Two weeks ago, Puerto Rico's Center for Investigative Journalism published one of the most consequential investigative stories in the island's history: a trove of leaked private Telegram chats between Governor Ricardo Rossello and his most senior advisors and officials, in which the group use crude, homophobic and misogynist labels to mock and degrade opposition figures, Puerto Rican celebrities, and the people of Puerto Rico as they struggled with the aftermath of hurricanes Maria and Irma, left to swelter and die by a local and national government that had abandoned them.
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Hurricanes Irma and Maria left Puerto Rico in tatters, but it would be a mistake to blame the weather for Puerto Rico's suffering; Puerto Rico was put in harm's way by corrupt governments doing the work of a corrupt finance sector, then abandoned by FEMA, and is now being left to rot without any real effort to rebuild its public services so that they can be privatized and used to extract rent from the island's residents.
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As vulture capitalists and profiteers circle the devastation in America's hurricane-struck island colonies, the Trump administration has nothing for them but more loans to pile onto their existing, crippling debt (even as affected mainland cities where more white people live get direct government aid).
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When mainland US cities like Houston and Miami get hit by hurricanes, they rely on mutual aid deals with out-of-state and Canadian power authorities to rebuild, as hundreds of skilled maintenance workers flood in and work for free to get their grid up and running; but debt-crushed Puerto Rico is paying $300 million to Whitefish Energy, a two-person company from Trump Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's hometown of Whitefish, Montana.
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Pablo Defendini writes, "Fireside Fiction Company has set up the Hurricane Relief Bookstore as a mechanism for all of us to funnel money over to people who need it. 100% of the profits from sales of ebooks on the store will go to three organizations: one for the Caribbean, one for Houston, and one for Florida. The store features DRM-free ebooks from Fireside Magazine, as well as Uncanny Magazine, Lightspeed Magazine, Mothership Zeta, Angry Robot Books, Apex Books, and many more individual authors who have contributed independently. Read the rest
Florida Power and Light's grid did not fare well under Hurricane Irma, despite the company's assurances that it had spent billions hardening its systems after 90% of its customers lost power to 2005's Hurricane Wilma. Read the rest
Miami-Dade's hurricane shelters experienced "chaos" during Irma, and the Miami-Dade schools chief Alberto Carvalho says that's because the Red Cross was missing in action. Read the rest
These NASA images of Hurricane Irma churning across the Atlantic Ocean show “widespread browning of the landscape,” as winds devastated several Caribbean islands before moving on to the Florida Keys and the U.S. mainland. Read the rest
Billionaire Richard Branson has posted images on Twitter that show post-Irma damage to his island, Necker, as well as other surrounding islands. He's working on getting aid to the British Virgin Islands, which were wiped out by Irma. Read the rest
Tesla sells both 60kWh and 75kWh versions of its Model S and Model X cars; but these cars have identical batteries -- the 60kWh version runs software that simply misreports the capacity of the battery to the charging apparatus and the car's owner. Read the rest
[UPDATE: 9/9/2017 2:25pm PT US evacuates 500 Americans trapped on St. Maarten by Hurricane Irma]
[UPDATE: 9/9/2017 12:00pm PT Just received a dire message from our friend, Mitch, who has been stranded on St. Martin with his wife and daughter: "Just connected school management with my [redacted] security guys. Can't get anything done. We now have security issues. French side of island is in civil war with gangs overpowering military and local police. Dutch soldiers at borders but at our gates have been threatened. We have Blackwater type team ready to heli in from Virgin Islands but Dutch and locals won't let them land. Same for charters. We are alone."]
St. Martin was one of the islands hardest hit by Hurricane Irma, and days later 6,000 Americans are still stranded on the French-Dutch island, with no phones, no Internet, or any kind of infrastructure. Cell phone communication is spotty, but some calls and texts manage to get through. Now there are looters and people roaming the streets with guns and machetes, according to my friends who are among the stranded.
Stacy and Mitch, from Los Angeles, left for St. Martin over a week ago to drop their daughter off at American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC). They were staying at a hotel, but it was completely destroyed by Irma, so they are staying at the AUC, which is sheltering 600 people as they wait to be evacuated. The only problem is, no one knows when an evacuation is going to happen. Read the rest