes — 3,000 — were destroyed by Hurricane Maria just days later. In communities across the island, bridges collapsed and highways were severely damaged, isolating many residents. In Rio Grande, officials had yet to access a number of families stuck in their homes, three days after the powerful storm made landfall.

When speaking about his town’s destruction, Ramon Hernandez Torres, mayor of the southern city of Juana Diaz, took a long pause, his voice catching and his eyes filling with tears.

“It’s a total disaster,” he said.

[‘Thousands of people could die’: Puerto Rico urges communities to evacuate with dam in ‘imminent’ danger]

Hurricane Maria pounded the entire island of Puerto Rico on Wednesday, but the scope of the damage had been speculative and unclear since, in large part because towns across the U.S. territory have been completely off the grid. Though images from the air showed incredible destruction, mayors were unable to reach central government for leadership and help because communication was impossible. No telephones, cellphones, or Internet. No power. No passage through roads that had been washed away or blocked with trees and power lines.

Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo

For The Washington Post

The Ocean Park community in San Juan was underwater Friday.

But on Saturday, for the first time in days, mayors and representatives from more than 50 municipalities across Puerto Rico met with government officials at the emergency operations command center here in the island’s capital city. Many of the mayors learned about the meeting through media reports over satellite radio the night before. One mayor said his staff was informed after a man ran to his offices with a note telling him to make his way to San Juan.

Approximately 20 other mayors across the island still have not been able to make contact with government officials, leaving major gaps in the broader understanding of the damage Maria left behind.

The mayors greeted each other with hugs and tears, and they pleaded with their governor for some of the things their communities need most: drinking water, prescription drugs, gasoline, oxygen tanks and satellite phones. The entire population remains without electricity. Families everywhere are unable to buy food or medical treatment. Roads remain waterlogged, and looting has begun to take place at night.

“There is horror in the streets,” San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said in a raw, emotional interview with The Washington Post. “People are actually becoming prisoners in their own homes.”

“Whenever I walk through San Juan,” Cruz said, she sees the “sheer pain in people’s eyes. . . . They’re kind of glazed, not because of what has happened but because of the difficulty of what will come,” she said. “I know we’re not going to get to everybody in time. . . . Two days ago I said I was concerned about that. Now I know we won’t get to everybody in time.”

Hurricane Maria caused widespread damage to Puerto Rico. Drone footage captured the scene in San Juan and Canóvanas on Sept. 21.

Oscar Santiago, mayor of the northern coastal city of Vega Alta, said many of his community’s families refused to evacuate their flooded homes. One little girl was standing barefoot with her family on a roof, which was littered with nails, he said. When he asked her to put on some sandals, she told him: “The hurricane took them.”

Marcos Cruz Molina, mayor of Vega Baja, said even his own wooden home was destroyed, and he has since sought shelter with his parents. Jose Rodriguez, mayor of Hatillo, in the northwest, said “hundreds and hundreds” of homes in his town were obliterated. “It’s catastrophic,” he said.

The meeting in San Juan came a day after the governor urged residents downstream from Lake Guajataca — a population of nearly 70,000 — to evacuate amid fears that a dam holding the lake back might fail because of damage from Hurricane Maria’s floodwaters. Officials said the dam’s structural damage was caused by a “fissure,” a crack that had grown to a significant “rupture” by Saturday. The dam’s failure could lead to massive amounts of water flowing through coastal communities along a river’s path to the ocean, and authorities believed evacuation was the only option.

Local authorities said the actual number of residents remaining in those towns at risk of destruction was most likely much lower because of early overestimates, officials said. Evacuations continued on Saturday.

The official death toll on the island from Hurricane Maria has risen to 10. One died when he was struck in the head by a panel, another died in an accident with an excavating machine, three died in landslides, two in flooding in Toa Baja, and two police officers in Aguada drowned when the Culebrinas River overflowed. One person in Arecibo died after being swept away by rising water. Officials believe there are probably others they haven’t yet been able to confirm.

Hector Retamal

AFP/Getty Images

A man describes the devastation caused by the passage of Hurricane Maria in Arecibo, northwestern Puerto Rico.

At the intersection of Routes 2 and 10 in Arecibo, employees of the Gulf Express gas station and their families — about 20 people in all — were hard at work Saturday. Their boots and sneakers were caked with mud because there is mud everywhere: On their pants and shirts, in their cars and on the walls of their homes. The makeshift cleanup crew was using brooms to sweep out the grayish brown slop that lay two or three inches thick inside.

After Maria blew threw the city, taking down trees and power lines, the flash floods came.

“The water had to be at least six, maybe seven feet high,” said Nelson Rodriguez, a Gulf Express employee. “It took everything. All the medicine in the pharmacy, all the food, it’s gone.”

