Coronavirus and capitalism, Naomi Klein comments

This 17 March 2020 video says about itself:

Coronavirus Capitalism — and How to Beat It

Governments around the world are busily exploiting the coronavirus crisis to push for no-strings-attached corporate bailouts and regulatory rollbacks.

“I’ve spent two decades studying the transformations that take place under the cover of disaster,” writes Naomi Klein. “I’ve learned that one thing we can count on is this: During moments of cataclysmic change, the previously unthinkable suddenly becomes reality.”

In recent decades, that change has mainly been for the worst — but this has not always been the case. And it need not continue to be in the future.

This video is about the ways the still-unfolding Covid-19 crisis is already remaking our sense of the possible. The Trump administration and other governments around the world are busily exploiting the crisis to push for no-strings-attached corporate bailouts and regulatory rollbacks. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is moving to repeal financial regulations that were introduced after the last major financial meltdown, as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. …

But this is not the whole story. In the United States, we have also seen organizing at the city and state levels win important victories to suspend evictions during the pandemic. Ireland has announced six weeks of emergency unemployment payments for all workers who suddenly find themselves out of work, including self-employed workers. And despite U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden’s claims during the recent debate that the pandemic has nothing to do with Medicare for All, many Americans are suddenly realizing that the absence of a functioning safety net exacerbates vulnerabilities to the virus on many fronts.

This crisis — like earlier ones — could well be the catalyst to shower aid on the wealthiest interests in society, including those most responsible for our current vulnerabilities, while offering next to nothing to the most workers, wiping out small family savings and shuttering small businesses. But as this video shows, many are already pushing back — and that story hasn’t been written yet.

There’s nothing so political as a pandemic: here.

Belgium: refugees imprisoned for being refugees on hunger strike against coronavirus threat in prisons: here.

Shock Doctrine capitalism in Puerto Rico

This 13 January 2018 video is called FMPR President Mercedes Martinez on school closures in Puerto Rico.

From Jacobin magazine in the USA:


The Shock Doctrine Comes to Puerto Rico

An interview with Naomi Klein and Mercedes Martinez, president of the Puerto Rican Teachers Federation.

Interview by Daniel Denvir

The US colony of Puerto Rico has suffered a series of shocks in recent years. In 2006, tax breaks intended to lure manufacturers to the island expired, prompting widespread capital flight. Then, the financial crisis hit, and the island’s government borrowed huge sums of money.

The resulting debt crisis was followed by widespread public sector layoffs. Since then, the federal PROMESA law created an unelected financial oversight and management board, or Junta, which has moved to impose yet more austerity on the island. And that was before Hurricane Maria hit.

More than three hundred schools have already been closed and huge numbers have left the island. Puerto Ricans are profoundly traumatized — which is precisely what successful shock doctrines depend on.

That’s what Naomi Klein’s new book The Battle for Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes On the Disaster Capitalists is all about. Daniel Denvir recently spoke with Klein and Mercedes Martinez, the president of the Puerto Rican Teachers Federation, for the Dig, his podcast on Jacobin Radio. You can subscribe to Jacobin Radio here and listen to this episode here.


What is happening in Puerto Rico right now in the wake of Hurricane Maria?


Puerto Rico is still devastated after Hurricane Maria. Actually, Hurricane Maria just uncovered what’s been happening in Puerto Rico for decades, since we’ve been a US colony and a Spanish colony as well. We now have the fiscal board, which is imposing severe austerity measures against the working class, against our children. Yesterday was the last day of the semester and 265 schools are set to shut down permanently, affecting 55,000 students. Eighty-four percent of the schools set to be shut down are in rural areas of extreme poverty.

We still have 60 percent of residents with no electricity. We have people still dying every day in our country, as a recent Harvard study exposed, because of government negligence over the energy problem that we have here.

Law 80 is going to be abolished. It’s a law that can defend private working employees from unjustified layoffs, so they get just compensation. They are proposing to lower the minimum wage for our youth, twenty-five years and under. They are proposing to increase tuition fees at the University of Puerto Rico and shut down different campuses. So it’s disaster capitalism on steroids while we are living here in Puerto Rico right now.


We’re talking a week after the Harvard study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine that estimated that the death toll in the aftermath of Hurricane [Maria], the “excess deaths,” as they call it, were around five thousand people as of the end of December. They noted that there was no sign that the numbers were going down.

