Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Dominica PM's cris de coeur

Prime Minister of hurricane-hit Dominica: “To deny climate change is to deny a truth we have just lived”

25 September, 2017

23 September 2017 (United Nations) – Pleading with all countries in the United Nations General Assembly – large and small, rich and poor – to come together to save our planet, the Prime Minister of Dominica, where the landscape, ravaged by back-to-back hurricanes “resembles a warzone,” said his and other islands in the Caribbean need help now to build their homelands back better.

I come to you straight from the front line of the war on climate change,” Roosevelt Skerrit said in an emotional address to the General Assembly’s annual general debate. He said he made the difficult journey from his storm-battered country “because these are the moments for which the United Nations exists!”

Just two years after powerful tropical storm Erika had ripped through the region – leaving his country, known as ‘nature island’ a land of dirt and dust – he said Dominica, the Bahamas and others had been ravaged by perhaps the worst hurricane season on record, with Irma and Maria leaving loss of lives and livelihoods, and as yet untold damage.

Mr. Skerrit said that warmer air and sea temperatures have permanently altered the climate between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Heat is the fuel that takes ordinary storms – “storms we could normally master in our sleep – and supercharges them into a devastating force.

The most unfortunate reality, he said, is that there is little time left to reverse damages and rectify this trajectory. “We need action and we need it now,” he said. 

The stars have fallen, Eden is broken. The nation of Dominica has come to declare an international humanitarian emergency.”

He concluded by urging ownership and responsibility for perpetuating harm that desperately begs attention: “Let it spark a thousand points of light, not shame.”

In an equally impassioned address, Darren Allen Henfield, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Bahamas, expressed his concern with the effects of environmental degradation and climate change on small island developing States, which are “threatening their survivability.”

With what we have witnessed just recently with the passage of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and now Maria, I cannot underscore sufficiently the importance the Bahamas attaches to combating climate change, and the preservation and protection of the environment,” he said.

Stressing that “climate change is global,” he emphasised the damage that hurricane Irma had in the Bahamian archipelago. Indeed, while the Bahamas had not suffered a direct hit, it was not totally spaced. The southern islands experienced serious damage. Additionally, tornadoes inflicted considerable damage on the northern islands of Bimini and Grand Bahama.

Highlighting the election of a new Government for his country the past May, the Minister spoke on its intention of creating the first fully green island in the region, out of the destruction of Ragged Island, which became uninhabitable.

For the first time in its history, The Bahamas evacuated whole communities to safe quadrants ahead of Hurricane Irma. What’s next: wholesale evacuation of the entire Caribbean?” he asked, calling on the international community to act fast and in a co-ordinated way.

In his address, the Foreign Minister also highlighted the “need to re-evaluate of the measurements used to determine economic well-being” in the country, to allow them to receive development assistant

Geopolitical roundыup - 09/25/2017

Russia Is Now Calling On The US To Leave Syria

X-22 Report

The nuclear clock is ticking

Note – October 15 is Trump's deadline over Iran

Pepe Escobar

Via Facebook

All eyes are on October 15 * 

If Trumps thrashes the Iran nuclear deal, there could not be a more graphic message to the DPRK; any negotiation with Washington is usхeless.

And that would also clear the way for – horror of horrors – nuclear war.

Trump has already, explicitly, said (and tweeted) diplomacy means nothing. He’s bound to destroy the DPRK (what all that implies; millions of “collateral damage”, North AND “our ally” in the South).

Phase 1 of the pys ops is already accomplished; labeling Kim and the DPRK as “evil” and “mad”. Phase 2 is a go; that “set of military options” already advertised by Mad Dog.

So now the nuclear clock depends on whether the DPRK gets a nuclear-armed ICBM capable of striking the continental US before sanctions really start to bite.
Make no mistake; a US PREEMPTIVE NUCLEAR STRIKE is very much on the table.

Even after Beijing said China will intervene in support of Pyongyang. And even after Moscow (via Lavrov) said the US won’t attack.

In parallel though, allegedly “serious” places such as the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins/SAIS (actually an exceptionalist den) are breathlessly peddling the notion of “a thorough and well-planned nuclear strike drawing on US strategic forces” that “might well successfully disarm the DPRK and paralyze its command and control”.

The operative concept is “NUCLEAR.” And note the cowardly “might well successfully”. Or might NOT – and retaliation will be a bitch.

Lord have mercy.

