U.S. corporations benefitting from PREPA rebuilding, but is Puerto Rico?

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Huffington Post:Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the state-owned power monopoly, has awarded $4.4 billion in contracts to companies hired to repair the extensive damage to the island’s aging electrical grid. But outages are an enduring and lethal fact of life in Puerto Rico, where the grid remains fragile. An earthquake in January 2020 plunged the island into darkness once again, and now they are looking at a hurricane season forecast to be one of the most active in years.A joint analysis by HuffPost and NBCLX finds that the vast majority of grid reconstruction-related contracts have gone to American firms, including fossil fuel companies, construction firms connected to the Trump administration and consultants such as former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). Of the publicly available information on deals awarded since 2017, mainland U.S. contractors received roughly 84%, totaling $3.7 billion.PREPA, meanwhile, is currently hammering out a deal to hand over control of the electrical distribution system for 15 years to a trio of private operators: Houston-based grid manager Quanta Services, North Carolina-headquartered disaster response firm IEM, and ATCO Ltd., a gas firm based in Calgary, Canada. That contract has not yet been released.The share of contracts directed to companies outside the United States’ largest territorial possession is not necessarily surprising. But the finding raises new questions about who is benefiting most from Puerto Rico’s rebuilding process, stoking century-old tensions over the colonial relationship between the United States and its largest territorial possession, whose decades long debt crisis spurred ongoing and brutal austerity cuts.Controversies over PREPA’s contracts began just months after the hurricane, when the utility awarded a $300 million contract to Whitefish Energy Holdings, a tiny Montana firm with ties to then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, which months earlier had been on shaky financial grounds. PREPA quickly canceled the contract amid a national firestorm over the deal. But the state-owned power monopoly continued awarding hefty contracts to U.S. companies at prices Puerto Rican union officials say far exceeded what local workers would charge.Months later, PREPA agreed to pay the Florida-based construction firm MasTec $400 per streetlight it repaired, even though the union proposed to carry out the same work for $60 per light. Yet the total payout of $5 million was dwarfed by the $500 million contract PREPA gave MasTec in May 2018 to restore transmission lines. The deal drew criticism from Puerto Rico’s fiscal control board, the panel of officials Congress put in charge of the island’s public budget in an effort to ensure the territory’s Wall Street creditors were repaid. MasTec did not respond to a request for comment.Tom Sanzillo, the finance director at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a nonprofit that researches energy issues, said the deal exemplified the lucrative business opportunity public contracts offer to former politicians looking to cash in on connections to the sitting administration. (Christie, whose relationship with Trump has at times been critical, was among the president’s first rivals in early 2016 to drop out and endorse the former reality TV host.)Sanzillo, a former acting comptroller for New York State, has spent the past month raising concerns about another eyebrow-raising PREPA contract given to a major Democratic donor. In March 2019, the utility agreed to pay New Fortress Energy, a fracked-gas infrastructure giant founded and run by billionaire Wes Edens, $1.5 billion to convert two units of the utility’s diesel-burning power plant in San Juan to gas. It was the highest price tag of any post-hurricane PREPA deal. But the cost came with an ambitious timeline. New Fortress would have the units up and running by June 2019. The speed with which the company aimed to build the gas infrastructure seemed to support the utility’s claim that fracked gas, a climate-changing fuel that generally produces less toxic air pollution than diesel, would act as a “bridge” to low-emissions renewables and batteries.New Fortress wasn’t just late on finishing construction. The process that led to the deal was plagued by process irregularities that gave New Fortress “an unfair advantage,” according to the claims in a scathing report from IEEFA and the Puerto Rican watchdog group CAMBIO, based on internal documents released through a lawsuit. The report detailed allegations of how New Fortress submitted an unsolicited proposal and secured meetings with PREPA and its financial adviser, Filsinger Energy Partners, before the utility even drafted its requests for proposal on the project in April 2018.[Alexander C. Kaufman and Bianca Graulau]More: Puerto Rico’s troubled utility is a goldmine for U.S. contractors U.S. corporations benefitting from PREPA rebuilding, but is Puerto Rico?last_img read more

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Amnesty warns Premier League over Newcastle takeover

first_imgA Saudi-backed consortium is reportedly on the verge of buying Newcastle UnitedLondon, United Kingdom | AFP | Amnesty International has warned the Premier League that it “risks becoming a patsy” unless it takes a serious look at Saudi Arabia’s human rights record in connection with the proposed takeover of Newcastle.The Magpies are on the verge of being sold to a Saudi-backed consortium that involves Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for around £300 million ($368 million).It was reported on Tuesday that a non-refundable deposit of £17 million has already been paid to current owner Mike Ashley as part of the deal.The Premier League must decide if the new owners meet the criteria in its owners and directors test.Amnesty, a global non-governmental organisation that seeks to prevent abuses of human rights, said that unless the league provides thorough justification for its decision to approve the takeover, it risks damaging its own reputation.Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen has sent a letter to Premier League chief executive Richard Masters spelling out the concerns of the organisation. “So long as these questions (concerning Saudi Arabia’s human rights record) remain unaddressed, the Premier League is putting itself at risk of becoming a patsy of those who want to use the glamour and prestige of Premier League football to cover up actions that are deeply immoral,” she said in the letter.Critics have accused Saudi Arabia of “sports washing”, saying the government uses sport as a way of distracting attention from its human rights record.In a statement separate from the letter sent to Masters, Allen said: “All businesses need to safeguard against any possible links to human rights violations, and English football is no different.“This is more than just a financial transaction — it’s an image-building exercise that draws on the prestige of the Premier League and the passion of Newcastle United’s fanbase.”Amnesty have also previously criticised the UAE’s investment into defending English champions Manchester City as an attempt to sports wash the state’s image.Share on: WhatsApplast_img read more

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Steelers and Browns End Zone Brawl Features Helmet Shot

first_imgA rare win by the Browns over the Steelers was marred by a late fight.A melee took place in the closing seconds started by Steeler QB Mason Rudolph and Browns defensive end Myles Garrett.The Steelers QB attempted to rip Garrett’s helmet off when the pair were on the ground wrestling late in the fourth quarter.Garrett eventually ripped Rudolph’s helmet off and swung it at him, hitting Rudolph in the head. Maurkice Pouncey punched and kicked Garrett shortly after and the two were ejected, along with Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi.Garrett will likely be suspended.Rudolph says he is “good” and was not injured by the helmet-to-the-head hit.Cleveland beat visiting Pittsburgh 21-7 on Thursday Night Football to improve to 4-and-6 the Steelers fall to 5-5.last_img

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Florida man gets 17 years after wife signed for packages containing 1,000+ ecstasy pills

first_imgA South Florida man is headed to prison after his wife signed for two packages containing more than 1,000 ecstasy pills.32-year-old, Eric Roper, was convicted in October on one count of possession with intent to distribute. He was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison on Monday after a jury found him guilty.According to reports,federal agents stopped two packages addressed to Roper’s home, and planned a controlled delivery of fake pills in April. However, Roper’s wife answered the door when an undercover postal man made the delivery. She called Roper on the phone, and he gave her the instructions to sign for the packages.He was arrested later that day after arriving home.Roper’s wife was not charged.last_img

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Trial begins for man accused of hiring hit-man to kill pregnant wife

first_imgThe trial of a man who is accused of hiring a hit-man to kill his pregnant wife is underway.Police say 33-year-old Euri Jenkings is facing a charge of first degree murder with a firearm in the killing of Makeva Jenkins at their home near Lake Worth in June 2017.Court records showed Jenkins paid a friend, Joevan Joseph, $1500 to kill his wife.Joseph pleaded guilty last year to second degree murder and agreed to testify against Jenkins.The jury selection began on Tuesday.last_img

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DNA Matches “Pillowcase Rapist” to 25 South Florida Women

first_imgProsecutors revealed on Thursday that a 60-year-old jailed sex offender’s DNA has been matched to at least 25 rape victims that date to the early- and mid-1980s.Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle named Robert Eugene Koehler as the Pillowcase Rapist at a news conference. He is believed to have sexually assaulted more than 40 women in South Florida between 1981 and 1986, and possibly longer.Rundle added that she believes numerous cases against him will be prosecuted and said, “This offender will never, ever be free again.”The break in the case happened after Koehler’s son, 29-year-old Robert Koehler, was arrested last September and charged with attempted burglary, domestic violence assault and criminal mischief in Melbourne, Florida.Since the charge was a felony, Robert Koehler’s DNA was taken and then entered in a national database, where it was connected to a 1983 Miami rape case.That led investigators to his father, who lived in Miami during the early 1980s, when the younger Koehler was not born yet.They tracked the 60-year-old in Brevard County and tailed him to a grocery store, where they collected evidence from a grocery cart he had used, as well as a door handle. The initial DNA provided enough evidence to give prosecutors probable cause to arrest Koehler last Saturday at his home in Palm Bay.He was moved to Miami on Wednesday, where a judge issued a search warrant to collect additional DNA from him. That DNA was analyzed and produced a 100 percent match to the DNA found on at least 25 of the women who alleged they were raped by the Pillowcase Rapist during the 1980s.The judge decided at Koehler’s first bond appearance that he will remain jailed without bond.UPDATED: Alleged South Florida “Pillowcase Rapist” was Caught and Freed in 1990last_img read more

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Man Charged With Murdering 95-year old PSL Nursing Home Patient

first_img47 year old William Hawkins is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of a 95-year-old man in a nursing home in Port St. Lucie. On Jan. 5, police responded to the Tiffany Hall Nursing Home after receiving a 9-11 call about someone trying to smother a patient.Officers arrived and found a man dead.A certified nursing assistant told police he saw a bald-headed man wearing a dark sweater or jacket and shorts, enter the victim’s room. A short time later, the assistant told the victim’s nurse that an unknown man entered the victim’s room. The nurse saw the stranger in the victim’s room and alerted others.Staffers told investigators that the intruder must’ve had an access code to get into the facility. The executive director of the rehabilitation center told police the patient’s family had 24/7 access to the facility.Later in the morning, detectives identified Hawkins as a possible suspect after looking at names on the victim’s visitors list and comparing descriptions from witnesses. The arrest report says Hawkins had visited Morell at least five times at the nursing home and knew where his room was.Police say the motive may have been money, according to the suspect’s sister, “When their father died, they were supposed to get a large inheritance and they didn’t.”Police arrested Hawkins on the murder charge while he was in custody last week. He was initially arrested on Jan. 6, one day after the murder on grand theft, trespassing, petit theft and burglary charges.A staff member told detectives that she received a call from the Morell’s girlfriend earlier that afternoon. She said she had Power of Attorney and didn’t want Hawkins visiting Morell for fear that he would try to kill him by injecting insulin into his feeding tube. The victim’s girlfriend told police that she was in a relationship with Hawkins and that the victim knew about it.Police say GPS data in Hawkins phone shows he was at the nursing home at the time of the murder.Hawkins, according to police, broke into the victim’s girlfriend’s condo and stole her car keys one the day before the murder. Police found her car submerged in water and abandoned near 1400 E. Midway Road.Morell had been at the facility since Sept. 2019 following a procedure at a hospital to get a feeding tube installed. The autopsy showed he suffered broken or fractured ribs.last_img read more

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Hollywood man drugged and robbed of Rolex watch

first_imgHollywood Police say a woman drugged and robbed a 28-year-old man outside of a Hollywood home on Friday January 27th.The unidentified man says he met the suspect at a party in a Miami Beach nightclub. The victim said they ended up at a friend’s house after a night of bar hopping.According to police, the woman had her eye on the gold Rolex the victim wore that night, which costed approximately $36,000.The victim told investigators he may have been drugged because he woke up to find his Tesla keys missingOfficials obtained surveillance footage showing the woman leave the friend’s house to unlock the victim’s car, and a man appeared to open the Tesla and take the Rolex .Police say the two may have been working together.Investigators need help identifying the suspect. Police say she is about 5 feet, 2 inches tall, weighing 120 pounds and has dark brown or black hair.If you have any information regarding this theft and recognize the subject, call Hollywood Police or Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.last_img read more

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