Postcards from an island of ruin: Puerto Rico after Hurrican

Moderators: DrVolin, 82_28, Elvis, Jeff

Re: Postcards from an island of ruin: Puerto Rico after Hurr

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Sep 29, 2017 1:15 pm

San Juan Mayor To Trump Admin: ‘Damnit, This Is Not A Good News Story’

By MATT SHUHAM Published SEPTEMBER 29, 2017 10:33 AM
The mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico on Friday disputed the assertion of a Trump administration official who said that the aftermath of Hurricane Maria was “a good news story.”

Asked how she thought the federal response to the storm in Puerto Rico was going, Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke said Thursday from the White House that “I am very satisfied” and “I know it is really a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place in such a devastating hurricane.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead agency responding to the storm’s aftermath, is a part of DHS.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, informed of the remarks on CNN Friday, was stunned. Much of the island is still unreachable by aide workers due to damaged infrastructure, and horrific stories of shortages of clean water, food and electricity are still streaming out of the island more than a week following the storm’s landfall.

“Well, maybe from where she’s standing it’s a good news story,” Cruz said after seeing a clip of Duke’s remarks. “When you are drinking from a creek, it’s not a good news story. When you don’t have food for a baby, it’s not a good news story. When you have to pull people down from their buildings — I’m sorry, but that really upsets me and frustrates me.”

Cruz said the acting secretary should “come down here and visit the towns, and then make a statement like that.”

“This is — Damnit, this is not a good news story,” the mayor said, adding: “It is not a good news story when people are dying when they don’t have dialysis, and when their generators aren’t working and their oxygen is not providing for them.”

“Where is there good news here?” she said.

The Trump administration, including President Trump himself, has criticized the media for not showing the federal recovery effort in Puerto Rico in a good enough light. But Trump and others have also paid special attention to Puerto Rico’s debt in recent days, prompting concern that the fiscal oversight board to which Congress last year delegated financial authority over the island would prioritize bondholders over Puerto Ricans’ recovery needs.
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/p ... news-story
656 Children Separated kidnapped by trump at the Border Have Still Not Been Reunited With Their Parents

August 17 2018


Babies in cages were no ‘mistake’ by Trump but test-marketing for barbarism - Fintan O’Toole
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 27470
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

Re: Postcards from an island of ruin: Puerto Rico after Hurr

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Sep 29, 2017 2:24 pm

As Puerto Rico Reels, Trump Fixates On Island’s ‘Tremendous’ Debt


By MATT SHUHAM Published SEPTEMBER 29, 2017 12:32 PM

During brief remarks Friday on the continuing aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump maintained his laser focus on the country’s debt. He also defended the federal effort to bring aid to the territory, pointing out how Puerto Rico being surrounded by “big water, ocean water” presents unique challenges.

Though the island is still reeling from the hurricane, which made landfall as a Category 4 storm over a week ago, Trump has spent an inordinate amount of his attention following the storm on the private interests set to profit, or at least recover their losses, following the disaster.

“This is an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water,” Trump said at the start of a speech to the National Association of Manufacturers on his proposed tax overhaul. “We’re closely coordinated with the territory and local governments which are totally, and unfortunately, unable to handle this crisis on their own — just totally unable to.”

Trump said the island’s electrical grid and other infrastructure “were at their life’s end prior to the hurricanes, and now virtually everything has been wiped out and we will have to really start all over again. We are literally starting from scratch.”

“Ultimately the government of Puerto Rico will have to work with us to determine how this massive rebuilding effort — it will end up being one of the biggest ever — will be funded and organized,” he said, “and what we will do with the tremendous amount of existing debt already on the island.

In 2016, former President Barack Obama signed into law Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), which in turn established a presidentially-appointed financial oversight board that took control of the island’s finances. Puerto Rico has struggled with tens of billions of dollars in outstanding debts to bondholders, in addition to a deep recession.

Trump has obsessed over money following the devastating hurricane: Before he authorized a waiver for the Jones Act, which restricts shipping between American ports to ships built, owned and operated by Americans, he said of the waiver: “We’re thinking about that, but we have a lot of shippers — a lot of people that work in the shipping industry that don’t want the Jones Act lifted.”

He’s also tweeted multiple times in recent days, as the crisis continues on the island, about Puerto Rico’s debt. On Friday, he wrote on twitter that “[b]ig decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding!”


“There is no electricity,” Trump told the manufacturers’ association Friday, before moving on to promoting his tax plan. “The plants are gone. They’re gone. It’s not like, let’s send a crew in to fix them. You have to build brand new electric. Sewage systems, wiped out. There’s never been anything like this. So there remains a lot of work to do.”

Later in the speech, he made a point to return to discussing Puerto Rico, but only while bragging about the nation’s GDP growth: “Unfortunately, having the hurricanes hit Texas, and Florida, and Louisiana, and, obviously, other locations — especially where we are right now with the kind of money we’re spending on Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands — it’s going to be a little bit of a hit. But we are doing extremely well even this quarter, despite the hurricanes.”
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/trump ... -rico-debt
656 Children Separated kidnapped by trump at the Border Have Still Not Been Reunited With Their Parents

August 17 2018


Babies in cages were no ‘mistake’ by Trump but test-marketing for barbarism - Fintan O’Toole
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 27470
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

Re: Postcards from an island of ruin: Puerto Rico after Hurr

Postby Cordelia » Fri Sep 29, 2017 4:34 pm

:shock: but no surprise.......

Hurricane Maria’s death toll in Puerto Rico is higher than official count, experts say

By Omaya Sosa Pascual

September 28, 2017 4:34 PM

Leovigildo Cotté died after not receiving the oxygen he needed at the only shelter that exists in the town of Lajas on the southern coast of Puerto Rico, which has been without electricity since Hurricane Maria careened through a week ago.

Not even his connections to the government could save him.

“The generator never arrived,” said Lajas Mayor Marcos Turín Irizarry, who said he looked for oxygen for Cotté — father of the former mayor of that same town — “turning every stone” but could not find it.

Cotté is one of the unaccounted victims of Maria, the potent hurricane that devastated all of Puerto Rico with sustained winds and gusts of up to 200 miles per hour. On Wednesday, the Puerto Rico government, maintained that the official number of deaths as a result of the catastrophe was 16. But the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, for its initials in Spanish) has confirmed that there are dozens of hurricane-related deaths and the number could rise to the hundreds.

The storm-related fatalities are mounting with each passing day, and official numbers are not counting patients who are not receiving dialysis, oxygen and other essential services.

Among those at risk are people such as Pedro Fontánez, 79, who is bedridden at the Pavía Hospital in Santurce in San Juan and was due to be released even though he lacks electricity at home to support the oxygen and gastric tube-feeding he needs to keep him alive. His daughter, Nilka Fontánez, went to the government’s Emergency Operations Center desperately seeking help, but was told they were not accepting patients.

“There’s no information,” said a frustrated Fontánez.

The dead are at the hospital morgues, which are at capacity and in remote places where the government has yet to go. In many cases, families are unaware of the deaths. The government’s Demographic Registry is responsible for certifying deaths so bodies can be removed by funeral homes, many of which are not operating because of lack of resources. The agency began to certify some of the dead Monday, Health Secretary Rafael Rodríguez-Mercado confirmed in an interview.

