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Investigation: Actual Death Toll From Hurricane Maria Is Close to 1,000 in Puerto Rico

The official death toll from Hurricane Maria has risen to 64, Puerto Rican authorities announced Saturday, factoring in two additional "indirect" deaths from the storm to previously announced numbers.

However, the official number of deaths, which critics say is suspiciously low considering the damage from the storm, is coming under some scrutiny: both a Center for Investigative Journalism report published Thursday and a New York Times review of mortality data published Friday estimate the actual death toll to be closer to 1,000.

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Inspiring Campaign Aims to Rebuild Puerto Rico Sustainably

As millions of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico continue to recover more than two months after Hurricane Maria hit, a new campaign aims completely rebuild the island in a sustainable manner.

Operation Taino Spirit Promise is a joint effort between Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, actress and activist Michelle Rodriguez and the non-profit group Taino Warriors.

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Politics
Sanders surveyed the damage done by Hurricane Maria with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz in October. Cruz approves of the recovery package Sanders unveiled Tuesday. @Politics_Info / Twitter

Sanders Introduces $146 Billion 'Transformation Blueprint' for Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands

By Julia Conley

Calling on the federal government to bring its "full resources to bear" on the crisis in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.-I) unveiled a $146 billion recovery package for the U.S. territories on Tuesday, two months after Hurricane Maria left destruction across the islands.

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Renewable Energy
Puerto Rico National Guard / Flickr

This Brilliant Initiative Is Sending 100 Solar Trailers to Puerto Rico for Free

A remarkable collaborative effort to deploy portable solar energy systems to relieve critical areas in Puerto Rico is well underway.

The "Power On Puerto Rico" project from the Amicus Solar Cooperative, a nationwide solar energy cooperative, and Amurtel, an international disaster relief nonprofit, is sending 100 off-grid Solar Outreach Systems (SOS) to the storm-battered island.

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Renewable Energy
Tesla solar panels have helped restore power to Puerto Rico's Hospital del Niño. Tesla

Puerto Rico Gov. to Bolster Island's Electric Grid With Renewables as Lights Go Out Again

Just this Wednesday morning, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello sent out a tweet boasting about the island finally reaching a 50 percent power threshold after Hurricane Maria wiped out the electric grid 56 days ago.

"Then 'boom' (a witness reported) the lights went out," tweeted CBS News reporter David Begnaud, who has been extensively reporting on the U.S. territory's recovery efforts. "Timing could not be worse."

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Trees and power lines were downed by Hurricane Maria. U.S. Air Force / SSgt.Michelle Y. Alvarez-Rea

Whitefish Charges Puerto Rico $319 an Hour for Linemen, Then Pays Them $63 an Hour

Whitefish Energy, the controversial energy firm repairing Puerto Rico's hurricane-wrecked power grid, is under fresh scrutiny for charging the island's power authority hundreds of dollars more per hour than its linemen receive.

The New York Times reported that the tiny Montana-based company—which doesn't have many of its own employees—contracted electrical workers from Florida at rates that range from $42 to $100 per hour, with an average rate of $63. Whitefish, however, has been charging the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) $319 an hour for each worker.

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The aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Sept. 21, 2017. U.S. Department of Defense

Puerto Rico's Massive Blackout Underscores Island's Fragile Electrical System

More than 80 percent of Puerto Rico was once again left without power after a main north-south transmission line failed.

According to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the island was left with only 18 percent power generation on Thursday. The capital San Juan and other major cities were plunged back into darkness.

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Tesla / Twitter

Why Solar ‘Microgrids’ Are Not a Cure-All for Puerto Rico’s Power Woes

By Peter Fox-Penne

In addition to its many other devastating human consequences, Hurricane Maria left the island of Puerto Rico with its power grid in ruins. Power was knocked out throughout the island, with an estimated 80 percent of its transmission and distribution wires incapacitated. When hospitals and other critical users could not get backup power and water supplies ran low, an extended outage became a humanitarian crisis that has yet to be resolved.

This shameful outcome should have been avoided with strong, swift federal leadership. Yet more than five weeks after the storm, only about 40 percent of the grid has been rebuilt, and service remains unreliable even where power is restored.

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Climate
Environmental activists in kayaks protest the arrival of the Polar Pioneer, an oil drilling rig owned by Shell Oil, in Seattle. Backbone Campaign / Flickr

Moyers and McKibben: What to Do When Time Is Running Out for the Planet

By Bill Moyers

I wasn't one of the 50,766 participants who finished the New York City Marathon last weekend. Instead, I spent the average marathon finish time of 4:39:07 to read a book—obviously a small book. In the interest of disclosure, I didn't even start the race, but that's another and even shorter story than Radio Free Vermont, the book from which I did occasionally look up and out the window to check on the stream of marathoners passing our apartment, their faces worn and haggard.

A shame, I thought, that I couldn't go outside and hand each one a copy of the book that had kept me smiling throughout the day while also restoring my soul; I was sure the resilience would quickly have returned to weary feet and sore muscles now draped in aluminum foil for healing's sake. I admire those athletes, but wouldn't have traded their run for my read, because Radio Free Vermont is funny, very funny, all the more so considering the author is one of the more serious men on the planet—the planet he has spent his adult life trying to save.

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