Duterte warns he’ll intercede if House squabble risks budget

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine president warned Thursday he will intercede and resolve a leadership row in the House of Representatives if the impasse threatens to stall the passage of next year’s budget during the coronavirus crisis.

President Rodrigo Duterte did not elaborate on what he would do if House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Rep. Lord Allan Velasco fail to end their rivalry over leadership of the 300-member legislative chamber. Duterte appeared on TV to air his warning with top military and police officials behind him.

“Either you resolve the issue on your impasse there and pass the budget legally and constitutionally and if you don’t do it, I’ll do it for you,” Duterte said.

“Think of the Filipinos who are in the hospital and need medicine and those who may die at this time without medicine, without anything,” Duterte said, adding he should not be dragged into the leadership squabble.

Velasco said he should assume the speakership by Oct. 14 under a power-sharing deal brokered by Duterte. But Cayetano demanded that Velasco prove he has the backing of most legislators, then abruptly allowed the suspension of congressional sessions until Nov. 16, pre-empting any attempt to wrest control of Congress from him.

Cayetano’s camp steered the initial approval of the proposed 2021 national budget amounting to 4.5 trillion pesos ($90 billion), then announced the congressional break. Several lawmakers protested that they were deprived of their right to scrutinize the budget and called for an immediate resumption of congressional sessions.

Opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman said deliberations on the proposed budgets for the Department of Health and other agencies have not been concluded and were overrun by the leadership squabble.

The Philippines has reported the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in Southeast Asia at more than 331,000, with more than 6,000 deaths.

Duterte has realigned budgets from the defense department and other agencies and resorted to borrowing to finance massive efforts to address the pandemic and provide aid to millions of people displaced by months of lockdowns and quarantine.

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Duterte warns he’ll intercede if House squabble risks budget

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine president warned Thursday he will intercede and resolve a leadership row in the House of Representatives if the impasse threatens to stall the passage of next year’s budget during the coronavirus crisis.

President Rodrigo Duterte did not elaborate on what he would do if House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Rep. Lord Allan Velasco fail to end their rivalry over leadership of the 300-member legislative chamber. Duterte appeared on TV to air his warning with top military and police officials behind him.

“Either you resolve the issue on your impasse there and pass the budget legally and constitutionally and if you don’t do it, I’ll do it for you,” Duterte said.


“Think of the Filipinos who are in the hospital and need medicine and those who may die at this time without medicine, without anything,” Duterte said, adding he should not be dragged into the leadership squabble.

Velasco said he should assume the speakership by Oct. 14 under a power-sharing deal brokered by Duterte. But Cayetano demanded that Velasco prove he has the backing of most legislators, then abruptly allowed the suspension of congressional sessions until Nov. 16, pre-empting any attempt to wrest control of Congress from him.

Cayetano’s camp steered the initial approval of the proposed 2021 national budget amounting to 4.5 trillion pesos ($90 billion), then announced the congressional break. Several lawmakers protested that they were deprived of their right to scrutinize the budget and called for an immediate resumption of congressional sessions.

Opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman said deliberations on the proposed budgets for the Department of Health and other agencies have not been concluded and were overrun by the leadership squabble.

The Philippines has reported the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in Southeast Asia at more than 331,000, with more than 6,000 deaths.

Duterte has realigned budgets from the defense department and other agencies and resorted to borrowing to finance massive efforts to address the pandemic and provide aid to millions of people displaced by months of lockdowns and quarantine.

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White House Officials Pushed CDC to Downplay Risks of Reopening Schools

Top White House officials pushed the CDC to minimize the dangers of COVID-19 for young people and pressured schools to reopen this summer.

Two former CDC officials tell The New York Times that White House officials, like aides in Mike Pence’s office and Dr. Deborah Birx—the coordinator of the White House’s coronavirus task force—were attempting to bypass the CDC to boost data that showed the virus’ spread was slowing down. While the identities of the former CDC officials remained anonymous, they confirmed to CBS News that The Times report was true.

Former Pence adviser Olivia Troye, who worked on the White House coronavirus task force, told The Times that Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, frequently asked her to create more data that showed a drop in cases among young people. Troye ultimately left her post in August and has now become a Trump detractor and outwardly critical of how the administration handled the pandemic.

According to The Times, Birx urged the CDC to promote data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration—part of the Department of Health and Human Services—which said that prolonged school closings could impact children’s mental health and asserted that the virus’ spread in families was low. In an email from Birx to CDC Director Robert Redfield, Birx asks him to include the document as “background” in CDC guidance for school reopenings.