These “excess deaths” were happening before Maria as a result of public policy. If you look at that Harvard study, it’s clear that a natural disaster did not cause those deaths. The deaths because of high winds or falling debris were relatively small.

The huge numbers of deaths were the result of infrastructure collapse. They were the result of lack of access to medical care, which is tied to the complete breakdown of the electricity system and the water system.

This has everything to do with the fact that before Maria hit, Puerto Rico was experiencing a very high dose of what I’ve called the “Shock Doctrine”, of using a crisis — before Maria, it was an economic crisis, a debt crisis — to impose one of the most brutal austerity regimes in the world.

We see such a high death toll because the systematic starving of the public sphere is why the infrastructure collapsed as spectacularly as it did. But now, rather than pulling back in any way, there is this intensification of that very program — a doubling down.


Mercedes, can you explain the entity that’s imposing this austerity and these shocks on Puerto Rico — the financial oversight and management board that islanders call “La Junta.” What is it? How did it come about? Who sits on it? What is it trying to do?


La Junta, or the oversight control fiscal board, is a dictatorship.

It was appointed by the US Congress during Barack Obama’s presidency. Obama approved the law, called PROMESA. It was written to create ways to allow the Puerto Rican people to pay an odious debt of $72 billion.

They created this fiscal board just as they did in Detroit. The fiscal board is supposed to implement severe austerity measures against the people of Puerto Rico, so we can repay a debt that has not been audited. We are requesting for the debt to be audited.

The Junta, or the oversight fiscal board, is composed of seven members, unelected officials, who can overrule our laws and budget, who submit fiscal plans, who approve anything that happens in our country. So that is not democracy. That is a dictatorship of seven unelected officials who are governing our country.

They are not here to put behind bars all the corrupt politicians or the bondholders, the people that put the Puerto Rican people into debt. It’s very curious to see that two of the members of the oversight fiscal board were involved in the bonds that were [issued] on behalf of Puerto Rican people when they worked at Santander Bank and the Banco Gubernamental de Fomento para Puerto Rico, which is the bank of the government of Puerto Rico.

They are responsible for these bonds that were [issued] on behalf of our people. They are, as we say here, playing pitcher and catcher on both bases. They created the debt and we have to pay for it while they get benefits.


Everybody knows the debt is not going to be paid back. The debt is unpayable. So Puerto Rico is being “structurally adjusted” through the use of debt.

Some of the debt may be repaid, but what is happening now is the debt is being used as an economic weapon to force privatization and other profitable reforms. So it becomes the weapon that is used to demand the privatization of the electricity system — which itself carries a huge debt but is very profitable.

So the profitable parts of the public utility will be auctioned off to private players while the debt will be offloaded onto the public. What Mercedes has been fighting is a similar process in the school system, cracking open the education system to charter schools.


The Puerto Rico education secretary, Julia Keleher, said that New Orleans should be a “point of reference” for the island.


She has been here for such a short time and created so much damage. She needs to get lost. She needs to leave our island immediately.

She’s a business woman. She’s coming here as a puppet of the oversight fiscal board, to perform these atrocities against Puerto Rican children. She’s earning a quarter of a million dollars in salary, more than any [education] secretary in Puerto Rico’s history. Higgins, in the energy agency corporation, is making almost $500,000. The executive director of the fiscal board is making $625,000 a year.

They have all approved their own personal version of Law 80, which is the law that they want to abolish, where you get just compensation if you get fired for not finishing your contract or for unjust layoffs. They created their own Law 80, so that even if they get laid off or even if their contract is expired, they get to collect all their money.

They are damaging the children of Puerto Rico.

Right now, as we speak, we have parents occupying the schools, making sure that no one takes anything from them, that no materials go out and nothing comes out, so they can save them. We are suing the government [over these closures] and expect the courts to rule in favor of us, on behalf of the children of Puerto Rico.

Julia Keleher (who has a company called Keleher and Associates based in Philadelphia) came here four years ago and to make the conditions of privatization possible, to lay off thousands of teachers, to save hundreds of millions of dollars, without caring about the human necessities of the children of Puerto Rico and the teachers of Puerto Rico.


