Puerto Rico in Crisis Mode as President Trump Waives Jones Act, Hugh Hefner Passes Away at 91, Rep. Scalise Returns to Work After Shooting, Deaf Florida Prisoner Denied Parole While Maintaining Innocence Over 1981 Murder, and Deaf Virginia Family’s Touching Adoption Story
Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Thursday, September 28. Ready for news?
Puerto Rico is going through a big crisis — it has been a week since Hurricane Maria slammed the island, and there are millions of people without electricity, access to water, or essential supplies.
In cities, people are waiting in long lines to get gas and food. Stores are rationing goods.
Puerto Rico Governor Rosselló said their energy grid was destroyed and will have to be rebuilt.
Today President Trump waived the “Jones Act.” This law is from 1920 and states if a ship travels between an American port to another American port, the ship must be built, owned, and operated by Americans.
This had caused a reduction in shipping aid to the island as foregin ships leaving U.S. ports can’t deliver items to the island.
People have been advocating for Trump to waive it — as he did not immediately grant it, waiting several days (he said there were people within the shipping industry that did not want it to be waived) — but now he’s waived it — it’ll last for 10 days.
A California Congressman said there are 6,000 ships are on the way to Puerto Rico with 5 million tons of aid.
The Dept. of Defense (military) and FEMA said they would increase resources to help the island, changing their approach from a short-term, sea-based response to a land-based effort.
A challenge is getting supplies to areas in Puerto Rico that are blocked off by destroyed bridges or roads.
The biggest needs now are access to clean water and fuel for generators. People with serious medical issues such as diabetes could die if they don’t have access to insulin (requires refrigeration) or dialysis. Another big concern is that infectious diseases could spread. Mental health is also a concern as this disaster is extremely stressful.
I managed to get a response from Jesica Rodriguez, who owns JeZoe (soap and skincare product business) — she said she and her family are okay, but that her home area looks terrible. It’s difficult to get more information as electricity and phone service is limited.
I’ll continue to watch recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and update you.
If you want to donate to help, there are several organizations raising money — UNIFCEF, Unitred for Puerto Rico (started by the First Lady of PR), or on GoFundMe. Links are below.
Hugh Hefner, the man who created Playboy magazine in 1953 and grew it into a global, multi-million brand, has died yesterday at the Playboy Mansion at 91.
In 1953, Hugh had a vision of a magazine that consisted of images of beautiful (and nude) women, great articles, interviews with famous people, and nice cars and high-tech gadgets.
He raised $8,000 from his family and a bank loan, bought $500 for an image of a nude Marilyn Monroe (before she became famous), and created 50,000 copies. Every copy sold out.
The magazine continued to rise in success, selling 7 million copies a month by 1971. There were many people who criticized the magazine, saying he objectified women and profited from appealing to people’s basic desires.
But Hugh always defended himself and the magazine, saying the world needed to be more open. He would wear silk pajamas and carry a pipe to market himself as a man with the idea “playboy” lifestyle.
He was married to three different women and had relationships with many others. He has four children. His mansion in Los Angeles was famous for it’s parties with exclusive guest lists — you could only be invited to one.
The magazine’s sales has declined in the years past, but its licensing of its logo still makes millions of dollars. The mansion has been sold to the next-door neighbor for $100 million.
Those around Hugh said he became deaf, apparently from taking too much Viagra. He had hearing aids on.
Now Hugh is no more, but his legacy will live on — he is credited as an American icon and someone who changed American culture.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R, La), who was shot a few months ago when practicing for a Congressional baseball game, is now back at work on Capitol Hill. He posted on Twitter an image of himself and his partner with the words, “I’m back.”
He said in an interview with 60 minutes that his femur was shattered and his hip and the internal area was seriously damaged when a bullet went through — requiring steel plates and a lot of rebuilding to recover.
He went into the House chamber today walking on crutches with a crowd around him applauding.
A Deaf man in Florida who is in prison on a life sentence from a 1981 murder, Felix Garcia (56), was denied parole yesterday.
I read about this case in the Miami Herald and other older articles.
Felix maintained his innocence and said he was framed by his hearing siblings and said during his trial — he didn’t know what was going on and was wrongfully convicted. He said he never met the victim.
The murder was in a Tampa hotel room in 1981— a man named Joseph Tramontana was shot in the head, then his ring was stolen and pawned.
Felix and his brother, Frank were accused of working together to kill him. A key piece of evidence against Felix is a pawn slip for the ring that Felix signed.
Felix’s lawyers have said he was not at the scene of the murder and showed an alibi that said he was 6 miles away from the murder.
They said Felix’s brother, sister, and her boyfriend did the crime and then got Felix to sign the pawn slip without his knowing about what happened.
During the trial in 1983, there was no interpreters — Felix’s lawyers said he pretended to understand the proceedings and did not realize he was accused of murder. Felix’s brother and sister testified against him.
The jury found him guilty of murder and he has been in prison since, mostly in Florida — but recently transferred to a prison in Virginia because it has better accommodations for deaf inmates.
Felix’s brother Frank, years after they were imprisoned, signed an affidavit saying he was the murderer and framed Felix so he could avoid the electric chair. But that didn’t convince the parole board to change their minds, especially because there was testimony against Felix by his other brother and sister.
Yesterday was Felix’s latest parole hearing (Felix was not there, but his lawyers represented him). Even though his lawyers argued about his alibi and the affidavit, the board said Felix must continue to stay in prison and will reconsider his parole in 2020.
The only positive thing about this is that Felix wrote a letter to his lawyers saying the prison in Virginia was much better than the one in Florida — that he is better physically and mentally.
Felix and his lawyers are still hoping for an early release. We’ll see in 2020. If that doesn’t work out, Felix has a release date in 2025.
Miami Herald: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/state/florida/article175654561.html
Fox13 News: http://www.fox13news.com/news/florida-news/state-considers-felix-garcias-request-for-parole
Last Thanksgiving, a Deaf man from Virginia, Hank Blankenship, was surprised by his two stepchildren, Cassidy (15) and Alexander (21), when they asked him to officially adopt them.
See this touching video.
Wonderful to see that. Hank was with the children’s mother, Deidre, for 13 years and raised the two kids from when they were 8 and 2 years old up to now.
Their biological father is “not in the picture.”
They later had two children together, Savannah (6) and Trey (2).
Here is the interview.
Wow, thank you for sharing. I was able to chat with Jeremy Baldwin, who donated $1,000 to the Blankenship family and started a organization called “Spreading Hope for Humanity.”
Thank you for sharing, Jeremy. Wonderful to see your good work.
What a heartfelt and inspiring story.
That is all for this week. Check out the Deaf Business Spotlight tomorrow. Have a wonderful weekend and stay with the light!