# Me Too: But, From A Different Perspective

# Me Too: But From A Different Perspective 

 

As most folks know by now there has been a lot of attention being paid to sexual abuse of women in the media lately and the call sign for this movement is #Me-Too. I am by no means a person who pays any attention to the Hollywood scene so I do not know who the movers and shakers are in that ‘world’, nor do I care to be. Evidently a couple of weeks ago a bigwig male Producer was accused by several women of sexually abusing them and this started the conversation about powerful men who have been sexually abusing ladies for many decades. If I had been asked a month ago what was meant by sexual abuse I would have thought they were talking about rape or attempted rape. Reality is sexual abuse goes much further than just trying to have sex with a lady who did not want to have sex with you. I would have thought that sexual abuse would have been along the line of the ‘Directors couch’ where if you wanted to get the part in one of their movies, you had to give out sexual favors. In the business world, I would have equated it to if a woman wanted to get the promotion they had to spread their legs or get on their knees. Reality is ladies getting their butts slapped or their tits grabbed is definitely sexual abuse/harassment also. But this article today is not about sexual harassment, but it is about another (Me Too), concerning women, and some men, and not just gay men.

 

I am a straight man so I can only relay my personal experiences from this angle. I have been married now for 18 years and I have not touched another woman in a sexual manner even once since we first got together back in 1999. What I am writing this article about is women being the brunt of physical abuse as in being punched and kicked, beaten. In my life, I was blessed to know many women and there was one thing that I came across over and over again and that was that every single woman that I have ever got to know had been physically beaten by a man, and usually more than one in their life. I was raised to respect women, I loved women and I definitely enjoyed the sex, but I never struck a lady for saying no. There were a few times in my life when a lady and I were well on the path to having sex when the woman for whatever her reason changed her mind and wanted to stop. Each of those times I put my hands up and did not touch her again, at all.

 

Think about guys who rape women, or even men. To me this is stupid, there are plenty of women everywhere who like to have sex just as much as the guys do. But, if you are so scummy or ugly that you can’t get a knothole in a tree to play with you then its time to find a woman or a guy if that is your persuasion, who excepts cash or credit cards. What I am getting at is, there is no reason for anyone to sexually force themselves onto a person who is telling you no! Then comes the physical aggression bit, why does anyone think that they have the right to rape, punch or kick another person? Machoism is the only thing that I can think of. Think of the situation of prisons where a person thinks they are such a bad ass that they will physically beat another person up, then rape them, you know, showing everyone else ‘who the man is’. These are the same ‘men’ who will say, hell no, I ain’t gay. All I have to say to that is, really. If you are willing to touch another person of the same sex as yourself in a sexual manner, guess what, your gay! But really this article isn’t about being gay or not being gay. This article is about physical aggression that is put upon women by men. To me, I was always taught that only a coward physically strikes a woman, not a man.

 

Think about it, my personal experience with women in my lifetime that I have gotten to know well enough where we could just talk as friends and every single one of them had been beaten by a ‘man’. This even applies to my wife and to my x-wife. Folks, this is sickening, there is no excuse for this to exist in our society, yet it does. What is it going to take to get this monster brought out of the closet, the President beating up the First Lady, in public? We need to have a movement called #Me-Too in regards to the physical beatings women are having to face in our society. How can we honestly say we have a civilized society with all this violence toward women, both sexually, or with the fist?

 

