Fire In The Sky

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I almost forgot how the light dazzles the clouds. Fire in the sky on the first Monday after the time change. Silly Americans, how we play with the clocks as if we can manipulate the universe.

Can You Believe This?

¡NUNCA MÁS! Never Again!

Hi, I’m back. I’ve been working all summer and apologize for not having much time to blog. Thanks for your continued views, comments and support. Cindy

Una hecatombe que ya es oficial: 2.975 personas murieron en Puerto Rico a causa del huracán María

El informe encargado a la Universidad George Washington por el gobierno de la isla desnuda la irrealidad de la cifra de 64 víctimas mortales sostenida por la propia administración.

THE EFFECTS OF HURRICANE MARIA
A hecatomb that is now official: 2,975 people died in Puerto Rico because of Hurricane María

The report commissioned to the University George Washington by the government of the island bares the unreality of the figure of 64 deaths sustained by the administration itself.

Huracan MariaVer fotogalería
Viviendas destrozadas por el huracán en San Juan en 2017. AP
(TRANSLATION TO FOLLOW)

Recorrer las calles de los suburbios de Puerto Rico o las pistas de sus pueblos montañosos y costeros después del hucarán María del pasado 20 de septiembreera una visión constante del abandono más básico y la impotencia de la gente. En medio del caos de las comunicaciones y del apagón del sistema eléctrico, ciudadanos, políticos, militares, reporteros palpaban en penumbra una realidad que se evidenciaba mucho más grave que los datos que iba dando el Gobierno de la isla, con los cadáveres acumulándose en las morgues de los hospitales. Ha tenido que pasar casi un año para que se confirme, en números totales sobre el papel, la dimensión humana de la mayor tragedia sufrida por este país en décadas. Hoy ha sido publicado el estudio encargado por la administración puertorriqueña a la Universidad George Washington y el resultado es desolador: al menos 2.995 personas murieron en Puerto Rico a consecuencia del efecto de María entre el día en que impactó y febrero de 2018. El cálculo mide el exceso de muertes atribuibles al huracán en comparación con la media de defunciones registrada durante el mismo periodo en años anteriores.

Hasta hoy, la cifra oficial de defunciones por María era de 64. Un dato que el gobierno de Ricardo Rosselló ha mantenido durante meses sin que nadie le diese crédito. Ahora la luz de los hechos reales desnuda su estrategia de avestruz: ante la dimensión de la catástrofe, metieron la cabeza en el hoyo la mayor cantidad de tiempo posible para aminorar el impacto político. Aunque últimamente habían entreabierto la puerta al reconocimiento de lo que ocurrió. En agosto trascendió que en un documento interno se admitía que los fallecimientos por María podrían superar los 1.400. De 64 a 1.400 y, finalmente, a 2.995. Es decir: 46 veces más que aquella cifra insostenible. El estudio, además, resalta que los males provocados por la catástrofe se cebaron en los más débiles. El riesgo de muerte fue un 45% mayor para los que vivían en comunidades pobres y los mayores de 65 años se vieron expuestos a una situación de permanente vulnerabilidad.

La población, debido a la emigración a EE UU, se redujo un 8%, de 3.327.000 habitantes en septiembre de 2017 a 3.048.000 a mediados de febrero de 2018.

El gobernador Rosselló ha dicho tras conocerse el estudio, en una entrevista con El Nuevo Día, principal diario local: “Yo no soy perfecto. Yo cometo errores. (…). En aquel momento teníamos un protocolo. No nos dimos cuenta hasta un poco después de que era totalmente insuficiente y esto todo emana en que la responsabilidad de adjudicar la causa de la muerte era de los médicos, pero que lamentablemente no había un proceso formal para prepararlos ante una devastación. En aquel momento era el número que se tenía y hoy tenemos evidencia que apunta a que el número en ese momento lo más seguro era mayor”. “Esto denota la magnitud de la catástrofe”, asumió.

