Category: Syndicated

Iowa Supreme Court Hears First Speed Camera Case

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The Iowa Supreme Court is often reserved for the most important cases. Rarely do justices hear cases about simple misdemeanors, let alone speeding tickets, but that is exactly what happened on Wednesday.  

After a two-year battle, Marla Leaf finally had her Automated Traffic Enforcement ticket case heard. 

On February 5th, 2015,  Leaf was going home on Highway 380 in Cedar Rapids, when she got clocked by an automatic speed camera driving 68 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone. There was no stop, no warning, just a $75 ticket in her mailbox a few weeks later. 

“It wasn’t a fair ticket to give,” said Marla Leaf, 67, standing outside of the Iowa Supreme Court building.

Unlike the rest of us who would have just paid the ticket and moved on, Marla decided to fight, saying it’s about principle. 

“I don’t feel that people should have to pay for tickets they don’t get legitimately,” said Leaf.

Leaf believes she doesn’t deserve the ticket because she wasn’t speeding. She and her husband claim it was icy and the roads were bad, even for February. If she had been driving that speed in her Mustang, she likely would have been found in the ditch. 

“You’re on ice? Oh. You’d be sideways," said Leaf. Her Ford Mustang has rear-wheel drive and she says it’s difficult to drive in any inclement weather.

Leaf is like a growing number of Iowans who believe the automatic traffic enforcement system is unfair and, in some cases, unconstitutional. This is what her lawyer, James Larew, presented to the Iowa Supreme Court on Wednesday

He asked them to consider three points: 

Does this ordinance infringe on a fundamental right to travel?

Does the manner in which these traffic violations are processed violate due process rights?

Does the private company that operates these cameras police power unlawfully?

“Though one particular ticket doesn't amount to much, it's an important universe. Because there is a lot of people out there, for better or for worse, who are having an experience that's similar,” said Larew.

Many cities in Iowa agree with Larew's point of view. Across the state, many of these cameras have been taken down. As for Leaf, she’ll continue to stand firm in what she believe in.

“But now I will not drive on 380 anymore. I take the long way around and that’s it,” said Leaf.

There won't be any closure on this issue for a while. It’s common for justices to take weeks, if not months, to rule on a case. 

Mexico Earthquake: A Rush to Save Lives Amid ‘New National Emergency’

MEXICO  —  Rescuers in hard hats and masks descended Wednesday on Mexico City in search of survivors after a deadly earthquake struck the region.

“The priority now is continue rescuing those who are still trapped and provide medical attention to the injured,” President Enrique Peña Nieto said, calling Tuesday’s quake — the second to shake Mexico in 12 days — “a new national emergency.”

The 7.1 magnitude quake turned dozens of buildings in central Mexico into dust and debris, killing at least 225 people. It occurred at a depth of 51 kilometers (32 miles), which experts consider to be shallow. Shallow quakes tend to be more destructive.

“Unfortunately many people have lost their lives, including girls and boys in schools, buildings and houses. I want to express my condolences to those who lost a family member or a loved one. Mexico shares your grief,” Peña Nieto said.

According to Luis Felipe Puente, national coordinator of civil protection for the Interior Ministry, 94 of the deaths came in Mexico City, which, with an urban area of more than 21 million people, is one of the most populous cities in the Western Hemisphere.

There were also 71 deaths in Morelos state, 43 in Puebla state, 12 in the state of Mexico, four in Guerrero state and one in Oaxaca state, according to Puente’s tally. To provide some scope of the affected area, Oaxaca de Juarez, the capital of Oaxaca state, is almost 480 kilometers (300 miles) from Mexico City.

The country has declared three days of mourning for those killed in the quake, according to Mexico’s Secretary of Public Function.

Watch Video

Schools hit hard

Twenty-five bodies, 21 of them children, were found in the debris of the Enrique Rebsamen school in Mexico City’s Coapa district, Puente said in a tweet.

At least two children and one adult were still missing Wednesday, Secretary of Public Education Aurelio Nuño said on Twitter. Eleven people have been rescued from the school, he said.