National Park Service proposes $70 entrance fee for 17 popular parks

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

National Park Service proposes $70 entrance fee for 17 popular parks

Madison Park, CNN • Published 25th October 2017
(CNN) — The National Park Service proposes more than doubling the entrance fees at 17 popular national parks, including Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone, to help pay for infrastructure improvements.
Under the agency’s proposal, the entrance fee for a private vehicle would jump to $70 during peak season, from its current rate of $25 to $30.
The cost for a motorcycle entering the park could increase to $50, from the current fee of $15 to $25. The cost for people entering the park on foot or on bike could go to $30, up from the current rate of $10 to $15.
The cost of the annual pass, which permits entrance into all federal lands and parks, would remain at $80.
The proposal would affect the following 17 national parks during the 2018 peak season:
  • Arches
  • Bryce Canyon
  • Canyonlands
  • Denali
  • Glacier
  • Grand Canyon
  • Grand Teton
  • Olympic
  • Sequoia & Kings Canyon
  • Yellowstone
  • Yosemite
  • Zion
  • Acadia
  • Mount Rainier
  • Rocky Mountain
  • Shenandoah
  • Joshua Tree
Peak pricing would affect each park’s busiest five months for visitors.
The National Park Service said the increase would help pay for badly needed improvements, including to roads, bridges, campgrounds, water-line’s, bathrooms and other visitor services at the parks. The fee hikes could also boost national park revenue by $70 million per year, it said.
“The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration,” Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said in a statement.
Of the 417 national park sites, 118 charge an entrance fee.
The National Park service has opened the proposal to public comments for 30 days at its website.
The proposal was blasted by the National Parks Conservation Association, a nonpartisan advocacy group.
“We should not increase fees to such a degree as to make these places — protected for all Americans to experience — unaffordable for some families to visit,” the group’s president and CEO Theresa Pierno said in a statement. “The solution to our parks’ repair needs cannot and should not be largely shouldered by its visitors.”
The South Kaibab Trail drops to the Colorado River in the bottom of the Grand Canyon in just under seven miles. Numerous day hike options turn around at phenomenal viewpoints if you don’t want to commit to an overnight trip to the bottom of the canyon.
Ben Adkison
“The administration just proposed a major cut to the National Park Service budget even as parks struggle with billions of dollars in needed repairs,” Pierno said. “If the administration wants to support national parks, it needs to walk the walk and work with Congress to address the maintenance backlog.”
On the National Park Service’s Facebook page, some commented that the proposal was reasonable since it was going to improve and maintain the parks. Others lamented that it would price working class people out of making trips that they had saved up for.
Entrance fees at several national parks, including Mount Rainer, Grand Teton and Yellowstone, went up in 2015 to their current price.
Those fee increases didn’t seem to deter visitors. In 2016, National Park Services received a record-breaking 331 million visits, which marked a 7.7% increase over 2015. It was the park service’s third consecutive all-time attendance record.
Most popular National Parks in 2016 (59 total)
Great Smoky Mountains National Park — 11,312,786 million visitors
Grand Canyon National Park — 5,969,811
Yosemite National Park — 5,028,868
Rocky Mountain National Park — 4,517,585
Zion National Park — 4,295,127
Yellowstone National Park — 4,257,177
Olympic National Park — 3,390,221
Acadia National Park — 3,303,393
Grand Teton National Park — 3,270,076
Glacier National Park — 2,946,681

Study Shows That 75% Of Insects Have Disappeared In Last 3 Decades

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

New study suggests insect populations have declined by 75% over 3 decades

Story highlights

  • Study shows dramatic declines in insect populations in Germany
  • Much smaller insect populations could have significant knock-on effects for the health of the planet

(CNN)A new scientific study has found “dramatic” and “alarming” declines in insect populations in areas in Germany, which researchers say could have far-reaching consequences for the world’s crop production and natural ecosystems.

The study, published on Wednesday in peer-reviewed journal PLOS One has found that, in German nature reserves, flying insect populations have declined by more than 75% over the duration of the 27-year study.
“The flying insect community as a whole… has been decimated over the last few decades,” said the study, which was conducted by Researchers from Radboud University in the Netherlands and the Entomological Society Krefeld in Germany.
“Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services.”
Co-author Caspar Hallman said he and his colleagues were “very, very surprised” by the results.
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“These are not agricultural areas, these are locations meant to preserve biodiversity, but still we see the insects slipping out of our hands,” he told CNN.

‘Could be everywhere’

Entomologists have long had evidence of the decline of individual species, said Tanya Latty, a research and teaching fellow in entomology at Sydney University’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences.
However, few studies have taken such a broad view of entire insect populations, she says.
“This study lumps all flying insects together,” she said, which gives researchers a more accurate picture of the overall decline.
“If you see these sort of dramatic declines in protected areas it makes me worry that this (trend) could be everywhere,” she said.
“There’s no reason to think this isn’t happening everywhere.”
Hallman said he hoped the study could be “repeated in other parts of the world.”