One of the most argued issues in the media, in the Iranian context, is the debate regarding October 15th. On that date, the US administration is required to report to the congress on Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal for the third time. Many see a potential turning point. The pro-deal lobbyists have upped their pressure

Hours after it was revealed South Korean President Moon Jae-in sanctioned supersonic US B-1B Lancers to fly north of the demilitarized zone off the North Korean coast, a former US general said the Pentagon estimates 20,000 people would be killed per day in South Korea should war break out on the peninsula, CNBC reports.

US President Donald Trump vowed the US would “totally destroy” North Korea in an armed conflict, but the profile of that conflict created by analysts within his own DoD finds it wouldn’t be like the invasion of Iraq or Afghanistan, or the combat operation to remove Muammar Gaddafi from leadership in Libya, where armed opposition to US forces was meek.
"It wouldn’t remotely resemble" those conflicts, retired US Air Force Brig. Gen. Rob Givens told the Los Angeles Times Monday. According to Givens, internal Pentagon forecasts put the death toll at 20,000 per day in South Korea; the figure that does not include casualties inflicted upon North Korea’s population of 27 to 28 million people.
"Obviously North Korea is a threat," Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan said Monday.
The bombers took off Saturday night and flew further north than any US Air Force warplane has flown since the turn of the century, according to the Pentagon.
"Moon received a briefing about the plan during his stay in New York" where South Korean and US officials reached an agreement about the status of the operation to send the bombers further north, an official from Chong Wa Dae ("The Blue House"), South Korea’s presidential residence, told The Korea Times.
The show of force, which included South Korean F-15 fighter escorts, was intended to demonstrate "US resolve" and communicate "a clear message" that Trump "has many military options to defeat any threat," DoD spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement following the flights. 


Humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

"No military assistance while White House spews vile atheoretical neoliberał dogma about debt. Makes me want to pause building our little farm and write a formal academic icy glare long fingernailed essay. This is hell and they arę bastards."

--Facebook comment

Hysteria is starting to spread”: Puerto Rico is devastated in the wake of Hurricane Maria
No power, little access to water, dwindling food: the situation in Puerto Rico right now.


25 September, 2016

Five days after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, bisecting the entire island, the US territory is in the grips of a serious, life-threatening crisis, with humanitarian aid getting in far more slowly than is needed.

The island is running short on food, fuel, and access to clean water and there’s limited communications, which means some communities have received no information about the rescue efforts underway.

Among the greatest threats is the continuing lack of power throughout much of the island, after nearly the entire power grid was knocked offline during the storm (about 80 percent of the transmission infrastructure was destroyed). The New York Times reports it could be four to six months before power is restored on the island. That’s half a year with Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents relying on generators, half a year without air conditioning in the tropical climate, half a year where electric pumps can’t bring running water into homes, half a year where even the most basic tasks of modern life are made difficult.

The devastation is vast,” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said in a statement Monday. “Make no mistake — this is a humanitarian disaster involving 3.4 million U.S. Citizens.”

The storm has claimed at least 10 lives in Puerto Rico so far, according to the Associated Press. But John Mutter, a Columbia University professor who specializes in natural disasters and studied the death toll from Hurricane Katrina, expects in the coming days it will reach into the hundreds.

Being without power is huge,” says Mutter. “Just how quickly they can get it back is still an unknown thing. But it’s extremely important they get it going to suppress the chances of illness following the storm.”

Hysteria is starting to spread”

Family members collect belongings after hurricane force winds destroyed their house in Toa Baja, west of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 24, 2017. RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images

Other islands -- including Dominica and the US Virgin islands — were devastated by Maria too. And the whole Eastern Caribbean region is also still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Irma.

Puerto Rico is the most populated island Maria hit. And the crisis there is particularly intense. For one, it’s exacerbated by lack of communications. (1,360 out of 1,600 cellphone towers on the island are out.) Many communities have been isolated from the outside world for days, relying only on radios for news. The communications shortage means the full extent of the crisis has not been assessed.

"The devastation in Puerto Rico has set us back nearly 20 to 30 years," Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez told CBS News. "I can't deny that the Puerto Rico of now is different from that of a week ago. The destruction of properties, of flattened structures, of families without homes, of debris everywhere. The island's greenery is gone."

But over the weekend, a handful of journalists were able to make it in to communities that have been isolated.

The Washington Post reported from Juncos, Puerto Rico, a municipality in the Central Eastern region of the island. There, they found a diabetic woman afraid that the refrigeration that keeps her insulin preserved will soon run out, people living in homes missing roofs or whole second floors, and where the villagers asked journalists upon their arrival, “Are you FEMA?”

