Puerto Rico wants Amazon’s second headquarters, too

Virtually every city and state in North America wants to host Amazon’s second headquarters. That includes Puerto Rico.

The hurricane-battered U.S. territory managed to submit its application to Amazon by last Thursday’s deadline.

“We have completed and fulfilled the application to enter the race for Amazon’s headquarters,” Puerto Rico’s Economic Development and Commerce Department said on Facebook over the weekend.

It’s no secret that Puerto Rico is a long-shot candidate. Much of its infrastructure has been decimated by Hurricane Maria, which slammed the island on September 20. Only 23% of the island has electricity, according to government data. One quarter is without running water.

“We know we are the underdogs of the group,” Manuel Laboy, the economic development agency’s top official, told Puerto Rican news outlet El Nuevo Dia.

But Puerto Rico wanted to show that it could bounce back from Maria, according to Laboy.

It could also really use the $5 billion investment and 50,000 jobs that will come with Amazon’s so-called HQ2.

The hurricane left parts of the island in ruin. Many of its 3.4 million residents have left — and there are concerns about whether they’ll return. The government estimates that it will be two more months before 95% of power is restored.

Even before the hurricane, the territory’s economy needed a boost. Amid an 11-year recession, Puerto Rico filed for the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history back in May. Unemployment was more than double the national rate, and many young workers were looking for jobs elsewhere.

Amazon said Monday that 238 cities and regions throughout the U.S., Mexico and Canada submitted bids for HQ2.

— CNNMoney’s Patrick Gillespie contributed to this report.

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Remote community in Puerto Rico struggling after Hurricane Maria

 Zuleyka Santos couldn’t contain her tears on Monday as she walked around where her home once stood in La Hormiga, Puerto Rico.

Santos said she’s still in shock after Hurricane Maria struck the island more than a month ago causing her to lose everything.

Volunteers with Wedobetter.org flew from South Florida to the community on Monday with supplies for the rural part of the island.

Portable phone chargers that are already charged, toiletries, food and water to last maybe a few days were among the donated supplies given out.

“The government is dealing with a lot of things and I’m not saying they’re not doing their job, they’re doing their job and they’re doing what they can,” said Jean Diaz, a community organizer. 

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Suspect arrested after being barricaded inside Fort Lauderdale barbershop

SWAT teams responded to a Fort Lauderdale barbershop where an armed robbery suspect has barricaded himself inside on Monday afternoon. He was later taken into custody, Fort Lauderdale police said. No additional people were inside the shop at the t…

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NY AG investigating Weinstein Company

The Weinstein Company’s legal trouble just got worse.

The office of New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is investigating the studio to find out if Harvey Weinstein or other employees broke the law. A subpoena was issued on Monday by the office’s Civil Rights Bureau.

“No New Yorker should be forced to walk into a workplace ruled by sexual intimidation, harassment, or fear. If sexual harassment or discrimination is pervasive at a company, we want to know,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

Schneiderman’s investigation is looking into whether officials at the Weinstein Company violated state civil rights law or New York City human rights law, a source within the State Attorney’s office familiar with the matter tells CNN.

The subpoena is seeking all of the documents relating to complaints of sexual harassment or other discrimination at the company.

The investigators want to determine how the complaints were handled internally. There have been accusations that some executives knew about misconduct by Weinstein and sought to cover it up.

The investigators also want to examine how employees were hired and fired — which is notable since Weinstein was allegedly preying on young women, some of whom were employees at the studio.

The Weinstein Co. has offices in both New York and Los Angeles. Harvey Weinstein, who co-founded the company, split his time between the two.

Earlier this month The New York Times and The New Yorker published stories detailing a decades-long pattern of alleged sexual misconduct by Weinstein.

He denied some of the allegations, including all of the allegations of non-consensual conduct, but admitted to some improper behavior and apologized for causing pain. The company fired him within days, and he later resigned from the board of directors.

Now Weinstein is in treatment. His spokeswoman told CNN Monday that “he is staying in therapy for another month.”

Meanwhile, he and his lawyers are still involved in the future of Weinstein Co., since he owns a stake in the studio.

The company is struggling to stay afloat in light of the shocking allegations and the questions about who knew about it. Colony Capital, a private equity fund run by Tom Barrack, provided a lifeline last week, and is in talks to buy part or all of the company.

Last Thursday, the Los Angeles Police Department became the third police department to confirm an open investigation into allegations against Weinstein.

Police in New York City and London are also investigating.

Weinstein has not been charged with any crime.

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Father of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson demands answers about son’s death

The biological father of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson told Local 10 News on Monday that he has doubts about his son’s deaths and he wants answers about what really happened overseas.

“First of all, I don’t even know if he was buried, to be honest with you. That’s the way I feel as the father, because me, or the wife or the family haven’t seen the body yet,” Terrence McGriff said. “How can I sleep at night not knowing if my son is living or dead?”

Johnson was laid to rest over the weekend at the Hollywood Memorial Gardens cemetery.

The 25-year-old and three other U.S. soldiers lost their lives Oct. 4 during an ambush in Niger.

The soldiers were killed during a mission that was considered low risk, according to a senior intelligence official.

Officials said the soldiers did not use armored vehicles or have a drone overhead during the mission, factors that are raising questions about what really happened in Niger.

McGriff said he hopes to find out exactly what happened to his son. 

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Relief groups hit major hurdles getting aid to Puerto Rico

Chicago is a long way away from Utuado and Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. But Julian Seda is trying to get 68,000 pounds of donated supplies to these and other remote towns, as fast as he can — and with as little official involvement as possible.