Worrying decline

The long-term study used Malaise traps — a sophisticated kind of insect net which catches a wide variety of insects — set up in 63 German nature protection areas over the course of 27 years.
By measuring the weight of the insect catch — known as the biomass — from each of the Malaise traps, researchers were able to ascertain the drop in insect numbers.
The study reported a seasonal decline of 76%, and mid-summer decline of 82% in flying insect biomass over the 27 years of study.
“We show that this decline is apparent regardless of habitat type,” the study says.
Latty says it’s particularly worrying that the study recorded the declines in protected areas, meaning that for agricultural or urban areas the trend could be even more pronounced.
The report suggests climate change, loss of insect habitats and potentially the use of pesticides, are behind the alarming decline. Latty says it’s unlikely there’s one “smoking gun,” but rather a combination of contributing factors.

Underestimated

Latty says the importance of insects — which make up around 70% of all animal species — is underestimated.
“We don’t often think about insects other than ‘eww, an insect.’ But these are the organisms running the world.
“Insects pollinate the crops we eat, they contribute to pest control, we’d have to use more pesticide. They’re even crucial in waste control — most of the waste in urban areas is taken care of by ants and cockroaches.”
Insects, she says, are “crucial” to biodiversity, and “we exist because of biodiversity.”

Bees learn 'soccer' in new study

Bees learn ‘soccer’ in new study 00:49

Knock-on effects

Species who rely on insects as their food source — and, up the food chain, the predators which eat these animals — are likely to suffer from these declines. Pollination of both crops and wild plants are also affected, as is nutrient cycling in the soil.
Indeed, “ecosystem services provided by wild insects have been estimated at $57 billion annually in the USA,” the study says, quoting an earlier study.
Some 80% of wild plants rely on insects for pollination; 60% of birds rely on insects as a food source, according to the study.
Latty says she hopes the decline is reversible.
“The first step is acknowledging that we have a problem, and working to correct that — how do we design our agriculture to encourage insects? It could be something as simple as growing wildflowers along the edges of fields.”
She says we also need to improve people’s education around insect populations — “that insects are important, absolutely crucial to our survival,” and to deal with pests sensibly.
“There’s so much going on out there, it’s a struggle to convince people that insects are important. We’ve probably only identified only 10% of insects and some are going extinct before we can even name them.”

It Is Time To Totally Rebuild Puerto Rico’s Infrastructure Right Now

It Is Time To Rebuild Puerto Rico’s Infrastructure Right Now

 

Okay America, Okay politicians in D.C. it is time to step up and do the right thing for a group of 3.3 million poor American citizens who happen to call the Island of Puerto Rico home. If you check into the rebuild in the much more affluent rich folks playground of the American Virgin Islands you will notice they are well ahead in the cleanup efforts being conducted in Puerto Rico.

 

One of the issues that Donald Trump ran for President on was that he was going to invest in and fix Americas crumbling infrastructure. Fixing our nationally crumbling infrastructure is a great way to create good paying jobs plus gives the people a more viable secure living condition. Right now, President Trump needs to live up to his campaign promises on this issue. Now is not the time to put in some straggled patch work projects in Puerto Rico, now is the time to rebuild it into a quality place for human beings to work and live within. Hurricane Maria plowed the fields of the old, it is now, right now, time to invest the 95 Billion or so odd dollars that the ‘professionals’ say it will take to fix what is broken. So, Mr. Trump, stop Tweeting, shut the hell up and just do your job. Fix what has been broken under your watch. You campaigned on infrastructure rebuilding, you did not say you only wanted to rebuild the neighborhoods of your personal friends on the American tax payers dime. But then again we the people have become quite accustomed to you being an habitual liar. Just like the other trash in your personal swamp.

EPA Chief Scott Pruit To Repeal Obama’s Global Warming Rule

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE DAILY CALLER’)

 

EPA Chief Scott Pruit To Repeal Obama’s Global Warming Rule

Photo of Michael Bastasch

MICHAEL BASTASCH

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt announced he would sign a proposed rule to repeal the centerpiece of former President Barack Obama’s plan to fight global warming.

Pruitt announced his intention to withdraw the Clean Power Plan (CPP) to applause from a crowd gathered at a mining event on Monday. EPA has been working to repeal the CPP for months.

The Obama administration finalized the CPP in 2015, which aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Obama used the CPP as part of his plant to meet the goals of the Paris climate accord.

The CPP, however, never went into full effect. The U.S. Supreme Court issued an unprecedented stay against the rule in early 2016.

Draft EPA plans to repeal and possibly replace the CPP have already leaked to the media. EPA says repealing the rule will save Americans $33 billion in compliance costs.

The Obama administration claimed the CPP would only cost $8.4 billion and deliver public health and climate benefits ranging from $14 to $34 billion by 2030.

