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Protected: a mi hijita de Noviembre de 2017

October 22, 2017

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A Heart Felt Poignant Reflection of Puerto Rico Me Encanto

October 20, 2017

A Heart Felt Poignant Reflection of Puerto Rico  Me Encanto Siempres

 

“PR: Healing: Grieving Hard: Brief words from the flight over the Atlantic:”

“I am not your hero.”

“This will be rambling and raw and terribly written. But the witness in me must begin to tell you. (Yes. I will start a blog and will manage my social media/storytelling venues better very soon. Be patient with that very first world problem and just listen).”

“Aside from the connections and healing I was able to administer in tiny ways, the ROI was very low for sending me to disaster.”

“I am not alone in this personal assessment. Most everyone I met feels terrorized by the waste in a time of desperate need.”

“I will write tons, and will talk even more about the complexity of the situation with anyone who will listen, but know this: feeding, housing, transporting and protecting a middle-aged, strangely -skilled woman from Denver was an enormous investment from  Aa devastated economy.”

“I am not sorry that I went. I am not in any way criticizing my team’s deep desire to serve and to administer psychological first aid.”

“But.”

“My kind eyes could not bring water to people. My hands could not fix roofs. My impressive understanding of bureaucracy could not give hope to squatters with no land rights. My heart could not help every parent in every shelter who needs a break and help with their displaced children. My words could not console humans who have lost everything. My love of music and my own precious voice could not create venues for sharing music in community. My love of food could not be met in that beautiful space of sharing a meal (and therefor your soul). My compassion could not heal fuel truck driving fathers who missed their wives and children while driving in sincere danger because of their precious commodity. My worldly brain could not make sense of the politics and reality of disaster relief.”

“So why did I go?”

“A lovely woman was born in Mayaguez many decades ago. She had the most beautiful blue eyes I had ever seen; second only to those of her grandson, who became the father of my children. She didn’t live to see her hauntingly beautiful eyes in the eyes of our beautiful kids, but I think of her fondly when the light hits my son’s eyes just so.”

“I fell in love with Granny Nanny’s island while studying here/there for a summer while in college. She was delighted that I could touch this beautiful space in her heart and that I understood the beauty of the Flamboyan.”

“I came back to PR many times with the father of my children. We excelled in adventure and in finding ourselves. I brought my pregnant belly here twice for soulful nourishment before Baby Moons were a thing. I brought my mom here for her first real experience as an unafraid explorer willing to trust her daughter with a Jeep and maps and my endless need to learn and to connect. I brought my young teens last year to touch a critical piece of their heritage.”

“I will be back. Maybe forever once I kick these kids off to college.”

“Point of all of this rambling: please don’t mistake my small gesture of absolute obligation for heroism. That’s too painful for me to bear.”

“Tell me instead that I was courageous. Tell me that my kids were somehow served by this decision. Tell me my convictions have rooted in a way you hadn’t yet seen.”

“Tell me to keep telling the God Damn Truth. Cause that was my only real job.”

 

Por Amber

Calling to Converse with Others Across the World and Nearby on Adverse Childhood Trauma and Extreme Poverty

October 20, 2017

I am interested in speaking to your classes please involve me in opportunities to share and listen

For many years I have been a public speaker with children of all ages from students in Universities and colleges to elementary school youth.  I do tours and out reach.  All of this changed with the demise of Denver Urban Matters Urban Plunge.  I am soliciting opportunities to speak to youth on matters of extreme poverty and trauma in conversations and questions and answers.  Please share that this is fundamentally what I do which I love and have honed over 15 years in the present iteration of my life.
Randle Loeb
720 837 7053
Picture

“I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile, I keep dancing.”

PUBLIC MONEY Not Tax Payer Anything Belongs to All of Us – Should Be Used to Taking Care of Business of Caring For US ALL

October 20, 2017

PUBLIC MONEY not Tax Payer Anything    Belongs to All of US Should Be Used for Taking Care of Business of Caring for ALL of US

The Dangerous Myth of ‘Taxpayer Money’ 

Illustration: Angelica Alzona/GMG

“There is no such thing as public money, only taxpayer money.” — Margaret Thatcher, 1983

When Vice President Mike Pence flew home to Indiana earlier this month, it was to pull off a publicity stunt censuring protests against racist policing. Rather than dragging him for this, however, take after take after take zoomed in on a different offense altogether: Pence’s wasting of “taxpayer money.”

 

The writers in question may have told themselves they were hurting Pence by exposing his hypocrisy, but by using the “taxpayer money” frame, they were spreading, however unwittingly, a racist, sexist, classist myth. Although most of us pay taxes of some kind, every time we say “taxpayer money” we prolong the illusion that society depends on certain kinds of people so we can have nice things.

