Bedtime Story for Kids

The Russian objective is to make the truth seem unknowable.

Posted in Fun

More Insight on the Cost and Pace of Hurricane Recovery, 12 Months On . . .

From the current issue of the St. John Tradewinds <https://www.stjohntradewinds.com/event/july-24-vi-national-park-strategic-planning-discussion/>

July 24: VI National Park Strategic Planning Discussion

July 24 @ 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Contact: Steve Black, 340.776.6201 ext 240

Dave Worthington, 340.776.6201 ext 237

The public is invited to attend an open house at the Virgin Islands National Park Cruz Bay Visitor Center on July 24th from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.

Park staff will be available to discuss a proposal to replace park offices and housing that were destroyed by hurricanes Irma and Maria, the construction of new pavilions at Maho Bay, and the Strategic Plan for the Caribbean Parks.

The September 2017, hurricanes resulted in the loss of approximately 7,000 square feet of housing and 6,000 square feet of administrative space. The loss of housing, office, and administrative space has resulted in staff relocations off of the island, and hampers both the ability of the park staff to manage hurricane recovery efforts and the day-to-day business of the park.

The park has prepared a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) that examines alternatives for replacing the housing and administrative spaces that were destroyed due to Hurricanes Irma and Maria with a goal of rebuilding in a smart location that limits the impacts to park resources, represents smart investment of financial resources, is as resilient to future storms as possible, and limits impacts to the local community.

The Environmental Assessment will be available for review beginning July 17th at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/VINP_Lind_Point_Construction. Comments will be accepted through July 31st. Copies of the EA will also be available at the open house. Comments can be submitted at the public meeting, via the link above, or they may be mailed to:

ATTN: Lind Point Plan
Virgin Islands National Park
1300 Cruz Bay Creek
St. John, VI 00830

Posted in Fun

The Advantage of Computers

Computers permit larcenous idiots to design ever more opaque systems for overcharging.

The Russian objective is to make the truth seem unknowable.

Posted in Fun

Happy Fourth of July

New federal employment and OSHA policy:

Posted in Fun

I Guess, At the End of the Day, I Do Care . . .

[I know we’re all really tired of this stuff, and for a bunch of reasons I’ve not been reading all of the news and opinions that I had been. But I do think the summary provided by Dana Milbank in this Sunday OpEd piece is a useful reprise of where we’ve arrived after 18 months or so . . . bp]
Opinions

I really don’t care about Trump’s cruelty, do u?

First lady Melania Trump wears a jacket with wording on the back that says, “I really don’t care, do u?” (Andrew Harnik/AP)

By Dana Milbank              Columnist              June 22                   Email the author

In the 1992 campaign, President George H.W. Bush created an unofficial and much-mocked motto for his administration during a town hall meeting in New Hampshire. “Message: I care,” he announced, as if reading aloud the stage directions.

Melania Trump did much the same this week when she went to Texas to see some of the migrant kids who were taken from their parents under her husband’s policy. The now-famous wording on her jacket made her a human billboard for what should be the unofficial motto of the Trump administration: “I really don’t care, do u?”

The administration’s cruelty is particularly prominent lately, because of photos of the anguish of the migrant children — and President Trump’s accompanying allegation of “phony stories of sadness” and his warning that immigrants, like insects, would “infest”  the country. But the current episode, though highly visible, is hardly one of a kind. By now, the administration has amassed an extensive catalogue of cruelty.

On Thursday, Trump doomed the latest attempt to protect from deportation the “dreamers,” those 700,000 people who have known no home but America since they were brought here as children. He tweeted that he didn’t see the “purpose” of the House passing an immigration bill — and, sure enough, the House called off the vote. He previously blew up a Senate compromise on the same subject, during his tirade about immigrants from “shithole countries.” It was his own executive action that exposed the dreamers to deportation in the first place.

I really don’t care, do u?

On Wednesday night, Trump renewed his assault on Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) as he dies from brain cancer. Trump again blamed McCain for the failed repeal of Obamacare.

The administration earlier this month decided not to defend the law against a court challenge that if successful would end protections for Americans with preexisting conditions. Trump has also ended subsidies to help insurance companies cover low-income people, and acknowledged the Obamacare repeal he championed was “mean.” He gave a green light to work requirements for Medicaid that could deny health insurance even to many poor Americans who work.

I really don’t care, do u?

The Trump administration this month said that domestic violence and gang violence would no longer be grounds for seeking asylum in the United States.

Trump previously reduced the number of refugees from 110,000 to 45,000 per year — the lowest in almost 40 years; and even fewer are actually being admitted, forcing tens of thousands to remain in refugee camps and return to face persecution or violence in the countries they fled. This is after Trump’s travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries, which resulted in families separated and students and doctors denied entry.

I really don’t care, do u?

Lawmakers complained this week to Trump’s commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, that the administration’s haphazard implementation of trade barriers is causing havoc for farmers, small businesses and manufacturers. Ross responded by calling such notions “exaggerated” and “not our fault.”

