Puerto Rico’s biggest port has been reopened, though efforts to expedite relief supplies to the island devastated by Hurricane Maria are challenged by severe damage to the road, computer systems and other critical areas that challenge logistics.
The White House’s refusal to temporarily suspend shipping restrictions in the wake of Hurricane Maria is an example of numerous roadblocks preventing Puerto Ricans from acquiring emergency supplies.
Approximately 9500 shipping containers filled with food, medicine, and other relief goods are located at San Juan’s port, unable to be unloaded and distributed because of damage to the island’s infrastructure and a lack of trucking manpower.
Despite the San Juan port reopening on Friday—A U.S. Coast Guard official said the loading dock’s computer systems aren’t working. Adding to the logistical challenges, Puerto Rico’s main fuel storage plant, located in the vicinity where Maria made initial landfall remains closed. As in most areas ravaged by hurricanes or storms, lines at gas stations reportedly stretch for miles.
The majority of people on the Caribbean island are still stuck without basic supplies a week after the disaster. Photo Credit: Getty Images
The Jones Act—the nebulous 1920 shipping regulation holding Puerto Rico hostage, explained:
Hurricane Maria made landfall on the island of Puerto Rico leaving in its trail destruction and devastation, with millions lacking power, damaged homes, and a severely damaged infrastructure, and a year’s worth of agricultural output essentially ruined. As in most disaster prone areas, Puerto Rico is desperate for supplies shipped from other parts of the country.
Given the location and stringent shipping rules—receiving goods from the U. S. mainland to Puerto Rico is more costly than sending them to Texas or to other Caribbean islands as a result of the Jones Act.
Somewhat vague in its description, the “Jones Act,” for those familiar with the act—is a 1920 regulation requiring that goods shipped from one American port to another be transported on a ship that is American-owned, American-built and crewed by U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
The obscurity of the Jones Act escapes most American’s because the effects of shipping restriction via the act does not directly affect American’s; therefore, the Jones Act is not a major concern. Enriching only a small number of American ship owners, the act may occasionally present them with a few reminders of the certain adopted privileges of economic activity in the United States.
In contrast and comparison—for the residents residing on the island of Puerto Rico, though, the Jones Act factors into their outcome in time of relief aid when faced with natural disasters. The rules of engagement shift toward lending itself to the basic shipments of goods from the island to the U. S. mainland, and shipments from the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico, must be conducted via more costly ships, protected under the act as opposed to global competition.
Puerto Rican purchases are more expensive relative to goods purchased on either the U. S. mainland or other Caribbean islands, which drives up the cost of living on the island.
Thursday morning, the Trump administration—though belated—granted the island a temporary waiver from the law’s requirements, a needed action that should help to expedite immediate disaster relief.
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) September 28, 2017
“A humanitarian crisis is about to explode in Puerto Rico,” Nelson Denis, a former New York State Assembly member who’s written a book on Puerto Rico, wrote days earlier in a New York Times op-ed on “The Law Strangling Puerto Rico.” “But the consequences of Jones Act relief would be immediate and powerful.”
Puerto Rico faces a staggering array of long-term economic challenges beyond the hurricane, and the Jones Act serves as a major impediment to addressing some of them. However. A short-term waiver doesn’t address the law’s real damage to the island according to Denis. It can’t be simply repealed altogether, exempting Puerto Rico from the law would be an easy way for Congress to boost the island’s fortunes at no cost to the average American.
The Jones Act is a 97-year-old law protecting American shipbuilding
The Jones Act is the shorthand name for the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, whose primary author was Sen. Wesley Jones of Washington. (It’s not to be confused with the Jones-Shafroth Act of 1917, which is also critically important to Puerto Rican history but which was sponsored by Rep. William Atkinson Jones of Virginia and relates to the legal status of the island.)
The goal of the legislation was to ensure the existence of a thriving U. S.—owned commercial shipping industry, a topic that had become salient during World War I when blockades underscored the close link between maritime commerce and warfare.
One section of the law mentioned earlier in this report requires goods transported by ship from one U.S. destination to another to be carried on U.S.-flagged ships that were constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by US legal permanent residents and citizens. The ideology of the law was perhaps conceived upon the theory that in case of war there should always be a big supply of American-made, American-owned, American-crewed ships that could be counted on (and, if necessary, conscripted) to supply American commerce even in hazardous conditions.
The Jones Act is often waived in a disaster
The Jones Act is relevant because it prevents a small number of U. S. shipbuilding and merchant shipping operations from going out of business, thus keeping them out of range of special interest groups or within the quagmire of political ramblings between parties.
