Mar 27, 2019

Governor of Puerto Rico rebukes Trump for suggesting relief cuts

President Trump and Gov. Rosselló in a 2017 Oval Office meeting. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

After Trump reportedly insisted again on Tuesday that the U.S. should cut federal aid to Puerto Rico, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló delivered his strongest public rebuke of the president and suggested that Trump has avoided meeting with him, per the Washington Post.

"I want to be very clear: Not a single federal dollar has been used to make debt payments. ... Mr. President: Enough with the insults and demeaning mischaracterizations. We are not your political adversaries; we are your citizens."

Our thought bubble, per Axios' Andrew Freedman: Rosselló may be taking a more aggressive stance against the White House now that he has a well-known political challenger for his job in San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz. He's also pursuing an ambitious rebuilding plan that would reshape Puerto Rico's electric grid in favor of solar, wind and other renewable sources, trying to make the island a model for clean energy in the U.S.

The big picture: The Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Inspector General announced Tuesday it will open a probe to determine whether the White House interfered with the distribution of millions of dollars in disaster aid for Puerto Rico following 2017's Hurricane Maria.

  • A 2018 Politico investigation found that the Trump administration responded more aggressively to the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas than to Puerto Rico's natural disaster.

Flashback: During the National Governors Association meeting in February, Rosselló said in an interview with Axios' Andrew Freedman that Puerto Rico was "ready to battle it out in court" if recovery funds were taken away from the country. He also called the White House's proposal repurpose funds "disturbing."

  • "We have historically been treated unequally for everything," Rosselló added, referencing Puerto Rico's status as a U.S. territory.

Go deeper: Trump wants no more relief funds for Puerto Rico

Go deeper

Pandemic forces startups to shift gears

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Spaces CEO Brad Herman had an early warning about COVID-19 because his startup supplies VR attractions to a number of theme parks in China. Realizing that the business he spent the last few years building was going to evaporate, Herman quickly found a new way to apply his team's know-how: helping companies host Zoom teleconferences in VR.

Why it matters: Many startups are rethinking the viability of their core businesses in the wake of the coronavirus. Spaces' move is one of many such pivots likely to crop up in the coming months.

International coronavirus treatment trial uses AI to speed results

Hydroxychloroquine is one of the drugs that will be included in the trial. Photo: John Philips/Getty Images

The first hospital network in the U.S. has joined an international clinical trial using artificial intelligence to help determine which treatments for patients with the novel coronavirus are most effective on an on-going basis.

Why it matters: In the midst of a pandemic, scientists face dueling needs: to find treatments quickly and to ensure they are safe and effective. By using this new type of adaptive platform, doctors hope to collect clinical data that will help more quickly determine what actually works.

Go deeperArrow59 mins ago - Health

We can't just flip the switch on the coronavirus

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It feels like some big, terrible switch got flipped when the coronavirus upended our lives — so it’s natural to want to simply flip it back. But that is not how the return to normalcy will go.

The big picture: Even as the number of illnesses and deaths in the U.S. start to fall, and we start to think about leaving the house again, the way forward will likely be slow and uneven. This may feel like it all happened suddenly, but it won't end that way.