New tree species discovery in Peru

Incadendron esseri, photo K. Wurdack and W. Farfan-Rios

From Wake Forest University in the USA:

Hidden Inca treasure: Remarkable new tree genus discovered in the Andes

September 7, 2017

Hidden in plain sight — that’s how researchers describe their discovery of a new genus of large forest tree commonly found, yet previously scientifically unknown, in the tropical Andes.

Researchers from the Smithsonian and Wake Forest University detailed their findings in a study just released in the journal PhytoKeys.

Named Incadendron esseri (literally “Esser’s tree of the Inca”), the tree is a new genus and species commonly found along an ancient Inca path in Peru, the Trocha Unión. Its association with the land of the Inca empire inspired its scientific name.

So how could a canopy tree stretching up to 100 feet tall and spanning nearly two feet in diameter go undetected until now?

“Incadendron tells us a lot about how little we understand life on our planet. Here is a tree that ranges from southern Peru to Ecuador, that is abundant on the landscape, and yet it was unknown. Finding this tree isn’t like finding another species of oak or another species of hickory — it’s like finding oak or hickory in the first place,” said Miles Silman, the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation Presidential Chair in Conservation Biology at Wake Forest.

“This tree perplexed researchers for several years before being named as new. It just goes to show that so much biodiversity is unknown and that obvious new species are awaiting discovery everywhere — in remote ecological plots, as well as in our own backyards,” said Kenneth Wurdack, a botanist with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

The tree belongs to the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae — best known for rubber trees, cassava, and poinsettias — and like many of its relatives, when damaged also bleeds white sap, known as latex, that serves to protect it from insects and diseases.

Its ecological success in a difficult environment suggests more study is needed to find the hidden secrets that are often inherent in newly discovered and poorly known biodiversity.

Currently the Incadendron is common in several research plots under intensive study as part of the Andes Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research Group, an international Andes-to-Amazon ecology program co-founded by Silman.

For nearly 25 years, Silman has worked to gain greater understanding of Andean species distributions, biodiversity, and the response of forest ecosystems to climate and land use changes over time.

“While Incadendron has a broad range along the Andes, it is susceptible to climate change because it lives in a narrow band of temperatures. As temperatures rise, the tree populations have to move up to cooler temperatures,” said Silman.

One of the study’s co-authors, William Farfan-Rios, is a Wake Forest graduate student researching tropical forest dynamics and responses to changing environments along the Andes-to-Amazon elevational gradient. Discovering the Incadendron hits particularly close to home for the Cusco, Peru-native. Not only is the new genus vulnerable to climate change, but it is also threatened by deforestation in nearby areas.

“It highlights the imperative role of parks and protected areas where it grows, such as Manu National Park and the Yanachaga-Chemillén National Park,” he said. “Hopefully our ongoing study of the Incadendron and the intensive long-term forest monitoring will contribute to best practices in reforestation and forest management.”


British elite soldier arrested for neonazi terrorism

This video says about itself:

4 soldiers arrested on suspicion of terror part of neo-Nazi group

6 September 2017

“It’s going to put our communities on hightened alert, it’s very worrying” says Hanif Qadir, CEO of Active Change Foundation, as 4 soldiers are arrested on suspicion of terror, said to be in neo-Nazi group.

By Steve James in Britain:

British soldiers arrested for membership in banned fascist group

7 September 2017

Four soldiers in the British Army and one civilian have been arrested by West Midlands Police Counter Terrorism Unit, on suspicion of preparing acts of terrorism as members of the outlawed fascist group National Action.

Of the four, aged between 22 and 32, three are from England and one from Wales. The military personnel are from the Royal Anglian Regiment and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. One of the soldiers was arrested by Royal Military police at the Dhekelia British Army base in Cyprus.

Reports describe one of those arrested as an “experienced soldier” at the Infantry Battle School (IBS) with responsibility for training and identifying private soldiers likely to have the “potential to be future leaders.”

This soldier is said to have met the others at a training course in Brecon, Mid-Wales. This is a centre used by the elite Special Forces regiment, the SAS, for training. The British Army’s web site boasts, “The commanders that lead them [armed forces overseas operations] are all trained at IBS, and the training they undertake is linked to current operations.” It adds, “[S]oldiers and officers are prepared for any operational situation they may face—conventional war, counter insurgency, security sector reform, peacekeeping or supporting civil authorities.”

