Trump lifts Jones Act for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico

The Trump administration will waive federal restrictions on foreign ships’ transportation of cargo to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday on Twitter that President Donald Trump has “authorized the Jones Act be waived for Puerto Rico.” She said Trump is responding to a request from the governor, and it “will go into effect immediately.”

At @ricardorossello request, @POTUS has authorized the Jones Act be waived for Puerto Rico. It will go into effect immediately.

— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) September 28, 2017

The Jones Act is a little-known federal law that prohibits foreign-flagged ships from shuttling goods between U.S. ports.

Republicans and Democrats have pushed Trump to waive the Jones Act, saying it could help get desperately needed supplies delivered to the island more quickly and at less cost.

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Equifax to offer free program to lock and unlock credit files for life

Equifax says it will allow customers to lock and unlock access to their credit files for free — and for life — in what is the latest mea culpa from the company amid an ongoing cybersecurity scandal.

The development was announced on Wednesday via a Wall Street Journal op-ed penned by interim CEO Paulino do Rego Barros Jr. He took the reins at Equifax on Tuesday, replacing Richard Smith, who oversaw the company during a massive data breach that compromised the personal information of as many as 143 million people.

In the wake of the scandal, affected customers have been advised to implement credit freezes. The move aims to block anyone from opening new accounts in your name.

After a barrage of criticism for not taking immediate action to lift fees associated with implementing a credit freeze, Equifax said on September 11 it would waive fees for the next 30 days.

Now, according to Barros’ op-ed, Equifax plans to extend that until the end of January 2018 — at which point he says Equifax will offer “a new service allowing all consumers the option of controlling access to their personal credit data,” he said.

“The service we are developing will let consumers easily lock and unlock access to their Equifax credit files” Barros wrote. “You will be able to do this at will. It will be reliable, safe and simple. Most significantly, the service will be offered free, for life.”

A credit file freeze with Equifax does not mean anyone affected by the data breach will be in the clear. To ensure a complete freeze is in place, customers also have to do the same with the two other credit reporting agencies — TransUnion and Experian.

The costs to freeze and lift the freeze on your credit vary based on where you live, but commonly ranges from $2 to $10 per agency.

Equifax will likely be dealing with the fallout from the data breach for years to come.

The ordeal gave hackers access to information that includes names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and the numbers of some driver’s licenses — all the details required for identity fraud.

With that kind of data on hand, it’s possible a criminal could take out a loan in someone’s name or run their credit score into the ground.

The issue has spurred the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission to launch investigations. At least 50 class action lawsuits have been filed.

Questions have been raised about its decision to wait more than a month after discovering the hack to alert the public.

Equifax also sparked ire for sending customers to a fraudulent site to check if they’d been affected. They also initially asked customers to waive their right to sue the company in exchange for credit monitoring services.

Barros apologized for the company’s faults in his op-ed, which began with the words: “I want to express my sincere and total apology.”

“We were hacked. That’s the simple fact. But we compounded the problem with insufficient support for consumers. Our website did not function as it should have, and our call center couldn’t manage the volume of calls we received,” he wrote. “Answers to key consumer questions were too often delayed, incomplete or both. We know it’s our job to earn back your trust.”

–CNNMoney’s Anna Bahney contributed to this report.

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US to resettle fewest refugees in a decade under Trump’s cuts

President Donald Trump’s administration announced Wednesday it would slash the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the United States.

No more than 45,000 refugees will be allowed into the country over the coming year under the new plan, less than half the number proposed by the Obama administration for the current fiscal year.

If implemented, the reduced number would represent the lowest intake of refugees to enter the United States in 10 years under the resettlement program.

Resettlement is the careful selection and relocation by governments, such as the US, of vulnerable refugees who’ve already been granted asylum by another country.

However, less than 1% of the world’s refugees are resettled in this way. The vast majority stay in the countries in which they first apply for asylum, predominantly developing countries, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

Refugee numbers have recently spiked following the devastating civil war in Syria and conflicts across North Africa, pushing large numbers of asylum seekers towards Europe through the Middle East.

The United States took the largest number of resettled refugees in 2016: a total of 96,823 people according to the UNHCR, more than twice as many as Canada, the next closest contender.

Australia, the United Kingdom and Norway were also in the top five for resettlements in 2016, with Australia taking more than 25,000 refugees.

Every year since 2006, the United States has taken over 45,000 refugees as part of resettlement programs, under both the Obama and Bush administrations.

But the amount of refugees resettled every year pales in comparison to the number still living in the first country where they were granted asylum, mostly developing nations in Africa and the Middle East.

In Turkey, almost three million people are currently living as refugees, compared to only 227,000 in total in the United States, according to UN statistics.

Both Pakistan and Lebanon host more than a million refugees, while more than 900,000 live in Iran and Uganda respectively.

Germany has the most of any developed Western countries, hosting almost 700,000 in 2016.

These numbers also don’t take into account the more than two million still waiting to have their refugee status officially determined across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

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US to resettle fewest refugees in a decade under Trump’s cuts

President Donald Trump’s administration announced Wednesday it would slash the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the United States.