Public Safety Secretary Héctor Pesquera told the CPI that the names of the dead because of the hurricane will not be revealed until relatives can be notified. The continuing lack of communication has kept many people from knowing the whereabouts of their families. Since the storm’s immediate aftermath, many people have gone daily to radio stations so the on-air personalities can announce the names of family members with whom they have been unable to communicate.

Continued..........
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/weather ... 55031.html
"We may not choose the parameters of our destiny. But we give it its content." Dag Hammarskjold ~ 'Waymarks'
User avatar
Cordelia
 
Posts: 2641
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 7:07 pm
Location: USA
Blog: View Blog (0)

Re: Postcards from an island of ruin: Puerto Rico after Hurr

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Sep 29, 2017 5:08 pm

Getting Ready for Trump’s Puerto Rico Shakedown

By JOSH MARSHALL Published SEPTEMBER 29, 2017 2:57 PM

This is super important to watch.

In addition to being slow to react to the catastrophic impact of Hurricane Maria and inclined to blame Puerto Rico itself for a lot of the problems, there’s been something specific about his comments. He keeps talking about Puerto Rico’s public debt.

Set aside the irony of someone who has made a career and a fortune out of skipping on his own debts pressing an embattled American territory on its debt obligations. This and other comments about the Puerto Rico crisis make it look very much like Trump plans to use the disaster as a wedge to enforce a massive wave of privatization on the Island. His comments, hints and overall attitude suggest he’s looking at the crisis not as a public emergency on US territory but more like the way a rival business looks at a distressed competitor that needs a rescue, with all the maximization of pressure and advantage that entails. For now, look at the comments collected together here. We’ll be discussing this more. This is a big, big deal, in addition to the obvious and immediate humanitarian crisis which is now unfolding.
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/get ... re-1086432
656 Children Separated kidnapped by trump at the Border Have Still Not Been Reunited With Their Parents

August 17 2018


Babies in cages were no ‘mistake’ by Trump but test-marketing for barbarism - Fintan O’Toole
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 27470
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

Re: Postcards from an island of ruin: Puerto Rico after Hurr

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Sep 29, 2017 9:42 pm

656 Children Separated kidnapped by trump at the Border Have Still Not Been Reunited With Their Parents

August 17 2018


Babies in cages were no ‘mistake’ by Trump but test-marketing for barbarism - Fintan O’Toole
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 27470
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

Re: Postcards from an island of ruin: Puerto Rico after Hurr

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Sep 30, 2017 9:46 am

Image


A True Moment of National Disgrace

By JOSH MARSHALL Published SEPTEMBER 30, 2017 8:28 AM

On Twitter this morning, stung by criticism, President Trump attacked the people of Puerto Rico, all American citizens, as lazy and disorganized people who “want everything to be done for them.” I am cutting the verbatim text out of the tweets here.

“The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump. Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.”

There’s more. But I don’t think we need to hear more after these words.

Thanks to reporting from the big papers, we now have a general understanding of how this all unfolded. Four a critical three or four days after Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, President Trump was away at his New Jersey golf resort, ranting about the NFL and generally not paying attention. It now seems that wasn’t merely a matter of optics and presidential statements. Critical time was lost and things didn’t happen. Once the scope of catastrophe began to become clear, Trump’s inaction began to generate criticism. Once that happened Trump proceeded to fold Puerto Rico into his comfort zone politics of grievance and narcissism. The focus shifted to Puerto Rico’s debt, ingratitude and – finally this morning – laziness and disorganization.

It does not discount or diminish Trump’s penchant for racist awfulness to note that a lot of this doesn’t seem to be by design. It is more like reflex, in response to his own bumbling. Trump provoked his battle with the NFL out of a mix of personal rage and desire to stoke up his supporters with a new white rights grievance controversy. This seems a little different. His own incompetence and indifference to his job responsibilities generated criticism and led him to make critical mistakes he could not undo. Once that happened, his own personality kicked in. The greased path to narcissistic injury, grievance and racist grievance political attacks was the inevitable reflex. It’s his comfort zone, his natural inclination.
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/a-t ... re-1086495
656 Children Separated kidnapped by trump at the Border Have Still Not Been Reunited With Their Parents

August 17 2018


Babies in cages were no ‘mistake’ by Trump but test-marketing for barbarism - Fintan O’Toole
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 27470
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

Re: Postcards from an island of ruin: Puerto Rico after Hurr

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Oct 02, 2017 9:22 am

A Homeland Security memo painted a rosy picture of Puerto Rico's recovery as Trump blasted San Juan's mayor
...http://www.businessinsider.com/homeland ... se-2017-10





In Puerto Rico, acute shortages plunge the masses into a struggle for survival
As criticism mounts about a slow disaster response by President Donald Trump's administration, Puerto Rico's residents say they had seen little if any presence from the federal government.
Across the island, the sporadic presence of the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the U.S. military stood in sharp contrast to their comparatively ubiquitous presence after hurricanes Harvey and Irma recently hit Texas and Florida.
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/02/in-puer ... vival.html


Millions In Puerto Rico Still Lack Food, Clean Water Or Electricity
http://www.npr.org/2017/10/02/555007118 ... lectricity


After the Hurricane, a Puerto Rican Town Deals with Wastewater, Dead Animals, and “Green” Bodies.
And local officials made it worse when they opened a dam.
AJ VICENSOCT. 1, 2017 10:43 PM



Calle Pedro Albizu, in the Campanilla sector of Toa Baja, is littered with mud and downed electric poles 11 days after Hurricane Maria, and a subsequent flood, passed through.AJ Vicens/Mother Jones

As Ivette Ortiz sat in her home on Calle Pedro Albizu, she saw the water start to come through her second floor, about 10 feet from the ground. It rose faster than she had ever seen or imagined—swelling several feet in just a matter of minutes. But there was nowhere to go. She seriously considered, she recalls now, that she might die.

“I thought to myself, ‘If this keeps going, I’m not going to make it,’” Ortiz, 60, tells me from outside what’s left of her house in the Campanilla sector of Toa Baja. Tall and thin, Ortiz is still quick to smile, even when recounting the horror of the situation. “Maria was too much for me,” she adds, with a grim laugh. “But I’m alive.”

I met Ortiz on my second consecutive day visiting towns and neighborhoods across Puerto Rico with Eduardo Meléndez, a local photojournalist with the newspaper Claridad. Today we brought along David Ruíz Leong, a good friend of Meléndez whose father was from a town nearby Toa Baja. With nearly 90,000 residents, Toa Baja sits near the north coast of the island, about 30 minutes west of downtown San Juan. The area has experienced some of the island’s worst flooding and Ruíz wanted to show us what the area looks like now. “This is honestly unrecognizable,” he says as we turn the corner of one street to the next. “This is crazy.”

Ruíz says that before Maria, this part of Toa Baja, while poorer than many communities, was thick with green, lush trees and stuffed with homes made from concrete and wood. Now, when you drive through the area, it seems that most every building is either missing its roof, has had its windows blown out or awnings ripped off, or it looks totally demolished. The water lines on the homes that do remain reach as high as 8 feet, and many are strewn with a mess of dried leaves and other organic material left behind by the murky brown water. Streets are lined with ruined cars and toppled electrical poles.

