Monday, September 4, 2017


Source: House Representative John Carter (R-TX, 31st)

Washington, D.C. - September 4, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Rep. John R. Carter (R-TX-31), Chair of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, released the following statement regarding the President’s request for $7.85 billion in supplemental funding to address the immediate needs of Hurricane Harvey:
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“As the Chairman in the House of Representatives responsible for allocating disaster relief funding, I believe the President’s request of an additional $7.85 billion in supplemental funding is a necessary next step towards assisting our communities in immediate need. However, rebuilding and recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey will continue to require further resources and hard work. I will continue to work closely alongside my colleagues in the Texas Delegation and the Appropriations Committee to meet the needs of our neighbors in the southeast. Texans continue to show resiliency in the wake of destruction and heartbreak, and my prayers are with those impacted by this devastating storm.”

Rep. Carter represents Texas District 31, which includes Fort Hood, the largest active duty armored military installation in the free world. He serves as Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Appropriations, co-chairman of the Congressional Army Caucus, is on the Subcommittee for Commerce, Justice and Science and the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

Statement from President Donald J. Trump on National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Source: The White House

Washington, D.C. - September 4, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- During National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Melania and I join all Americans in honoring the friends, family members, and loved ones we have lost to ovarian cancer. This month, we recommit ourselves to supporting every woman who bravely wages a battle of hope against this terrible disease.

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The National Cancer Institute estimates that more than 22,000 Americans will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2017. Unfortunately, about 14,000 women in the United States will lose their battle with ovarian cancer this year alone. If diagnosed and treated early, however, the five-year survival rate for women fighting this disease is more than 90 percent. Regular medical checkups and learning about the early warning signs of ovarian cancer can save lives.

In addition to raising awareness, we reaffirm our pledge to prevent, treat, and defeat ovarian and other forms of cancer. Innovative and cutting-edge research in women’s health can transform cancer detection and lead to new treatments that are less debilitating and even more effective. This is why my Administration will continue to clear the way for incredible breakthroughs in medical science, including by working with Congress to implement the 21st Century Cures Act. So far this year, the Food and Drug Administration has approved two maintenance therapies for ovarian cancer, to help women who are battling this disease lead longer, happier lives.

Melania joins me in sending our prayers to those affected by ovarian cancer, and we encourage every American to learn more about this important health issue. With the support of families and friends, healthcare providers, researchers, and advocates, we can create a healthier future for all Americans.

President Donald J. Trump Amends Texas Disaster Declaration

Source: Department of Homeland Security

Washington, D.C. - September 4, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- President Donald J. Trump today made additional disaster assistance available to the state of Texas by authorizing an increase in federal funding for certain eligible costs.

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The President’s action today authorizes 90 percent Federal cost share for debris removal, including direct Federal assistance; and a 100 percent Federal cost share for emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, for 30 days from the start of the incident period, and then a 90 percent Federal cost share thereafter.

Under the President’s major disaster declaration issued for the state of Texas on August 25, 2017, federal funding was made available for Public Assistance, Hazard Mitigation, and Other Needs Assistance Programs at 75 percent federal funding of total eligible costs.

USDA Helps Hurricane Harvey Evacuees to Obtain Expedited Nutrition Assistance

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Washington, D.C. - September 4, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has issued special procedures that give all states flexibility in providing expedited Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to families who have evacuated their homes and moved outside the State of Texas as a result of Hurricane Harvey.

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Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said USDA is offering all SNAP state agencies nationwide the choice of using the program’s expedited service provisions or offering evacuees two months of disaster benefits using streamlined program procedures under a special Evacuee Policy designed in response to Hurricane Harvey. These efforts ensure that people who have traveled outside Texas to safer ground as a result of the disaster get the vital nutrition they need.

“Many people have taken extraordinary measures to reach safety as a result of this historic storm, even traveling to distant states, and we’re working to make sure that paperwork and procedure don’t stand in the way of getting folks access to the food they need to feed their families,” Perdue said, emphasizing that hurricane relief is a top priority for President Trump.

The Evacuee Policy applies to anyone who during Hurricane Harvey resided in a county that received a Presidential disaster declaration for Individual Assistance, who did not receive SNAP benefits in August 2017, and who evacuated to another state that chooses to apply the policy. Eligible households will receive two months of SNAP benefits on an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card.