We hear all this rhetoric of humanitarian aid and recovery going to Puerto Rico, but this is child abuse. You hear these figures about closing three hundred schools. It can seem abstract, but these are children who have lived through a profoundly traumatic event. Hurricane Maria was a massive trauma for everybody in Puerto Rico: we’re talking about children who lost their homes, who lost family members, who had this experience of it seeming that the natural world had turned against them.

Everybody who has worked with children or is a parent knows that what children need in a situation like this more than anything is a return to some kind of normalcy, some kind of routine, to have a space of safety to process their experiences. That’s what school can and should be in a moment like this. So this is a process of just incredibly heartless re-traumatization of children and families in Puerto Rico.


A week after the hurricane, teachers themselves reopened the schools. They reconditioned the schools, machete and chainsaws in hand, and put the roofs back on the schools. And we sent Keleher a letter saying, open at least the lunch room, because children have no electricity. Children have no water in the houses. You have gas stoves and you have food there that you can feed the entire community. Open them up and we will cook. She denied that, so a lot of parents occupied even the lunchrooms after the hurricane, to be able to feed the children and all the community members.

Then, as two weeks passed, the schools were ready to reopen in the majority of the cases, thanks to the work of the people. Because only the people will save the people. The government did not appear — not federal, not state.


The pretext for why these school closures are happening is that there aren’t enough students to justify it, right? But if you look at the numbers, the student-teacher ratio in these schools is actually where it should be. The student-teacher ratio was way out of whack before because the schools were so underfunded, but this “crisis” that they were trying to fix is actually a healthy student-teacher ratio.


Which apparently the students of Puerto Rico don’t deserve.

Governor Ricardo Rossello said that Maria had turned the island into a “blank canvas.” Naomi, you write that it’s a vision of “Puertopia”, using huge tax breaks to lure rich transplants, including “cryptocurrency bros”, to the island. There’s a 4 percent corporate tax rate, dividends from island-based companies to island-based individuals are tax free. No federal income tax. To benefit from these tax subsidies these rich transplants just have to spend 183 days of the year on the island, which, as you point out, Naomi, is perfect for rich people who’d like to spend their winters somewhere warm.

Talk about this development scheme that the Puerto Rican government and business elites are pushing, including this bizarre crypto invasion.


It really is just a scheme. It’s about trying to have some kind of economic activity on the books.

The irony is that this most recent economic crisis in Puerto Rico was catalyzed by the expiration of tax breaks that used to be offered to American companies to encourage them to build factories in Puerto Rico and create very large numbers of jobs. Puerto Rico really was the laboratory for the export-processing zone, free-trade model that swept the world, because Puerto Rico is an American territory.

In the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s, an economic project called Operation Bootstrap gave American companies these tax breaks so that they would go to Puerto Rico and build factories. They were low-wage factories that eventually moved to Mexico and Central America and then Asia.

You didn’t need free trade deals to do this in Puerto Rico because Puerto Rico is a US territory. It still was technically “made in America.” But what really started to devastate Puerto Rico’s economy was when NAFTA was signed and markets with even lower wages and weaker regulations on offer. Those tax breaks were allowed to expire because they were no longer needed.

So the whole model was replaced by the free trade model. The end date for the expiration was 2006. That was the economic shock that catalyzed the debt crisis.

At least those tax breaks required that these companies create jobs and build real factories. Now what they have are these laws that allow American companies to change their addresses to Puerto Rico, but we’re talking here about financial companies, tech companies, and increasingly, cryptocurrency-related companies. They’re not building factories and employing huge numbers of Puerto Ricans. There used to be a requirement that they create four jobs, and just a year ago they got rid of even that requirement. You don’t even have to hire a Puerto Rican gardener if you don’t want to, to benefit from this buffet of tax giveaways.

No capital gains tax, no tax on interest — so if you are a crypto trader and you want to cash out, you want to sell your bitcoin and turn it into hard US currency, then what you’re most afraid of is getting taxed on that, right? So what Puerto Rico is offering to those crypto bros is, “Come here, do your trading and you won’t get taxed at all.” The corporate tax rate, as you mentioned, is 4 percent. You think about that in the context of Trump’s tax cut, which lowered the corporate tax rate in the US mainland to 20 percent, which was already a significant cut. And this is what Puerto Rico is offering, so you can imagine why it is such an appealing offer. Like I said, it’s a scheme, because there’s just so little job creation connected to it.