On the other end of the political spectrum, the executive branch has the authority to waive the Jones Act under special circumstances, as done past when faced with making it excessively costly when shipping American goods from one destination in America to another becomes a high-profile issue.
- The Bush administration issued Jones Act waivers after Hurricanes Katrina and Hurricane to speed the shipment of fuel to the Gulf Coast.
- The Obama administration issued a more limited waiver after Hurricane Sandy, again to speed the shipment of fuel.
- On September 8, the Trump administration issued Jones Act waivers for areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
The people of Puerto Rico require relief while caught within the red tape of bureaucracy and infrastructure damage on the island of Puerto Rico. Proponents addressing Puerto Rico’s dilemma state the following:
“A narrow law exempting Puerto Rico from its reach could be a helpful idea. Alternatively, a midsize law that would narrow the Jones Act to the contiguous 48 states might pick up the congressional delegations of Alaska and Hawaii as champions while lifting Puerto Rico incidentally.”
While the devastation of Hurricane Maria has the spotlight on the island of Puerto Rico—the subject of maritime regulation will likely slip back into obscurity — dragging down Puerto Rico’s economy resulting from time gaps in lifting waivers and indifferences in policy, in the face of people requiring immediate aid and expediency in a time of need.
LeNora Millen 09-28-17
Simple Solutions to Combat Winter Skin Sensitivity
The winter season is here, and it’s important to get in the habit of taking care of your skin. Cold weather brings low humidity levels and dry air, which can suck the moisture from your skin, and without proper care, skin can become dry, cracked and irritated, causing discomfort.
This winter, focus on a regimen that helps protect and hydrate skin so you can spend time enjoying the benefits of winter like family game night, snow days and snuggling by the fire.
Prepare your family for cold weather with these simple tips that can be easily incorporated into your family’s daily routine, keeping skin feeling soft and healthy all winter long.
Hydrate Inside and Out. Staying hydrated during the hot, summer months is a given, but it is also important to remember that cold winter air can leave your skin parched. Use a humidifier to keep skin hydrated during the dry months and be sure to lather on moisturizer. Natural moisturizers like coconut oil and shea butter can act as protective barriers against harsh elements, sealing in moisture. In addition to hydrating on the outside, it is just as important to stay hydrated on the inside. By drinking water throughout the day, your skin can stay healthy and moisturized.
Switch to a Mild Laundry Detergent. Many common detergents can be abrasive to sensitive skin, especially when it is more vulnerable to irritation during the harsh winter months. Wash bed linens, towels and clothes with a mild detergent like all Free Clear year-round, especially during the winter months. As the No. 1 recommended detergent brand by dermatologists, allergists and pediatricians for sensitive skin, all Free Clear includes no dyes, fragrances or irritating residues. Using the power of stainlifters to fight tough stains, it is also safe for the whole family to use, keeping laundry clean while being gentle on skin.
Avoid Toxins, Specifically Allergens, and Irritants. Products that contain toxins, allergens and irritants should be avoided during months when skin is most sensitive. Choose moisturizers and skin care products that don’t contain common irritants, and opt for mild cleansers and moisturizers that are specifically labeled for sensitive skin. Castor oil is another moisturizer alternative that is natural and can be used on both the face and body.
Layer Up. Lock in moisture and protect your skin from wind, rain, and snow by wearing layers whenever you venture outside. The skin on your neck, face and hands is thinner than other areas of the body and therefore more sensitive to the effects of winter weather. Thermals, scarves and gloves can keep you warm and protect your skin from the cold, dry air. For those with sensitive skin, avoid synthetic fabrics and itchy materials like wool, and wash clothes with a dermatologist-recommended detergent like all Free Clear.
By implementing these best practices for skin sensitivity, you can minimize redness, dryness and discomfort to help skin stay healthy and glowing throughout the winter season. Visit all-laundry.com to learn more.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Tire Safety Tips for Winter When Temperatures Drop
The same temperature you can begin to see your breath at 45 F—is also when the all-season tires on your car can start to lose traction and grip.
As temperatures drop, drivers should remember that if you can see your breath, you should think about winter tires. Whether you’re planning a cross-country trek or simply driving to and from work daily, exposing your vehicle’s tires to colder weather could lead to potential trouble on the road.
Snow and ice may be fun to play in, but they make for dangerous driving conditions. Winter tires are built for cold-weather conditions and deliver improved starting, stopping and steering control in temperatures 45 F and below. The difference is the tread compound of winter tires, which stays soft and pliable in colder temperatures for superior traction. Add the tread design of winter tires with thousands of extra gripping edges and you get as much as a 25-50 percent increase in traction over all-season tires.
To help stay safe on the road this winter, the experts on tires and winter driving recommend following these four tire safety tips:
- Get ready now. It is important to replace all four of your vehicle’s all-season tires with winter tires if you regularly drive in temperatures 45 F or below, snow or no snow. Winter tires are made of a softer rubber that allows the tires to stay pliable and maintain better contact with the road through winter weather conditions.
- Don’t forget the wheels. Having a set of wheels specifically for your winter tires can save you money in the long run. Pairing a separate set of wheels with your winter tires can eliminate certain changeover costs and save your everyday wheels from the wear and tear brought on by ice, slush, snow, and salt during the winter months.
- Know your numbers. Check your tire pressure at least once a month to make sure tires are at the appropriate inflation level. Temperature changes affect tire pressure – for every 10 degrees of temperature change, tire air pressure changes 1 pound per square inch. Low tire pressure can lead to decreased steering and braking control, poor gas mileage, excessive tire wear and the possibility of tire failure. Also, don’t forget to check your spare tire.
- Rotate, rotate, rotate. To help increase tread life and smooth out your ride, rotate your tires every 6,000 miles or sooner if irregular or uneven wear develops.
Your safety is important, that’s why drivers should make it a point to beat the rush by getting winter ready before the first snowstorm or cold streak of the season hits.
Photo: Getty Images
Source: Discount Tire
Medicare Takes Aim at Medical Identity Theft: Protecting Seniors From Fraud
Criminals are increasingly targeting people age 65 or older for personal identity theft. In 2014 alone, there were 2.6 million such incidents among seniors, according to the Department of Justice.
A growing offshoot of identity theft is healthcare fraud, which can result when someone unlawfully uses another person’s Medicare number. Medical identity theft can lead to inaccuracies in medical records, which in turn can result in delayed care, denied services and costly false claims.
That’s why Medicare works with the Department of Justice, taking aim squarely at would-be thieves. In the largest law enforcement action against criminals fraudulently targeting the Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare programs, 412 people around the country, including 115 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, were charged in 2017 with bilking U.S. taxpayers out of $1.3 billion.
New Medicare Card for 2018. (Video Courtesy of YouTube)
The next big fraud-fighting push is well underway — and its focus is protecting the personal information of senior citizens by removing their Social Security numbers from Medicare cards.
People with Medicare don’t need to take any action to get a new Medicare card. Beginning in April 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will mail out newly designed Medicare cards to the 58 million Americans with Medicare. The cards will have a new number that will be unique for each card recipient. This will help protect personal identity and prevent fraud because identity thieves can’t bill Medicare without a valid Medicare number. To help with a seamless transition to the new cards, providers will be able to use secure lookup tools that will support quick access to the new card numbers when needed.
Healthcare fraud drives up costs for everyone, but healthcare consumers can be an effective first line of defense against fraud. Follow these tips to help protect yourself:
- Treat your Medicare number like a credit card.
- When the new card comes in the mail next year, destroy your old card and make sure you bring your new one to your doctors’ appointments.
- Be suspicious of anyone offering early bird discounts, limited time offers or encouraging you to act now for the best deal. That’s an indicator of potential fraud because Medicare plans are forbidden from offering incentives.
- Be skeptical of free gifts, free medical services, discount packages or any offer that sounds too good to be true.
- Only give your Medicare number to doctors, insurers acting on your behalf or trusted people in the community who work with Medicare, like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
- Report suspected instances of fraud.
- Check your Medicare statements to make sure the charges are accurate.
- Don’t share your Medicare number or other personal information with anyone who contacts you by telephone, email or approaches you in person, unless you’ve given them permission in advance. Medicare will never contact you uninvited and request your Medicare number or other personal information.
- Don’t let anyone borrow or pay to use your Medicare number.
- Don’t allow anyone, except your doctor or other Medicare providers, to review your medical records or recommend services.
- Don’t let anyone persuade you to see a doctor for care or services you don’t need.
- Don’t accept medical supplies from a door-to-door salesman.
Learn more about how you can fight Medicare fraud at Medicare.gov/fraud, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). You can also visit a local SHIP counselor, who can provide free, one-on-one, non-biased Medicare assistance.
With a common sense approach to protecting health information, senior citizens can be effective partners in fighting Medicare fraud.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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