Puerto Rico is still in a state of devastation more than three weeks after Hurricane Maria hit the island. Much of the island is still without electricity or cellular service, and only 63 percent of the island has access to clean drinking water. As a result, residents are becoming increasingly desperate. Some are resorting to drinking potentially contaminated water, as it is all they can find.
A growing problem facing the island is their hospitals are filled to capacity following the storm. Injuries that resulted from the hurricane as well as those that need special care have left hospitals full at capacity, with staff overwhelmed and at a lack of vital resources. Some hospitals have been forced to turn away patients. A floating hospital remains offshore, but hospital staff are unsure of how to send patients to the ship. The ship is less than 20 percent full, but the Puerto Rican government has been slow to refer people to the ship.
Fortunately, the island has seen some signs of progress. Many of their grocery stores are reopening, and gas shortages have begun to subside. Residents hope that in the coming weeks, electricity will be restored across more of the island, and that cleanup efforts will start to show more results. However, the restoration of resources, along with more accessibility to food, water and health care, is of great need in the United States territory.
Teachers in the Warwick School District have recently been protesting teacher contracts and class sizes. For the last several weeks, five Warwick schools have had to close for the day as a result of teachers staging “sick outs.” On Monday, a judge ordered the teachers union to not stage any strikes for the next 10 days.
The judge, Susan E. McGuirl, cited students needing to be in school for the reason why teachers must refrain from striking. The president of the teachers union claims that they are not ongoing strikes, but rather teachers are calling out because “it’s cold and flu season and not everyone has had their flu shot.”
While the court ruled for a temporary restrain from striking, it remains unclear if any negotiations will be made in those 10 days. Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian said he hopes the two sides can reach an agreement soon, despite little progress.
On Sunday, The SSV Oliver Hazard Perry crashed into four other boats in the Newport harbor. No one was injured, but the channel for entering and exiting the port was blocked off overnight. The crash is being blamed on the propellers of the ship becoming entangled with rope.
Bowe Bergdahl, a former United States Army Sergeant, pleaded guilty Monday to desertion and misbehavior in front of the enemy. Bergdahl could face up to life in prison.
Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban after his desertion and was held captive for nearly five years. In order to get Bergdahl released from captivity, the United States government was forced to release five Guantanamo Bay detainees in a prisoner swap. The search and recovery operations that were used in an attempt to find Bergdahl resulted in numerous United States soldiers being severely wounded.
Bergdahl claims to have deserted his post in order to inform someone about a “critical problem in his chain of command.” Army Colonel Jeffery R Nance, the military judge overseeing the case, now must determine his sentence. Bergdahl is thought to have pleaded guilty in order to receive leniency from the judge.
The death toll from the California wildfires has now reached 41 people. In addition, more than 5,700 acres have been burned. The cost of the damage is expected to exceed $3 billion. Fortunately, firefighters have begun to make progress in containing the flames.
Currently, 11,000 firefighters are working to contain the 15 fires that have burned over 200,000 acres of land. Firefighters from 17 states, as well as Australia, have aided California firefighters in the difficult task of containing the wind driven flames. There is increasing hope that upcoming rain could help further contain the fires, which are approaching over 60 percent containment in some of the larger areas.
A bombing in Somalia over the weekend killed 300 people. Somali officials believe that Shabab, which is a branch of Al Qaeda, is responsible. The attackers used two truck bombs in the country’s capital to carry out the attack. It is believed to be the largest attack in the country’s history.
The remnants of Hurricane Ophelia have killed three people in Ireland. Thousands lost power, as many trees and wires were knocked down by strong winds. While the storm is bringing dangerous conditions, it did not cause the level of damage that recent hurricanes in the Atlantic did.
One-thousand ISIS militants have surrendered to Kurdish forces in the past several weeks. While some militants remain, Iraqi troops have announced that they have retaken a large portion of the city of Kirkuk, which is one of the terrorist organizations last strongholds. While isolated attacks from the extremist group have occurred, organized strength within the group has diminished recently.