Rosselló, acuciado por estimaciones independientes que fueron saliendo anteriormente y que apuntaban a la irrealidad de la versión oficial, asumió la necesidad de encargar este estudio a la Universidad George Washington y apechugar con el resultado. Otras investigaciones habían arrojado las cifras orientativas de 1.130 muertos (Penn State University) y 4.600 (Harvard), pero estas instituciones no tuvieron acceso a los datos del Registro Demográfico, a los que el Gobierno de Puerto Rico no dio acceso hasta el pasado 1 de junio. Su cerrojazo estadístico hizo que le llovieran críticas como las del Centro de Periodismo Investigativo de Puerto Rico, que fue clave en la presión por que se conocieran los hechos. “El gobierno miente y lo sabe”, escribió en junio Damaris Suárez, periodista del centro y presidenta de la Asociación de la Prensa de Puerto Rico. “El manejo irregular de los datos de los fallecidos tras el paso del huracán María persigue a la administración de Rosselló. La magnitud del problema ha aumentado en el ojo público internacional como una bola de nieve, a consecuencia de la falta de transparencia deliberada que, en el caso de los muertos, inició a solo días del fenómeno atmosférico”.

Tras conocerse el dato de este estudio que viene a poner en claro de una vez la cuestión, el diario El Nuevo Día subrayó que lo ocurrido se produjo “en medio de una evidente falta de preparación de las autoridades puertorriqueñas y estadounidenses”.

En la larguísima dilación en conocerse la verdad influyeron tanto la falta de voluntad política de organizar un recuento veraz y rápido de las defunciones ligadas al huracán como las deficiencias de preparación de la administración para afrontar la catástrofe, y en concreto la clasificación de las víctimas mortales a corto y medio plazo. El estudio dice: “El estimado oficial del gobierno de 64 muertes a causa del huracán es bajo, principalmente porque las formas utilizadas para la atribución causal solo permitieron la clasificación de muertes atribuibles directamente a la tormenta; por ejemplo, las causadas por el colapso estructural, escombros voladores, inundaciones y ahogamientos. Durante nuestro estudio más amplio, se encontró que muchos médicos no estaban orientados en la certificación del protocolo adecuado”. Esta imprevisión resulta chocante para un país que se encuentra en plena zona roja de huracanes. Pero más desconcierta este otro juicio de los investigadores, que entrevistaron a personal del gobierno y de organizaciones civiles: los planes de emergencia, dicen, “no estaban diseñados para huracanes de una categoría mayor a la fuerza 1”.

El huracán María fue el más fuerte en Puerto Rico desde hace un siglo. Impactó contra el territorio boricua con una categoría de fuerza cuatro y vientos de 250 kilómetros por hora, al borde de los guarismos de la categoría 5, la máxima en la escala de huracanes. Dejó el paisaje de la isla abrasado, como si hubiera sido engullido por una gran llamarada, barrios inundados con el agua llegando hasta los tres metros de altura, numerosas carreteras cortadas, puentes caídos, la red eléctrica destrozada y ciento de miles de viviendas maltrechas o por los suelos. En los hospitales y en los domicilios de personas enfermas se vivieron algunos de los momentos más dramáticos, por la falta de electricidad para poder mantener equipamientos médicos vitales.

El huracán golpeó a Puerto Rico en el peor momento, con su administración ahogada por una deuda pública de más de 70.000 millones de dólares y con su economía intervenida, como sigue hasta hoy, por una Junta de Supervisión Fiscal designada por el Congreso de EE UU, país del que Puerto Rico es un Estado Libre Asociado. La isla ha reclamado a Washington un paquete de ayuda para su reconstrucción tras el huracán que asciende a 139.000 millones de dólares.

La confirmación de la brutal cifra de víctimas mortales hace lucir aún más desafortunada la actitud del presidente de EE UU, Donald Trump, cuando visitó la isla unos días después del huracán. Ante la prensa, Trump dijo que la cifra oficial de muertos en Puerto Rico en ese momento –16– no era nada comparada con los 1.800 que dejó en 2005 el huracán Katrina. “Debes estar orgulloso”, le dijo al gobernador Rosselló, en quién resonarán mucho tiempo esas palabras.

 

TRANSLATION

Homes destroyed by the hurricane in San Juan in 2017. AP

Going through the streets of the suburbs of Puerto Rico or the tracks of its mountainous and coastal towns after the hucarán María of last September 20 a constant vision of the most basic abandonment and the impotence of the people. In the midst of the chaos of communications and the blackout of the electricity system, citizens, politicians, military, reporters felt in gloom a reality that was much more serious than the data that was given by the Government of the island, with the corpses accumulating in the morgues of hospitals. It has taken almost a year to confirm, in total numbers on paper, the human dimension of the greatest tragedy suffered by this country in decades. Today the study commissioned by the Puerto Rican administration to the George Washington University has been published and the result is devastating: at least 2,995 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of the effect of Maria between the day it struck and February 2018. The calculation measures the excess of deaths attributable to the hurricane compared to the average of deaths registered during the same period in previous years.