EPA won’t propose a replacement to the CPP in its proposal, according to draft plans. The agency may issue a separate rule, asking for comments on what could replace the CPP.

“The EPA has not determined whether it will promulgate a rule under section 111(d) to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing EGUs, and, if it will do so, when it will do so and what form that rule will take,” reads the draft.

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Trinidad & Tobago Citizens Continue to Help Hurricane-Ravaged Dominica 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Clapping Back Against Online Xenophobia,Trinidad & Tobago Citizens Continue to Help Hurricane-Ravaged Dominica 

An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22 (HSC-22), attached to the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), performs humanitarian aid operations on the embattled island of Dominica following the landfall of Hurricane Maria. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Molina/Released)170924-N-VK310-0009. Via the Official U.S. Navy Flickr Page, CC BY 2.0

In the wake of the devastation left by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Trinidad and Tobago, along with its neighbours across the archipelago, have banded together under the #OneCaribbean hashtag, sending supplies and other relief to the islands most adversely affected and creating a sense of community.

But solidarity isn’t the only thing that the disaster has inspired. After Trinidad and Tobago’s prime minister, Dr. Keith Rowley, offered accommodation to Dominican hurricane victims whose homes had been destroyed, saying immigration restrictions would be waived for a period of six months, xenophobic comments began to spring up on social media.

With government critics questioning whether the country should be opened up in a period of economic recession, some of the backlash has been perceived as politicalpartisanship. Many netizens were taken aback at the level of hatefulness and wasted no time in calling it out.

Leslie-Ann Boiselle posted this status update on Facebook:

A public status update by Facebook user Leslie-Ann Boiselle, who said, “Seeing such putrid hatred, insensitivity and downright callousness aimed at those who are in dire need is so disappointing.”

And Patricia Worrell added:

I have NO political bias in favour of any party right now. I watch all with cynicism, and listen to the utterances of each with a ton of salt.
Nonetheless, the comments about PM Rowley’s response to the Dominica situation on one political party’s page are stomach turning!
And no intervention by any person in a leadership position in that party to suggest that the hatred expressed on that page, and directed against a suffering people in the name of politics is wrong?
Nah! I think people may have reached an all-time low there!

Historical context

The blog Politics868 likened the reaction to the United States’ reluctance to welcome European Jews on the eve of World War II. Compared with other countries’ responses to recent migrant crises, it argued, “a mere 2000 Dominicans is nothing to get bothered over”.

Attorney Ria Mohammed-Davidson wrote in to blog Wired868, saying:

The visceral responses which this decision has provoked betray an unfortunate lack of awareness of the full panoply of rights contained in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, particularly the right to free movement under Article 45. This right was further concretised in the 2007 Heads of Government decision which granted to all CARICOM [Caribbean Community] nationals an automatic, six-month stay upon arrival in any Member State.

Facebook user Rhoda Bharath added:

Since the 1770s Trinidad and Tobago, whether as a colony or Independent nation has allowed immigrants through co ordinated programmes.
We have had political refugees.
Labour/economic refugees.
People fleeing religious persecution, wars, poverty.
Post Independendence we continue to have immigrants and refugees for one reason or another of all nationalities.
Immigrants have always been an integral part of our development as a society.
The PM has offered 6 months of safe refuge to our neighbours….and the xenophobia and prejudice I am seeing blows my mind.
Keep rationalising hate and ignorance!
#HurricaneMaria
#TrumpTrinidad

However, Facebook user Dave Williams remembered a time that one former leader of a PNM government — the current ruling party in Trinidad and Tobago — had been less than charitable to Haiti, another of its Caribbean neighbours.

Keith Francis issued an apology on behalf of his countrymen:

Dear Dominica,
On behalf of all of the right-thinking Trinbagonians among us, I apologise for our having here persons who are less charitable and more ungracious in your time of trouble. They do not represent the majority of us. We are collectively better than what you have been made to observe.
You are welcome here, and we will do what we can to help you even as we face challenging times ourselves.
#kthxbye #SeeYouSoon #BeCaribbeanStrong
Luv,
The Me
CC: Antigua, Venezuela, St. Lucia, Grenada, Haiti, and everyone else that small-minded and dirt-hearted Trinbagonians have offended in the past.