At one point, as I’m talking with one resident, Yanitca de Jesus, and her young children, Luis and Janice Ortiz, I notice that an electrical pole is leaning over and supported only by the wire and a small tree branch.

“That looks dangerous,” I tell them. “It is,” de Jesus replies.


Yanitca de Jesus with her children, Luis and Janice Ortiz AJ Vicens / Mother Jones
In many ways, the stories people had to tell in Campanilla were similar to those from the day before in Ciales, a mountain town where many homes were either wiped from the earth or rendered uninhabitable, caked in mud, and gutted of everything that the families had inside. Like those in Cialies, residents in Campanilla tell me there’s been no meaningful government response since Maria struck—none from local, Puerto Rican, or federal authorities—despite the grim conditions, meager food supplies, and lack of running water. Residents haven’t seen any government officials come around to survey the damage or tell them what’s going to happen next.

But the devastation in Toa Baja carries an additional layer of tragedy. The flooding here was actually man-made. It happened at the direction of Puerto Rican government officials, the very same that these residents say are absent. On the morning Maria crossed Puerto Rico, the island’s government opened five floodgates of the La Plata Lake Dam in Toa Alta, a town more inland and on higher ground than Toa Baja, allowing millions of gallons of water to flow straight into the vulnerable coastal town. The New York Times reported that Puerto Rican government officials said they had to open the gates to prevent damage to the dam due to Maria’s torrential rains. A city official told the Times that residents were warned to evacuate the night before the storm, and while some did, many chose to stay in their homes; the official said that some people “got confident.”

That’s not how Jaime Rivéra remembers the lead up to the flood. With dirt on his hands and shoes after days of trying to get thick, slick brown mud out of nearly everything in his yard and the first story of his house, Rivéra, with short, curly red hair and deeply tanned skin, tells us his understanding was that the town was supposed to sound a signal to let people know the water was coming. But, we ask, did the signal ever come?

“Nada,” he says—nothing—holding the first cold beer he’s been able to drink since the storm, now that he was finally able to get fuel for his generator yesterday.

Others echo his claim that there was no indication the flood was coming. “We didn’t have any kind of warning,” says Julia Camacho, a 50-year-old woman with short brown hair who lives around the corner from Rivéra on Calle La Paz; she had watched flood waters rise to the point that her entire first floor was under water. Ortiz too says there was no warning. “They didn’t tell us,” she says. “If they told us, we’d have gone somewhere else.”

Regardless of whether the warning was ever issued, ten days later, most people on Calle Pedro Albizu—a riverside street with nine houses at the edge of Campanilla—are mostly still waiting for any sort of government support. Most of the people we spoke to were outside on their balconies or in the front yards, which is where many people spend their time these days, on an island where 95 percent of the people have no electricity and 55 percent have no running water.

Ortiz says the only government-sent official she’s seen is someone from the National Guard who came to her house, but just to tell her that he was going to request more people from the National Guard come to the area and offer supportive words.

“He said, ‘Keep on standing strong, we’re with you,’’’ Ortiz tells me the man said. “’With us’ in what? What does that mean?”

Rivéra tells us that we’re the first to come to ask him about the damage to his home, and Camacho says the same. But all three have seen military and Coast Guard helicopters fly back and forth over the area every day. As I’m talking to Ortiz, a Coast Guard helicopter, in fact, flies over. “Hey! We’re here!” Ortiz yells into the sky, waving her arms in a mocking way.

Along with the toppled poles and lack of food and drinking water, the residents are also concerned that the floodwaters, even though they’ve almost completely receded, are essentially wastewater and are leaving behind a high risk of infection. With all the animals killed in the hurricane and the flood, plus the trash, human and animal waste that was mixed in as everything spilled into the street, the water everywhere looks like watered-down chocolate milk. One man who didn’t give his name said he got an infection from the floodwaters and had to go to the emergency room. “Now he’s got a $240 bill on top of everything,” Camacho says.

This level of risk is inescapable. As we drove into the town, we noticed a dumping site for garbage and debris that the community has started because there’s nowhere else to put everything. Luis Ruíz, who was talking with us on Calle Pedro Albizu, tells us the debris pile, which occupies an area roughly the size of a football field, includes rotting meat and dead animals. It smells exactly how you think it would.

The town’s problems even follow the dead. Edwin Falú owns and operates Funeraria Falú, a funeral home in Campanilla. He tells us that he runs the only funeral home in the area (there are two operating in nearby Levittown), and that he’s been busy. Luckily, he has his own water tower and his own generator, so he can keep operating, but diesel fuel costs double what it did before the storm. The biggest problem for him, though, is that the bodies he gets are already decomposing—something he’s never seen before.

“The bodies are coming in green,” he tells us. He further explains to David Ruíz that part of the problem is that the refrigerators at the morgue at the hospital are not cold enough to keep the bodies from decomposing.

Even still, back on Calle Pedro Albizu, there is some hope. Ortiz says her daughter is two months pregnant and can’t get the prenatal care that she needs, but, she says she assures her, things will be OK. The sad reality is that Ortiz has no choice but to keep moving forward.

“I tell her to be calm,” Ortiz tells us. “Help is going to be on the way.”
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/201 ... en-bodies/
656 Children Separated kidnapped by trump at the Border Have Still Not Been Reunited With Their Parents

August 17 2018


Babies in cages were no ‘mistake’ by Trump but test-marketing for barbarism - Fintan O’Toole
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 27470
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

Re: Postcards from an island of ruin: Puerto Rico after Hurr

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:28 am

Leaked Memo Reveals White House Strategy to Duck Blame for Puerto Rico Catastrophe
The administration mapped out its "hit" on San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.
By David Ferguson / Raw Story October 2, 2017, 4:05 AM GMT


A memo leaked on Sunday and published by Axios.com reveals that President Donald Trump’s administration is aggressively trying to shift the blame for its dismal response to Hurricane Maria and to carry out “planned hits” against the president’s critics.

Trump’s top Homeland Security advisor Tom Bossert authored the memo, which detailed the administration’s plans to “start a theme of recovery planning for the bright future that lies ahead for Puerto Rico. Planned hits, tweets, tv bookings and other work will limit the need for reactionary efforts.”

He continued by insisting that the Trump administration is not to blame for the fact that relief efforts did not begin in earnest until nearly a week after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

“The storm caused these problems, not our response to it. We have pushed about as much stuff and people through a tiny hole in as short a timeframe as possible,” he wrote.

The administration’s enablers at Fox News set out early Sunday to carry out its “hit” on San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, calling her a “far left” radical and complaining that commentator Geraldo Rivera and his camera crew did not actually witness people dying in the streets.

Other administration officials have sought to smear Cruz by saying she has been uncooperative with FEMA and not attended its strategy sessions, but Cruz’s office said that it has sent representatives to all meetings and has been more than cooperative with the bumbling, bureaucratically hamstrung federal relief effort.