One quick exercise shows why. Picture a “taxpayer.” What does one look like? A homeless Black trans teen? An immigrant day laborer waiting on the corner? A young mom trying to cobble together enough income to feed her family, while languishing on the disability backlog? Unlikely. Let’s be honest: We know what sort of people “taxpayers” are supposed to be, and they’re not the ones we should be casting as the aggrieved parties.

Calling public money “taxpayer money” implicitly affirms that taxation is theft: If the money is taxpayers’ by right, what business does the government have using it for healthcare, jobs, or clean water? If we’re looking out for “taxpayers” and not the public as a whole, we are favoring wealthier groups over poorer ones—white people over Black peoplemen over women, U.S.-born people over immigrants, and so forth. We’re hiding how the economic order relies not merely on the sacrifices of “taxpayers,” but the contributions of debtors, tenants, workers, and countless other actors. We’re perpetuating the politics behind the 1970s California “taxpayer revolt,” the 1980s demonization of “welfare queens,” and the Make America Great Again movement—faux-populism that suggests the great majority rely on the wealthy, rather than vice-versa.

 

Not only is the “taxpayer money” frame damaging, it doesn’t reflect how public spending actually works. A household or a business may have to stash or borrow money before it can spend any, but we are users of the currency. The U.S. government, which is the issuer of the currency, works differently: Congress votes to spend “new money” on something, then the Treasury and the Federal Reserve credit the relevant bank accounts, and…that’s it. The government has spent new money into existence. Later, Congress may tax “old money” back out of existence, but it isn’t collecting money in order to spend it. It’s “offsetting” earlier spending. It may also offset spending by bumping student loan rates, policing for profit, or various other activities. Although Congress taxes everyday people too heavily, calling public money “taxpayer money” makes as much sense as calling it “student debtor money” or “suspicious driver money.”

Look at a dollar bill, and you will see the signatures of its creators: not taxpayers, but the public officials who let the taxpayers hold it in the first place. Money doesn’t grow on rich people. We should heavily tax the billionaire class so we stop living in an oligarchy, but we don’t need private capital for public spending. The federal government doesn’t confiscate dollars and redistribute them. It uses its legal power to create and destroy them.

Margaret Thatcher’s mantra was backwards: There is no such thing as “taxpayer money,” only public money. Modern money is a creature of the public, and we should use it for public power. We are all the public, and we each deserve a clear, equal say in how our economy and society work, no matter how much we each pay in taxes. It’s time to claim our democratic rights.

There is more than enough housing for the homeless, food for the hungry, and medicine for the sick. There is enough low carbon-emission technology to transform our energy system, quit exacerbating the climate crisis, and hireunemployed people all in one fell swoop. And there is more than enough public money to manage it all.

Exposing hypocrisy may feel good, but it does little actual good. The people who primarily identify as “taxpayers” are Trump and Pence’s base. Constantly repeating that their “taxpayer money” is being wasted only pressures them to violently defend their property, as the system encourages us all to do under stress. Yelling “Who’s the paid protester, now?” at America’s most basic bigot feels therapeutic, but it’s not powerful. For over 40 years, Democrats have chided the GOP for fiscal hypocrisy. What do they have to show for it? For over 40 years, Republicans have controlled the conventional wisdom around budgets, successfully using the “taxpayer money” myth to force Democrats to “starve the beast,” i.e., cut social spending to actually starve children, veterans, and many others.

Calling bluffs didn’t get Merrick Garland confirmed, it didn’t get the GOP to buy into a Heritage Foundation healthcare plan, and it won’t wean support for Mike Pence’s racist political theater. Everybody knows the Republicans are hypocrites and liars, just like everyone knows Donald Trump is a conman, a pig, and a megalomaniac. Yet Republicans now control 68 state legislatures, 34 governorships, and nearly every facet of the federal government.

 

When we reinforce the right wing’s racist, sexist, classist frames in an attempt to expose hypocrisy, we lose. If, instead, we root our politics in what is good and bad, just and unjust, moral and immoral, we can win.

Raúl Carrillo is a practicing attorney and a director of The Modern Money Network

Jesse Myerson is an Indiana-based community organizer with Hoosier Action

Protected: ma soeur

October 19, 2017

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Adverse Conditions for All Living Beings in Puerto Rico

October 19, 2017

Adversity of All Living Beings in Puerto Rico

Slideshow by photo services

SAN JUAN—As if making a major life-changing decision of escaping the island after Hurricane Maria was not enough, Puerto Ricans were asked to leave their pets behind due to an ongoing restriction enforced by federal authorities.

The majority of the airlines leaving San Juan do not allow families to be accompanied with many pets. This is because federal authorities have taken custody of cargo compartments in order to transport supplies, and the feds are not allowing animals larger than 20 pounds to fly, according to Sylvie Bedrosian, president of Pet Friendly Puerto Rico. Bedrosian estimates that about 2,000 locals left their pets behind as a result of the embargo.