Photos of missing students circulated on social media, while dozens of parents waited outside the school hoping to find them. The family of 7-year-old Jose Eduardo Huerta Rodriguez looked for hours through handwritten lists with the names of those who had been rescued. They also visited the city’s hospitals.

Late Tuesday night, a family member who had stayed outside the school called Jose’s mother.

“He was still inside the school, and he was dead when they rescued him,” his aunt Paola Rodriguez told CNN.

More than 2,000 public schools suffered damage in the quake, the education secretary said. Sixteen of the 212 affected schools in Mexico City had serious damage, he said.

Four people were killed and 40 more injured at the Monterrey Institute of Technology campus in Mexico City, the school said.

An unaccounted number of people are staying at shelters around the city after losing their homes. Schools have closed indefinitely, and millions remain without power.

‘We all need to come together’

Peña Nieto asked people to stay indoors and stay away from the streets while the rescue attempts continue. Still, residents are joining forces with rescue workers to search for survivors.

Mexico’s soccer teams are also helping in the relief effort, with C.F. Monterrey, Tiburones Rojos de Veracruz, C.F. Pachuca, Santos Laguna, Puebla F.C. and Club Atlas urging people to bring water and nonperishables to stadiums and other facilities.

In the upscale district of Roma, one of the hardest-hit areas of Mexico City, Violeta Gaytan was among those who fled to get away from damaged buildings and a strong smell of gas.

“There was a lot of people screaming, children everywhere. I saw people calling out for doctors and a lot of dust,” the publicist said.

Like others, Gaytan began to walk home. She expected it would take hours, but a man was driving around offering people rides to metro stations across the city.

Hours before Tuesday’s earthquake, authorities held a citywide drill on the anniversary of the 1985 earthquake that killed an estimated 9,500 people in and around Mexico City, one the country’s worst natural disasters.

“This is one of those moments where we all need to come together,” said Dorothy Munoz, who grabbed her dogs and raced to the street after the quake shook her apartment.

Less than two weeks ago, a magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck off Mexico’s southern coast, killing at least 90 people, according to the governor of the state of Oaxaca.

Gov. Reynolds Takes $13 Million from ‘Rainy Day’ Fund to Cover Budget Shortfall

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa’s governor has decided not to call lawmakers back into a special session to deal with a shortfall from last year’s budget.

Gov. Kim Reynolds will instead transfer an additional $13 million from state reserves. That’s on top of about $249 million in previous cuts and borrowing from the state reserves.

Reynolds’ budget chief announced Wednesday, a combination of factors led to a lower end of year deficit.

That included higher state collections because workers paid more taxes since many got paid an additional paycheck in June.

Democratic candidate for governor, State Senator Nate Boulton, issued a statement following the announcement of Gov. Reynolds’ plans.

In it Boulton said, “Once again, Iowans are left wondering how Kim Reynolds will balance the budget after she has over extended our state with almost $600 million in annual giveaways to huge corporations. It’s a gamble that isn’t working to increase wages and is ruining state finances. Her previous attempts to fill the holes in our budget have been on the backs of hardworking Iowans, by cutting overtime pay for overtime work, gutting collective bargaining rights, and underfunding our education system.”

Republican Speaker of the House Linda Upmeyer praised Reynolds’ decision in a statement released Wednesday.

“Governor Reynolds’ diligent and thoughtful approach was the right decision.  While others were reactionary, she demonstrated the steady leadership Iowans expect.  House Republicans will continue to fight off unsustainable spending schemes proposed by Democrats and will work with Governor Reynolds to keep Iowa moving forward.”

Trump Judicial Nominee Said Transgender Children Are Part of ‘Satan’s plan’, Defended ‘conversion therapy’

In a pair of 2015 speeches, President Donald Trump’s nominee for a federal judgeship in Texas described transgender children as evidence of “Satan’s plan,” lamented that states were banning conversion therapy and argued that sanctioning same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy and bestiality.

Jeff Mateer, the current first assistant attorney general of Texas, was serving at the time as general counsel of the First Liberty Institute, a religious liberty advocacy group known before 2016 as the Liberty Institute. He faced criticism from LGBT rights groups for his work with the organization, such as opposing the expansion of nondiscrimination protections to LGBT people in the city of Plano. If confirmed by the US Senate, he will serve on the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

In a May 2015 speech, titled “The Church and Homosexuality,” Mateer discussed a Colorado lawsuit in which the parents of a transgender girl sued her school for preventing her from using the bathroom of her choice.