Every home and business in this part of Arecibo was affected by the flooding. Two blocks away from the gas station, Eduardo Carraquillo, 45, helped his father, Ismael Freytes, 69, clean the mud out of their yellow, first-floor apartment. Inside, a film, rising six feet high on the walls, marked where water stagnated for much of a full day.

“The water just pushed through the door, as if it had been left open,” Carraquillo said. “We all evacuated the day after the storm, because we were warned about the flash flood that might come. Everyone left, just to be safe, except for two older men that lived a few houses away. They just didn’t want to leave. When we came back, we found out the flood had killed them right there in that apartment.”

Some Puerto Rico officials believe it could be months before the island recovers and that it will be at least a year before some sense of normalcy returns.

Officials estimate it will take three weeks for hospitals to regain power, and about six months for the rest of the island to have electricity. By Saturday, 25 percent of the population had telecommunications connections.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced efforts to centralize medical care and shelters for the elderly. He also plans to distribute 250 satellite phones among mayors to facilitate communication. He said he urged the mayors to develop a “buddy system” with other local officials.

Cruz, San Juan’s mayor, said she has never seen such devastation, but she also said she has never seen such determination to make it. She described a phrase she keeps hearing from residents: “Yo soy Boricua. I am from Puerto Rico.”

“That has become the very courageous way of saying we are going to overcome anything that comes our way,” she said.

A janitor stopped Cruz with a request on Friday: “Tell the world we’re here,” he said, Cruz recounted. “Tell everyone we’re fighting. Tell everyone that can listen that we are going to make it.”

With her voice faltering, Cruz echoed that cry: “If anyone can hear us . . . help.”

“Those are words that no society should have to endure alone or ever,” Cruz said. “What I would ask is not only for Puerto Rico, but for the entire Caribbean that has been hit so hard by this: Do not forget us and do not let us feel alone.”

Cassady reported from Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo

For The Washington Post

Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction. In Levittown, dozens were evacuated but others had to wait for the help to come.

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NFL commissioner, LeBron James blast Trump for tweets against athletes – CNN

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Trump Laces Into McCain Over His Opposition to Health Care Bill – New York Times

SOMERSET, N.J. — President Trump on Saturday morning lashed out at Senator John McCain of Arizona for breaking with him and opposing Republicans’ latest plan to roll back the Affordable Care Act, saying the senator had let his state down and been deceived by Democrats into abandoning a promise.

In a series of angrily worded tweets sent from his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., Mr. Trump argued that Mr. McCain, whose announcement on Friday that he would not back the health care measure most likely doomed it, had knowingly misled members of his own party about where he stood on the legislation.

The Run-Up

The podcast that makes sense of the most delirious stretch of the 2016 campaign.

In a separate tweet, Mr. Trump noted the large increases in health care premiums and deductibles experienced in Arizona last year. “Chuck Schumer sold John McCain a bill of goods,” the president said, referring to the New York senator and minority leader, who was opposed to the measure.

The president defended the measure’s approach, which envisions the federal government sending grants to states to administer their own health care systems, and allowing them vast discretion over how to use the money. It would allow them to seek federal waivers to let insurers charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing medical conditions or to omit certain benefits that they are now required to provide, such as maternity care or mental health care.

“Better control & management,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Great for Arizona.”

“McCain let his best friend L.G. down!” the president added, referring to Mr. McCain’s close relationship with Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of the bill’s sponsors.

Mr. Trump’s latest weekend Twitter fusillade came the morning after Mr. McCain surprised the president and his top aides by abruptly announcing that he could not “in good conscience” support the health care proposal by Mr. Graham and Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, saying it was a partisan plan whose costs and impacts on the health care of millions of Americans were unknown.

The move by Mr. McCain, whose “no” vote against an earlier iteration of a health care repeal bill killed that effort in July, dealt yet another setback to Mr. Trump’s effort to fulfill his promise to do away with Barack Obama’s signature health care law. Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, had already come out in opposition to his party’s last-ditch health care effort, and Senate leaders can afford to lose only three of their members in a chamber that is divided 52 to 48.

Mr. Trump, speaking at a rally in Alabama on Friday night, recalled Mr. McCain’s earlier defection with dismay, imitating the Arizona senator’s thumbs-down gesture to indicate his opposition on the Senate floor, and saying it was “terrible, honestly, terrible” when he cast the deciding “no” vote.

“That was a totally unexpected thing,” Trump said, to boos from the Huntsville crowd.