Households that received SNAP in August 2017 may use remaining benefits on their EBT card in any state. They may also use September benefits and August replacement benefits that the State of Texas has already issued. In the coming weeks, these households may also receive supplemental benefits, Perdue said.

The special Evacuee Policy issued Friday is the latest in an ongoing series of USDA actions taken to help Texans cope with the storm and its aftermath that also include a waiver to allow all disaster-affected schools to provide meals to all students at no charge and be reimbursed at the free reimbursement rate through September 30.

In addition, local disaster organizations, such as the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Southern Baptist Men continue to utilize USDA Foods to serve hot meals in congregate shelters. Individuals seeking more information about this and other available aid should dial 2-1-1 or 1-(877) 541-7905. For more information about Texas SNAP, visit .

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children , and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which together comprise America's nutrition safety net.

Keesler PERSCO team preps to support Harvey relief effort

Source: U.S. Air Force

Keesler Air Force Base, MS - September 4, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- A six-person Personnel Support for Contingency Operations team made up of 81st Force Support Squadron members is set to deploy from here this weekend to Texas to support Hurricane Harvey relief and recovery efforts.

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The PERSCO team will be primarily responsible for the accountability of all the deployed military members supporting hurricane relief efforts in the area to include active-duty, Reserve and Guard from all branches.

The PERSCO team will be stationed out of Kelly Annex near Joint Base San Antonio Lackland, Texas. All ground commanders will be responsible for reporting the status of their personnel to the PERSCO team on a regular basis.

“The team will have to account for all military members taking part in recovery and rescue efforts, no matter where they are they will be required to report their status up to the Air Force Personnel Center in case members get seriously injured or go missing,” said Master Sgt. Krista Mercadel, the 81st FSS military personnel section superintendent. “Accountability in vital to keeping commanders on the ground informed about service member strength at all times.”

Mercadel also mentioned that the team is ready and excited for this deployment and does monthly training to prepare themselves for just such a mission.

“The team is excited about going, their happy to be able to do their job in a deployed location,” said Mercadel, “the members of (Keesler AFB) are there for our fellow wingmen no matter where they are or the circumstances. “

The 81st FSS team includes of Chief Master Sgt. Leslie Jackson, superintendent, Master Sgt. Nikki Gulley, NCOIC career development, Tech Sgt. Jamie Bell, assignments counselor, Staff Sgt. Deltron McRae, student personnel assignment counselor, Senior Airmen Corey Easley, force management journeyman, and Thanh Ngan Le, retention counselor. They will be joined with five others service members from Goodfellow Air Force Base to create an 11-person team.

“This is why we’re here, to help people out and accomplish the mission,” said Lt Col Teresa Ammons, the 81st FSS commander. “We’re very excited and so happy to be able to go down and help people get back on their feet.”

Governor Abbott And President Trump Visit Houston

Source: Texas Governor Gregg Abbott

Washington, D.C. - September 4, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Governor Greg Abbott and Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott greeted President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on Saturday as they landed in Houston, Texas to survey the the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. The Governor then joined President Trump visiting Houston communities affected by Harvey, speaking with victims of the storm as they begin the recovery process.

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"Texas is truly grateful for all the help the President and his administration have provided in our time of need," said Governor Abbott. "I am pleased to have him on the ground in Texas again as he experiences the resiliency of the people in the Lone Star State. Just as Texas has pledged to be with the victims every step of the way, the President has committed the full power of the federal government to ensure support and assistance on our road to recovery."

While in Houston, the Governor and President met with Texans impacted by the storm seeking refuge at NRG Stadium. Governor Abbott and President Trump also visited the First Church of Pearland, which has been serving as a hurricane relief center for victims of the storm. Throughout their trip, both the Governor and President spoke of the inspiration to the nation the people of Texas have been as they work together to overcome the worst natural disaster the state has seen.

Also in attendance today were Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, FEMA Administrator Brock Long, General John Kelly, and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

During the Presidents previous visit, he joined Governor Abbott in receiving a detailed briefing on the federal, state, and local response to Hurricane Harvey.


Source: House Representative Kay Granger (R-TX, 12th)

"Harvey caused unprecedented devastation and hundreds of thousands of people are suffering. That is why we are announcing that the House Appropriations Committee released an assistance package to provide disaster relief and recovery funding urgently needed by the individuals, families and communities who were in Harvey’s path. This is the initial assistance package needed to address the massive destruction. Congress will act swiftly to ensure this assistance gets to those in need. It is vital that those affected by this extraordinary disaster receive the federal resources required to begin to recover and rebuild. I have been awed by the response of the State of Texas, first responders and volunteers over the past week.