“In Colorado, a public school has been sued because a first grader and I forget the sex, she’s a girl who thinks she’s a boy or a boy who thinks she’s a girl, it’s probably that, a boy who thinks she’s a girl,” Mateer said in a video posted on Vimeo in 2015 and reviewed by CNN’s KFile. “And the school said, ‘Well, she’s not using the girl’s restroom.’ And so she has now sued to have a right to go in. Now, I submit to you, a parent of three children who are now young adults, a first grader really knows what their sexual identity? I mean it just really shows you how Satan’s plan is working and the destruction that’s going on.”

Mateer’s nomination comes as the Trump administration has unveiled a series of actions aimed at rolling back advancements for gay and transgender rights. Trump vowed to fight for the LGBT community during his presidential campaign and said last April that people should “use the bathroom they feel is appropriate.” Since taking office, however, Trump has withdrawn an Obama administration directive that allowed transgender students in public schools to use the bathroom of their choice and issued a directive banning transgender military recruits.

In that same May 2015 speech, Mateer said that the Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriage could lead to what he called “disgusting” new forms of matrimony.

“I submit to you that there’ll be no line there,” he said. “And actually in the arguments Chief Justice Roberts, who’s in the center there said, I mean, what is the limiting? Why couldn’t four 4 people wanna get married? Why not one man and three women? Or three women and one man? And we’re gonna spare you some of those slides. We actually have a presentation that we get into it. And I’ll tell you, we say it’s PG-13, it may be R, or what do they call the next one? NC-17 or whatever?”

He continued, “I mean, it’s disgusting. I’ve learned words I didn’t know. I mean, other than…my assistants here, have you ever heard the word ‘throuple’?’Throuple’ so that’s three people coming together of different sexes, maybe mixed sexes. Them coming together. There are people who marry themselves. Somebody wanted to marry a tree. People marrying their pets. It’s just like — you know, you read the New Testament and you read about all the things and you think, ‘Oh, that’s not going on in our community.’ Oh yes it is. We’re back to that time where debauchery rules.”

Later that year in November 2015, Mateer lamented that states were banning gay conversion therapy at a conference hosted by controversial pastor Kevin Swanson, who preaches that the Biblical punishment for homosexuality is death.

“Biblical counselors and therapists, we’ve seen cases in New Jersey and in California where folks have gotten in trouble because they gave biblical counseling and, you know, the issue is always, it’s same sex,” Mateer says in audio obtained by CNN’s KFile. “And if you’re giving conversion therapy, that’s been outlawed in at least two states and then in some local areas. So they’re invading that area.”

Groups like the American Psychiatric Association and the American Pediatric Association have condemned the practice as having no scientific basis and the potential to do mental harm.

Mateer did not respond to a request for comment. A Department of Justice spokesperson declined to comment on Mateer’s remarks.

Iowa Stopgap Plan Gets Preliminary Approval

IOWA  --  The federal government is giving preliminary approval to a plan to prevent thousands of Iowans from going uninsured.

The Iowa Insurance Division's stopgap plan is aimed at helping farmers, retirees, and self-employed Iowans who buy their own insurance. Commissioner Doug Ommen says more than 20,000 people in that category face a 100% increase in insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act.

The stopgap plan would provide subsidies to help lower premium costs.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a "letter of completeness" for the proposal triggering a 30-day review period. It could take up to six months before a final decision is made.

Experts Advise Parents to Talk About Race Often, Following Central Iowa Racial Incidents

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Within the last four weeks, there have a been a number of racially discriminating incidents involving students in central Iowa. Now, some Iowans say the country's racial divide is showing its face here.

On Monday, Channel 13 confirmed four Waukee students were disciplined after writing a word that violated the district’s anti-discrimination policy on another student’s car in dust. Over the weekend, a racial slurs and emblem were carved into property at Drake University.

Udell Cason Jr., a Drake University alum, lived through the civil rights era and says what’s happening with Iowa’s youth should not be ignored.