A week earlier, as The Post’s Jeff Stein and Andrew van Dam wrote, Trump’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that wages after inflation have fallen over the past year for production and nonsupervisory workers — 80 percent of all privately employed workers. That means economic “gains are going almost exclusively to people already at the top of the economic ladder.” And the tax cuts further widen the gap between the rich and everybody else.

I really don’t care, do u?

Trump’s budget proposal this year, sensibly ignored by Congress, would have cut Medicaid by $306 billion over 10 years, food stamps by $214 billion, nutritional help for mothers and children, and heating assistance for the poor, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The Trump administration is also reducing enforcement of fair-housing laws. And Trump said Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico was not a “real catastrophe”and said Puerto Ricans “want everything to be done for them.” It now appears thousands died.

I really don’t care, do u?

Trump said there were “very fine people” among the neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville last summer. He declared a ban on transgender people in the military and later imposed a partial ban. He called for new gun restrictions — then abandoned the effort. His administration ordered prosecutors to seek maximum penalties for even nonviolent drug crimes and removed protections for victims of campus sexual assault.

I really don’t care, do u?

Now come reports that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller — architects and leading defenders of Trump’s child-separation policy — were heckled in separate incidents in recent days while dining at Mexican restaurants. Another report this week highlighted the discovery that Miller’s great-grandfather had his naturalization petition denied because of “ignorance.”

I don’t like incivility, or cheap shots. But you know what else? I really don’t care, do u?

Read more from Dana Milbank’s archive, follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook.

Posted in Fun

Deutsche Welle Online: Comment on Barbadian Debt as Typical Caribbean Small Island Problem

from the on-line English version of the paper at <http://www.dw.com/en/drowning-in-debt-barbados-predicament-offers-a-warning-for-small-island-nations/a-44245771>

[Just a minor caveat that there is no evidence that German financiers are necessarily balanced assessors of development options for oceanic small islands. . . . but they probably DO reflect the view of a lot of powerful people in the world banking community. bp ]

BUSINESS

Drowning in debt — Barbados’ predicament offers a warning for small island nations

Barbados has been struggling with weak economic growth over the past decade, putting strains on its public debt and deficit. The ailing economy offers a cautionary tale for other small island nation states in the region.

 

Barbados, an island nation in the North Atlantic, doesn’t usually garner the attention of international media, particularly when it comes to its economy. With a population of about 285,000 in 2016 and total economic output amounting to just over $4.5 billion (€3.9 billion), according to World Bank data, the country’s size and role in the global economy is very limited.

Nevertheless, over the past decade the Barbadian economy has been struggling with severe debt and deficit problems. Growth suffered a sharp contraction in the wake of the 2009 global financial crisis and has remained weak since then.

In 2016, according to the World Bank, the economy expanded by a mere 1.6 percent. Weak growth figures have further strained Barbados’ public debt, putting pressure on foreign exchange reserves and helping to spark repeated downgrades of the island’s credit rating.

Read more: Rebuilding tourism after Irma

Highly vulnerable

Barbados currently has the fourth-highest debt-to-GDP ratio in the world after Japan, Greece, and Sudan with the country’s figure standing at 175 percent. A delegation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently visited the Caribbean nation and described its economy as being in a “precarious” situation.

Insured against the Storm

Barbados’ recently elected Prime Minister Mia Mottley this week announced a raft of measures to tackle the problems and put the nation’s economy on a firmer footing.
The proposals are estimated to cost around $660 million and include new fuel taxes, a 50-percent hike in commercial premises’ water bills and a new health service contribution amounting to 2.5 percent of an individual’s income, among other things.

Motley, who was elected in May as Barbados’ first female prime minister, also announced that the country would seek a restructuring of the public debt and temporarily suspend payments due on debts owed to external commercial creditors. She said that the previous administration, under Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, left almost $7.5 billion in debt.

“We will protect the most vulnerable, but we will all have to make sacrifices for our country. Today we move forward together in a new spirit of openness and with a new covenant of hope and opportunity. I ask our domestic and external creditors to accompany us on this journey of rescue, rebuilding, and transformation,” Mottley was quoted by local media as saying.

But the prime minister now faces the tough challenge of balancing her campaign promises with the difficult fiscal reality. Her government, experts say, has to take measures to boost growth and expand the tax base while containing public expenditures and protecting the most vulnerable sections of society from economic distress.

A region-wide problem

Barbados is not alone in the region when it comes to facing economic problems. Many Caribbean nations are going through a similar phase, experiencing troubles emanating from their high debt and deficit levels.

The origin of many of their woes dates back to the late 1990s. Between 1975 and 1997, a deal between the European Union’s forerunner, European Economic Community, and Caribbean countries gave the latter privileged access to the European market.

The arrangement was intended to bolster economic development in the Caribbean. But the United States argued that it broke free trade rules and filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization in 1997, and won.