The arrests, under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000, were described by an army spokesman as “the consequence of a Home Office police force-led operation supported by the army.” They were arrested “on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism…namely on suspicion of being a member of a proscribed organisation (National Action).”

The police said the operation was “pre-planned and intelligence led.” The Daily Mail reported that the military personnel were seized “after investigators uncovered ‘inflammatory’ far-Right material, including images and slogans, on encrypted social media site WhatsApp.” …

National Action was formed in 2013. Its members, often wearing masks and balaclavas, have carried out numerous acts of racist violence and organised anti-Semitic activities.

In 2014, one of their number told the Huffington Post that he admired Antonio Primo de Rivera (founder of the fascist Spanish Falange), 1930s British Union of Fascists leaders Oswald Mosley and Alexander Raven Thomson and right-wing author Wyndham Lewis.

From Wikipedia about Wyndham Lewis:

In 1931, after a visit to Berlin, Lewis published his book Hitler (1931), which presented Adolf Hitler as a “man of peace” whose party-members were threatened by communist street violence. …

Lewis’s novels have been criticised for their satirical and hostile portrayals of Jews, homosexuals, and other minorities.

The Steve James article continues:

The group appealed to “white youths between the ages of 15-29 who are looking to become racial activists,” promising “flyers, stickers and activities will be provided free of charge.” The same year, supporter Garron Helm from Liverpool was jailed for anti-Semitic tweets to Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger.

In 2015, National Action member Zack Davies was given a life sentence in jail for the attempted murder of dentist Dr. Sarandev Bhambra, who was left with serious injuries after being attacked with a machete in a supermarket. Davies was reported shouting “white power” as he stabbed Dr. Bhambra. The same year, National Action organised a demonstration in Newcastle under a banner that included a large photo of the Nazi leader and read, “Refugees Not Welcome—Hitler was right.”

In 2016, photographs were posted on social media of National Action members performing fascist salutes in the Buchenwald death camp where 56,545 prisoners of the Nazis lost their lives during World War II. Members of the group also gathered outside York Minster to make Hitler salutes while holding the aforementioned banner.

The group’s leading figures have moved within a number of far-right groups. One of its leaders, Benjamin Raymond, was active in the New British Union, based on Mosley’s British Union of Fascists. A picture exists of Raymond—who said in an Internet post, “There are non-whites and Jews in my country who all need to be exterminated”—carrying a rifle. In the same post he added, “As a teenager, Mein Kampf changed my life. I am not ashamed to say I love Hitler.” Interviewed on BBC radio in 2015, Raymond said National Action supported Nazism and that Adolf Hitler was “absolutely” a role model.

The group has links with far-right forces internationally. Raymond described as a “hero” Anders Breivik, the Norwegian fascist who murdered 77 young people at a Norwegian Labour Party summer camp in 2011. Breivik’s act was the deadliest attack on civilians in Norway since World War II.

According to police figures, 22 members of National Action were arrested in 2016. It was proscribed in December of that year, following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox by the fascist Thomas Mair.

Mair killed Cox, MP for the Batley and Spen constituency in West Yorkshire … by shooting and stabbing her repeatedly. When he was brought before a court, Mair stated his name as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain.” This was a statement that National Action subsequently took as their own slogan, using it prominently on their former web site. They informed their social media followers, “Don’t let this man’s sacrifice go in vain.”

The arrest of the soldiers poses questions regarding possible connections between Mair’s murderous assault and National Action. Another tweet emanating from National Action after Cox’s killing referred to democratically elected members of Parliament, stating there were “only 649 MPs to go.”

The proximity of the ban on National Action to Cox’s murder invites suspicion that more is known about Mair’s political connections than was revealed publicly.

Announcing the ban, Home Secretary Amber Rudd declared the group to be a terrorist organisation, membership of which was an offence carrying a prison sentence. Publicising, organising meetings for, wearing clothing or carrying articles indicating approval of the group was also made an offence.

National Action is the only British far-right organisation among 71 mostly international groups currently banned in Britain, although a number of Northern Ireland’s right-wing loyalist groups have been banned for many years.

The existence of a neo-Nazi cell operating in the British armed forces is a dangerous development and one with parallels in other countries. With the turn towards militarism by all the major capitalist powers, there is a growing concentration of far-right and fascist forces within the state apparatus.

In Germany, the existence of a far-right network [including military officers] allegedly involved in preparing attacks against high-profile politicians has been revealed. Those targeted included former President Joachim Gauck, Justice Minister Heiko Maas, and the [Left Party] president of Thuringia, Bodo Ramelow, as well as Jewish and Muslim organisations. Later reports confirmed that the suspected terrorist cell was part of much more widespread right-wing extremist networks in the Bundeswehr.