Such a myopic stance also struck other Facebook users as ironic, especially considering that Trinidad and Tobago’s national anthem includes the lines, “Side by side we stand, islands of the blue Caribbean Sea”. Originally intended to be the anthem for the failed West Indies Federation, the piece was adapted for Trinidad and Tobago when it became independent in 1962.

A deeper malaise?

Keston K. Perry, writing at Wired868, suggested, however, that the response — while lacking “empathy and consideration” — could also be interpreted as a symptom of “a deeper sense of disenfranchisement that some Trinbagonians may be feeling at the moment”.

He bashed both sides of the political divide, arguing that “the reactionary xenophobia appears to share common strands—perhaps from a feeling of loss of power and control over their material, political and economic circumstances”, and dismissing the view that the reaction was rooted in racism:

While the rhetoric from government ministers has been that the burden of adjustment is being evenly distributed, for many regular citizens and families who have to hustle to survive, that is simply not the case. It is, therefore, possible that the irrational and xenophobic reactions to the PM’s invitation to fellow CARICOM nationals may well be other attitudes in disguise.

The regrettable insensitivity towards Dominicans has to be seen in the wider context of heightened economic insecurity, an instinct by some for self-preservation or the expression of the little power that access to social media affords the have-nots.

Leadership is certainly manifested by showing some compassion to and solidarity with our Dominican brothers and sisters, by offering them some respite and hospitality even for a short period of time. In the wider scheme of things, however, leadership must also take cognisance of the fact that the current economic policy agenda—which favours business interests—has not, even in the best of circumstances, really served the people of this two-island nation.

Banding together

Still, many netizens were having none of it. The hashtag #IStandWithDominicastarted being used on several social media platforms. Journalist Soyini Grey commented on Facebook:

FYI an environmental refugee isn’t a criminal, or criminally-prone. And they may not want to relocate permanently.
Also, immigrants can be good for your economy.
Think, people. Think

Nicole Philip Greene advised:

Pay no attention to the noisemakers and fearmongerers. Do not let them dishearten, confuse or divide you.
There are A LOT of Trinis working quietly doing what they know is right for our neighbours. Giving of time, effort and supplies.
And not just because we know ‘There but for the grace of God…’ but because we still have a heart. We still know what is right.
🇹🇹 🇩🇲 #Hope #BeCaribbeanStrong #IStandWithDominica 🇩🇲 🇹🇹

Stories being shared on social media pages supported this — for every negative comment, there seemed to be many more accounts of generosityheroism, and assistance.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Relief efforts in Dominica coordinated today by Ministry of National Security Divisons, Caribbean Airlines Ltd and NGOs.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

TTDF rescues family in Dominica. They were living in a car in the middle if nowhere since the hurricane.

Several netizens expressed a desire to host Dominicans in their homes, and more than 100 regional performers got together for the “One Island” concert, held in Trindad’s capital city on September 24, 2017, which was the 41st anniversary of Republic Day. The proceeds of the concert go towards hurricane relief efforts in the region, and scores of Trinidad and Tobago-based churches, schools, charitable and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) continue to send containers with supplies and other relief materials to the citizens of Dominica.

The Global Voices Caribbean team is interested in curating citizen media stories of hope, community and resilience after the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria. If you have a story, video, or image that speaks to how the Caribbean is bouncing back and banding together during the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, please hashtag its country of origin and which hurricane affected it, and add the following hashtags: #OneCaribbean, #CaribbeanResilience and #CaribbeanStrong. You can also contact us on Twitter (@gvcaribbean) or send an email to our regional editor at [email protected]

Entire island evacuated as volcanoes rumble in Bali and Vanuatu

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Entire island evacuated as volcanoes rumble in Bali and Vanuatu

People look at Mount Agung in Karangasem on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on September 24, 2017.

Story highlights

  • Everyone on Ambae island to be evacuated as volcanic activity increases
  • More than 134,000 have been evacuated around Mount Agung in Bali

(CNN)Thousands of people have been evacuated on the Indonesian island of Bali and on Ambae island in Vanuatu as two volcanoes threaten to erupt.

The entire population of Ambae is being moved from the path of the “increasingly active” Marano volcano, also known as Lombenben, according to the Pacific nation’s government.
On the Indonesian island of Bali, more than 134,000 people have been taken to shelters as authorities warn that Mount Agung, in the island’s north, could erupt at any time.
Both volcanoes sit on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of intense seismic activity that stretches 40,000 kilometers (25,000 miles) from New Zealand to South America.
That they’re showing signs of erupting at the same time is pure coincidence, said Benjamin Andrews, of the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program.