One key aspect of this dystopian model for the island’s future is depopulation, which has been taking place for many, many years but has rapidly accelerated in Maria’s wake. It’s a process that, if not intentional, is at least pretty welcome to those pushing to implement this Puertopia vision on the island. What has the flight of people from the island looked like?


Hundreds of thousands of people have already left the island. One study showed that 6 percent of the people that left aren’t coming back to our country. It’s obvious that they want to depopulate our country.

If you close a school in a rural area where it’s the only school, and the closest school is fourteen kilometers away and people have no cars, you are making them leave the mountains and you are making them leave our country, and you have no jobs. Last year, more than 45,000 jobs in the private sector were lost in our country.

Right now they are imposing “incentivized retirement.” They pay you for a year, but then for five years you can’t work on any government agency. The private sector is not offering any jobs — where are the people going to go after the year?

They’re pushing people out of our country to allow the rich to come here and create their own towns, their own cities, their own Puerto Rico. They’re coming here trying to buy the land and have their own private hospitals, their private schools, their private land, their private anything.


In Puerto Rico, the superrich are taking advantage of this massive rolling humanitarian disaster to come in and go, “Oh, yeah, I see a blank slate here. This is a great place for us to build our private fortress, a climate change-proof little enclave.”


Before the hurricane hit, Puerto Rico was in a high state of social movement mobilization. Last spring, there was this massive strike at Universidad de Puerto Rico protesting proposed tuition hikes and budget cuts. There were massive May Day protests.

At the time Naomi writes that these movements had seemingly stalled the most draconian austerity plans, but “Then came Maria and all those same rejected policies came roaring back with Category Five ferocity.”

Mercedes, tell me about these mobilizations that were underway, what happened when Maria hit, and moving forward, what movements are going to do given the enormous power of your enemies.


Prior to the hurricane, there were huge mobilizations. Students of the University of Puerto Rico had a strike for seventy-two days and they won one of their claims against the tuition fee increase. On May 1 last year, around 80,000 people flooded the streets of San Juan, particularly on what is called the Gold Mile, which is where the bankers are, protesting against these severe austerity measures, and were able to stop a lot of them.

The Governor of Puerto Rico amended the penal code in Puerto Rico to implement many more years of incarceration for people that protest if they commit a crime — people that block the streets, people that block the entrance of the schools for the occupations. So they are trying to make people feel scared to protest.

This May 1 was amazing as well. The banks were shut down. The biggest mall in Puerto Rico was shut down. Police brutality has been implemented against all of those who struggle. We saw this on May 1, where tear gas, rubber bullets, 1,100 cops were sent to demonstrations of the working class, of university students, environmentalist groups, feminists. They are trying to implement terror, but people are fighting back.

We have been arrested for doing civil disobedience to ask the government to open the schools. But we are not scared. They think that they are going to drive us away or scare us through these terrorizing policies and police brutality against the people of Puerto Rico. They are wrong. We have nothing else to lose.


I don’t think anything has inspired me more than seeing what Puerto Ricans are capable of organizing in the most trying of circumstances. Not just resisting, not just saying “no” to these horrific, predatory practices, but with the lights still off and without water and with families being split apart, coming together to say, “What do we want instead?”

And creating space to dream, which was pointed out to me when I was in Puerto Rico, is exactly what colonization was designed to extinguish. The right of people to dream their own future and design their own destiny. The fact that the Puerto Ricans are doing this under such extraordinary circumstances, I think, is something we all have to learn from.

About the Author:

Naomi Klein is a journalist and activist. Her latest book is This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.

About the Interviewer:

Daniel Denvir is the author of All-American Nativism (forthcoming from Verso), a writer in residence at The Appeal, and the host of “The Dig” on Jacobin Radio.

US financial board spars with Puerto Rican authorities over how best to pillage island: here.

Researchers have estimated there were 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria from September 2017 through the end of February 2018. The researchers also identified gaps in the death certification and public communication processes and went on to make recommendations that will help prepare Puerto Rico for future hurricanes and other natural disasters: here.

Naomi Klein interviewed on Dutch TV

This Dutch 17 November 2017 TV video says about itself:

How Naomi Klein became an activist | Interview Naomi Klein | College Tour

This Dutch 17 November 2017 TV video says about itself:

Does Trump consciously use the shock doctrine? | Interview Naomi Klein | College Tour

This Dutch 17 November 2017 TV video says about itself:

Why working together with big polluting companies isn’t enough | Naomi Klein in College Tour

Corporate media scared of Naomi Klein?