Bedrosian says the embargo violates the No Pet Left Behind FEMA Act put in place after Hurricane Katrina that “authorizes FEMA to provide rescue, care, shelter, and essential needs for individuals with household pets and service animals, and to the household pets and animals themselves following a major disaster or emergency.”

Private companies like United PetSafe, a business that offers pet shipping and transport for animals from San Juan to the U.S., were unable to offer a planned date of resuming their live animal shipping services because of the embargo.

a brown bear walking through a forest© Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

 ” We understand that most planes coming from the U.S. to Puerto Rico are filled with goods, but what bothers me most is that planes leaving the island are mostly empty. Why take custody of an empty cargo?” Bedrosian questioned.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott informed that more than 27,000 Puerto Ricans had escaped to his state two weeks after Hurricane Maria knocked out power, water, and telecommunications on the island.

JetBlue and Southwest have modified their pet policy to permit up to eight pets on board, but Bedrosian says that’s not enough because not all pets weigh less than 20 pounds. American Airlines did not respond to a request for comment. A United Airlines employee said the embargo was waived for them for last Wednesday until Oct. 31. “I don’t know how they are bypassing the federal embargo. They are the only ones letting pets on cargo,” Bedrosian said.

“I’ve received dozens of calls from people who have lost their jobs here in Puerto Rico and have to flee the island to find work because they have to pay their bills,” Bedrosian said adding that pet owners call her desperately looking for someone to care for their four-legged “family” member.

Veterinarian Victor Collazo told The Daily Beast that in a week he has expedited more travel certificates that he would in a year. “It’s really outstanding how many people have come for a certificate.”

“They allowed me to travel with my small breed, but my two rottweilers were left behind because of the federal embargo,” Roxette Pietri told The Daily Beast from the airport, describing what happened as one of the hardest decisions she’s made.

Meanwhile, pet organizations on the island like Save a Sato, which saves homeless dogs, can barely function. Local newspaper Primera Hora reported that one shelter near Guaynabo left 200 dogs behind because the owner was leaving the island. None of the animal shelters on the island have power, Primera Hora reported, and only half are with running water. Owner Gloria Marti was rationing the food to serve more than 135 dogs the shelter had before Maria.

“I’ve lost count of how many have arrived after the hurricane,” Marti said.

“Our animal shelters were already at full capacity before the hurricane and now beginning to feel the burden that María left behind,’ Bedrosian said. “Our rescue missions have completely changed. We used to wonder for abandoned pets on the streets and now have to worry about those left on the airports.”

‘Shrinking, shrinking, shrinking’: Puerto Rico faces a demographic disaster

October 19, 2017

‘Shrinking, shrinking, shrinking’: Puerto Rico faces a demographic disaster

The Washington Post
Peter Whoriskey
People collect mountain spring water, after Hurricane Maria hit the island, in Corozal, Puerto Rico October 17, 2017.© REUTERS/Alvin Baez People collect mountain spring water, after Hurricane Maria hit the island, in Corozal, Puerto Rico October 17, 2017.Long before the winds of Hurricane Maria reached Puerto Rico, another disaster had been wrenching and scattering the lives of island residents.

 

‘Shrinking, shrinking, shrinking’: Puerto Rico faces a demographic disaster

During the decade before Maria, economic decline and depopulation, a slower-moving catastrophe, had been taking a staggering toll: The number of residents had plunged by 11 percent, the economy had shrunk by 15 percent, and the government had become unable to pay its bills.

It already ranked among the worst cycles of economic decline and depopulation in postwar American history, and projections indicated that the island’s slide could continue for years.

Then came Maria.

Now, even as officials in Washington and Puerto Rico undertake the recovery, residents are expected to leave en masse, fueling more economic decline and propelling a vicious cycle.

“We are watching a real live demographic and population collapse on a monumental scale,” according to Lyman Stone, an independent migration researcher and an economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The hurricane hit “might just be the kick in the pants Puerto Rico needs to really fall off this demographic cliff into total epochal-level demographic disaster.”

Whatever happens with Puerto Rico, moreover, will have far-reaching effects, because while the disaster is felt most keenly on the island, the accelerated exodus is already being felt on the mainland.

Cities popular with Puerto Ricans, such as Orlando, Hartford, Conn., and Springfield Mass., are bracing for more students, many of whom come from families living below the poverty level. Politicians, meanwhile, are weighing the potentially significant electoral consequences of a wave of migrants who are expected to lean Democratic — particularly in Florida, which already boasts half a million residents who are Puerto Rican-born.

At a news conference last week, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló warned that without significant help, “millions” could leave for the U.S. mainland. Those leaving are most likely to end up in Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania, which have been the most popular destinations for Puerto Ricans in recent years.