Until today, the official number of deaths by María was 64. A fact that the government of Ricardo Rosselló has maintained for months without anyone giving him credit. Now the light of the real events undresses its ostrich strategy: faced with the dimension of the catastrophe, they put their heads in the hole as long as possible to lessen the political impact. Although lately they had opened the door to the recognition of what happened. In August, it transpired that an internal document admitted that Maria’s deaths could exceed 1,400. From 64 to 1,400 and, finally, to 2,995. That is: 46 times more than that unsustainable figure. The study also highlights that the evils caused by the catastrophe were primed in the weakest. The risk of death was 45% higher for those who lived in poor communities and those over 65 were exposed to a situation of permanent vulnerability.

The population, due to the emigration to the USA, was reduced by 8%, from 3,327,000 inhabitants in September 2017 to 3,048,000 in mid-February 2018.

Governor Rossello said after learning of the study, in an interview with El Nuevo Día, the main local newspaper: “I am not perfect, I make mistakes … At that time we had a protocol. shortly after it was totally insufficient and this all emanates in that the responsibility of adjudicating the cause of death was of the doctors, but unfortunately there was no formal process to prepare them for a devastation. I had and today we have evidence pointing to the fact that the number at that time was probably greatest “. “This denotes the magnitude of the catastrophe,” he said.

Rossello, harassed by independent estimates that were leaving earlier and pointing to the unreality of the official version, assumed the need to commission this study to the George Washington University and apechugar with the result. Other investigations had yielded the indicative figures of 1,130 dead (Penn State University) and 4,600 (Harvard), but these institutions did not have access to the data of the Demographic Registry, to which the Government of Puerto Rico did not give access until the past 1 of June. His statistical closure caused him to be criticized as the Investigative Journalism Center of Puerto Rico, which was key in the pressure to know the facts. “The government lies and knows it,” Damaris Suárez, a center journalist and president of the Press Association of Puerto Rico, wrote in June. “The irregular handling of the data of the deceased after the passage of hurricane Maria persecutes the Rosselló administration.The magnitude of the problem has increased in the international public eye as a snowball, as a result of the lack of deliberate transparency that, in the case of the dead, he began only days of the atmospheric phenomenon. “

After knowing the data of this study that comes to clarify once the question, the newspaper El Nuevo Día stressed that what happened was “in the midst of an evident lack of preparation of the Puerto Rican and American authorities.”

In the very long delay in knowing the truth, both the lack of political will to organize a truthful and rapid count of the deaths linked to the hurricane and the deficiencies of the administration’s preparation to deal with the catastrophe, and in particular the classification of the fatalities, influenced both. in the short and medium term. The study says: “The government’s official estimate of 64 deaths due to the hurricane is low, mainly because the forms used for the causal attribution only allowed the classification of deaths directly attributable toStorm; for example, those caused by structural collapse, flying debris, floods and drowning. During our larger study, it was found that many doctors were not oriented towards the certification of the appropriate protocol. “This unpredictability is shocking for a country that is in the middle of the hurricane red zone, but more disturbing this other trial of the researchers, which interviewed government and civil society personnel: the emergency plans, they say, “were not designed for hurricanes of a greater than strength 1 category.”

Hurricane Maria was the strongest hurricane in Puerto Rico for a century. the Puerto Rican territory with a category of force four and winds of 250 kilometers per hour, on the edge of the figures of category 5, the maximum on the hurricane scale, leaving the landscape of the island scorched, as if it had been swallowed by a great flare, neighborhoods flooded with water reaching up to three meters high, numerous roads cut, bridges fallen, the electrical network destroyed and a hundred of thousands of homes damaged or in tatters. In hospitals and in the homes of sick people lived some of the most dramatic moments, the lack of electricity to maintain vital medical equipment. The hurricane hit Puerto Rico at the worst moment, with his administration drowned by a public debt of more than 70,000 million dollars and with its economy intervened, as it continues to this day, by a Fiscal Oversight Board appointed by the US Congress, a country of which Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth. The island has demanded Washington a package of aid for its reconstruction after the hurricane that amounts to 139,000 million dollars.

