Puerto Rico didn't suffer a "natural disaster": it was looted and starved long before the hurricanes

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. Read the rest

Puerto Rico is a tax-haven for rich mainlanders and is also too broke to survive hurricanes: are these facts possibly related, somehow?

Since the US conquered Puerto Rico in the Spanish-American war, it has treated the island as a playground for the rich, with all kinds of sweetheart tax-deals and regulatory exemptions that lured some industry and some rich people to the island, but which kept it from ever developing its economy and infrastructure to American mainland standards. Read the rest

According to porn consumption bandwidth, Puerto Rico still suffers from lack of power and internet access

People living in Puerto Rico are not viewing online porn as much as they were before the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria last year.

From an xHamster press release:

A year after Hurricane Maria made landfall, the island of Puerto Rico still lags far behind in power and internet access, according to data from xHamster.

The data shows traffic from the island dropping -74.2% in the aftermath of the storm, then gradually recovering. However, a year later traffic to the site is down by over a fifth, or -20.1%.

"Porn is a unique indicator in a recovery, as it's able to measure not only access to power and the internet, but also privacy" says Alex Hawkins, Vice President of xHamster. "After news sites, adult content is one of the first things that users seek out when they secure regular access to power and internet. But unlike news or government sites, porn can't be accessed in public spaces like a library or shelter, so it gives remarkable insight into when life in a place like Puerto Rico has returned to 'normal'. In this case, we see that the recovery still has a long way to go."

Hawkins notes that other locations that suffered during the 2017-8 hurricane season, like Houston, have fully bounced back or have grown.

"What we're seeing is inconsistent with some of the claims made by officials that show a full recovery in Puerto Rico. It also disproves claims that Puerto Rico's power grid erratic prior to the storm.

Read the rest

How anarchist organizers in rural Puerto Rico rebooted their power grid after the privatized power company abandoned them

After being hammered by hurricane Maria, the residents of the rural Puerto Rican mountain town of Mariana got tired of waiting for the bumbling, privatized, cash-starved power authority to reconnect them to the grid, so the anarchist organizer Christine Nieves founded Proyecto de Apoyo Mutuo, one of a dozen-odd cooperatives across the island to create their own solar grid; by the time the The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority finally put in an appearance, Mariana had had power for two whole months. Read the rest

Trump diverts millions from FEMA for ICE detentions, calls Puerto Rico "unsung success"

As the Carolinas prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Florence, currently a Category 4 storm, Senator Jeff Merkley appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show with a document that shows $10,000,000 was diverted from FEMA's budget to pay for ICE detention centers.

It's believed the transfer of funds took place at the beginning of summer. You know, right before the start of hurricane season. And if that's not enough to make your blood boil, this video of Trump calling his administration's handling of Puerto Rico during and after Hurricane Maria "an incredible, unsung success" should do the trick.

I'm sure Carolinians are relieved the President of the United States considers 3000 dead Americans an incredible, unsung success. No worries, Outer Banks! He'll be there to throw paper towels at you soon.

Trump admin took millions from FEMA for ICE detentions [MSNBC] Read the rest

Billionaire making a bid for Democratic Florida Governor nomination invested millions in Puerto Rican debt

Jeff Greene is a billionaire who made his fortune shorting subprime real-estate while Floridians were facing mass evictions; now he's hoping to be the Democratic candidate for Governor of Florida and his financial disclosures reveal a raft of extremely toxic investments, including millions in Puerto Rican debt (Florida is full of Puerto Rican refugees who had to flee their homes after debt-holders starved the state of infrastructure money so it could neither defend itself against hurricanes, nor rebuild in their wake), Argentinian debt (another go-to for vulture capitalists), and "oil and gas stocks Exxon, Hess, Kinder Morgan, and Apache." Read the rest

Donations to help Puerto Ricans in wake of hurricane left to rot

I think we can safely say that the United States government's response to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria was a rolling clusterfuck. Cronyism, red tape and terrible management practices on the part of FEMA, the National Guard and, in many cases, ill-equipped private contractors, turned what should have been a swift government controlled cleanup and restoration effort into a miserable quagmire. Many Puerto Ricans, a year after having their lives torn apart by hurricane-force winds and flooding, are still without permanent housing.

Difficult as it might be to believe, the ineptitude at every level of the government, both federal and territorial, has reached a new low. This past week, a large cache of donations--10 semi trailers full of medical supplies, diapers, food and water--that should have been handed out to Puerto Ricans in need of sustenance and other necessities, was found by an employee of Puerto Rican radio station Radio Isla. In a video taken by one of the radio station's employees, it's apparent that the supplies were left to rot.

According to Splinter, when the word got out that the rotting supplies had been found, the head of the National Guard for the region came up with an excuse for why the supplies had been left to ruin:

The Adjutant General of Puerto Rico, Brig. Gen. Isabelo Rivera, explained today that the merchandise stored in containers at the State Election Commission facilities, related to the collection center to help the victims of Hurricane Maria, will finish with its distribution in the next few days.

Read the rest

Puerto Rico's Hurricane Maria death toll is 70 times higher than the official count

According to the Trump administration, Hurricane Maria killed 64 people; according to a careful, peer-reviewed study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the death toll was 4645. Read the rest

All of Puerto Rico loses power

1.4 million people in Puerto Rico lost power yesterday in an outage that lasted for a day and left part of the island without power even after service was mainly restored. Read the rest

Puerto Rico to dismantle its statistics agency in the midst of radical shock doctrine project

The Puerto Rican senate has approved Governor Ricardo Rosselló's plan to dismantle the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics (PRIS), handing its functions private contractors paid by the Department of Economic Development and Commerce to manage. Read the rest

Help crowdfund the Harlem Cryptoparty and 100 unlimited, privacy-protecting wifi hotspots for Puerto Rico

Calyx is an amazing nonprofit, privacy-oriented activist ISP (they were the first ISP to successfully resist a secret Patriot Act warrant); they are notable for offering an unlimited, unfiltered, unthrottled 4G/wifi hotspot for a tax-deductible $400 year (mine has repeatedly saved my bacon). Read the rest

Seasteading meets the shock doctrine in Puerto Rico, where ethnic cleansing precedes Going Galt

Naomi Klein's l(ooooo)ongread in The Intercept about the state of play in Puerto Rico is the comprehensive summary of the post-Maria fuckery and hope that has gripped America's colonial laboratory, the place where taxation without representation, austerity, chemical weapons, new drugs, and new agribusiness techniques get trialed before the rest of America are subjected to them. Read the rest

$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

More posts