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Island-Wide Blackout Deepens PR Crisis

Island-wide blackout deepens Puerto Rico crisis. Common Dreams: "After struggling for nearly seven months to rebuild Puerto Rico's power grid, which was destroyed by Hurricane Maria, the U.S. territory experienced an island-wide blackout on Wednesday—its first since the storm struck last September... Officials told The Associated Press that 'an excavator accidentally downed a transmission line' and "it could take 24 to 36 hours to fully restore power to more than 1.4 million customers." The blackout is just the latest in a series of power outages that residents have endured since the storm hit, including one last week that left about 840,000 people in the dark."

FEMA To End Emergency Housing For Puerto Ricans

Families desperate as state scrambles to extend shelter program for Puerto Rican evacuees. WFTV: "Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are reviewing a request by the governor of Puerto Rico to extend federal resources for evacuees. Many who have been living in hotels as part of the Transitional Shelter Assistance Program will have no place to go, including David Olmeda, who has been living at a Super 8 motel in Kissimmee. He’s one of 1,800 people in Central Florida who could be homeless by the weekend if FEMA doesn’t approve the extension. 'I work in the night. My wife is there with my baby,' he said. 'It’s difficult. FEMA doesn’t understand. If I go to Puerto Rico, I have no house, no work.'"

Senate Votes To Undo CFPB Defense Of Auto Borrowers

Senate votes to undo consumer bureau's auto guidance. Reuters: "The U.S. Senate voted 51-47 on Wednesday in favor of a resolution undoing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s 2013 guidance restricting how car dealers extend auto loans to consumers, in the latest move to weaken the agency.In 2013, the CFPB implemented guidance that restricted the markup and compensation rates for dealers on auto loans - specifically on the basis of race, national origin or credit score... Wednesday’s resolution scrapped the five-year auto-lending rule by allowing car dealers to use their own discretion in interest rates and compensation markups."

NY AG Seeks Power To Bypass Presidential Pardons

New York AG seeks power to bypass presidential pardons. NYT:
"Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman of New York is moving to change New York state law so that he and other local prosecutors would have the power to bring criminal charges against aides to President Trump who have been pardoned, according to a letter Mr. Schneiderman sent to the governor and state lawmakers on Wednesday... Under the plan, Mr. Schneiderman, a Democrat, seeks to exempt New York’s double jeopardy law from cases involving presidential pardons, according to the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. The current law and the concept of double jeopardy in general mean that a person cannot be tried for the same crime twice."

LA Wants To Jail Peaceful Protesters

Under Louisiana bill, peaceful protesters could face 20 years in prison. Truthout: Should the bill become law, it would impose severe penalties on peaceful protesters engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience actions at sites considered "critical infrastructure" by Thibaut's bill. In fact, simply planning to take such an action, considered "conspiracy" by HB 727, could be punishable by fees of up to $10,000 and prison sentences as long as 20 years. With the crack of a gavel, Louisiana joined the growing number of states across the nation with similar 'critical infrastructure' bills moving swiftly through the courts and onto governors' desks. The first appeared in Oklahoma in May 2017. According to the bill's author, Rep. Mark McBride, it was an attempt to keep Oklahoma from paying costs related to any Diamond Pipeline protests. The law beefed up penalties for protesters who trespassed on property containing a 'critical infrastructure facility.' The definition of such facilities varies by state but tends to include energy-industry sites like pipelines, refineries and electrical power facilities. Shortly after Oklahoma signed the bill into law, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate-funded group that holds annual meetings with state legislators and lobbyists to vote on "model" legislation, took the measure up itself at its summit in Nashville, Tennessee, in December 2017. ALEC calls its model bill "The Critical Infrastructure Protection Act," claiming the bill drew its 'inspiration' from laws enacted in 2017 by the State of Oklahoma."

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