The Trump administration went into a full court press on Sunday to congratulate itself on what an excellent job it has done in Puerto Rico, but on Sunday night, the Pentagon pricked the White House’s bubble with an urgent bulletin that half the people in the U.S. territory are still without access to clean water and the situation is steadily worsening.
https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-polit ... atastrophe
656 Children Separated kidnapped by trump at the Border Have Still Not Been Reunited With Their Parents

August 17 2018


Babies in cages were no ‘mistake’ by Trump but test-marketing for barbarism - Fintan O’Toole
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 27470
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

Re: Postcards from an island of ruin: Puerto Rico after Hurr

Postby Cordelia » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:13 pm

Surely President Trump will insist on an update after his trip there today. :roll:


Puerto Rico's Maria Death Toll Not Updated In a Week; Total May Be Far Greater, Official Says


By Pam Wright
Oct 3 2017 12:00 AM EDT
weather.com

An investigative reporter called dozens of hospitals and facilities to find how many died from Hurricane Maria.

An official confirmed the death toll was greater than what was being reported.

One of the problems is death certificates are not being signed.


It's been nearly a week since Puerto Rico's official death toll from Hurricane Maria was updated, and the actual number of deaths may far exceed what is being reported, an official says.

While the official death toll on the U.S. territory stands at 16, an investigative reporter with the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI) discovered that as many as 60 people or more may have died from the storm that devasted the island on Sept. 20.

Doubting the government's reports, investigative reporter Omaya Sosa Pascual with CPI called 69 hospitals and asked about the number of deaths at each facility. Speaking with doctors, administrators, morgue directors and funeral directors, she determined that at least 28 people had died.

After that report, the country's secretary of public security, Hector Pesquera, confirmed to Pascual on Monday that the official death toll reported by the government did not reflect the actual number of dead.

Pesquera told the reporter that one of the problems is unsigned death certificates. Without an individual's death certificate, they cannot be counted on the official death toll.

“Everything in the government has collapsed,” Pascual told Vox.com by phone. “Some of the people who work in the government lost their homes themselves and aren’t at work. So they can’t do death certificates. The dead can’t be documented because of all the logistics and legal aspects of declaring someone dead.”

The lack of internet services and downed telephone lines make it difficult for remote areas to report deaths. In some cases, family members have buried the dead without a death certificate.

“We’re finding dead people, people who have been buried. Related to the hurricane (we have) 19 dead, which the governor reported, but [people] have made common graves. We’ve been told people have buried their family members because they’re in places that have yet to be reached,” Pesquera told CPI.

Pesquera also noted that the names of the dead will not be revealed until relatives can be notified, a difficult task in some cases considering the lack of communication on the island.

Pascual said it's also becoming difficult to decipher whether a person died from natural causes or as a result of the hurricane.

In any case, the number of cadavers is mounting as people in critical conditions die because there is no power still and because doctors and nurses are unable to work.


This week, the official death toll of 16 prompted President Donald Trump to praise the government's response, which could prove to be a premature assessment.

“The loss of life — it’s always tragic — but it’s been incredible the results that we’ve had with respect to loss of life,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “People can’t believe how successful that has been, relatively speaking.”

While the final death toll may never be fully known, some experts say that it is likely to reach into the hundreds, including John Mutter, a disaster expert at Columbia University.

Carmen Yulín Cruz, mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital San Juan, gave an emotional plea on Friday that may also hint that the death toll will turn out to be far greater than what is being reported.

“I am begging, begging anyone who can hear us to save us from dying,” she said. “If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy.”
https://weather.com/storms/hurricane/ne ... cane-maria


Image

(Headline radio news early this morning was about Las Vegas, Tom Petty, Tesla car sales and the stock market. Didn’t hear a mention of Puerto Rico.)
"We may not choose the parameters of our destiny. But we give it its content." Dag Hammarskjold ~ 'Waymarks'
User avatar
Cordelia
 
Posts: 2641
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 7:07 pm
Location: USA
Blog: View Blog (0)

Re: Postcards from an island of ruin: Puerto Rico after Hurr

Postby Cordelia » Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:17 pm

Arriving in Puerto Rico and ready to roll up their sleeves.

Image

Image


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmDZHgQ0rXI

(He's so out of touch w/reality. Scary)
"We may not choose the parameters of our destiny. But we give it its content." Dag Hammarskjold ~ 'Waymarks'
User avatar
Cordelia
 
Posts: 2641
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 7:07 pm
Location: USA
Blog: View Blog (0)

Re: Postcards from an island of ruin: Puerto Rico after Hurr

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:29 am

Volunteer pilots are flying planeloads of dogs and cats out of Puerto Rico
20 hours ago
Arin Greenwood

Ric Browde arrived in Puerto Rico on Friday with a couple thousand pounds of water, diapers, food and other supplies packed into his rented cargo plane. He left with a plane full of dogs and cats, bound for New Jersey. This was the first step in their journey to new lives on the U.S. mainland.

Browde is president and CEO of Wings of Rescue, a nonprofit that deploys volunteer pilots to evacuate animals from places where their lives are at risk. He's been flying basically nonstop since the end of August, when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas — and expects Friday's mission is just the beginning of the animal airlifts out of this devastated island.

"We just want to do what's best," Browde told TODAY. "Make sure that we are doing the right thing."


Many of these animals had been part of The Sato Project, a Puerto Rican animal rescue group, before Hurricane Maria devastated the island about a week and a half ago.

The Sato Project is a charity dedicated to rescuing Puerto Rico's stray, abandoned and mistreated dogs — getting them medical care, and then finding them homes, often with families in the States. Much of that effort has been focused on a place known grimly as Dead Dog Beach.

Chrissy Beckles, The Sato Project's founder and president, was in New York on the day that Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico. She returned to the island a few days later to find the group's headquarters — like so many of the island's buildings — had been completely destroyed, along with food, leashes and other supplies.

"The organization has essentially lost everything in this storm," Beckles said in an email.


Going to Dead Dog Beach, Beckles got more bad news. Thanks to a spay/neuter initiative and other efforts, there were only three dogs still known to be living there just before the storm. But there was no sign of those three, and "we are coming to terms with the fact that they did not survive," she said.

There's been plenty more animals needing The Sato Project's help in the 1 1/2 weeks since — Beckles has taken in a heavily pregnant dog and a badly injured puppy — and she knows there will be so many others, given how many stray dogs are thought to be on the island.

Being able to send so many of the group's animals to safety on an airplane is literally a lifesaver.

"It is a source of unbelievable relief for our tiny team to be able to evacuate our dogs off the island," said Beckles.

Image
Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo / Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo/AP Ima
Field responder John Peaveler does a field inspection in Vieques.
These rescue flights are thanks to a partnership between a number of nonprofits, including the Humane Society of the United States — which is sponsoring the flights, and working with shelters to evacuate animals (not lost pets; these are cats and dogs that were in the island's shelters and rescues before Maria hit.)

HSUS also has staff on the ground including, among other places, on the island of Vieques. Located 8 miles from Puerto Rico's main island, Vieques is known for its solitude and wild horses; now it's described by The New York Times as "ravaged."

"We're there to stay until things get better," said HSUS shelter outreach and policy engagement director Kim Alboum.
Image

Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo / Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo/AP Ima
The HSUS Animal Rescue Team is assisting with animal rescue and response following Hurricane Maria on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico.

Those first 91 cats and dogs were delivered to St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey, in the wee hours of Saturday. The next day, another flight brought in about 40 more, spokesperson Debra Miller told TODAY.