In Greece, members of the fascist Golden Dawn work closely with the security forces, often under their protection. In the June 2012 general elections, more than half of police officers reportedly voted for Golden Dawn, with many police officers, particularly within the riot control department, members of the far-right group.

Two out of the three Golden Dawn members of the European parliament are armed forces generals.

In Canada, five members of the fascistic Proud Boys organisation, who are members of the Canadian Armed Forces, disrupted a “sacred rite” ceremony by native Mi’kmaqs in July. The Proud Boys describe themselves as “Western chauvinists.” Following a military police investigation, last month the decision was taken by the Royal Canadian Navy not to punish the five.

Britain: Banned neo-Nazi terrorist groups still recruiting as aliases of National Action. Exclusive: Websites Scottish Dawn and NS131 remain online amid warnings over another possible front group: here.

Australian magpies dunk their food, new discovery

This video says about itself:

30 October 2010

An Australian magpie singing a very small part of their repertoire. The full song is unbelievable.

From the University of York in England:

Australian Magpie ‘dunks’ its food before eating, researchers find

September 7, 2017

Scientists at the University of York, in collaboration with researchers at Western Sydney University, have shown that the Australian Magpie may ‘dunk’ its food in water before eating, a process that appears to be ‘copied’ by its offspring.

The research could potentially shed more light on the dietary systems of some bird species and how they respond to the defences of its prey.

Food dunking is common behaviour in a range of bird species, but has never been observed in the Australian Magpie before. Not only was it observed in the adult bird, but the offspring were seen to copy the ‘dunking’ process.

Dunking is thought to be an important food-process for birds, but it remains unclear as to why some birds do this and some do not. One theory is that it helps moisten the food to make it more digestible and other theories suggest that it might help make unpalatable insects less toxic to eat.

Eleanor Drinkwater, PhD student at the University of York’s Department of Biology, said: “Food dunking has been seen in at least 25 bird species, particularly in birds that have high cognitive abilities.

“The Australian Magpie is an intelligent animal, however we were not expecting to see dunking displayed by this bird. In a separate study on predator-prey interactions between katydids and Australian Magpies we were observing a family of magpie at a site near Kosciuszko National Park to see what they would do when offered the insect.

“We presented the wild magpie with a local insect called Mountain Katydid, which is thought to be distasteful due to the toxins it emits. The adult magpie first dragged and beat the insect on the ground before carrying it to a nearby puddle, dunking it and thrashing under water.”

The adult male bird appeared to eat the insect under a nearby bush, before returning to take a second insect, repeating the action, but this time leaving the ‘dunked’ insect at the side of the puddle.

The team then observed a juvenile bird that had been watching the adult male pick up the discarded insect and mimic the actions of the adult male before eating the insect whole.

Eleanor continued: “Although more research is needed to understand why the bird dunks its food before eating, our initial assumptions are that it responds to the ‘nasty tasting’ chemical defences of the insect, by dunking it in water and making it more palatable.

“It was exciting to see that this process was copied by the juvenile bird, suggesting that this behaviour could be socially learnt. More research can now be done to determine how common this behaviour is from adult birds through to its offspring.”

The research is published in the journal Australian Field Ornithology.

Burmese dictatorship’s genocide of Rohingya people

This 1 September 2017 Times of India video says about itself:

Rohingya women, children die in desperate boat escape from Myanmar

A group Rohingyas from Myanmar were found washed up on the shores of Shah Porir Dwip island in Bangladesh.

By John Roberts:

Over the last week, the Burmese (Myanmar) government led by Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi has fully collaborated with the military’s “clearance operations” against the Rohingya Muslim population of northwestern Rakhine state.

According to UN officials, since the ethnic cleansing campaign began on August 25, supposedly in response to attacks on security forces, nearly 90,000 Rohingya refugees have fled, driven out by the military’s scorched earth policy and widespread killings.

On Monday, another 20,000 refugees were massed on the border with Bangladesh. The Bangladesh government has ordered all refugees be turned back. However, as one border guard told Agence France Presse, the sheer numbers made it impossible to stop the influx. “It’s bigger than the last time,” he said.

As of Monday, the UN estimated that 87,000 new refugees had fled, bringing the total to 150,000 since October. The previous “clearance” operations that began in October and lasted for five months were in response to earlier, smaller attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).

