Voter turnout among Puerto Ricans rising, not necessarily because of Hurricane Maria: Experts

For years, voter participation among Puerto Ricans in the mainland hasn’t necessarily been high compared to its overall population, according to a 2016 research brief from the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York.

A complex electoral system combined with the economic and educational standing of many mainland Puerto Ricans has had a lot to do with lower turnout figures, experts told ABC News.

“People with higher income and higher scholarship tend to participate more in politics than those with less,” said Carlos Vargas-Ramos of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies.

Despite historically low numbers of participation, voter turnout among Puerto Ricans in presidential elections has increased recently — in 2012, nearly 53% voted, up from a low in 2000 of about 46%, the data shows. According to a report produced by the University of South Florida, that figure rose again in 2016 to almost 55%.

While migration can be linked to this increase, experts said spending more time in the U.S. mainland has a significant effect on turnout.

“In political science, it’s clear that people who go out and vote tend to be people who have spent a prolonged period of time in a residence,” Vargas-Ramos added.

According to the 2016 report, in 2012 about 51% of Puerto Ricans who’d lived at the same address for at least five years voted, compared with 13% of Puerto Ricans who’d live at their current residence for less than a year.

“They have a better understanding of the electoral system compared to those who recently arrived from the island,” Vargas-Ramos told ABC News.

Residents still in Puerto Rico can vote in presidential primaries but not general elections, despite being U.S. citizens.

Historically, the island has had three local political parties — the Popular Democrat Party, which favors ties with the mainland U.S., the New Progressives, who are pro-statehood, and the Puerto Rican Independence Party, which favors independence. The majority of individuals living on the island don’t affiliate themselves with a mainland political party.

Migration and voting

The population of Puerto Rico was declining before Hurricane Maria struck in September 2017.

From 2010 to 2017, over half a million left the island, with an estimated 135,000 more fleeing after the storm, according to the Center For Puerto Rican Studies.

“Hurricane Maria just accelerated what was already going on,” said Elizabeth Aranda, coauthor of the report “Understanding Puerto Rican Voting in the United States.”

Puerto Rico’s economy began seeing signs of a recession in 2006, and the island effectively declared bankruptcy in 2016 when President Barack Obama signed a law halting debt payments on more than $100 billion.

“It’s been one continual recession,” Aranda added. Jobs have been lost, government budgets have been cut, schools have been closed.

“People have continued to come here for jobs for a better quality of life,” Aranda said, referring to the mainland.

Both Aranda and Vargas-Ramos agreed that the more time Puerto Ricans spend in the U.S., the more politically involved they’ll become.

“The longer they’re in the U.S., the more likely they will register to vote and affiliate with a particular political party,” Aranda told ABC News.

Types of Puerto Rican votes

In 2017, more than 5.6 million Puerto Ricans lived on the mainland, according to the Pew Research Center. As of 2019, 3.1 million people live on the island, data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows.

While both presidential candidates have addressed issues linked to the island recovering post-Maria, such measures appeal much more to those who recently left the island than to second- or third-generation Puerto Ricans.

“Sadly,” Vargas-Ramos explained, “that gives you an idea of the lack of knowledge of the presidential candidates from Puerto Ricans in the United States, when the only way to motivate them to go out and vote is address issues on the island.”

It’s when Puerto Ricans who left the island “start to see themselves more entrenched in American society” that they start to identify more with mainland issues than those more prevalent among those island dwellers, Aranda said. “There’s a point at which people would maybe pivot, and if they don’t pivot, then maybe they balance both.”

As the number of people leaving the island is expected to increase amid the ongoing economic crisis, further aggravated by the pandemic, the power of the Puerto Rican vote will continue to increase, experts told ABC News.

“I do think that as Puerto Ricans make inroads in their local communities, and then maybe at the state level, that’s going to drive them to the polls, for sure,” Aranda said. “I think that there has to be a concerted and deliberate intentional effort on behalf of the political candidates to do outreach to the Puerto Rican community, to understand what their needs are, both now and in the future.”