The president had embraced the legislation in recent days, making telephone calls to wavering senators and dispatching Vice President Mike Pence to Capitol Hill to try to build support for its passage. Mr. McCain’s announcement that he would not vote for it came just hours after the president had warned in a Friday post on Twitter that any Republican who opposed the measure “will forever (future political campaigns) be known as ‘the Republican who saved ObamaCare.’ ”

On Saturday, Mr. Trump appeared to be nurturing hopes that the legislative effort could be kept alive. He expressed hope that Mr. Paul would rethink his opposition to the Graham-Cassidy measure, without explaining why the Kentucky senator, who had complained that the bill left the Affordable Care Act’s essential structure intact, might do so.

He also indicated that Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who had wavered publicly about the measure, would support it.

Ms. Murkowski was one of three Republican senators who voted against the repeal proposal in July, and she has come under an intense spotlight yet again as Mr. Trump and Republican leaders push for passage of the Graham-Cassidy bill. But while Mr. Trump hopes she will support the bill, the governor of Alaska, Bill Walker, an independent, opposes it and has said he has communicated his concerns to Ms. Murkowski.

A spokeswoman for Ms. Murkowski, Karina Petersen, said early Friday evening that the senator was continuing to study the Graham-Cassidy bill and its projected effects.

“Senator Murkowski is still focused on how the bill will impact Alaska, specifically,” Ms. Petersen said. “She’s continuing to gather data and is looking at the details of the bill to determine what’s best for her state.”

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Earthquake strikes North Korea near nuclear test zone; reasons unclear – Washington Post

BEIJING — A 3.5-magnitude earthquake was detected in northern North Korea on Saturday afternoon, near the nation’s known nuclear test site, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

“This event occurred in the area of the previous North Korean Nuclear tests,” the USGS said on its website. “We cannot conclusively confirm at this time the nature (natural or human-made) of the event.”

The earthquake-monitoring agency in neighboring China said it suspected that the North Korean quake, which occurred at 3:59 p.m. local time, was caused by an explosion, though the magnitude was significantly lower than a previous nuclear test earlier this month. The USGS estimated the depth of Saturday’s quake to be five kilometers (three miles).

But South Korea’s meteorological agency said the incident appeared to be a natural quake.

An official from the agency, speaking to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity citing office rules, said an analysis of seismic waves and the lack of sound waves clearly showed that the quake wasn’t caused by an artificial explosion.

North Korea’s last nuclear test — its sixth in total — was detected as a 6.3-magnitude earthquake Sept. 3 and was followed by a 4.1-magnitude quake that experts said could have been a tunnel collapsing after the nuclear explosion.

In a tweet, nuclear proliferation watchdog CTBTO said it was examining “unusual seismic activity of a much smaller magnitude” in North Korea. Executive Secretary Sina Zerbo tweeted that it had occurred about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the site of prior tests.

Read more:

Analysis: How big are North Korea’s nuclear tests?

WorldViews: North Korea’s nuclear test was powerful enough to reshape the mountain above it

Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world

Like Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign news

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McCain Announces Opposition to Republican Health Bill, Likely Dooming It – New York Times

WASHINGTON — Senator John McCain of Arizona announced on Friday that he would oppose the latest proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act, leaving Republican leaders with little hope of succeeding in their last-ditch attempt to dismantle the health law and fulfill their longstanding promise to conservative voters.

For Mr. McCain, it was a slightly less dramatic reprisal of his middle-of-the-night thumbs-down that killed the last repeal effort in July. This time, the senator, battling brain cancer and confronting his best friend in the Senate, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, issued a statement saying that he could not “in good conscience” support the proposal by Senators Graham and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.

“I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” Mr. McCain said. “Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it.”

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With two other Republican senators likely to vote no, Mr. McCain’s opposition to the bill could be fatal. With Democrats united in opposition, Senate Republicans can afford to lose only two of their members.

Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, said this week that he would not vote for the bill because it did not dismantle enough of the Affordable Care Act. And Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, has expressed broad concerns about the legislation, strongly suggesting that she, too, would vote against it, just as she voted no in July along with Mr. McCain and a third Republican senator, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Ms. Collins said on Friday that she was “leaning against” the proposal.

For months, Mr. McCain has lamented a Senate legislative process that avoided hearings or formal bill-drafting procedures and excluded Democrats. On Friday, he said those tactics were intolerable.

“We should not be content to pass health care legislation on a party-line basis, as Democrats did when they rammed Obamacare through Congress in 2009,’’ Mr. McCain said. “If we do so, our success could be as short-lived as theirs when the political winds shift, as they regularly do.’’

A bill of this magnitude “requires a bipartisan approach,’’ Mr. McCain added.