A catastrophic situation is now developing in the refugee camps. The overall numbers in Bangladesh have risen to more than 400,000.

As in October, the military, in league with Burmese nationalist thugs, exploited the ARSA attacks as the pretext for unleashing pre-planned pogroms. The army has been building up its forces in the area since at least early August. Its aim is to completely drive the Rohingya out of Burma, where many families have lived for generations.

Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) have backed the military at every step. On Monday, the media revealed that President U Htin Yyaw, who was appointed by Suu Kyi and the NLD, granted military chief General Min Aung Hlaing’s “request” to declare the whole region “a military operational area.”

At the border police headquarters in Kyee Kan Pyin, Major Ko Soe said the operational area covered Buthidaung, Maungdaw and Rathedaung townships as well as Taungpoletwe and Myinlut sub-townships. U Htin even backdated the decree to August 25, thus legitimising the crimes already carried out.

Major Soe said the president’s decision ensured “decisive actions can be taken against terrorist organisations in clearance operations.” As of Saturday, 11,700 non-Muslim “ethnic residents” also have been driven out of the area, which has been sealed off to the media and non-government organisations.

The army only admitted the destruction of 2,700 homes after the US-based Human Rights Watch accessed satellite images that showed 10 villages and towns had been torched in Rohingya areas parallel to a 100-kilometre stretch of coastline. HRW said the area was five times larger than that torched by security forces last October to November, when 1,500 dwellings were destroyed.

At a military ceremony last Friday, General Hlaing said 11 police and two soldiers, as well as 16 civilians and officials, had been killed and eight bridges and 2,700 homes had been destroyed. An August 31 army statement said there were 90 clashes between the security forces and the ARSA in late August, in which 370 alleged militants had been killed.

Suu Kyi and the military blame the death and destruction on the primitively-armed militia of ARSA, which announced its existence last October. Burmese security officials claim the group began recruiting six months earlier. The group has been isolated by the Bangladesh government’s offer to assist the Burmese in cracking down on the insurgents.

The NLD and the military are both deeply imbued with anti-Rohingya chauvinism that brands the Rohingya as illegal “Bengali” immigrants. They are treated as non-citizens with no basic democratic rights.

At Friday’s ceremony, General Hlaing denounced the “Bengalis” for having fought with the British military in 1942. This must never happen again, he said, and the army would defend Burmese sovereignty.

Hlaing’s reference to the “Bengalis” in 1942 points to the reactionary roots of Burmese nationalism. Whereas some Muslim Rohingya were recruited by the British colonial authorities into its military forces, a layer of Burmese nationalists collaborated with Japan after it falsely promised to grant independence.

Japan’s colonial regime formed the Burma Independence Army (BIA), which fought the British alongside the Japanese military. Among its recruits were the “Thirty Comrades,” who included Suu Kyi’s father Aung San and Ne Win, who went on to found the Burmese army after the end of World War II. Ne Win led the military dictatorship from 1962 to 1988.

When the BIA forces entered Burma with the Japanese army, they were particularly brutal in attacking ethnic minorities they defined as British collaborators. Many were killed. At one point, the Japanese had to rein in some BIA militias from attacking ethnic groups.

These are the traditions invoked by Genereal Hlaing. He said the Bengali “problem” was “a long-standing one which has become an unfinished job.” The obvious implication is that the time has come to finish the job through brutal ethnic cleansing.

That is exactly what Rohingya refugees describe.

Jalal Ahmed, 60, entered Bangladesh last Friday among a group of 3,000. He told Reuters the army arrived with 200 people and set fire to the whole village. Other specific reports of beheadings and shootings in the fields and villages have been made to the aid agency, Fortify Rights.

Reports to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last February, based on hundreds of interviews at different refugee centres, provided further evidence. Many Rohingya, particularly adult males aged 17-45, simply disappeared. Satellite images raised the probability of large-scale killings and abuses that constitute crimes against humanity.

UN officials called for an inquiry into the Burmese military’s activities, including in 2012 and 2014, but the Suu Kyi government refused to cooperate.

The scale of the latest “clearance operations” led to formal protests by Malaysia, Turkey and Pakistan. Indonesian President Joko Widodo sent Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi to Burma and Bangladesh. There have been demonstrations and protests outside Burmese embassies internationally.

Western nations, however, while critical of the military’s activities, have refused to condemn Suu Kyi and her government. British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, for instance, described her “as one of the most inspiring figures of our age” and urged her to use her “remarkable qualities” to end the violence.