“You’re not going to get hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans moving to the states — you’re going to get millions,” Rossello said. “You’re going to get millions, creating a devastating demographic shift for us here in Puerto Rico.”

Prolonged bouts of economic decline and depopulation have afflicted parts of the United States before. During seven years in the 1950s, the number of people living in West Virginia dropped by 8 percent. New York lost 4 percent of its population in the 1970s. And during one stretch in the 1950s, Arkansas shed a whopping 11 percent of its people.

But in depth, the cycle of economic decline and depopulation on the island of 3.4 million people may prove the most punishing.

“Even before Maria, you had what looked like a death spiral going on,” said Gregory Makoff, a bond researcher who worked on the Treasury Department’s Puerto Rico team and now is a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation. “Now it’s no longer theoretical. In a week’s time, they’ve lost another huge chunk of the population.”

Compounding problems

For years before the economic slide, companies such as Merck, Johnson & Johnson and PepsiCo had saved tens of millions or more annually under a key tax break that gave U.S. companies an incentive to set up operations on the island.

But in 2006, the tax break was eliminated, taking away a key incentive for companies to operate there. It was one of many factors blamed for the island’s decline.

Among the others: The island’s electrical power system is outdated and saddles islanders with bills roughly double what they are on the mainland; an exodus of doctors has opened holes in the health-care system; and the economy’s most critical sector, manufacturing, has been shrinking even more rapidly the rest of the economy, affected not just by the lost tax break but by global competition.

Only about 40 percent of people in Puerto Rico are employed or seeking work. By contrast, the U.S. figure for what economists call “labor force participation” is about 63 percent.

Finally, the government’s inability to pay off more than $70 billion in debt has provoked a congressionally mandated oversight board and a new fiscal plan that calls for significant cuts to the government and efforts to raise more taxes. Even with some optimistic assumptions, that plan predicted continuing shrinkage of the economy.

As a result, for Washington and Puerto Rican officials planning a recovery, the ongoing exodus poses a multifaceted dilemma

“They’ve got to start from the ground up,” Makoff said of any new scheme for the island.

In the short term, at least, the island is likely to see an economic boost; the rebuilding after a hurricane often injects a jolt of spending into local economies.

But according to recent research of 90 years of natural disasters in the United States, published as a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, major natural disasters also have a range of unfavorable effects: They increase out-migration, lower home prices and raise poverty rates.

Like many on the island, Sergio M. Marxuach, policy director for the Center for a New Economy, a San Juan-based think tank, said a massive federal investment is necessary.

“We’re going to need some significant government intervention — essentially a big rescue package, not only to rebuild the economy but get it growing,” he said. “People are saying, ‘I don’t want my children to grow up in place where the economy is going to be devastated for the next 10 years.’ If enough people think that way, it’s going to be a self-reinforcing downward spiral.”

‘A lethal blow’

Indeed, interviews with Puerto Rican business people indicated that even if the obstacles left by Maria can be overcome — most notably the widespread lack of electricity — a return to economic life as it was before the storm is untenable.

Take Frank Joseph Sugden, 51, the owner of an established family tuxedo and gown business in Bayamo. His company, Top Hat, once had three stores but now has just one. With the reductions over the years, he’s had to fire 10 employees.

Now, after Maria, weddings and other formal parties have been largely canceled through December, so his store is closed. Two of his remaining eight employees are considering leaving for good. His wife wants him to leave, too. To make up for the lost business, he’s started to do insurance work on the side.

He worries whether Puerto Rico is in a death spiral.

“I think so, yes, and I’m not too sure we’re going to come out of it,” Sugden said. “We’ve just been kind of shrinking, shrinking, shrinking, and this is kind of a lethal blow.”

Leo Aldridge, an attorney with offices in San Juan and New York, described the post-Maria migration from the island as the “Jet Blue revolution. People are buying a ticket and getting the hell out.”

But the trouble began long before the storm. After a law class he teaches at the University of Puerto Rico, he noted, his students frequently ask how they can arrange a bar exam and job on the mainland.

“All the time, kids come up to me to say, ‘What do I have to do to get off the island? What bar review do I have to take?’ ” Aldridge said. “This was all before the hurricane . . . People are leaving and leaving and leaving.”

Even those who evince optimism acknowledge that more difficult times lie ahead.

“We will move forward better than we were before,” said Joaquin Fernandez Quintero, the president of Telemedik, a tele-health company that employs about 400.

But he said that about 10 percent of the employees in his Mayaguez office will move to the states in the coming weeks, several of them “high-level” employees. And he’s not sure when they will be coming back.

“People are getting frustrated and depressed,” Ferndandez Quintero said. “A lot of small and medium companies will be closing because they cannot maintain their operations. It will be a complicated process.”

Steven Mufson contributed to this report.