This video from the USA says about itself:

Why Isn’t Naomi Klein On TV Anymore?

22 October 2017

Is the mainstream media afraid of Naomi Klein? Cenk Uygur, the host of The Young Turks, discusses with author Naomi Klein. Tell us what you think in the comment section below. Watch the whole interview here.

Hurricane Irma abused for austerity in Puerto Rico

This video says about itself:

How Does Naomi Klein Define Disaster Capitalism? The Shock Doctrine and Economics (2009)

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism is a 2007 book by the Canadian author Naomi Klein, and is the basis of a 2009 documentary by the same name directed by Michael Winterbottom.

The book argues that the free market policies of Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman have risen to prominence in some countries because of a deliberate strategy of certain leaders to exploit crises by pushing through controversial, exploitative policies while citizens were too busy emotionally and physically reeling from disasters or upheavals to create an effective resistance.

It is implied that some man-made crises, such as the Iraq war, may have been created with the intention of pushing through these unpopular reforms in their wake. The introduction sketches the history of the last 30 years, during which time economic shock doctrine has been applied throughout the world, from South America in the 1970s to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Klein introduces two of her main themes: That practitioners of the shock doctrine tend to seek a blank slate on which to create their ideal free market economies, which usually requires a violent destruction of the existing economic order, since the existing order features policies, laws, and practices that interfere with laissez-faire capitalism.

The similarities between economic shock doctrine and CIA-funded shock therapy studies in which electric shocks far exceeding normal therapeutic levels were applied to patients in mental hospitals in an effort to destroy psychological resistance and create a tabula rasa personality, upon which doctors could imprint whatever they wanted.

Part 1 begins with a chapter on psychiatric shock therapy and the covert experiments conducted by the psychiatrist Ewen Cameron in collusion with the Central Intelligence Agency: how it was partially successful in distorting and regressing patients’ original personality, but ineffectual in developing a “better” personality to replace it. Parallels with economic shock therapy are made, including a digression on how government agencies harnessed some of the lessons learned to create more effective torture techniques. Torture, according to Klein, has often been an essential tool for authorities who have implemented aggressive free market reforms — this assertion is stressed throughout the book. She suggests that for historical reasons the human rights movement has often portrayed torture without explaining its context, which has made it frequently appear as pointless cruelty.

The second chapter introduces Milton Friedman and his Chicago school of economics, whom Klein describes as leading a laissez-faire capitalist movement committed to creating free markets that are even less regulated than those that existed before the Great Depression. Part 2 discusses the use of shock doctrine to transform South American economies in the 1970s, focusing on the coup in Chile led by General Augusto Pinochet and influenced by a prominent group of Chilean economists that had been trained at the University of Chicago in the Economics department, funded by the CIA, and advised by Milton Friedman. The importance of using torture and economic shock therapy in order for the unpopular policies to be enacted by Pinochet, is explored.

Part 3 covers attempts to apply the shock doctrine without the need for extreme violence against sections of the population. The mild shock therapy of Margaret Thatcher is explained as being facilitated by the Falklands War, while free market reform in Bolivia was possible due to a combination of pre-existing economic crises and the charisma of Jeffrey Sachs.

Part 4 reports on how the shock doctrine was applied in Poland, Russia, South Africa and to the tiger economies during the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Part 5 introduces the “Disaster Capitalism Complex”, where the author describes how companies have learnt to profit from disasters. She talks about how the same personnel move easily from security-related posts in US government agencies to lucrative positions in corporations.

Part 6 discusses the occupation of Iraq, which Klein describes as the most comprehensive and full-scale implementation of the shock doctrine ever attempted.

Part 7 is about the winners and losers of economic shock therapy — how small groups will often do very well by moving into luxurious gated communities while large sections of the population are left with decaying public infrastructure, declining incomes and increased unemployment.

Conclusion is about the backlash against the shock doctrine and economic institutions that propagate it like the World Bank and IMF.

By Rafael Azul:

After Irma, Wall Street pushes for austerity and privatization in Puerto Rico

14 September 2017

Hurricane Irma, the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic, passed northwest of Puerto Rico on September 7, killing three people and causing significant damage to roads and the electrical power grid. The storm knocked out power for 1 million out of the island’s 3.4 million people, left 350,000 Puerto Ricans without potable water and put half the telecommunications towers in the country out of commission.