No more than 45,000 refugees will be allowed into the country over the coming year under the new plan, less than half the number proposed by the Obama administration for the current fiscal year.

If implemented, the reduced number would represent the lowest intake of refugees to enter the United States in 10 years under the resettlement program.

Resettlement is the careful selection and relocation by governments, such as the US, of vulnerable refugees who’ve already been granted asylum by another country.

However, less than 1% of the world’s refugees are resettled in this way. The vast majority stay in the countries in which they first apply for asylum, predominantly developing countries, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

Refugee numbers have recently spiked following the devastating civil war in Syria and conflicts across North Africa, pushing large numbers of asylum seekers towards Europe through the Middle East.

The United States took the largest number of resettled refugees in 2016: a total of 96,823 people according to the UNHCR, more than twice as many as Canada, the next closest contender.

Australia, the United Kingdom and Norway were also in the top five for resettlements in 2016, with Australia taking more than 25,000 refugees.

Every year since 2006, the United States has taken over 45,000 refugees as part of resettlement programs, under both the Obama and Bush administrations.

But the amount of refugees resettled every year pales in comparison to the number still living in the first country where they were granted asylum, mostly developing nations in Africa and the Middle East.

In Turkey, almost three million people are currently living as refugees, compared to only 227,000 in total in the United States, according to UN statistics.

Both Pakistan and Lebanon host more than a million refugees, while more than 900,000 live in Iran and Uganda respectively.

Germany has the most of any developed Western countries, hosting almost 700,000 in 2016.

These numbers also don’t take into account the more than two million still waiting to have their refugee status officially determined across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

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Bannon looks for retribution after Alabama win

Fresh off his insurgent candidate’s big win in Alabama, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon is making clear he is seeking retribution against fellow Republican campaign operatives who work against him.

“The populist movement is going to do a house cleaning of all those individuals that made a living off the conservative grassroots while stabbing them in the back,” a source familiar with Bannon’s thinking tells CNN.

Bannon is beginning that effort by trying to blackball GOP campaign strategist Jeff Roe, who worked for Sen. Luther Strange, who lost Tuesday’s primary to Roy Moore. Bannon is spreading the word that he believes Roe is responsible for dirty tactics against Moore, and alleging that Roe worked with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner to mislead Trump about the state of the race in Alabama in and around Trump’s endorsement of Strange.

Bannon and others backing Moore were horrified by Trump endorsing Strange, the candidate of the GOP establishment. Bannon and Kushner repeatedly clashed when the two were at the White House, with Bannon seeing Kushner as trying to moderate some of Trump’s conservative leanings.

But since Strange’s defeat, the President himself has told associates he feels “misled” “embarrassed” and “pissed” over backing Strange, only to see him lose big. Trump even deleted several tweets supporting Strange Tuesday night.

As for Roe, Bannon is even telling potential GOP candidates that he won’t meet with them if they hire Roe, a veteran strategist who managed Sen. Ted Cruz’ presidential campaign in 2016.

Contacted by CNN, Roe declined to comment on Bannon’s threats, but did note that his political consulting firm, Axiom, is already working for a large number of candidates on the ballot in 2018 — more than 50.

Recruiting insurgent candidates         

Following his speech at Moore’s victory rally Tuesday night where Bannon credited “the people” with the victory, he vowed to help the populist wing of the GOP win other Senate battles in 2018.

To that end, he flew from Alabama to Colorado to begin recruiting western candidates to run against Republican incumbents. Bannon is exploring whether he can find a candidate other than Kelli Ward, seen by many on the right as flawed and unable to win, to challenge GOP incumbent Jeff Flake in Arizona.

Bannon also plans to head back down south to have meetings with those who may want to run in Tennessee for the seat Sen. Bob Corker announced he will vacate, and in Mississippi, to challenge sitting Republican Sen. Roger Wicker. Republicans regained control of the majority in the Senate in 2014 when Wicker was chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Chris McDaniel, a GOP insurgent candidate failed to topple incumbent Thad Cochran in 2014, is all but sure to challenge Wicker this time around.

“Last night was a huge win for the conservative movement, a great awakening,” McDaniel said in a statement provided to CNN. Moore’s win in Alabama “makes the 2018 race more compelling,” he added.

“It’s a continuation of the energy we felt in 2014,” McDaniel said. “And when the establishment stole our race in Mississippi utilizing the most despicable dirty tricks imaginable, it was a wake-up call for thousands. The people of this country are disgusted with the DC establishment and politicians like Mitch McConnell, and we are demanding real change. We’ve had enough of their games, lies and cowardice,” said McDaniel.

Bannon met with McDaniel in Alabama this week, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

A McDaniel source tells CNN that Roe did some polling for McDaniel in advance of an official run this year, but will no longer work with Roe. Roe insists he was never working for McDaniel.

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El Capitan rockfall kills one, injures another at Yosemite National Park

At least one person was killed and another injured after a rockfall on El Capitan, the most prominent granite cliff in Yosemite National Park, according to a statement from the National Parks Service.The fatal rock slide, which was of “undetermined siz…

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