There are few hospitals with running generators, CNN reports, and fewer with running water. Reuters reports that hospitals are scrambling to find diesel fuels to power generators, and that food supplies are running low. A cardiovascular surgeon the newswire spoke with explained:
without air conditioning, the walls of the operating room were dripping with condensation and floors were slippery. ... Most patients had been discharged or evacuated to other facilities, but some patients remained because their families could not be reached by phone.

USA Today made it to the town Arecibo on the Northern shore of the island, where residents hadn’t heard any news from the outside world for four days, and the only source of fresh water is from a single fire hydrant.

2 hospitals now have power. The latest is Centro Médico, Puerto Rico's main hospital. It was connected late last night.
Hysteria is starting to spread,” Jose Sanchez Gonzalez, mayor of Manati, a town on the North shore, told the Associated Press. “The hospital is about to collapse. It’s at capacity. … We need someone to help us immediately.”

But the list of woes is much longer. An untold number of homes are irreparably damaged. Infrastructure is badly damaged. People aren’t working. The storm was particularly costly for the agriculture industry: “In a matter of hours, Hurricane Maria wiped out about 80 percent of the crop value in Puerto Rico,” the New York Times reports.

Even the National Weather Services Doppler weather radar station on the island has been destroyed. That’s the radar that helps meteorologist see where thunderstorms and other weather systems are moving in real time. “Not having radar does make future storms more hazardous,” says Jeff Weber, a meteorologist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Meanwhile, new crises keep forming in the wake of the storm. On Friday, the National Weather Service issued a dire warning about the Guajataca Dam in the Northwestern corner of Puerto Rico, threatening downstream areas with deadly floods. Seventy thousand people — enough to fill a small city — have been asked to evacuate areas that could be flooded by the nearly 11 billion gallons of water the dam holds back.

And leaving is not an option, at least for now. “Travelers at the airport on Sunday were told that passengers who do not already have tickets may not be able to secure flights out until October 4,” Reuters reports.

Relief operations have begun, slowly

Puerto Rico's Governor Ricardo Rossello speaks to the media during a press conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 24, 2017. RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)

Puerto Rico is an island, which complicates recovery efforts. Supplies have to be flown in or arrive via ship. Most of the sick and elderly haven’t been able to evacuate.

On Saturday, the island’s main port in San Juan reopened and 11 ships arrived, the AP reports, bringing 1.6 million gallons of water, 23,000 cots, food, and electrical generators. More than 2,500 National Guard members have been deployed to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers are working to reopen more ports on the islands. (FEMA is keeping a running list of federal resources deployed to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.)

Still, the relief efforts will take time to make their way to communities across the island. “We need more resources from the Department of Defense so we can get helicopters and resources,” Puerto Rico Gov. Rossello told Politico Sunday. He also implored Congress to pass a special aid and relief package for the US territory.

Whatever relief package we have, whatever impact we have, we are U.S. citizens," Rossello said. Puerto Rico’s finances are already strapped. The territory filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. The island’s finances are now controlled by a federal board, which made just $1 billion available for relief, the AP reports.

Given Puerto Rico’s fragile economic recovery prior to the storms, we ask the Trump Administration and the U.S. Congress to take swift action to help Puerto Rico rebuild,” Rossello said in his Monday statement.

.: We will need all your support as we rebuild rebuild .

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has not mentioned Puerto Rico in his Twitter feed since the day after the storm hit. Trump approved a disaster declaration for the island that day too, freeing up federal resources for the recovery. This past weekend, as the situation on the ground in Puerto Rico came into better focus, Trump took to Twitter to call out professional athletes for kneeling down during the National Anthem.

Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble..
President Trump said Monday night that Puerto Rico is in “deep trouble” because Hurricane Maria inflicted massive damage on an island already struggling with debt and weak infrastructure.

In a series of tweets, Mr. Trump said “much of the island was destroyed” by Maria, but added that Puerto Rico’s billions in debt to Wall Street and banks “sadly, must be dealt with.”

Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble,” the president said. “It’s old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated.”

The president said food, water and medical supplies “are top priorities - and doing well.” Some have criticized the administration for moving too slowly with relief aid for the island.

Before Maria hit, Puerto Rico was already dealing with the worst debt crisis in U.S. municipal history, having defaulted on more than $70 billion owed to creditors

...It's old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars....