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Local Elections

In a stinging upset for Democratic Party leaders, outsiders Sandra Roper and Ellen Edwards won seats on the Civil Court, ousting party picks David Pepper and longtime judge Frederick C. Arriaga. We could not help but notice that all of the candidates who either advertised or were featured in Our Time Press won. That list includes the five winning judicial candidates and Alicka Ampry-Samuel in Council District 41 as well as easy winner District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. Future candidates and consultants might want to take note.

New mother Laurie Cumbo (CD35) remained the incumbent besting another spirited run from Ede Fox, and two of the most outspoken members of the council, Jumaane Williams (CD45) and Inez Barron (CD42), both coasted smoothly to victories in their races.

Hurricanes and Social Disasters

As predicted by climate scientists, the increased water held in the warmed atmosphere has increased the power of hurricane winds and rain. According to local authorities, Hurricane Irma, as a Category 4 hurricane, left 90% of homes destroyed or damaged in the Florida Keys alone in its wake. Five (5) million people without power, hundreds of thousands without telecommunications, food, water, sewage, gas for cars or generators to run the AC.

Irma as a Category 5 storm, with sustained winds of 185 miles per hour and wind gusts to 220, decimated the small Caribbean island of Barbuda. Prime Minister Gaston Browne reported that 95 percent of the structures on Barbuda were destroyed saying, “As it stands, Barbuda is practically uninhabitable”.

ABC News reported that on the French territory of the virtually destroyed island of St. Martin, Irma “exposed simmering racial tensions…with some black and mixed-race residents complaining that white tourists were given priority during the evacuation”. “On Monday, France’s Representative Council of Black Associations asked the government for a parliamentary inquiry, citing concerns that those who were evacuated were not “necessarily the most in distress”. “In my eyes, Irma is for the French Antilles what Hurricane Katrina was for Louisiana in the U.S. — an exposer of racial and social inequalities,” the group’s spokesman, Louis-Georges Tin, told the Associated Press.”

Cuba, despite ten dead and the ravages brought to its own shores, was still able to send electrical workers to Antigua and hundreds of medical personnel to its Caribbean neighbors in more dire need.

Slave-Ship Conditions for Texas Prisoners After Harvey

Writing in Truthout, reporter Candice Bernd described an “horrific” situation for the men in cages inside the federal prison complex in Beaumont, Texas following the record-breaking rainfall from Hurricane Harvey. Multiple prisoners and their relatives detailed how the lack of running water caused some men to defecate in bags and others to drink contaminated toilet water. Many say they have seen men lose consciousness in the units, succumbing to the extreme heat and putrid fumes wafting through the cell blocks from bags of excrement, nonflushable Porta-Potties and backed-up toilets, as well as the stench of the men’s unwashed bodies after having not showered in more than 10 days. According to their messages, they have also been in need of clean laundry.

Prisoners described receiving only two bottles of water a day as temperatures reached close to 100 degrees, and said that prison officials have been turning the water on once a day to flush toilets while warning the men not to drink the visibly contaminated water.”

From Texas to Florida to the Caribbean islands, there is pain, anguish and unknown futures. Those of us safe and sound and in comfort, would do well to remember those who are not and how close we are every day to becoming one of them.