Texans are strong and resilient; we will recover from this devastation."

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Save the Children Expands Hurricane Harvey Response into Louisiana

Source: Save the Children

Fairfield, CT - September 4, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Following what some are saying will be the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history, thousands have been forced from their homes in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Children and families are seeking refuge in Texas as well as neighboring Louisiana. As of this weekend, the global humanitarian organization is expanding its emergency response into the Bayou State, deploying a team of Head Start staff to Louisiana State University’s Agricultural Center facility in Alexandria, where a mega-shelter has been established.


On Saturday, Save the Children distributed infant and toddler supplies – including portable cribs and sheets, strollers, baby hygiene kits and portable washbasins – to more than 50 families who have sought shelter at the LSU AgCenter. Governor John Bel Edwards visited Save the Children’s distribution area, where he spoke with Caine Cortellino, a senior specialist for Save the Children’s humanitarian response team. Cortellino oversees the organization’s distribution of supplies during disasters and explained to Governor Edwards the types of items distributed, which facilitate a parent’s care for their child while in a shelter.

For Cortellino, it was one year and one week to the day since he landed in Baton Rouge to respond to the devastating floods last summer. He shared this with Governor Edwards, who expressed thanks to Cortellino and the Save the Children team for all they are doing to help children and families during this disaster.

Save the Children has also opened a children’s area within the mega-shelter. This area serves as a safe, well-supervised, recreational space where children can play, socialize and begin to recover from the disaster, while allowing their parents to concentrate on addressing the family’s immediate and longer-term needs. In addition to supporting Child-Friendly Spaces within the mega-shelter at Houston’s NRG Stadium, Save the Children is operating two Child-Friendly Spaces, a Parent Baby Area as well as a Youth Friendly Space in Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center mega-shelter.

Save the Children has begun community outreach to a number of smaller shelters in both Louisiana and Texas, staff are assessing needs, helping with translation and connecting families with essential resources. Save the Children also leads Head Start and Early Head Start programs in Jefferson Davis and Rapides Parishes, serving a combined total of more than 1,000 children and families.

Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future.

Payoff for Attacks on Christians? Southern Poverty Law Center Transfers Millions in Cash to Offshore Entities

Source: Public Advocate

The Washington Free Beacon is reporting:

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a liberal, Alabama-based 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization that has gained prominence on the left for its "hate group" designations, pushes millions of dollars to offshore entities as part of its business dealings, records show.

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Additionally, the nonprofit pays lucrative six-figure salaries to its top directors and key employees while spending little on legal services despite its stated intent of "fighting hate and bigotry" using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is perhaps best known for its "hate map," a collection of organizations the nonprofit deems "domestic hate groups" that lists mainstream conservative organizations alongside racist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and is often referenced in the media. A gunman opened fire at the Washington, D.C., offices of the conservative Family Research Council in 2012 after seeing it listed as an "anti-gay" group on SPLC's website.

The SPLC has turned into a fundraising powerhouse, recording more than $50 million in contributions and $328 million in net assets on its 2015 Form 990, the most recently available tax form from the nonprofit. SPLC's Form 990-T, its business income tax return, from the same year shows that they have "financial interests" in the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, and Bermuda. No information is available beyond the acknowledgment of the interests at the bottom of the form.


Statement by the NATO Secretary General on North Korea

Source: North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

I strongly condemn that North Korea has conducted a sixth nuclear test today. This is yet another flagrant violation of multiple UN Security Council Resolutions, including UNSCR 2321 adopted in November 2016.

NATO is concerned by Pyongyang’s destabilising pattern of behaviour, which poses a threat to regional and international security.

The regime must immediately cease all existing nuclear and ballistic missile activities in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner, and re-engage in dialogue with the international community.

I urge North Korea to respect its international obligations, and to abandon all threats and actions which contribute to tension and insecurity.

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2017 Has Makings of Banner Year in Fight Against Forced Unionism

Source: National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation

Washington, D.C. - September 4, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the National Right to Work Committee, issued the following statement on the occasion of Labor Day 2017:

“This Labor Day, many Americans will enjoy a well-deserved three day weekend. After the festivities, vacations, and beach trips have ended, however many critical fights for employee freedom loom on the horizon.

