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Author: Fernando Salazar

Hurricane Maria death count prompts federal action

Nearly 8 months following Hurricane Maria’s path of destruction through Puerto Rico, questions remain surrounding the official death toll. The number that has the official backing of the Puerto Rican government, 64, has been declared by many to be a severe undercount. The government’s count of the dead has not moved since December of 2017. Estimates range from the government’s low count of 64 to the recent Harvard University study that assessed the death toll at 4,645.   The conflicting accounts of the true death toll have been complicated by the way in which the Puerto Rican government has...

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Ongoing power outages in Puerto Rico garner federal attention

On Wednesday April 18, the lights went out across Puerto Rico in an all-too similar pattern that has held since Hurricane Maria struck in September 2017. The power outage was caused by a subcontractor operating in the southeast on behalf of Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the islands’ principal electric utility. That same subcontractor was responsible for an outage the week before that kept over 800,000 customers in the dark. Governor Ricardo Rosselló expressed his distaste in a tweet, calling on PREPA to cancel its contract with the subcontractor, noting that the same operator had been responsible for...

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American Samoans resurrect the citizenship question

American Samoans have a complicated arrangement with the federal government of the United States. Unlike other American territories, like Guam or Puerto Rico, those who are born in American Samoa are not given citizenship upon birth. This is made possible by American Samoa’s designation as an unincorporated territory, meaning that they must go through the naturalization process if they wish to gain citizenship. Therefore, American Samoans are given the status of being called “US Nationals,” precluding their ability to vote, run for office, or serve on juriesーall while paying federal taxes. Some have expressed frustration with the current system....

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Puerto Rico not immune to electric grid foreign attacks

In the ongoing diplomatic row between the United States and Russia, which now includes the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats from the country in response to a recent nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy living in the UK, the role of hackers in the Russian interference scandal vis-à-vis Puerto Rico remains unclear. Besides the intelligence community’s consensus on the looming Russian threat on the 2018 midterm elections, there is a significant threat to the US power grid by Russian hackers. The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have recently announced that Russian hackers are engaging in...

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With storm season approaching, questions swirl

Lawmakers and members of the public alike are well aware of the devastation that Hurricanes Maria and Irma wrought upon Puerto Rico and other United States territories. Despite the signs of progress, such as the restoration of electricity to 93% of Puerto Rico’s residents, there are concerns that the speed of the recovery may not be enough to put American territories in the Caribbean in a position to be able to withstand the upcoming hurricane season. Despite the recent proclamations of progress by the Army Corps of Engineers and its allies on the fight to restore Puerto Rico’s power,...

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    January 18, 2019 @ 9:00 am - January 21, 2019 @ 9:00 pm EST