Anywhere from 600-1,000 Puerto Rican animals are expected to be coming to St. Hubert's in the near future. They will get medical examinations, and then be dispatched to partner shelters and rescues to go up for adoption.


The Sato Project's Beckles says seeing Browde's airplane take off with her animals on board was "one of the greatest moments of my life."

"That was my feeling," she said, "to see those dogs flying to safety."

It certainly won't be the last such moment. Browde plans to fly over many more planes filled with supplies to Puerto Rico, and returning with cats and dogs relying on this opportunity for a second chance.

"Because if I don't do it, who is going to?" Browde said. "We're going to keep coming until there's no need to come."
https://www.today.com/pets/dog-cruelly- ... ly-t116643


Image
656 Children Separated kidnapped by trump at the Border Have Still Not Been Reunited With Their Parents

August 17 2018


Babies in cages were no ‘mistake’ by Trump but test-marketing for barbarism - Fintan O’Toole
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 27470
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

Re: Postcards from an island of ruin: Puerto Rico after Hurr

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:54 am

Puerto Rico, Wilbur Ross and the Big Jackpot

By JOSH MARSHALL Published OCTOBER 4, 2017 9:09 AM

Yesterday we were beguiled and aghast at President Trump’s awful and ridiculous comments in Puerto Rico. Soon enough though we’ll come back to what seems to be his major fixation: Puerto Rico’s public debt. Does President Trump own any of that debt? What about his family and associates? It’s not a crazy idea. We know very little about the President’s finances and assets. But I was curious about why it was such a focus of his even if he doesn’t stand to gain personally.

Then last night, he seemed to shift gears entirely, telling Geraldo Rivera that the government would “have to wipe that [debt] out” entirely. “You can say goodbye” to the existing debt no matter who takes a loss. He focused on “Goldman Sachs.” Was someone else talking to him? Was he just affected by what he saw? Was it all a show? Or will he just go back to his debt-punitive approach once he’s back? To this end, I was surprised to hear from TPM Reader RM that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, a close associate and advisor of the President’s, was until quite recently the biggest shareholder and a board member of the company that is one of the biggest and most aggressive holders of the risk tied to Puerto Rico’s public debt.

Here’s the story.

Assured Guaranty is a company that provides insurance on government bonds among other services. If you buy bonds from a state or city you can insure against the risk of default or non-payment by insuring those bonds. If something goes wrong, a government or project defaults or misses a payment, your insurance kicks in and keeps you whole. Clear enough.

Let’s go back to early 2008.

The full credit crisis was still months in the future. But much of the squeeze was already coming into view. Wilbur Ross agreed to purchase a $250 million stake in AG and up to $750 million more at the company’s discretion. It was in essence of a substantial capitalization line of credit, to the tune of up to $1 billion.

You might think that AG was getting a bailout as the economy and markets began to go south. But that’s not it. AG was in the best position of the companies in this bond insurance space. Some competitors were in real trouble. It wasn’t a bailout. It was giving an additional capital advantage to the strongest of the pack with the expectation that other competitors would not survive the coming storm. AG would then be in a position to gobble up competitors and or market share as others struggled or failed.

That’s pretty much what happened over the next two years. As part of the initial purchase, Ross took a seat on AG’s board.

Not surprisingly, AG has major exposure to the distressed Puerto Rican bonds. Again, this is the business they’re in. According to a May 2017 article in The Wall Street Journal, AG has $5.4 billion in bond guarantees. It’s a lot. In May AG sued the federal oversight board set up to handle and untangle Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. The board had put Puerto Rico into what amounted to bankruptcy and AG was suing arguing that the board’s plan forced excessive losses on bondholders – the bondholders AG has to pay if Puerto Rico does not. We don’t have to get too deep into the particulars to understand the basic point. AG stands to lose vast amounts of money if bondholders are forced to take big ‘haircuts’ in the territory’s debt restructuring or default. And AG has been one of the most aggressive players on both the political and legal fronts to prevent that from happening.

Now, before we get too much further along, let’s address a key point. Ross no longer owns part of AG and he’s no longer on the board. At the end of 2014, Ross had to relinquish his board seat at AG to come into compliance with European Union regulations when he became Vice Chairman of the Bank of Cyprus. According to SEC records, he had sold off his shares in AG over the course of 2014. I assume that was in anticipation of taking up the Bank of Cyprus position. But that’s not clear. The relevant point is that by the end of 2014, as far as I can tell, Ross’s ownership stake and governance role in AG had come to an end. That’s over two years ago, long before Donald Trump became President and a good six months before he announced his campaign.

That means that at least in connection with AG, Ross appears to have no money on the line or conflict of interest with regards to Puerto Rico.

What interests me here however is that Ross must be highly versed on the Puerto Rican debt issue. He was until relatively recently the largest single owner and a board member of a company heavily exposed to any Puerto Rican debt default. That must color his views of the matter. One would assume that he’s highly sympathetic to the debt holders’ point of view. (It’s important to note that purchasing distressed companies, debt at pennies on the dollar is Ross’s business. So he probably doesn’t need much coloring or convincing.) He’s also a major advisor to the President on just these issues. Is Ross one of the reasons Trump was talking so much about this? I’d say there’s a pretty good chance of that. Will that color Trump’s attitudes on the question as he quite likely will make a number of policy decision tied to Puerto Rico’s public debt? Again, I’d say that’s pretty likely.

At least last night, President Trump was talking about completely zeroing out Puerto Rico’s public debt – something almost no one is talking about. The things being discussed are different modes of restructuring in which bondholders take more or less of a hit, restructuring plans in which the people of Puerto Rico don’t get crushed by debt they can’t hope to pay off without driving the territory into penury. And that was before the storm.

But President Trump also said he’d never cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. He said that everyone would have better and cheaper coverage under Trumpcare. I hesitate to even call this lying since lying implies some conscious motive of deception which is distinct from telling the truth. It’s not exculpatory. But I don’t think Trump’s brain even works like that. I think he says whatever feels right in the moment or what he’s being told or thinks an audience wants to hear. If past experience is any guide, once he’s back in the White House, once he’s back talking to his hedge fund and private equity pals in late night phone conversations, he’ll come entirely back to their point of view. That’s the way everywhere policy question has played out so far.

That’s why we need to know a lot more about who’s advising Trump on the Puerto Rican debt front. What’s Wilbur Ross’s role? Who else is involved? What does Trump and his family stand to lose or gain on Puerto Rican debt? We don’t know the answers to any of these questions and we need to.
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/pue ... re-1087246
656 Children Separated kidnapped by trump at the Border Have Still Not Been Reunited With Their Parents

August 17 2018


Babies in cages were no ‘mistake’ by Trump but test-marketing for barbarism - Fintan O’Toole
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 27470
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

Re: Postcards from an island of ruin: Puerto Rico after Hurr

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Oct 04, 2017 6:09 pm

WE CAN FINALLY IDENTIFY ONE OF THE LARGEST HOLDERS OF PUERTO RICAN DEBT
David Dayen
October 3 2017, 4:11 p.m.
FOR YEARS, THE identity of the owner of one of the largest holdings of Puerto Rican debts has been a mystery.