Though the US territory was spared the full force of the storm, which swung 54 miles to the north, high winds, rain and storm surges damaged homes and the electrical and water infrastructure, particularly in and around San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital city and home to more than 400,000 people.

Victims report the loss of furniture, clothing, and many other items, as the strong winds tore of the roofs of homes in San Juan crowded working class communities along the northern coast, including the historic shantytown La Perla.

William Villafañe, Governor Pedro Rosselló’s chief of staff, announced that the percentage of Puerto Ricans with no electric power has fallen from 74 percent of the population to nineteen percent (over 300,000 people). Villafañe claimed that most of the population would have its power back by next week. He made it clear, however, that major infrastructural work will need to be done, saying, “It is evident that the most damaged in terms of infrastructure, in addition to our roads, is the electrical infrastructure.”

In a separate interview, New Progressive Party (NPP, pro-statehood) Senator Miguel Romero said in San Juan alone 42 percent of the population were still without power. The restoration of power is being done in a haphazard manner, bypassing entire neighborhoods and leaving others with intermittent service.

Discussing the present situation, Anthony, a University of Puerto Rico student, told the World Socialist Web Site, “Some coastal areas outside of the capital have been hit with lots of flooding and homes and buildings have been destroyed. On the islands of Vieques and Culebra (off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico), people lost practically everything. The damage on these islands, which are close to the British and US Virgin islands, was devastating like Barbuda.

“I live outside of San Juan and we have no power. They say it could be a month before power is restored in some rural areas in the central part of the island. Of course, the priority is restoring the power for the elite class and the politicians in the capital city. Workers are the last ones.

“I think they have deliberately allowed the electrical grid to deteriorate for years, in order to open it up to privatization.”

According to the San Juan Star, the Electrical Industry and Irrigation Workers Union (UTIER) has accused the government of deliberately delaying the restoration of power in San Juan and other crowded cities to promote the privatization of the public electric utility, the Puerto Rican Electric Power Agency (PERPA or Agencia de Energia Eléctrica in Spanish, AEE).

The public utility has been starved of resources and implemented one cost-cutting measure after another to meet debt obligations of $9 billion. This left the grid particularly vulnerable to damage from high winds. According to UTIER President Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo, “There were 6,800 linemen in the year 2000. Now we have 3,500, and the number of miles of power lines has more than doubled in that time. They cut personnel, reduced material and cut back on maintenance. All this adds up to not meeting your obligations.”

The sale of the Puerto Rican Electric Power Authority to private investors has been on the agenda for years. This has accelerated under the rule of an unelected control board, known as the Financial Oversight and Management Board of Puerto Rico, which was appointed by the Obama administration to impose dictatorial control over the island’s spending and funnel billions to Wall Street.

Officially Puerto Rico owes some $72 billion to various vulture funds and another $50 billion for so-called unfunded pension liabilities to public employees. In May, the island formally declared bankruptcy under the terms of the PROMISE Act legislation passed by Congress last year.

In June several members of the Financial Oversight Board wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, titled “Privatize Puerto Rico’s Power,” after the board rejected PREPA’s request to restructure its debt service and lower the price of electricity. The board members argued that only the privatization of the utility would generate enough investment from the banks to modernize the grid and deliver “cost-effective” energy.

What was needed in return, they said, was the “depolitization” of management (the installation of the direct representatives of the banks to run the utility), pension “reform” and the renegotiations of labor agreements (i.e., brutal attacks on the pensions of retired workers and the wages and working conditions of current PREPA workers) in the name of increasing “efficiency.”

Forcing the bondholders to take a financial “haircut” of 15 percent, the board members argued, would be an insuperable obstacle to selling off the company at a fire-sale price.

By rejecting the utility’s debt restructuring plan, the Financial Oversight Board forced the electric utility to declare bankruptcy in July after it defaulted on a $9 billion debt and was cut off from credit markets. Wall Street will now dictate the terms of whatever “restructuring” takes place.

The declaration of bankruptcy not only put a halt to any effort to modernize and strengthen PREPA’s infrastructure, it also greatly undermined maintenance operations, such as trimming trees near power lines and other essential tasks.