Vanuatu volcano

Vanuatu’s Ambae island hasn’t been evacuated on this scale since an alert in 2005, Minister of Land and Natural Resources Ralph Regenvanu told CNN.
Most of the island’s 11,000 residents are being taken away by boat, but some are also being airlifted to evacuation centers on Vanuatu’s Pentecost and Maewo islands.
On Wednesday, a New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) aerial survey found “huge columns of smoke, ash and volcanic rocks billowing from the crater of an erupting volcano” on the island, according to a press release from the agency.
The alert level is at 4, the second highest on the scale. “Ambae volcano is in an ongoing moderate eruption state,” a statement from Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department said. People in local villages could experience the danger of flying rocks, volcanic gases and acid rain, the statement added.

Imagery taken during a New Zealand Defence Force aerial survey showing activity from the Monaro volcano on Vanuatu's Ambae Island.

“The principle concerns here are that the volcano can eject volcanic rocks to distances of many kilometers from the crater, and that the volcano could erupt ash and/or emit sulfur dioxide,” said Andrews, from the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program..
Australia had responded to a request for assistance, pledging up to 20.5 million Vatu ($190,000) in “much-needed supplies like food, water, shelter and hygiene kits for affected communities on Ambae,” a Vanuatu government statement said Thursday.
Australia was also funding surveillance flights over the volcanoes on Ambae and nearby Ambrym island, it added.

134,000 evacuated in Bali

In Bali, residents are still being moved outside an exclusion zone that stretches 12 kilometers from the center of Mount Agung.
More than 134,000 are living in evacuation centers, sleeping on floors and waiting for something to happen.
“It’s been six days since we are here, we want to go home,” said Wayan, 65, who like many Indonesians only goes by one name. He evacuated with this elderly mother, wife, children and young grandchild to the Swecapura sports arena.
Wayan also fled his home back when Mount Agung last erupted in 1963. Back then, there was no evacuation plan, people just “ran to save themselves,” he said. More than 1,700 people were killed and many villages destroyed.

Wayan sits with his family at the Swecapura evacuation center in Bali.

This time, 447 temporary shelters have been set up outside the exclusion zone around the volcano, according to the National Disaster Management Agency.
Ngurah Rai International Airport remains open but is on alert in case of ash disruption, and there are plans to bus people to other airports, if needed.

People wait inside an evacuation centre in Klungkung regency, on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on September 25, 2017.

Seismic activity continues in the volcano and the alert level for an eruption has been raised to 4, the highest warning level on the Indonesian scale.

President Trump Suspends ‘Jones Act’ In Effort To Get Help To Puerto Rico Quicker

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Washington (CNN)The White House has authorized a waiver to loosen shipping rules regarding Puerto Rico that island officials say would be a significant help for recovery efforts from Hurricane Maria.

“At @ricardorossello request, @POTUS has authorized the Jones Act be waived for Puerto Rico. It will go into effect immediately,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted Thursday morning.
Her tweet comes after Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said he asked the White House to loosen the regulations Wednesday night.
He joined the growing list of officials who argued that lifting the the Jones Act — a federal law designed to protect the financial interests of US shipbuilders by limiting shipping by foreign vessels — would help expedite supplies to the ravaged island. The act has had the unintended consequence of making it twice as expensive to ship things from the US mainland to Puerto Rico as it is to ship from any other foreign port in the world, according to Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain’s office.

Trump weighs lifting Jones Act for Puerto Rico

Trump weighs lifting Jones Act for Puerto Rico 01:01
The act was quickly lifted to help Texas and Florida in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The Department of Homeland Security said it was able to lift the restrictions quickly because the Department of Defense requested a waiver for those states and the department hadn’t yet done so for Puerto Rico.
Trump told reporters on Wednesday that “we’re thinking” about lifting the law, but added that a “lot of shippers” didn’t want it lifted.
In the wake of the devastation in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz — along with other US politicians, including McCain and Marco Rubio, R-Florida — had urged the suspension of the Jones Act in order to speed up supply deliveries.

El Capitan rockfall kills one, injures another at Yosemite

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

El Capitan rockfall kills one, injures another at Yosemite National Park

Tour guide Jon Kameen captured the moment of a fatal rock fall on Yosemite's El Capitan.