“You’re only a youth for a short while. So as parents, as educators, we must work with them to become an adult. Because once they are an adult, they are an adult for the rest of their lives."

In August, students at Iowa State University posted a photo to social media with a racial slur. Earlier this month, a picture surfaced of high school students in Creston wearing white hoods with a confederate flag. Cason Jr. says there is fine line between freedom of speech and human decency.

“Typically, yes, you'd say that's free speech, but you have to be careful what you say, what you do, and how you do it in order to keep some decency in our society.”

He says he’s not blaming the issue entirely on the political climate of our nation, but instead says the focus needs to be on who can help mold this generation's mindset.

Licensed mental health psychologist Kenneth Cameron calls the increase in “racial incidents” disturbing.

“These are behaviors that are learned,” he says. "That's why it's so disturbing."

Cameron says children begin learning how they feel about things including race between the ages of two and five years old. He advises parents to talk about race as open and as often as possible.

“Make it normal. That's what we’ve done," says Cameron. "Race shouldn't be a touchy subject."

Experts say the easiest way to talk to kids about race is by asking them if they know about what's happening in the news and how they feel about it.

Special Session Not Likely To Deal With State’s Money Mess

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The state of Iowa hasn't paid its bills from last year. It didn't have the money. The issue isn't new. A plan is now coming.

Governor Kim Reynolds has faced questions for months on how she would deal with the financial problem. On Tuesday morning she announced that her administration will announce on Wednesday what it plans to do.

"Tomorrow (Wednesday) my department of management and revenue are finalizing the numbers, and they will do an update tomorrow (Wednesday) to the media and they will provide all of that information to you tomorrow," Reynolds told reporters.

Will the governor be there? "I won't be at the media update," she responded.

Department of Management Director Dave Roederer and Department of Revenue Director Courtney Kay-Decker will handle the budget briefing Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. and announce whether the governor will need to call lawmakers back into a special session to authorize borrowing tens of millions of dollars from state reserves.

Both directors track day-to-day finances of the state. Insiders tell Channel 13 it is unlikely the governor will call lawmakers back into special session. Instead, she could use her authority to transfer up to $50 million from state reserves and then use some type of accounting measures to make up for the rest of the shortfall.

The governor's public schedule shows she will be in six rural Iowa towns on Wednesday, instead of at the State Capitol for the announcement about the much-anticipated blueprint for how to handle the budget shortfall.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Gov. Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Gregg hold “Building a Better Iowa: Economy” event

Tour AgriVison Equipment

58668 190th St.

Pacific Junction, IA

8 a.m.

 

Gov. Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Gregg hold “Building a Better Iowa: Economy” event

Water quality best practices farm tour

4077 180th St.

Shenandoah, IA

9:30 a.m.

 

Gov. Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Gregg hold “Building a Better Iowa: Economy” event

Tour of IWCC CEAM Program, H&H Trailers & MHI

923 E Washington St.

Clarinda, IA

11:15 a.m.

 

Gov. Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Gregg hold “Building a Better Iowa: Economy” event

Tour downtown Bedford

419 Main St.

Bedford, IA

1 p.m.

 

Gov. Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Gregg hold “Building a Better Iowa: Economy” event

Tour Dragoon Trace Nature Center

2434 IA-2

Mt. Ayr, IA

2:30 p.m.

 

Gov. Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Gregg hold “Building a Better Iowa: Education” event

Visit Graceland University

1 University Pl.

Lamoni, IA

4 p.m.

The governor did not say why she couldn't hold the budget announcement on Thursday when she is scheduled to be in Des Moines during the day and could deliver the plan herself.

Iowa and Nebraska Team Up to Fight Human Trafficking

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  On Tuesday, Governor Kim Reynolds announced a new multi-state program aimed at ending human trafficking in the Midwest.

The collaboration between Iowa, Nebraska, and local anti-trafficking organizations will provide training to hotel/motel management and staff on how to identify and report human trafficking.

“We estimate at least 50%, if not much more, of the trafficking that takes place in our region takes place in hotels and motels,” said human trafficking consultant Mike Ferjak.