That mystery has finally been solved, with the help of the The Baupost Group, who unmasked themselves to The Intercept. The Baupost Group, a Boston-based hedge fund managed by billionaire Seth Klarman, owns nearly $1 billion of Puerto Rican debt, purchased under a shell company subsidiary and hidden from public scrutiny. Baupost acquired the debt through an on-paper Delaware-based corporation named Decagon Holdings LLC, whose beneficial owner had been unknown until now.

“The Baupost Group is a holder of COFINA bonds through the Decagon entities,” said Baupost spokesperson Diana DeSocio. “Baupost regularly makes investments through subsidiary holding entities.” She added that Klarman, one of the richest hedge fund managers in the world, did not hold any Puerto Rican debt individually.

Though the island, currently recovering from a catastrophic hurricane, has been mired in a borrowing crisis for years, it’s difficult to get precise information about the creditors. Many of them scooped up bonds on the cheap, seeking an astronomical payout by forcing the island to pay them back at par (or 100 cents on the dollar). This has led to widespread suffering, as punishing austerity has been imposed to encourage Puerto Rico to pay back the bondholders in full. (Only now has some of this austerity been lifted in the wake of Hurricane Maria.)

Using shell companies to buy Puerto Rican bonds, then, can shield wealthy investors from public knowledge of their complicity in the misery of millions of U.S. citizens.

Julio López Varona, state director of Make the Road Connecticut and a member of the HedgeClippers coalition, which is organized to challenge the concentrated power of hedge funds, said the revelation of Klarman’s involvement will have political ramifications.

“What’s incredible about this is these people were actually hiding,” said López. “In the case of this person, he’s in Boston, which has a large Puerto Rican community. … Our work right now will be about activating our community in Boston, letting them know this person has been hiding and making sure we go to his houses and his companies to hold them accountable.”

In July, as part of a court order to comply with bankruptcy procedures, a coalition of holders of “COFINA” bonds, backed by the island’s sales taxes, were required to supply the names of its members. The largest member in terms of bond value was Decagon Holdings, which had 10 separate purchasing subsidiaries (Decagon 1-10) holding $911.6 million in COFINA bonds.

But there was no information about Decagon in the court filing, other than a Boston address of 800 Boylston St. That’s the 52-floor Prudential Tower skyscraper in the Back Bay district. The Intercept sent an associate to the Prudential Tower to find Decagon Holdings’ office, but they were not listed in the directory.

A rather primitive website for a Decagon Holdings LLC turned out to be for a different company. “This is a start-up organization and has not gained any ground,” a spokesperson for the wrong Decagon Holdings stated to The Intercept. “You aren’t the first to ask these questions.”

It turns out that there were two Decagon Holdings. One, the startup, was incorporated in Nevada in November 2016. But a second, which includes all 10 entities used by Baupost, was incorporated in Delaware on August 4, 2015, through an agent called the Corporation Service Company. As usual for Delaware incorporation, almost no information accompanied that registration, including its beneficial owner.

800 Boylston St. in Boston houses a number of investment firms, though none of them had the kind of assets that would plausibly include $911.6 million in Puerto Rican bonds. However, Kevin Connor, director of the Public Accountability Initiative, directed The Intercept to an obscure op-ed written for Fox News’s since-shuttered Latino news site in May 2016. Iván Rivera Reyes, a Puerto Rican lawyer and politician, wrote that “COFINA was a creation of Wall Street financial whizzes Goldman Sachs and counts large billion-dollar hedge funds like GoldenTree Asset Management, Whitebox Advisors and Baupost Group as bondholders.”

But while GoldenTree and Whitebox were known COFINA bondholders, Baupost had never publicly stated that they owned Puerto Rican debt. When Roll Call asked Sean Neary, a spokesperson for the coalition of COFINA bondholders, about Baupost’s role, he would only say, “They are not part of the steering committee group that is the main driver of the coalition.”

This appeared to be a confirmation, or at least a non-denial, of Baupost’s assets. Neary never responded to a request from the Intercept for comment. But contrary to Neary’s claim, Decagon was apparently active in the coalition, according to reports in Puerto Rican media of them “leading” litigation efforts to get repaid.

Baupost had a connection to 800 Boylston, but not through an investment firm. The law office of Ropes & Gray works out of that building, and one of its partners, Jeffrey R. Katz, has worked with Baupost in the past. This SEC filing about the purchase of shares in a pharmaceutical company lists Katz next to Klarman. It appeared that Baupost used Katz’s address to register the Decagon shell companies.

When Connor, the public accountability advocate, contacted Katz about Decagon and Baupost, he hesitated and tried to get Connor off the phone. “He got really flustered,” Connor said. “He said, ‘You probably think you’re onto something big, but I’m a lawyer and I have clients.’” Katz never returned an Intercept request for comment.

The current spokesperson for the COFINA bondholders coalition, Greg Marose, did not confirm Baupost’s involvement, but did say, “We have a lot of stakeholders with commercial interests,” which could be read as an excuse for hiding ownership behind a shell corporation. Eventually, Baupost admitted to controlling the Decagon entities and owning the COFINA bonds. The COFINA bondholders group, Marose added in a later interview, has “proactively disclosed its steering committee members in press releases and all institutional members in legal filings.” In the case of Baupost, however, this disclosure did not reveal the name of the investor behind the shell company.

Klarman, who has been described as the Oracle of Boston, has a history of buying unpopular or distressed assets on the cheap in hopes of a payday. Baupost manages over $30 billion in assets. He is known as the top campaign contributor in New England and has been a major donor in Republican politics in Massachusetts, including largely secret support for 2016’s Question 2, an ultimately unsuccessful effort to lift a state cap on charter schools. Klarman supported Hillary Clinton in 2016, calling Donald Trump “completely unqualified for the highest office in the land.”

Klarman’s involvement in Puerto Rican debt will surely come as a surprise to activists in Massachusetts and Puerto Rico, who have never mentioned him among the “vultures” who are causing undue pain for the island’s U.S. citizens.

COFINA bondholders have been sparring with holders of Puerto Rico’s general obligation debt over who has the right to be repaid first from a pool of sales tax revenue. Judge Laura Taylor Swain, currently presiding over the bankruptcy-like process in Puerto Rico, suspended COFINA payments in May.

The COFINA group has spent $610,000 lobbying Congress over the past two years. Last week, after an Intercept report about creditor responses — or the utter lack of them — to the disaster in Puerto Rico, COFINA bondholders offered “our heartfelt thoughts and prayers” to those living on the island and promised that “members of the Coalition will be contributing to the Puerto Rico Chapter of the American Red Cross.”

The amount was not disclosed, nor whether Seth Klarman and the Baupost Group would be contributing.

Update: Oct. 3, 2017
Politico reporter Marc Caputo adds the context of Seth Klarman’s political giving.
Image

Marc Caputo ✔ @MarcACaputo
So Seth Klarman buys $1 billion in Puerto Rico debt (breaking news from The @theintercept https://interc.pt/2xf5BqN ).

But there's more: Klarman showers pols/candidates w/$2.9 million (per Open Secrets) & stops giving 1 month before Congress passes creditor-favored PROMESA Act.
4:33 PM - Oct 3, 2017

https://theintercept.com/2017/10/03/we- ... ican-debt/
656 Children Separated kidnapped by trump at the Border Have Still Not Been Reunited With Their Parents

August 17 2018


Babies in cages were no ‘mistake’ by Trump but test-marketing for barbarism - Fintan O’Toole
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 27470
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

Re: Postcards from an island of ruin: Puerto Rico after Hurr

Postby Cordelia » Thu Oct 05, 2017 11:35 am

Volunteer pilots are flying planeloads of dogs and cats out of Puerto Rico


Also desperate, the large animals and 800+ Cash Cow racehorses who can’t be airlifted........

Image


American TB Groups Send Emergency Supplies to Puerto Rico


A Swift Air flight carrying nearly 20 tons of hay cubes and veterinary supplies departed from Miami at 4:30 a.m. today and landed in San Juan, Puerto Rico at approximately 7 a.m. The plane, funded by The Jockey Club and Thoroughbred Charities of America’s Horses First Fund, is the result of a week-long effort undertaken by numerous equine groups to get aid to the more than 800 Thoroughbreds at the Camarero Race Track and to begin assisting other horses on the island.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Foundation, Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA), The Jockey Club, Brookledge’s Horse America, Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare, and the Texas Equine Veterinary Association (TEVA) worked closely with Ranch Aid, a FEMA appointed organization that assists with logistics and care for large animals during natural disasters. The Humane Society of the United States also assisted by facilitating the federal approval of the shipment.

“There were many, many challenges but we are thrilled to see feed and vet supplies finally reaching the horses in Puerto Rico,” said Erin Crady executive director of TCA. “This effort would not have been possible without the incredible team work and support of so many organizations and people working tirelessly to get this plane into Puerto Rico.”

Finding an available aircraft to carry the feed and supplies was a daunting challenge given that most cargo planes are being utilized for humanitarian efforts. Thoroughbred Charities of America board member Terry Finley reached out to friend Vincent Viola, the owner of St. Elias Stables and a shareholder of Swift Air, who immediately put TCA in contact with Swift Air to ship the much-needed equine supplies.

The veterinary supplies and medications in route to San Juan were donated in part by MWI Animal Health and purchased by TEVA and delivery assistance by south Florida veterinary practice, Teigland, Franklin, and Brokken. The hay cubes were donated in part by Cargill/Nutrena and purchased by the AAEP Foundation. Additionally, two satellite phones were purchased by the AAEP Foundation and delivery assistance provided by south Florida Purina Animal Nutrition representative Shiela Conde.

“This is truly a team effort on the part of the equine industry, there are so many others involved with various efforts,” said Keith Kleine, AAEP’s director of industry relations. “First and foremost, we must thank our thousands of donors since Hurricane Harvey first hit Texas. The generosity has been incredible but sadly, much more is needed to support the horses impacted by Hurricane Maria. There are thousands of horses and caretakers in both Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands that need support.”

Additionally, Ocala Breeders’ Sales and Florida breeder Kim Heath organized five shipping containers of supplies and feed. The containers were transported from Ocala to Jacksonville, Fla. last Friday where they will be loaded on a cargo ship slated to arrive in San Juan on Friday.

Further relief efforts are being coordinated to provide ongoing support to the nearly 1,500 Thoroughbreds and thousands of other horses on the island of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Options for transporting some horses back to the U.S. mainland are also being evaluated.

https://www.horse-canada.com/horse-news ... erto-rico/
"We may not choose the parameters of our destiny. But we give it its content." Dag Hammarskjold ~ 'Waymarks'
User avatar
Cordelia
 
Posts: 2641
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 7:07 pm
Location: USA
Blog: View Blog (0)

Re: Postcards from an island of ruin: Puerto Rico after Hurr

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:19 am

‘BIG DECISION’: WILL THE US SPEND WHAT IT TAKES TO SAVE PUERTO RICO?
Failure Will Drive an Exodus of Puerto Ricans to the US


Will President Donald Trump, the self-styled “great builder,” authorize enough federal aid to rebuild Puerto Rico? Will Congress alleviate its crushing debt?

To prevent a mass exodus of Puerto Ricans, the Trump White House and Republican-controlled Congress will have to act fast.

Over two weeks after Hurricane Maria’s landfall on September 20, most of Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million people were still without power, potable water and telecommunications. Many have no jobs to go back to, since their businesses were destroyed. The government expects to run out of money by October 31, terminating its hurricane recovery effort.

Puerto Rico, unlike Texas and Florida, or Wall Street’s too-big-to-fail banks, has little political leverage in Congress.
The island’s young governor, Ricardo Rosselló, says Maria is the biggest catastrophe in the history of Puerto Rico. He hopes Puerto Ricans will be “treated equally,” despite its neo-colonial status as a US territory. Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship 100 years ago, but have remained trapped in political limbo. They cannot vote for US president and have no voting representative in US Congress. Almost half of all Americans don’t know that Puerto Ricans are US citizens.

When Maria hit, Puerto Rico was already devastated by economic recession, bankruptcy as well as a political and legal battle over who governs the island. Puerto Ricans were already migrating to the US mainland in record numbers.

The governor is panicking, worried that US Congress will deliver too little help, too late. “You’re not going to get hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans moving to the states, you’re going to get millions,” he said at a news conference hours ahead of Trump’s visit.

“There is going to be a big population loss out of this tragedy. As soon as travel resumes and is back to normal, there will be an exodus of families and individuals from the island. It’s inevitable,” said Héctor Figueroa, a native of Puerto Rico and president of the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ.

After Hurricane Katrina, the population of New Orleans fell by 50% and has not recovered 12 years later.


Florida International University professor Jorge Duany notes that even before Maria, Puerto Rico was in a “demographic crisis” because of migration with a population decline of 9% since 2000. He expects it to accelerate “unless something miraculous happens in terms of recovery” with much of the exodus “focused on Florida.”

The political implications of this demographic shift have led to intense speculation about how many Puerto Ricans will move to Florida — and register to vote. Their arrival could see it move from being a swing state to a democratic one.

‘Wipe Out the Debt’
.
After visiting the Puerto Rican capital, San Juan, last week, Trump seemed to finally realize it will take a “Marshall Plan” to build a new future for the island. Puerto Rico’s debt of over $70 billion, the real estate developer president said, will have “to be wiped.”

He expressed sympathy for Goldman Sachs or “whoever it is” holding the debt because “you can wave goodbye to that.”

But the morning after, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney adamantly dialed back the statement. Trump didn’t mean it “word for word,” he said.

Nothing that Trump said or did, ahead of or during his visit to the devastated island, hinted at this stunning admission of what it will cost to rebuild Puerto Rico. Trump tossed rolls of paper towels to storm victims in a Puerto Rican church. He didn’t promise billions of dollars.

Instead, Trump complained that the US “spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico,” compared Hurricane Maria favorably to “a real catastrophe like Katrina” because far fewer people died, and said that Puerto Ricans need to “give us more help.”

“Puerto Rico has been little more than a profit center for the United States: first as a naval coaling station, then as a sugar empire, a cheap labor supply, a tax haven, a captive market, and now as a municipal bond debtor and target for privatization. It is an island of beggars and billionaires: fought over by lawyers, bossed by absentee landlords, and clerked by politicians.”