Story highlights

  • Fatal rock slide was an “undetermined size”
  • Fall took place during climbing season on popular route

(CNN)At least one person was killed and another injured after a rockfall on El Capitan, the most prominent granite cliff in Yosemite National Park, according to a statement from the National Parks Service.

The fatal rock slide, which was of “undetermined size,” according to a press release from the NPS, appears to have started near the Waterfall Route, a “popular climbing route” on the east buttress of the famous, nearly 3,000-foot granite wall.
“Park Rangers are working to transport the injured person to receive medical care outside of the park,” the statement reads. The rockfall comes during climbing season, and there are “many climbers” on the rock formation and other climbing routes in Yosemite.
The statement adds that the Yosemite remains open and visitor services unaffected.
Tour guide John DeGrazio was giving a tour of the park when he captured the moment of the rockfall.
“We saw a huge plume of smoke from the summit of Half Dome and later found out it was a fatal rockfall,” he told CNN.
“I am a guide on a tour right now. We were on the summit of Half Dome when we saw this.”
El Capitan is one of the world’s most famous climbs, known for its near vertical cliffs. It was believed to be impossible to climb until 1957, when American rock climbing pioneer Warren Harding made it to the top with two aides.
In June, climber Alex Honnold became the first person to free-solo climb the mountain.

Puerto Rico, Trapped Between Colonialism and Hurricanes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Puerto Rico, Trapped Between Colonialism and Hurricanes

Puerto Rican Graffiti. Photo by Flickr user Juan Cristóbal Zulueta. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.

Puerto Rican Graffiti. Photo by Flickr user Juan Cristóbal Zulueta. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.

You came to Puerto Rico for the golden sand and sun—gold, you will recall, was also the basis of our first colonizers’ initial attraction. For the endless piña coladas and rum-spiked mysteries. For the colonial charm and quaint, humble lifestyle. Poverty looks so alluring in the Caribbean, what with the bright colors, crystal-clear waters and the backdrop of lush greens—besides, it’s only for a week. Your friends say it’s the hottest Spring Break spot; the newspapers say it’s a debt-ridden disaster; your parents say it’s dangerous and that the water is undrinkable; and the brochures say it’s a (tax) haven, an absolute paradise. So here you are, in your bathing suit and sarong, mojito in hand, ready to focus on your one task for the week: getting a tan.

But it turns out that the sun isn’t nailed onto the sky, and it doesn’t run on one-million 100-watt light bulbs that never fail. The tides rise and the swells are ferocious. Coconuts, palm trees and branches are potential projectiles. And a hurricane is heading straight for your worry-free fantasy.

So you try to catch a flight out of this paradise-turned-inferno, because a hurricane was not on your must-see itinerary. Instead, JetBlue takes you to a hurricane shelter in San Juan, a hot and humid coliseum, where your beach chair is replaced by a cot; your piña colada by a Walgreens water bottle; your dream, by our reality.

The power was out in my house as I imagined the scenario above, which had taken place the day before, right before Irma’s arrival. After Irma’s passing the next morning there were more than a million households without power. The Electric Power Authority (AEE) was predicting the outages would last two to four months, and almost 80,000 households had lost water service as well. Over 6,200 people were in shelters on the northeastern side of the island, and Puerto Rico’s agricultural industry had suffered $30.4 million in losses. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Governor Ricardo Rosselló were still evaluating infrastructural and residential damages. And now a powerful new storm was heading our way: María.

Puerto Rico is no stranger to crisis. Before Irma’s rampage through the archipelago, Puerto Rico was already in the midst of one of the most devastating financial and socio-political crises in its recent history, with an unaudited $74 billion debt under its belt, $49 billion in pension obligations, and several decades’ worth of illegal bond issuances and trading related to its status as an overly-advertised tax haven. Neoliberal policies such as draconian budget cuts and extreme austerity measures had already rendered life in Puerto Rico quite precarious. And the whole thing was being overseen and managed simultaneously by Governor Rosselló, an unelected and antidemocratic Fiscal Control Board, and judge Laura Taylor Swain, all of whom were going back and forth on the country’s fiscal management and debt restructuring processes.

But even as Hurricane Irma headed straight towards it, for many outside of the country, Puerto Rico is a mere blip on CNN’s news ticker, an enchanting US-owned island on a tourist brochure, that exotic place where the music video for “Despacito” was filmed (and made all the better by Justin Bieber), a pebble sinking between an ocean and a sea that have seen too much.