“Even though polls consistently show that 8 in 10 Americans support Right to Work laws, which makes union membership and financial support strictly voluntary, every day millions of workers are forced to fund a labor union as a condition of employment. These workers are forced to face an ugly choice: pay dues to union officials they may not support or be fired.

“On this Labor Day, every American should pause to consider these victims of compulsory unionism which is embedded in many state and federal laws. Fortunately, help is on the way and they don’t stand alone.

“In over 250 cases over the past year National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have provided free legal representation to workers who have had their rights violated. These cases show the desperate need for additional protections against Big Labor’s forced dues powers.

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“One individual standing up for his rights is Illinois state worker Mark Janus. In June, he asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case challenging mandatory union payments as a violation of the First Amendment. The Supreme Court could agree to take the case this September with a ruling coming by the end of June 2018.

“If Janus’ Foundation-provided staff attorneys are successful, 2017 may be the last Labor Day that teachers, police officers, firefighters and millions of other government employees are forced by law to fund union activities as a condition of working for their own government.

“Meanwhile, Right to Work laws continue to expand with Missouri and Kentucky being added to the list of 28 states with laws to protect workers from being fired for not paying money to a labor union. Kentucky is already seeing unprecedented levels of job creation and investment specifically because of its new Right to Work status. Unfortunately for Missouri, union bosses there have launched a campaign to block the law, meaning workers may have to wait until November 2018 to be free of forced union dues.

“Despite these big victories for worker freedom, more work remains. In addition to pushing for state Right to Work laws the National Right to Work Committee is building support in Congress for a National Right to Work Act that would eliminate portions of federal law which authorize forced dues. And even where Right to Work protections exist, workers are frequently required by law to accept a union’s so-called ‘representation,’ even if they would rather negotiate with their employer on their own merits.

“Not satisfied with these unique coercive powers, union officials continue to spend billions of dollars – much of it from the paychecks of workers who would be fired for not paying – on politics and lobbying seeking to expand their powers even further. This reminds us that even as we make historic strides, there is much work is left to do.

“On Labor Day, we should celebrate the hard-working men and women that make America the great nation it is. Properly celebrating America’s workers must include respecting each worker’s individual right to decide for themselves if joining and financially supporting a labor union is right for them. Here at the National Right to Work Committee and National Right to Work Foundation we will not rest until that freedom is fully protected.”

National Nurses Opposes Trump Threat to End DACA Program

Source: National Nurses United (NNU)

Washington, D.C. - September 4, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- National Nurses United (NNU) has repeated its call on the Trump administration to withdraw its threat to terminate the highly successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that has enabled young people who came to the U.S. undocumented as children to remain in the U.S.

News reports today quoted the President saying he would make a decision on DACA “sometime today or over the weekend.”

The young people who have been protected from being torn apart from their families and their communities by DACA should have the right to continue to contribute to our society,” said NNU Co-President Deborah Burger, RN.

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Some 800,000 young people covered by DACA, implemented under the Obama administration, are permitted to apply for work permits that need to be renewed every two years. If the program is terminated, they would face the threat of deportation.

“At a time when the words and actions of this administration have encouraged white supremacists and others who foment racial hatred and division, targeting these law abiding young people who work, study, and have become valuable members of our diverse nation, would send a dreadful message to our nation,” said Burger.

“Revoking DACA would also be an abrogation of the President’s call in a speech in Reno this week for ‘national unity’ and healing ‘the wounds that divide us’,” said Burger. “Ending this humane program would exacerbate and inflame those wounds. After Charlottesville, the message of terminating DACA could not be worse.”

“Millions of families in our nation have already been traumatized by the escalation of deportations of peaceful, law abiding undocumented immigrants,” Burger continued. “We see more and more people, who work and pay taxes, fearful of getting the health care they need when they are sick, or interacting with other components of civil society. That is wrong, and immoral.”

Ending the DACA program would also repudiate a promise President Trump made in April when he said young beneficiaries of the program could “rest easy” because the priority of his deportation policy was on targeting criminals. “That would be an unconscionable reversal, similar to the ones we’ve seen in the President’s reversal on his promises not to support cuts in Medicare or Medicaid,” Burger noted.

Instead of threatening young people in the DACA program, NNU supports a comprehensive federal program of humane immigration reform, premised on a path to citizenship for those who reside in the U.S., and an end to arbitrary raids and deportations of non-violent immigrants.