Ahead of his visit to Puerto Rico, Trump seemed incapable of empathy, picking a public fight with the Mayor of San Juan and suggesting that the victims of Hurricane Maria are lazy people who “want everything to be done for them.” Earlier this year, Trump even threatened to shut down the US government to prevent emergency Medicaid funds from flowing into Puerto Rico.

Bondholders have been quick to point out that Trump is not a dictator and cannot cancel Puerto Rico’s debt with an executive order. But he could easily ask the GOP-controlled Congress to bail out Puerto Rico, just as it bailed out Wall Street Banks during the financial crisis. At a minimum, Congress could suspend debt payments until Puerto Rico recovers.

Congress could also extend its brief waiver of the Jones Act, the 97-year-old law requiring all shipping to be in ships owned and operated by US citizens. The law raises the price of food, energy, medicines, clothing and building supplies.

But Puerto Rico, unlike Texas and Florida, or Wall Street’s too-big-to-fail banks, has little political leverage in Congress.

The US Supreme Court (in Downes v. Bidwell) has affirmed the island’s alien status in words that defy human logic. Puerto Rico, says the court, is “foreign to the United States in a domestic sense.”

Rossello Brief
President Trump speaks to Puerto Rico’s Governor Rosselló during a teleconference.
Photo credit: Shealah Craighead / The White House (CC0)

Rule by ‘Junta’
.
Because of the debt crisis, Puerto Rico’s democratically elected government is essentially powerless to act on its own initiative to rebuild. It does not have money to fix roads, schools or hospitals, or to reconstruct the power grid.

The Commonwealth owes $74 billion to bondholders and $50 billion for public employee pensions. Many of the bonds that Wall Street firms sold to Puerto Rico took the form of predatory loans and at least some of the bond deals were probably illegal. When Puerto Rico’s government declared bankruptcy in May, it was the biggest bankruptcy in the history of the US municipal bond market.

A laboratory for experiments in austerity under the oversight board, Puerto Rico could also become, post-Maria, a testing ground for Trump’s much touted private-public partnerships for infrastructure.
Puerto Rico’s government lacks authority as well as money. Last year, Congress passed the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (the acronym, PROMESA, means “promise” in Spanish), allowing a form of bankruptcy while creating a seven-member Financial Oversight and Management Board to make sure Puerto Rico pays back as much as it can. According to Paul Ryan, the oversight board is meant to “bring order to this chaos and stop a humanitarian crisis — which will prevent a taxpayer bailout down the road.”

The oversight board, or “junta,” as Puerto Ricans call it, has the final say over revenue and spending. It has dictated a 10-year fiscal plan that makes cuts to infrastructure, education, health and housing. The board has closed schools, slashed the minimum wage down to just over four dollars and cut public health funds by almost a third.

When Maria hit, Puerto Rico’s governor Rosselló and the oversight board were in a power struggle, with mutual lawsuits underway, over steep cuts to pensions and the junta’s demand that his government shut down two days a month. Hurricane Maria has changed all that.

The board shares governor Rosselló’s anxiety that Congress might fall short. “Failure to provide the greatest amount of federal aid and the emergency liquidity program will be potentially ruinous,” wrote its chairman, Jose Carrion, in a letter to congressional leaders, citing estimates Puerto Rico has suffered $95 billion in damages.

Rosselló has reallocated government funds for emergency relief but could do so only after the oversight board gave its permission.

“Once PROMESA [the oversight board] was put in place, the politics regarding the federal government returned to a classic colonial state. The only precedent I can think of was in the early 20th century when all political and economic and fiscal decisions were made by US appointed officials,” Duany told WhoWhatWhy.

Nelson Denis, author of War Against All Puerto Ricans, argues that Puerto Rico has come full circle, from a 19th to a 21st-century colony. “Puerto Rico has been little more than a profit center for the United States: first as a naval coaling station, then as a sugar empire, a cheap labor supply, a tax haven, a captive market, and now as a municipal bond debtor and target for privatization. It is an island of beggars and billionaires: fought over by lawyers, bossed by absentee landlords, and clerked by politicians.”

Privatizing Puerto Rico to ‘Keep the Lights on’?
.
Authorities are warning that it could take months for PREPA, the public utility that is the sole provider of electricity, to bring the island back online. The power grid was already in shambles before Maria and the utility has lost many of its skilled workers to emigration. Consumers pay an average of two to three times more for power than Americans in the 50 states.

Over two weeks after Hurricane Maria’s landfall, 89% of the island’s residents still lacked power.

A laboratory for experiments in austerity under the oversight board, Puerto Rico could also become, post-Maria, a testing ground for Trump’s much touted private-public partnerships for infrastructure.

The board/junta’s fiscal plan, which forces cuts in pensions and limits bargaining rights for organized labor, offers a single idea for actually creating jobs: selling public assets to private investors, beginning with the energy sector.

Privatizing PREPA is being sold as the “best hope for keeping the lights on.” Four of the seven oversight board members recently published a Wall Street Journal op-ed, titled “Privatize Puerto Rico’s Power.”

Like Puerto Rico’s government, PREPA is insolvent. Three years of failed talks with its creditors, mostly hedge funds and mutual funds, ended in bankruptcy this summer.

Rosselló, despite his struggles with the oversight board, is in agreement. A political neophyte, the governor has shown great enthusiasm for cash-up-front privatization, offering to sell off public assets like the water and sewer authority. Some of Puerto Rico’s public assets are already controlled by private investors. In 2013, Puerto Rico sold a 40-year lease to its international airport. The island’s busiest toll roads are in the hands of a public-private partnership that includes Goldman Sachs.

Many economists dispute that privatization will create jobs or cut costs for consumers. Nor is it clear that private investors, if they do modernize the power grid, will make the energy sector any greener. PREPA already has private partners selling power from coal and natural gas. An island with vast potential for solar and wind power, Puerto Rico relies on fossil fuels for 98% of its energy.

“The experience that we’ve had of privatization of the grid has not been good,” says Ruth Santiago, an environmental lawyer. AES Corporation, the Virginia-based power giant, built one of the world’s largest coal-fired power plants in 2002 near where she lives, in Guayama, to sell power to PREPA. It releases 400,000 tons of toxic coal ash a year. The contamination threatens farms, wetlands and groundwater.

Santiago says the best option for communities like hers would be microgrids — small-scale systems combining solar panels and storage batteries. In the wake of a hurricane, they can restore power a few buildings at a time.

Island Exodus
.
No one really knows how many Puerto Ricans will arrive in the United States in the coming weeks and months. Like millions of Puerto Ricans throughout the US diaspora, Héctor Figueroa is worried about his family on the island. “At some point, the question we all face is, ‘do we bring family members here?'” The answer will depend on how fast a semblance of normal life is restored.

Figueroa said he still hasn’t been able to reach his 93-year-old father in the remote mountain town where he lives. He is in touch with a sister who tells him his father is alright but living without electricity and running water.

“He is waiting, like all Puerto Ricans,” says Figueroa, “to see what happens next.”
https://whowhatwhy.org/2017/10/09/big-d ... erto-rico/
656 Children Separated kidnapped by trump at the Border Have Still Not Been Reunited With Their Parents

August 17 2018


Babies in cages were no ‘mistake’ by Trump but test-marketing for barbarism - Fintan O’Toole
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 27470
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

PreviousNext

Return to General Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 5 guests