A second former CDC official said that Birx spearheaded the message for school reopenings, which centered on the dangers of kids staying at home rather than reentering the classroom. This official said that the White House was “slicing and dicing our data to fit its narrative.”

This official also said that CDC scientists were frightened by the “preamble” to guidance shared on the website, which emphasized the possible negative impact that delayed school openings could have. The CDC had used some of that data for its own guidelines, but it wasn’t the focal point.

Brian Morgenstern, the White House deputy press secretary, told CBS that the president “relies on the advice of all of his top health officials who agree that it is in the public health interest to safely reopen schools, and that the relative risks posed by the virus to young people are outweighed by the risks of keeping children out of school indefinitely.”

A White House official boasted about Birx’s close relationship with Redfield, telling CBS that “the notion that Dr. Birx was ‘pressuring’ Dr. Redfield to do something he didn’t agree with seems preposterous on its face.”

“A conversation or comments exchanged between friends and colleagues is hardly some sort of politically-charged demand,” the official added.

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Ex-White House official warns of risks that U.S. election outcome will be disputed

Joe Biden and Donald Trump

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SINGAPORE — Markets need to pay attention to the “high risk” of a disputed U.S. presidential election outcome as dynamics shift ahead of the vote, a former White House trade official said on Tuesday.

Such an election outcome could happen if a candidate deemed to have lost refuses to concede, or if he questions the legitimacy of the results. U.S. President Donald Trump declined to say whether he would accept the election results, which gave rise to concerns of a messy transition of power if Trump loses.

“I think it’s a high risk and I do think markets need to pay attention to it. I’ve detected a real shift in the election dynamics in the last six to eight weeks,” Clete Willems, a former deputy director of the National Economic Council, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

“In early August, I think the president … felt like he was behind, I think right now he feels like he has the wind at his back for a couple of different reasons,” he said.

I do think, unfortunately, we may not have an outcome immediately, probably going to be litigation that follows…

Clete Willems

former deputy director of the National Economic Council

Willems, now a partner at law firm Akin Gump, explained that there’s a general perception that the U.S. economy is improving and the president has “done well in some of the law and order issues” — and that likely works in Trump’s favor.

In addition, Trump is pressing ahead with nominating a new Supreme Court justice to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg ahead of the November election. That would also help the president’s chances, said Willems, adding that it’s especially so if the nominee is Amy Coney Barrett, who’s someone that excites the conservative base.  

“So, I think this is going to be an incredibly tight race. And I do think, unfortunately, we may not have an outcome immediately, probably going to be litigation that follows and I just hope that we can get this resolved in relative short order so there isn’t uncertainty come January,” he said. “I really do think that this is something we’re going to have to deal with.”

Stimulus negotiations neglected

Republicans and Democrats have fought over the Supreme Court vacancy in the last few days, which looks likely to further stall negotiations for a much-needed fiscal stimulus package, said Willems.

The passing of Ginsburg set up a battle over the Supreme Court which had a 5-4 majority of Republican appointed justices. If Trump’s nominee were to be confirmed, a 6-3 majority could have a huge influence on the shape of the law in the U.S. for a generation to come. 

Economists have said that the U.S. economy, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, needs further support. But negotiations for the next round of stimulus hit an impasse as both sides cannot agree on what programs to fund.

“I think the fiscal package and the

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Risks of Having a Rooftop Garden

The main reason people are scared of rooftop gardening is that they think it would be so expensive. This just is not the case. Especially if rooftop gardens are included in the budget prior to constructing the building. In comparison to the price it takes to actually construct these buildings the price of the rooftop gardens will be a bargain. Most of the buildings in Seattle with rooftop space are multi million dollar facilities.

Some of these buildings actually reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars so building a garden on the roof would only be a tiny fraction of the price. At Seattle University the price of the flat screens in dormitories is greater than what it would cost to plant extensive gardens on all those roofs. There are just so many benefits of the rooftop gardens that it would be silly to think of it as an unsound investment. It would be possible to plants thousands of square feet of garden space for a mid four figure investment. Consider a hundred million dollar condo high rise.

If they were to spend ten thousand dollars creating one of the most extravagant rooftop gardens to date that was open to the people living there it would surely increase the value of their building substantially. How much is hard to say but in terms of return on investment building that garden would be a no brainer. Another benefit of spending the money to build a garden would be the media attention it would attract. In comparison to spending money on advertising the gardens would seem cheap.

There are some other reasons that hold people back from planting rooftop gardens. Sometimes the structure of the building is just inadequate to support such a weight. Other rooftops may not have access or proper draining. Although not completely necessary it is much easier to build a garden on a flat surface. Having a upside down V shaped roof is a holdup for most residential housing.

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