These comments were made with full knowledge of Suu Kyi’s collaboration with the military pogroms, to obscure the responsibility of her imperialist backers for what is now taking place.

The Suu Kyi-led government is in large part the creation of the European Union and the United States. London, Brussels and Washington promoted her as a “democratic icon” and endorsed her alliance with the military junta in 2011.

The Western imperialist opposition to the Burmese military had nothing to do with its crimes and abuses of democratic rights but was bound up with its orientation to Beijing. Once the junta opened Burma to Western investment and reoriented its foreign policy, US and European concerns about “human rights” were quickly shelved.

During a visit to Burma (Myanmar) this week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi explicitly endorsed the ongoing military repression of Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s northwestern Rakhine state. His government and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina are both moving to forcibly deport thousands of poverty-stricken Rohingya refugees: here.

Hooded vultures in Gambia

This video, recorded in Gambia, says about itself:

31 August 2017

Hooded Vulture is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN red list. It is the only member of the genus Necrosyrtes and is native to sub-Saharan Africa. It is a scruffy-looking, small vulture with dark brown plumage, a long thin bill, bare crown, face and fore-neck, and a downy nape and hind-neck. It typically scavenges on carcasses. Although this is a common species, numbers of these birds are decreasing rapidly.

The video shows a cattle egret as well.

I was privileged to see both species while in Gambia.

Hurricane Irma, hurricane Harvey devastation

This 6 September 2017 video, made from a helicopter, shows the destruction by Hurricane Irma in Caribbean Sint Maarten (the Dutch colony part of Saint Martin island, of which the other half is a French colony).

By Jerry White in the USA:

Hurricane Irma slams into Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands

7 September 2017

Less than two weeks after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, leading to record flooding and damage in Houston and other areas of the state, an even more powerful hurricane has plowed through a chain of small islands in the northern Caribbean and Puerto Rico and is heading towards the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Bahamas and Cuba. Densely populated south Florida, which includes Miami, could be hit Sunday, and the Georgia and South Carolina border by Monday afternoon.

Hurricane Irma is a Category 5 storm with 185 mile per hour winds, making it the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever measured. In the early morning hours on Wednesday, Irma smashed into the Lesser Antilles islands of Antigua and Barbuda (population 82,000 and 1,700), Saint Barthélemy (9,000), Anguilla (15,000) and Saint Martin/Sint Maarten (77,000).

At least seven people are confirmed dead, though this number is expected to rise quickly.

The eye of the hurricane passed directly over the island of Barbuda around 2 a.m. Wednesday, with reports of sustained winds of 118 mph, gusting to 155 mph, before meteorological instruments failed. Charles Fernandez, minister of foreign affairs and international trade for Antigua and Barbuda, said the destruction on Barbuda was “upwards of 90 percent.”

High winds and storm surges destroyed government buildings, tore roofs from houses and left islands without power or communication. Both the Dutch and the British dispatched naval ships and military personnel to their island possessions, while French President Emmanuel Macron, who was monitoring conditions in the French West Indies from an Interior Ministry crisis center in Paris, said the “toll would be harsh and cruel.”

Hurricane Irma began battering the US territory of Puerto Rico, with a population of 3.4 million US citizens, Wednesday afternoon. As of this writing, the eye of Hurricane Irma was 35 miles (56 kilometers) north of the capital city of San Juan and hovering above the Atlantic Ocean. Authorities say wind gusts of up to 100 mph (160 km/h) could hit the capital of 355,000 people.

More than one million people, or nearly a third of the population, are currently without power, and nearly 50,000 are without water. Fourteen hospitals are using generators after losing power, and trees and light posts are strewn across many roads.

The island has not been hit by a Category 5 hurricane since Hurricane San Felipe in 1928. Hurricane Hugo in 1989 struck Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm, leaving 72 dead and doing $3 billion in damage. The National Weather Service predicts “extreme” danger and warns that roads are likely to become impassible, and structurally sound buildings are likely to be damaged. Rock and mudslides, particularly in rural areas, are also predicted.

Harvey and Irma are being followed by tropical storms Jose and Katia, which could develop into hurricanes threatening the northern Leeward Islands in the West Indies—including some of the same islands hit Wednesday—and Mexico, respectively.

The water in the Caribbean is warmer than usual, and this provides fuel for such hurricanes. The intensity of the storms and their frequency only underscore the impact of global warming, which is denied by President Donald Trump and only paid lip service by other capitalist governments around the world.