“The government has their hands full,” said Seda, who leads the Chicago chapter of a group called Puerto Rico Rising that formed after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

Instead of raising money for the Red Cross or requesting help from the National Guard, the group found a private shipping company with operations in Chicago and Puerto Rico willing to ferry donations by boat for free to warehouses it owns on the island.

The organization, which is currently in the process of obtaining non-profit status, then distributes the supplies. That way, it avoids the government inspections at the port and “all the bureaucracy that has become a bottleneck,” Seda said.

Nevertheless, the ad hoc group’s capacity to bring relief is limited; it has stopped collecting donations until it finds a way to transport the next load.

Seda’s group is one of dozens of organizations that are running into enormous logistical hurdles while trying to help Puerto Rico.

Disaster management experts say that the citizen response has been extraordinary, as Puerto Rico’s diaspora of nearly 5.4 million watch in frustration while relief workers struggle to move supplies like food, water and medicine to those in need throughout the island.

Transporting goods from church basements and high school auditoriums to an island more than 1,000 miles off the U.S. coastline, with already crumbling infrastructure and little to no cell service, has proven to be a major challenge.

Puerto Rican leaders say they haven’t gotten enough help from the federal and state governments, which have assets like planes and personnel that could be used to deliver aid. Transportation companies have made in-kind donations and big names like Broadway star Lin-Manuel Miranda have funded charter flights. But the need is far from satisfied.

Meanwhile, volunteers say, the slow speed of road clearing and power restoration have made it more difficult to reach remote communities. There are currently 13,600 active duty and National Guard troops on the island, but many say that’s not enough.

“It shouldn’t be up to the handful of Puerto Rican millionaires in this country to be the U.S. Air Force and FEMA,” said Ohio state Rep. Dan Ramos, who represents the heavily Puerto Rican town of Lorain.

Organizers of the New York Puerto Rican Day Parade received semi trucks full of food, water and clothing from other parade organizations in places like Hartford and Cleveland. But they sat in warehouses, until leaders could arrange transportation.

“It has been a yeoman’s task to figure this out,” said Lorraine Cortes Vasquez, who chairs the New York parade’s board of directors. Finally, she said, the National Guard took their first shipment, and JetBlue took some of their supplies as well.

Experts typically recommend that people who want to help during disasters send money, which can then be used to buy and transport supplies from points closer to people who need them. But once goods have been collected, nobody wants to waste them.

Miami nightlife impresario Michael Capponi runs the Global Empowerment Mission, which started after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. After Maria, the group coordinated some 50 flights chartered by celebrities like Will Smith and reality TV personality Bethenny Frankel. They’ve procured a 100,000 square foot warehouse to store and sort 15 million pounds of donations, some of which had to be retrieved from small-scale drives all over the country.

Capponi acknowledged that it would be “100 percent more efficient” to raise money than collect physical goods. Later on, money can also be used to buy goods in the disaster zone, which puts money back into the local economy.

“The problem is,” Capponi said, “we can’t let all that stuff sit in the U.S.” So, he continues to send trucks to pick it up.

Still, some groups are bypassing the messy process of taking physical donations entirely.

PRxPR, a group formed by Puerto Rican business leaders, has raised $530,000 to date. It has been parceling out small grants to individuals and organizations on the island for urgent priorities like generators and water filters, if they can be found in stores. But distributing those goods to the people who need them remains difficult.

“You get a private cargo plane landing in the Aguadilla airport, and when that plane lands, is that there’s not enough personnel to help unload the plane,” said PRxPR co-founder Carmen Baez of the groups flying aid in. “There’s not enough personnel to guard the merchandise, to load the trucks, to drive the trucks to where they’re needed.”

This was a particular problem at the Port of San Juan, where pallets of aid sat uncollected for days, in large part because drivers couldn’t make the journey to pick up supplies.

Puerto Rican groups with local ties had an easier time. Puerto Rican Agenda, a 22-year-old community organization in Chicago, flew aid into Puerto Rico using two planes donated by United. Omar Torres-Kortright, a member of the group, says local politicians like San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz helped make sure transportation was available at the airport and paperwork didn’t hold anything up.

“As long as our shipments are directed to municipal leaders like her, we do cut through the red tape,” said Torres-Kortright. “The mayor of San Juan goes directly to the airport with her trucks, says ‘That’s my plane, it’s my stuff,’ and distributes it.”

The groups that have mobilized in the wake of Maria know their efforts won’t be enough — so they’re pushing for policy measures, like forgiveness of the island’s enormous debt, and an exemption from the Jones Act, which only permits shipping to the island from other U.S. ports to be carried out by U.S. vessels.

Javier Ferrer, who runs Houston’s Puerto Rican and Cuban Festival, says that a Norwegian company offered to send a ship from New Orleans to San Juan with 53 containers of aid a few days after the storm. But by the time the White House announced a 10-day break in enforcement of the Jones Act, it would have been too late to get the ship loaded and out to the island.

“That law needs to be lifted — not temporarily, but permanently,” Ferrer said.

The Hispanic Federation, which has raised more than $14 million for Puerto Rico and is still chartering planes to send aid, is ramping up calls for a more robust effort from Washington.

“It’s been tremendously frustrating, to say the least, to see the lack of adequate response from our federal government,” said Hispanic Federation president Jose Calderon. “There’s only so much that the diaspora can do.”

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