The electrical crisis in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma is therefore a self-fulfilling prophecy. The storm was a godsend for the financial parasites seeking to loot public assets, including the public electrical utility, and escalate the attacks on the jobs, wages and pensions of all public sector workers.

“I don’t want to point fingers,” declared Governor Roselló, “but the truth is it’s been periods of over a decade with very little or no investment in the maintenance of our infrastructure, and that makes us more susceptible.” Rather than arresting those who deliberately sabotaged the electrical grid, causing immense pain and suffering for the island’s residents, Roselló called for the speedy privatization of PREPA under the terms of the legislation that created the Financial Oversight Board.

“This is a moment of crisis that we need to benefit and transform into an opportunity of change, production and investment,” declared Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner Jennifer González, who ostensibly represents the island in the US Congress.

As in Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Detroit bankruptcy in 2013-2014, Wall Street is using the destruction of Hurricane Irma—which was exacerbated by the criminal activities of its political hirelings—to restructure Puerto Rico at the expense of the working class. This will surely be the model for the reconstruction of Houston, the Virgin Islands, Florida and all those areas hit by hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Naomi Klein interviews Jeremy Corbyn

This video says about itself:

Naomi Klein Interview With Jeremy Corbyn – How to Get The World We Want

14 July 2017

“It’s been a very interesting two years. We’ve had two leadership elections in the Labour Party, which mobilized very large numbers of people. It’s not about me. It’s about a cause, it’s about people. And then we’ve just come out of a general election campaign in which we started in a very difficult political position and ended up gaining three million more votes than 2015, and the highest Labour vote in England for many, many decades.

There was a big swing to Labour, but not quite enough, unfortunately, to give us a Parliamentary majority. And so, we’re now in a situation where there is a huge confidence amongst those that are campaigning for ending the wage cap in the public sector for investment in public services. And a huge degree of uncertainty by the right and by the Conservatives.

For full transcript see associated The Intercept article.

IT’S a switch. For two years the media told us that everybody hated Jeremy Corbyn. Now, after winning two leadership elections and improving Labour’s position in the general election, some of his critics have decided he is too popular: here.

Naomi Klein on Grenfell Tower, Trump, Corbyn

This Channel 4 TV video from Britain says about itself:

Naomi Klein on Trump, Corbyn and the global “war on affordable housing” (extended interview)

4 July 2017

Naomi Klein says “Trump voters wanted to raise middle finger”. The author and activist talks about her new book charting the Trump presidency, the shock tactics which got him elected, and about Jeremy Corbyn’s success, and the wider causes of the Grenfell Tower fire in London.

Naomi Klein on Corbyn, Sanders and young people

This video from the USA says about itself:

Naomi Klein on Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders & Youth-Led Grassroots Progressive Insurgencies

13 June 2017

Over the weekend, more than 4,000 people gathered for the People’s Summit in Chicago. Among those who spoke was Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who called the Democratic Party’s strategy an absolute failure and blamed the party for the election of President Trump.

This comes after the Labour Party in Britain won a shocking number of new seats in the British election. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is now poised to possibly become the next British prime minister. For more on these insurgent progressive politicians, we speak with best-selling author and journalist Naomi Klein, whose new book is “No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need”.

Donald Trump, Naomi Klein and Black Lives Matter

This video from the USA says about itself:

Naomi Klein on Trump Election: “This is a Corporate Coup d’État

20 January 2017

Journalists Naomi Klein, author of “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate” and Lee Fang of The Intercept talk about the role of corporations inside the Trump administration and the inauguration.

Fear Not, America: Davos Thinks President Trump Is Going to Be Just Fine: here.

This video from Washington, DC in the USA says about itself:

20 January 2017

Protests are taking place across the country today. We go live to an inauguration checkpoint where Black Lives Matter protesters are locked down and trying to block off the entrance to the inauguration.

Flights To D.C. Area Are Packed With Women’s March Participants: here.

TRUMP WALKS BACK IDEA OF CUTTING FUNDING TO HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGES Two days into a firestorm of criticism regarding his remarks. [NYT]

Yes, the Trump team just cited a segregation-era ruling in order to defend the travel ban.

Naomi Klein on coup in Brazil

This video from the USA says about itself:

Naomi Klein on the Ousting of President Rousseff

21 June 2016

At the People’s Summit in Chicago, Naomi Klein tells Paul Jay that the suspension of Dilma Rousseff’s presidency in Brazil should be called a coup.