In response to Hurricane Irma, Trump has declared states of emergency in Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to begin relief efforts. Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced that the government was operating 456 shelters to accommodate 63,229 people.

As in Houston, however, the human cost of the new hurricane has been far worsened by the lack of any serious government preparations and the decay of physical and social infrastructure. In the case of Puerto Rico, the island and its people have been left ever more vulnerable by the looting operation carried out by Wall Street to extract some $70 billion in debt payments, or $12,000 from each resident of the island.

Last May, a financial oversight board appointed by the Obama administration filed for Title III bankruptcy to pave the way for Greek-style austerity measures, including slashing public-sector jobs and pensions on an island that already suffers from an official poverty rate of 45 percent and 14.2 percent jobless rate. The Puerto Rican government has hired advisors who oversaw the bankruptcy of Detroit and the sell-off of public assets to pay off wealthy bondholders.

The budget proposed by Rosselló cuts the departments of education, natural resources, housing and agriculture, including a $200 million cut for Puerto Rico’s public university that provoked a two-month-long student strike. The budget also eliminates millions of dollars in annual subsidies to 78 municipalities of Puerto Rico, forcing the mayors to find funding in other areas.

The flooding of water and sewerage systems by the hurricane threatens to create a humanitarian disaster on an island that is already supplied with water from systems that violate the US Safe Drinking Water Act, due to contaminants ranging from lead to coliform bacteria. The water system has been privatized twice, resulting in skyrocketing utility bills.

Before the hurricane hit, Ricardo Ramos Rodríguez, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Power Authority, warned that the island’s electrical system was vulnerable to a catastrophic failure from high winds because it had not been adequately maintained for years. “If we are [slammed] by this hurricane as is being outlined in the forecasts, there are certainly going to be blackouts, and certainly there will be areas that are going to spend three, four months without electricity service,” Rodríguez said in a radio interview with WIPR.

“For many years there has been no maintenance or replacement of damaged equipment,” he said, adding that the public corporation has lost about 5,000 employees in recent years, of which 86 percent were operational—linemen, plant operators or mechanics.

The power company, which is saddled with $9 billion in debt, has been a prime target for privatization by Citigroup and other vulture capitalists squeezing the lifeblood out of the island’s people.

On Wednesday evening, the World Socialist Web Site spoke with Carmen Merrill, a retired New York City sanitation worker who was born in Puerto Rico and now lives in the southeast of the island. As the interview was conducted, the electricity was cut off in the home in Guayama she was sheltering in with a friend.

“My concern is how long we will be without power. There was a news segment on television a while ago and they interviewed retired workers from the Palo Seco Power Plant in Cataño, just outside of San Juan. They said any winds above 50 miles per hour could shut the plant because maintenance never got done. A worker who complained that the plant was too dangerous was killed in an explosion. The government is not doing anything about it.

“They use the word ‘Commonwealth,’ but businesses come here and get tax breaks, and that money is not available for public services. The schools are not maintained and politicians like Rosselló just talk and take no action.”

Most Puerto Ricans, she said, could not afford emergency generators. And while many homes were built with concrete to resist storms, low-income families in isolated areas and in neighborhoods like La Perla in Old San Juan live in structures that are susceptible to massive damage.

“The rising of the rivers is the most dangerous,” Carmen said. Like Houston, she said, working-class residents were helping each other put metal racks on their windows to protect their homes. “We saw what happened in Houston. It was devastating. We had a small group of people volunteering from Puerto Rico to help rescue people in Houston. People are asking here how a modern state like Texas could flood so quickly and people get washed away in unsanitary water.”

Before retiring to Puerto Rico, Carmen said, she was involved in the clean up of Superstorm Sandy in New York City in 2012. “The worst was in Rockaway in Queens, where we saw all the furniture and belongings destroyed and piled up in front of their homes. Houston reminded me of Sandy. Every house and car was flooded. An older lady came up in tears, saying, ‘I don’t care about the furniture but I want my family pictures.’ I found a black and white photo of her grandchildren and gave it to her. After that I couldn’t work, I just cried.”

Miles of devastation along Braes Bayou in Houston. A Hurricane Harvey diary: Part 3. By Charles Abelard, 7 September 2017: here.

Long-term threats to public health follow in Hurricane Harvey’s wake: here.

Hurricane Harvey First Responder Gets Flesh-Eating Bacteria From Texas Storm Water: here.