Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Christine Mai-Duc, Los Angeles Times

At least 20 people have been killed and seven others injured in a typhoon that ripped through the Philippines, government officials said Wednesday.

Typhoon Rammasun, which made landfall early Tuesday, blasted the island nation with 105-mph winds and heavy rain, knocking down power lines and leading to the collapse of some bridges and buildings.

Officials have begun to survey the damage as the worst of the storm moved west off the coast of the country and toward China.

The storm is the first typhoon to touch down in the Philippines since Typhoon Haiyan, which was one of the most powerful storms ever recorded. It devastated the country in 2013, leaving thousands dead.

The fatalities from Rammasun, which included an 11-month-old baby and were mostly caused by falling trees and debris, were concentrated mainly in the Calabarzon region, just south of the nation’s capital.

“We cannot give a very clear picture yet. We are still awaiting reports from our local governments and councils,” said Romina Marasigan, a spokeswoman for the country’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Marasigan said more than 420,000 people have been evacuated throughout the country so far, and local governments are distributing relief and food packs to citizens.

Manila, where nearly 12 million people live, largely escaped major damage from Typhoon Rammasun, also known as Typhoon Glenda in the Philippines.

More than 20 people are dead after Typhoon Rammasun made landfall in the Philippines this week.

An aerial survey conducted over the capital city showed mostly downed power lines and damage to trees, but no major building collapses, Marasigan said.

Still, many areas remain without power. The storm knocked out service to more than 90 percent of customers, according to the Manila Electric Co. As of Wednesday evening, only 25 percent of customers had had their power restored.

Philippine officials cautioned residents in low-lying and mountainous areas about the possibility of landslides and flash flooding.

The U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center said it expects Rammasun to intensify before hitting the Chinese island of Hainan and Vietnam.

AFP Photo/Philippe Lopez

Interested in world news? Sign up for our daily email newsletter!

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was forced to defend President Donald Trump's recent attacks on MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Tuesday, an unenviable task she nevertheless intentionally signed up for. She desperately tried to divert the attention back to Scarborough — without engaging in the president's conspiracy theorizing — but offered no credible defense of the president's conduct.

Trump has been spreading the debunked theory that Scarborough killed a staffer in 2001 while he was in Congress, even though it was determined she died of natural causes. The staffer's widower wrote a released a letter on Tuesday pleading with Twitter to take down the president's offensive tweets promoting the thoery. He said he was "angry," "frustrated," and "grieved" by the president's promotion of the harmful allegations. Trump is perverting his late wife's memory, he said, and he fears her niece and nephews will encounter these attacks.When asked about the letter, McEnany said she wasn't sure if the president had seen it. But she said their "hearts" are with the woman's family "at this time." It was a deeply ironic comment because the only particularly traumatizing thing about "this time" for the family is the president's attacks, which come nearly two decades after the woman's death.

McEnany refused to offer any explanation of Trump's comments and instead redirected reporters to a clip of Scarborough on Don Imus's radio show in 2003. In that show, Imus made a tasteless joke obliquely referring to the death, and Scarborough laughed at it briefly.

"Why is the president making these unfounded allegations?" asked ABC News' Jonathan Karl. "I mean, this is pretty nuts, isn't it? The president is accusing someone of possible murder. The family is pleading with the president to please stop unfounded conspiracy theories. Why is he doing it?""The president said this morning, this is not an original Trump thought. And it is not," she said, bringing up the Imus clip. But she made no mention of why the president is bringing up the issue 17 years later and with a much larger platform.

When pressed further on the president's conduct, she again diverted blame to Scarborough, saying his morning show unfairly criticizes the president. But again, she offered no substantive defense of Trump.

After McEnany had moved on, PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor brought it up again: "Why won't the president give this widower peace and stop tweeting about the conspiracy theory involving his wife?"

McEnany said she had already answered the question, which she hadn't, and said the onus is on Scarborough to explain the Imus clip."The widower is talking specifically about the president!" Alcindor shot back. But McEnany called on Chanel Rion, with the aggressively pro-Trump outlet OAN, who changed the subject to conspiracy theories about the origins of the Russia investigation.

"Are you not going to answer that?" Alcindor called out, still trying to get a substantive response to her question, but Rion spoke over her.

At the end of the briefing, another reporter asked whether Trump was looking for any actual law enforcement steps be taken in response to his conspiracy theory. But McEnany had nothing to add, and simply told people to listen to the Imus clip again. As she hurried out of the briefing room, a reporter asked if Trump would stop promoting the theory — but she left without answering.

Watch the exchange about Klausutis, which begins at 48:45.