The training is free, with the hope of widespread compliance.

“Having more eyes and ears in every single corner of our state and every community can help,” said Governor Reynolds.

The program is voluntary, but human trafficking advocates say taking part is a no-brainer.

“It’s a critical link, and any hotel or motel will see the value of being in front of this as opposed to being a place that’s marked as a safe haven,” said Ferjak.

Ferjak says knowing what to look for is important because not everyone fits the stereotype of a human trafficker or a victim of human trafficking.

“The things that happen but don’t seem to have purpose for happening, like repeat visits, or multiple visits, a series of stays in a particular period of time, maybe that is in tangent or in conjunction with a large event that's going on in the area,” said Ferjak.

With Iowa's growth comes larger events, with larger events comes more people, and with more people comes more opportunity for traffickers.

“The root cause is greed. Money. It’s all driven by money and a subculture that accepts treating people, especially women and children, as sex objects,” said Dr. George Belitsos, chairman of the Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking.

Another tool to help slow the world's fastest-growing crime.

Trump to UN: ‘Rocket Man is on a suicide mission’

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President Donald Trump warned Tuesday that the US would “totally destroy North Korea” if forced to defend itself or its allies.

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said during his first address to the UN General Assembly.

“It is time for North Korea to realize that its denuclearization is its only responsible future,” Trump said.

Trump also warned that Kim Jong Un — whom he again referred to as “rocket man” — “is on a suicide mission for himself.”

“Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself,” he said.

Trump’s strong words came after he made the case that North Korea is a “country that imperils the world” and said that it is in no country’s interest that North Korea continue on its current path of nuclear and ballistic missile development.

He also offered strong words for countries that trade and finance North Korea: “It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a nation but would arm supply and financially support a country that imperils the world.”

Trump also suggested on Tuesday he plans to scrap the Iran nuclear deal, saying it was a mistake to enter into the agreement at all.

“The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions,” Trump said.

“That deal is embarrassment to the US and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it, believe me,” Trump said, a sign he’s preparing to weaken the deal.

Trump faces a mid-October deadline for re-certifying Iran’s compliance with the agreement.

Trump noted that terrorists are gaining strength around the world but that peace is possible around the world.

“To put it simply, we meet at a time of both immense promise and great peril,” Trump said.

“Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet,” Trump said near the beginning of his remarks.

Trump stated bluntly that certain parts of the world are “going to hell,” suggesting it was within the UN’s power to reverse course.

“Major portions of the world are in conflict and some in fact are going to hell,” Trump said.

“The powerful people in this room, under the guidance and auspices of the United Nations can solve many of these vicious and complex problems,” Trump said.

He said the United States was prepared to combat global instability through military might.

“Our military will soon be the strongest it’s ever been,” he said.

Trump told world leaders that he would not seek to insist their countries adopt US values.

“In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch,” Trump said.

He said he would continue to place America’s interests ahead of other countries’, suggesting his counterparts do the same with their own populations.

“As President of the United States, I will always put America first,” he said. “All responsible leaders have an obligation to serve their own nations.”

Trump opened his remarks touting his economic record, a nod to his core campaign promises of prosperity at home ahead of a major foreign policy speech.

“The United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8,” Trump said. “The stock market is at an all-time high, a record. Unemployment is at its lowest level.”

He cited “regulatory and other reforms” for an economic boom.

Trump has delivered major foreign policy addresses before, to a gathering of Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia and in a packed central square in Poland. But the issues at the United Nations are broader, and the geographic spread of Trump’s audience wider. His message here will resonate in capitals worldwide, where officials and leaders are still seeking a cohesive foreign policy doctrine from new American leader.

His speech is a “deeply philosophical address,” according to a senior administration official involved in its drafting, one that frames his foreign policy as a rational attempt to move countries toward working in their own self-interests.

“It’s an incredible moment and an enormous opportunity to demonstrate US leadership and US values,” the official said, saying that was “why (Trump) spent so much time honing and crafting this address to express that vision to the world.”

For a President whose election and elevation to the White House was among the most improbable in modern political history, the United Nations stage represents a presidential setting, even if some in the audience still find the sight of Trump in front of the iconic green marble jarring. Trump’s three eldest children — Donald Jr, Ivanka and Eric Trump — were expected to attend his speech, a source familiar told CNN.

