Puerto Rico without power as hurricane passes over. Fast food chains fight California legislation giving workers more rights. Gas hike sparks violent protests in Haiti.
Puerto Rico without power as hurricane passes over
The power grid serving the entire island of Puerto Rico went down due to high winds and heavy rains from the slow moving Hurricane Fiona. All 1.5 million households (over 3 million people in total) are in darkness as rains continue pounding the island.
Fiona is a Category 1 storm, much less powerful than the Category 5 Hurricane Maria that devastated the island in 2015. Since Maria, the island’s government has taken some precautions. As part of its weather preparedness plan, emergency supplies such as food, household items and other necessities have been distributed to cities and towns all over the island. This should hopefully prevent shortages in remote areas that may be cut off by flooding and landslides. In 2015, the government had to scramble to get vital supplies to its citizens.
Puerto Rico’s government has also ensured that hospitals and other key facilities have backup generators. They’d also promised to strengthen the island-wide power grid to withstand future storms, but clearly this hasn’t worked.
Despite ongoing work from government agencies and NGOs, many Puerto Ricans still live in homes that were damaged by Maria, and there is great concern for them. The full scale of Fiona’s damage to the island won’t be apparent for some days to come. Fiona is still crawling over the island dumping torrential amounts of rain.
Puerto Rico is not a state but is a US territory and its residents are US citizens. The island’s government has long called for the US government to do more to help shore up the island’s poor infrastructure.
Fast food chains fight California legislation giving workers more rights
California Gov. Gavin Newsome recently signed a bill into law that grants more bargaining power to fast-food workers. The bill would establish an industry council for the sector with both membership made up of workers, state regulators and corporate leaders. The council would set wage standards and other regulations for the industry, representing about 500,000 workers in the state.
While unheard of in the US, such councils are the norm in other developed countries. In Germany for example, any large company must by law include workers on their board of governors.
However, major fast food chains have come together to oppose the legislation. The corporate leaders argue that the reforms will result in higher prices and other changes that will make the fast-food model unsustainable. The chains have gone to court to demand a referendum on the measure. If the court grants their request, industry groups will have until April 2023 to gather the 623,000 valid voter signatures to qualify for the 2024 state ballot. The court would also delay implementation of the law, which is to take effect in January 2023.
Gas hike sparks violent protests in Haiti
Haiti’s leadership is appealing for calm after days of antigovernment demonstrations across the island which have sometimes become violent. The protests arose after the government abruptly ended fuel subsidies, causing gas and diesel prices to rise sharply.
Demonstrators are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who took over leadership of the country following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July last year. Some also suspect Henry’s involvement in Moïse’s killing and Henry has been banned from leaving the country.
Just a month after Moïse’s assassination, the country experienced a devastating earthquake. Since then, inflation has reached its highest point since the last horrendous earthquake in 2010. The poverty-stricken island has also been plagued by lawlessness with armed gangs in control over much of the country.
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