But Irma’s passing and aftermath have once again brought to light Puerto Rico’s primordial conundrum: colonialism.

Puerto Rico has been a US colony (the US prefers the euphemistic designations of “commonwealth”, “unincorporated territory” and “free associated state”) for 199 years, a relationship that has led to the country’s being trapped in a steep downward spiral. The current fiscal and socio-political crisis is only one of the side effects of this relationship.

Hurricane Irma’s passing underscored the damage done by the neoliberal austerity measures imposed by the Fiscal Control Board and the crimes committed by corporations taking advantage of Puerto Rico’s colonial status. For starters, as a result of the massive closure of public schools, only 329 schools across the island were available as hurricane shelters compared with the 372 available during Hurricane Bertha’s passing in 2014.

Puerto Rico’s infrastructure also finds itself in an advanced state of deterioration, including roads, bridges, the University of Puerto Rico and public service buildings all of whom were critically endangered during Irma’s passing. A good part of the country’s “essential infrastructure” is on the coast, making it vulnerable to flooding, high tides and storm surges, especially during hurricanes of Irma’s or Maria’s intensity.

It is notable that much of that infrastructure was built to benefit the tourist industry and mercantile trade with the US, and the US alone. Money invested in infrastructure tends to go towards revitalizing these “essentials”, not to repairing the potholed roads in our communities, remediating asbestos-filled buildings or replacing crumbling light poles at the mercy of hurricane winds. All of this is further proof of our colonial market dependency and the essentially colonial nature of the tourist industry, which caters particularly to PR’s relationship with the US.

Even the disaster declaration signed by the US President authorizing FEMA assistance for Puerto Rico second-rate, allowing only for search and rescue, public health and safety, and debris removal. It didn’t include rebuilding or even restoration of power, and with the current fiscal crisis and the Fiscal Control Board’s silence since Irma’s passing, rebuilding and restructuring will be a tough feat for Puerto Rico given the lack of available resources.

Center for Investigative Journalism in Puerto Rico’s Carla Minet said:

The budget cuts, in an already weak economy, will probably make the storm’s social impact worse.

Minet added that a pre-Irma forecast by the Center for a New Economy’s policy director, Sergio M. Marxuach, predicts that the recently approved the Fiscal Plan would result in another lost decade, continued population loss due to migration and lower birth rates, lower employment, less access to public education, pension cuts, worsening health outcomes, higher mortality and lower life expectancy, and, ultimately, higher rates of poverty and inequality. “Now add in the cataclysm of a monster hurricane that the plan never accounted for,” said Minet.

The Fiscal Control Board is likely to use Irma as an excuse to aggressively push the many policies it has in line, such as the privatization of PR’s Electric Power Authority (AEE). Nor would it be surprising if Gov. Rosselló and the Fiscal Control Board used the occasion to dismantle and privatize the University of Puerto Rico, the only public higher education institution in the country, as well as a number of other public institutions that are defenseless against the colonial rule of the Fiscal Control Board and its blatant neoliberal attacks.

Now, barely two weeks after Irma’s passing, we’ve just been hit by another category 5 hurricane, María. This just as some household have just got back their electricity supply, and while others are still living in the dark; while the ground is still strewn with fallen trees and light posts waiting to take on second lives as projectiles; while many, both locals and refugees from neighboring Caribbean islands, are still recovering from the loss of their homes, their entire reality; and while crisis and colonialism continue to hold hands, as they do every day.

And so, you’re sitting in your cot with your straw hat on, hundreds of locals scrambling around you with what’s left of their lives stuffed into a bag or a suitcase, wondering why JetBlue dropped you off here and high-tailed it; why the shelter is so understaffed; why the power went even though it hasn’t yet started raining and not a gusts of wind has blown; why CNN wasn’t covering Irma’s passing over Puerto Rico. “I’m here, send over an Embassy representative for me!” you yell in your mind as you stare at the screen of your almost-dead smartphone. Why, you wonder, has life had been so unfair to you, ruining your longed-for vacation in the Island of enchantment.

Then your thoughts are interrupted as you spot a window and you walk gloomily towards it and look through pigeon-christened glass, and watch as the storm clouds gather and gusts of wind batter a US flag—oh, and a Puerto Rican one too.