The confirmation of the brutal death toll makes the attitude of the US president, Donald Trump, even more unfortunate. He visited the island a few days after the hurricane. Before the press, Trump said that the official death toll in Puerto Rico at that time -16- was nothing compared to the 1,800 that Hurricane Katrina left in 2005. “You must be proud,” he told Governor Rosselló, in whom those words will resonate for a long time.

Puerto Rico, A State?

Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez is surrounded by lawmakers while introducing a new bipartisan bill to officially pave the way to incorporate Puerto Rico as a state.

Lawmakers on Wednesday introduced new bipartisan legislation to make Puerto Rico the nation’s 51st state by 2021.

The bill, known as the Puerto Rico Admission Act of 2018 was presented by Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner, Jenniffer González-Colón, a Republican who authored the bill and is a nonvoting member of Congress.

 “This is the first step to open a serious discussion to determine the ultimate political status of Puerto Rico,” González said. “To sum everything up, this is about equality.”

The bipartisan effort is co-sponsored by 36 members of Congress, 22 Republicans and 14 Democrats.

“I’m pleased to be one of the sponsors,” said Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources. “I look forward to the day 51 is a reality.”

Rep. José Serrano, D-N.Y., who attended the event and supports the bill, said, “It is more about ending colonialism than about bringing statehood.”

 Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., said she supports the bill because it’s about equality.

 “The hard truth is that Puerto Rico’s lack of political power allows Washington to treat Puerto Rico like an afterthought, as the federal government’s inadequate preparation for and response to Hurricane Maria made crystal clear,” she said.

 At a press conference, González said the bill calls for the creation of a task force composed of nine members of Congress which would look into what changes are needed in order to incorporate Puerto Rico as a state. While lawmakers go back and forth with recommendations and amendments, Puerto Rico would become an incorporated territory.

 States like Hawaii spent over five decades as an incorporated territory, while other states like Alabama lasted two years.

As an incorporated territory, people in the island would have to start paying federal income taxes while not being entitled to full statehood political rights.

Puerto Ricans living in the island are U.S. citizens who currently don’t pay federal income taxes, but they do pay payroll taxes. They are unable to elect members of Congress or vote for president.

For decades, Puerto Ricans have been divided between support for the island’s pro-statehood party, which includes the current administration, and the party advocating the current commonwealth, or territorial status, with a smaller minority advocating independence.

The last plebiscite asking Puerto Ricans if they wanted to become a state took place a year ago. Though 97 percent of people who voted favored statehood, the opposition party boycotted the plebiscite, so it had a historically low turnout of 23 percent.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, a Democrat, and other public officials from the island and the mainland also accompanied González during the announcement.

“The time has come for Congress to chose what’s their position” on the issue, Rosselló said.

In Puerto Rico, the president of the pro-commonwealth Popular Democratic Party said the bill was more of a tease, considering its timing. “It’s a farse, cultivating this image when Congress doesn’t even have six months of ‘life’ left,” said Héctor Ferrer.

Carlos Vargas-Ramos, a research associate at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, told NBC News that the timing is not ideal. “It’s late in the term, before midterm elections,” said Vargas-Ramos, ”I don’t see how this can get passed.” He explained that its unlikely that lawmakers have enough time to move this legislation through the House and the Senate before midterm elections change Congress’s makeup.

“If Ricardo can guarantee us two Republican senators it can be a very quick process,” Trump replied, sparking laughs across the room.

This is not the first time that González introduces a bill calling for Puerto Rico’s statehood.

 In January 2017, she introduced the Puerto Rico Admission bill as an attempt to uphold the results of a 2012 plebiscite in which 61 percent of voters favored statehood, but which was also mired in controversy over the way the questions were asked.

The legislation never made it to the House or the Senate floor.

9 months after Hurricane Maria, the battle for Puerto Rico’s future is underway – TODAY.com

Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico nine months ago. Power has finally been restore for much of the island, but there is still work to be done. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez, who has been reporting from the island since before the storm hit, returns there for this week’s Sunday Spotlight.
— Read on www.today.com/video/9-months-after-hurricane-maria-the-battle-for-puerto-rico-s-future-is-underway-1257715267875