$300,000,000,000+: 2017's American "natural disaster" bill was by far the highest in history

Until 2017, the biggest bill Americans ever paid for a year's worth of "natural disasters" was $214.8B, back in 2005: in 2017, it was at least $300B, not counting much of the damage to Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria. Read the rest

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren introduce a bill to provide $146B in aid to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

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). Read the rest

Puerto Rico, abandoned by Trump and facing disaster capitalism looting by big business, turns to socialist and anarchist collectives to rebuild

Disaster capitalism depends on the idea that "There is No Alternative" and that the populace can only sit by passively while their infrastructure, government, homes and schools are hijacked and sold off to low-bidder corporations to financially engineer and then extract rent from. Read the rest

Source tells WSJ that the FBI is investigating Whitefish Energy and its $300M Puerto Rico contract

Whitefish Energy's had quite a week: last week the two-person company from Whitefish, Montana (hometown of Trump Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke) was awarded a $300M contract to help rebuild the power-grid in Puerto Rico, with some very favorable terms including $462/hour for subcontracted supervisors, no penalties for nonperformance, and a guarantee that the government wouldn't audit its expenditures. Read the rest

The 2-person Montana company Whitefish Energy just lost its $300M contract to fix Puerto Rico's grid

Whitefish Energy is the 2-person Montana company from Trump Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's hometown of Whitefish, Montana that was awarded a $300M contract to help remediate Puerto Rico's shattered electrical grid, billing its subcontractors at $462/hour for supervisors and $319.04/hour for linesmen in a sweetheart deal that banned Puerto Rico from auditing the company's expense reports, or penalizing it for nonperformance. Read the rest

Trump Cabinet Secretary's hometown, 2-person company wins $300m power-rebuilding contract in Puerto Rico

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. Read the rest

Puerto Rico's streets crawl with heavily armed, masked mercenaries bearing no insignia or nametags

Though Puerto Rican law prohibits ownership and bearing of most long-guns and especially semiautomatic weapons, the streets of the stricken US colony now throng with mercenaries in tactical gear bearing such arms, their faces masked. They wear no insignia or nametags and won't say who they work for, apart from vague statements in broken Spanish: "We work with the government. It’s a humanitarian mission, we’re helping Puerto Rico." Read the rest

US Government's botched Puerto Rico spin job emailed to reporter

Even after telling FEMA and DOD officials they were improperly copying a reporter on internal discussions the embarrassing emails continued. Bloomberg has annotated and published some examples:

Late last month, Pentagon communications officials inadvertently included Bloomberg climate reporter Christopher Flavelle on an internal distribution list, in which Defense Department and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials discussed their evolving strategy for presenting the response to Hurricane Maria.

Despite repeatedly alerting officials to the error, Bloomberg continued receiving the emails for five days. Those messages, each of which was marked “unclassified,” offer a glimpse into the federal government’s struggle to convince the public that the response effort was going well. That struggle was compounded by the commander-in-chief, and eased only when public attention was pulled to a very different disaster.

Below are passages from those messages, tied to the events that federal officials were trying to respond to.

Sept. 28: Eight days after Maria hit, coverage of the federal government’s response is getting more negative. The Government Message: Pentagon officials tell staff to emphasize “coverage of life-saving/life-sustaining operations” and for spokespeople to avoid language about awaiting instructions from FEMA, “as that goes against the teamwork top-line message.”

Sept. 29: San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz criticizes Washington’s spin, calling Puerto Rico a “people-are-dying story.” The Government Message: FEMA talking points ignore Cruz, instructing its officials to say that “the federal government’s full attention is on Hurricane Maria response.”

Sept. 30: Trump attacks the mayor’s “poor leadership ability.” The Pentagon worries that Trump’s “dialogue” with Cruz is becoming the story, with “many criticizing his lack of empathy.” The Government Message: FEMA stresses its success in reaching “all municipalities in Puerto Rico.”

Oct.

Read the rest

San Juan mayor barred from speaking on Trump's Puerto Rico relief conference call

Carmen Yulin Cruz is the outspoken mayor of San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, who was publicly denounced by Donald Trump for pointing out the federal government's inaction during the worst humanitarian disaster in modern US history. Trump went on to characterize Puerto Ricans -- chest deep in sewage raw sewage with no fresh water, no homes, no power and no gasoline -- as "wanting everything done for them." Read the rest

Addressing Donald Trump, Lin-Manuel Miranda speaks for the nation

After history's worst president briefly paused his golf game to go on record to blame Puerto Ricans for failing to bootstrap themselves out of the aftermath of a devastating hurricane, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda took to Twitter to speak for America: Read the rest

Trump complains Puerto Ricans "want everything to be done for them"

President Trump lashed out Saturday, attacking Puerto Rican leaders critical of his administration's relief efforts following storms that devastated the U.S. territory.

Following a plea for aid by San Juan's mayor, Trump said the mayor was being "nasty."

“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,” Trump tweeted. "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," he continued. "10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job."

Something's just not right about the boy. Read the rest

Hurricane Maria started in 1898: how America spent more than a century brutalizing Puerto Rico

Nelson A Denis is the author of War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America's Colony, a highly regarded, bestselling 2016 history of the injustices perpetrated against Puerto Rico by successive American governments starting in 1898 and continuing literally to this present day. Read the rest