As a result, Europe had to change its rules, hurting the Caribbean nations’ growth prospects. To finance growth and investment, these countries then increasingly relied on debt.

The region has been hit by a number of hurricanes over the past two decades, forcing them to undertake debt-driven disaster recovery efforts, in turn weakening their finances further.

To put its economy back on track, observers say Barbados is making all the right moves but the road to recovery will be a long one. If Prime Minister Mottley can make good on her campaign promises while rectifying external and internal debts, analysts underline, Barbados might be out of the red and into calmer economic waters sooner rather than later.


  • HURRICANE IRMA RIPS THROUGH CARIBBEAN AND US SOUTHEASTERN STATES

    Strongest-ever Atlantic storm

    Hurricane Irma has killed dozens of people and injured many more since the record-breaking storm roared over the French Caribbean islands. With its powerful winds having topped 185 miles (295 kilometers) per hour, Irma is the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, according to the US National Hurricane Center based in Miami.

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Extreme weather events linked to climate change can cause major damage — destroying homes and livelihoods. Caribbean islanders have seen some of the worst effects. Could climate insurance help? (15.05.2018)

Rebuilding tourism after Irma

It’s been over a week since hurricane Irma ripped through the Caribbean – but for paradise islands overwhelmingly dependent on the tourist trade, the damage is far from over. (14.09.2017)

New model bucks Jamaican package deals

A Jamaican town tries to beat all-inclusive packages with local food and marine reserves to keep tourist dollars from leaking offshore. (21.10.2012)

Hurricane Irma rips through Caribbean and US southeastern states

Hurricane Irma cut a swathe of destruction as it roared through the Caribbean and southeast US. Tropical islands were turned into piles of rubble while some 6.5 million people in Florida have been left without power. (07.09.2017)

 AUDIOS AND VIDEOS ON THE TOPIC

Insured against the Storm

The Jamaica factor in Germany

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Posted in Development, Governance, Small Island

Among Real Problems Largely Ignored at an Important Forum

Lost in the static over Trump histrionics <from the Seychelles News site > —

President of Seychelles shocks G7 meeting with photos of ocean trash

Victoria, Seychelles | June 11, 2018, Monday @ 14:21 in National » GENERAL | By: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 1794

The team on Aldabra is no match for the great amount of trash washing to shore on Aldabra. (Seychelles Islands Foundation)

(Seychelles News Agency) – The President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, shocked the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations with photographs of the damage being done to the island nation’s Aldabra atoll by plastic pollution and other types of litter coming from the rest of the world, State House said on Sunday.

Faure told the roundtable of small islands developing states at the G7 summitin Quebec, Canada that Seychelles and other small island countries already had enough of a challenge managing their own waste, and didn’t need to take on the rest of the worlds.

Aldabra — a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Seychelles – is a remote atoll and the team is no match for the amount of trash washing on its shores. An Aldabra clean-up project was launched last month and will culminate with an expedition to be led by the Queens’s College from the UK to remove tonnes of ocean trash.

Faure added that the islands “needed assistance with handling the vast and increasing amounts of marine litter washing up on and polluting their beaches and coasts from way beyond their shores.”

The roundtable included island leaders from Haiti, Jamaica, the Marshall Islands and Seychelles to discuss the challenges of small islands developing states. (State House, Facebook) Photo License: CC-BY

The leaders of the G7, which includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, agreed that President Faure had graphically made his point.

The roundtable included four island leaders from Haiti, Jamaica, the Marshall Islands and Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, to discuss the challenges of small islands developing states(SIDS).

Faure was also invited to a special session on oceans at the G7 summit by the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau since Canada holds the presidency for 2018. The session was held under the theme ‘healthy, productive and resilient oceans and seas, coasts and communities.’

In his address at the session on oceans, Faure spoke about Seychelles’ innovative financing for the blue economy and ocean sustainability.

When Seychelles graduated to a high-income country in 2015, instead of complaining about losing grant funding, Faure said the island nation turned to pioneering new innovative sources of financing. This included a first-of-its-kind debt swap for ocean conservation and climate adaptation and the forthcoming and equally novel blue bonds.

“However, try as we might, such new sources of finance will not be enough to meet our sustainable development and climate action obligations under the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement and the SAMOA Pathway for SIDS,” he told the G7 leaders.

Faure called on the G7 and multilateral partners to agree on a SIDS-specific resilience index that takes into consideration small island countries’ unique vulnerabilities to external shocks, be they climate change or economic.

“Islands can no longer afford to see ourselves as dots lost in a sea of blue. We are sentinels, the guardians of two-thirds of our Blue Planet’s surface. We must act accordingly,” added the Seychelles’ President.

Faure also called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canada to play a prominent and proactive role in high seas negotiations that begin at the United Nations in New York this September.

Posted in Beaches, Coral Reefs, Governance, Small Island