Trump has offered a wide range of views on the UN in the past, most recently determining the body is underperforming and inefficient.

“In recent years, the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement,” Trump said Monday during a meeting about reforming the UN, his first remarks during a hurried week of diplomacy here. “We are not seeing the results in line with this investment.”

Despite the criticism, Trump has seen some of his top foreign policy victories emerge from the UN’s Security Council, which has passed rounds of sanctions on North Korea for its ballistic missile program.

Hurricane Maria Cripples Dominica as it Churns Toward Puerto Rico

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Hurricane Maria has pounded Dominica with “widespread devastation” as it barrels toward St. Croix and threatens catastrophic damage to Puerto Rico.

Hurling winds of 160 mph (257 kph), Maria shredded the Dominica Prime Minister’s house and left much of the island — population 73,000 — in ruins.

“Initial reports are of widespread devastation,” Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said on Facebook.

“So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace. My greatest fear for the morning is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains.”

A few hours earlier, the Prime Minister posted, “My roof is gone. I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding.”

Maria is now the strongest hurricane on record to make landfall in Dominica, a former French and British colony with an economy heavily dependent on tourism and agriculture.

‘Don’t go out under any circumstances’

As of 8 a.m. ET Tuesday, Maria was centered about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of Guadeloupe and 170 miles (275 kilometers southeast of St. Croix.

A hurricane warning is in effect Tuesday for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, the US and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques.

“A dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 7 to 11 feet above normal tide levels in the hurricane warning area near where the center of Maria moves across the Leeward Islands and the British Virgin Islands,” the National Hurricane Center said.

Guadeloupe’s regional government tweeted a stern warning to residents Tuesday: “Don’t go out under any circumstances.”

Puerto Rico says Maria ‘will be catastrophic’

After crossing St. Croix, Maria will head toward the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Tuesday night and Wednesday as “an extremely dangerous Category 4 or 5 hurricane,” the National Hurricane Center said.

That would make Maria the first Category 4 or 5 hurricane to make landfall in Puerto Rico in 85 years.

Track the storm here

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has declared a state of emergency. And US President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico to aid with federal assistance.

Puerto Rico sheltered many of the evacuees who fled from other Caribbean Islands during Hurricane Irma earlier this month. Now those evacuees and native Puerto Ricans are bracing for devastation.

“This is an event that will be damaging to the infrastructure, that will be catastrophic,” Rosselló said. “Our only focus right now should be to make sure we save lives.”

The governor said 500 shelters are available on the island.

“We expect to feel storm winds, tropical storm winds, (from) Tuesday up until late on Thursday. That’s about two-and-a-half days of tropical storm winds,” Rosselló said.

“On Wednesday we will feel the brunt — all of the island will feel the brunt of sustained Category 4 or 5 winds.”

On the coastal city of Salinas, residents waited in long lines for water and essentials.

Restaurateur Juan Miguel Gonzalez said he was worried about the storm’s impact. “Not about material stuff, rather the people,” he said.

His staff was working to prepare the waterfront property for Maria’s arrival.

The Puerto Rico Convention Center in the capital San Juan to the north — which is still housing Hurricane Irma evacuees from other Caribbean islands — is preparing to accept thousands of residents as the worst of the storm is felt.

Rapid intensification

In just 30 hours, Maria’s intensity exploded from 65 mph on Sunday to 160 mph by Monday night, the National Hurricane Center said.

The British Foreign Office said more than 1,300 troops are on standby, either on affected islands or in nearby locations, ready to help after Maria tears through.

One military team has been deployed to the British Virgin Islands, and a British military reconnaissance team is on standby to go to the British territory of Montserrat.

The HMS Ocean is set to arrive in the area at week’s end with 60 tons of government supplies.

Another hurricane, Jose, is also churning in the Atlantic and has spawned tropical storm warnings for part of the US East Coast.

While forecasters don’t anticipate Jose making landfall in the US, it’s still expected to cause “dangerous surf and rip currents” along the East Coast in the next few days, the hurricane center said.