Those concerns were compounded by the decision of Republican leaders to press forward with a vote next week before the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office could complete a full analysis of the Graham-Cassidy legislation. The budget office is expected to estimate the cost of the bill early in the week, but it indicated that it would not be able to complete an analysis of the bill’s effects on health insurance coverage or premiums by Sept. 30.

That date is critical because Republicans, who hold 52 seats in the Senate, have until the end of this month to make use of special budget rules that would allow them to pass a repeal bill in the Senate with only a simple majority, rather than 60 votes. If Republicans could get 50 votes, Vice President Mike Pence would break the tie in their favor.

“Of course, I’m disappointed,” Mr. Cassidy said in an interview, “but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop working for those folks who can’t afford their premiums. We are still working. We are still hoping.”

Mr. Graham, mindful of their longstanding relationship, was gracious. “My friendship with John McCain is not based on how he votes,” Mr. Graham said, “but respect for how he’s lived his life and the person he is.”

Mr. Pence was not giving up. “President Trump and I are undeterred,” he said at a speech in Indiana.

A spokeswoman for the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, declined to comment on whether he would press forward with a vote.

Democrats have vowed that if the repeal legislation could be killed, they would press to resume bipartisan negotiations on legislation to stabilize health insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act. Republican leaders squelched those talks, led by Senators Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, and Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, as they pushed for passage of a full repeal bill.

“John McCain shows the same courage in Congress that he showed when he was a naval aviator,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. “I have assured Senator McCain that as soon as repeal is off the table, we Democrats are intent on resuming the bipartisan process.”

If the bill dies at the hands of Senators McCain, Paul and Collins, it would be another blow to President Trump, who has tried to pressure Republicans to fall in line.

It would also be another setback for a party that now controls the White House and both houses of Congress, but has not been able to produce any major legislative achievements. Republican lawmakers have promised for seven years to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but they have found that verbally assailing the health law is far easier than actually undoing it, even with a president who shares their goal.

“It’s a loss for Republicans,” said Representative Mark Walker of North Carolina, the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee. “I think we’re all going to be held accountable to some degree. What that means in next year’s elections, I don’t know. But this is going to bite for a while.”

The Graham-Cassidy bill would take much of the money provided under the Affordable Care Act and send it to the states, with vast discretion over how to use it for health care or coverage. The bill has been met in the last few days with a torrent of criticism from consumer groups, doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, governors and state Medicaid officials.

Under the bill, states would have more authority over how to use federal funds, but most states — including Arizona — would receive less money under the bill than under the Affordable Care Act, according to studies by the Kaiser Family Foundation and health policy consulting firms.

The bill would also give states the ability to opt out of insurance regulations under the health law. States could seek federal waivers that would allow insurers to charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing medical conditions or to omit certain benefits that they are now required to provide, such as maternity care or mental health care.

Republican leaders will now likely have to change an opponent’s mind, but if anything, more opponents could emerge, with Ms. Murkowski on the top of the list. Alaska’s governor, Bill Walker, an independent, publicly opposes the bill and has joined nine other governors in signing a letter urging the Senate to reject the proposal. In an interview, Mr. Walker said he did not believe any special accommodation could be reached for his state, because the overall structure was so damaging to Alaska. He said he had communicated his concerns extensively to Ms. Murkowski.

“Alaska would fare very, very poorly,” he said. “Nothing has been brought to my attention that would increase my comfort level.”

A spokeswoman for Senator Murkowski, Ms. Karina Petersen, said she is still studying the matter. “Senator Murkowski is still focused on how the bill will impact Alaska, specifically. She’s continuing to gather data and is looking at the details of the bill to determine what’s best for her state,” she said.

Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona, a Republican, supports the Graham-Cassidy proposal, and Mr. McCain had made a point of emphasizing that he was keenly interested in the views of his state’s governor when contemplating whether to vote for repeal legislation.

But Mr. Ducey’s position was not enough to sway Mr. McCain.

“I take no pleasure in announcing my opposition,” Mr. McCain said. “Far from it. The bill’s authors are my dear friends, and I think the world of them. I know they are acting consistently with their beliefs and sense of what is best for the country. So am I.”

Mr. McCain said he hoped senators would keep trying to devise a short-term bipartisan solution to some of the problems plaguing insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Alexander and Ms. Murray have been working on a bill to stabilize markets by providing money for subsidies paid to insurers so they can reduce out-of-pocket costs for low-income people.

Mr. Alexander, the chairman of the Senate health committee, and Ms. Murray, the top Democrat on the panel, held four hearings in two weeks and were nearing an agreement on legislation. But their efforts were derailed when the White House and Senate Republican leaders pushed hard for a vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill, in the face of opposition from every Democrat in the Senate.

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