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Latina Makes History Rising From Poverty To Pot Entrepreneur

Cindy De La Vega’s voice breaks as she recalls what it was like to grow up in San Francisco’s notorious Sunnydale Development. Known as “The Swamp” or “The Dale,” the 50-acre tract of dilapidated public housing still makes up the city’s poorest and most isolated neighborhood. As a little girl, De La Vega says she fell asleep many nights on the floor curled up next to her mother on a mattress. It was the only way to guard against the stray bullets they worried would pierce their bedroom window.

As an aimless teen in mid-Nineties, De La Vega nearly dropped out of Balboa High School until a compassionate guidance counselor intervened. He encouraged her to join United Playaz, a local mentoring program where she could count on a hot meal and a willing ear. Later, when she struggled with domestic violence at the hands of a partner, her older sister helped her escape from her abuser and begin to rebuild her life.

Although she and her family eventually moved out of their Sunnydale apartment, they stayed in the old neighborhood. Her zip code was one of the reasons she became a prime candidate to apply for a shot to open a business in the city’s flourishing new cannabis industry under an entrepreneurship program aimed at helping the city’s poorest citizens. Through sheer will, assistance from the San Francisco Equity Program and financial backing from vertically-integrated cannabis company, The Shryne Group, De La Vega made history this month as the first Latina to operate a cannabis retail shop in the city.

“My message is you have to be strong and keep fighting and do not give up,” the 38-year-old mom of two said in an emotional telephone interview the week before the ribbon cutting for her glossy new Stiizy storefront in busy Union Square.

De La Vega’s foray into the legal cannabis industry is notable at a time when states that have commercialized the drug in recent years have struggled with how to make the wealth-generating opportunities of cannabis more equitable, especially for people of color, families affected by incarceration or convictions for low level pot crimes, and those who have ties to neighborhoods disproportionately targeted by prohibition like De La Vega. The potential profits could be life-altering. The Marijuana Business Factbook estimates that legal sales of both medical and recreational marijuana in US will exceed $15B in revenue in 2020. But a majority of the industry’s biggest players are run by white, male executives and boards.

With this in mind, the city and county of San Francisco set out to diversify its local pot businesses and to repair the harm of the cannabis criminalization on communities of color. In a 2017 report, the city’s Human Rights Commission stated, “poverty, education gaps and criminal records are the vestiges of explicitly and implicitly racist enforcement policies.” The local government created a program to cultivate economic development opportunities for San Francisco’s most impoverished neighborhoods and its residents. De La Vega, whose family originally immigrated from Mexico, qualified under several criteria. The program has been criticized for its slow roll-out. Eleven equity licenses have been granted over three years with 277 applications still under review, according to a recent story by SF Weekly. This, as other cities around the California, including Los Angeles and Sacramento, continue to work through the challenges of issuing specialized permits under similar initiatives.

“We need reduced costs for licenses. We need to give them (applicants) special training in technology and the applications process,” explains Gina Kranwinkel, president and CEO of the National Association of Cannabis Businesses, which conducted a recent study of ten social equity programs across the US and offered new guidelines to help local governments make the initiatives more transparent and accountable. Challenges to help marginalized groups move into the industry have persisted in other states including Massachusetts and Illinois. Colorado lawmakers only approved a program to prioritize minority applicants in July. And the issue is on the 2020 ballot in Arizona and New Jersey, where voters are considering referenda to legalize adult-use including provisions to make the industry more equitable.

One of the biggest hurdles for social equity applicants, including De La Vega, is access to low-interest loans and also guidance when assessing potential investment partners says Kranwinkel. The federally illicit status of cannabis has kept most banks on the sidelines and financing options are scarce for entrepreneurs who, like De La Vega, don’t come from money. Without the net worth and collateral to lease property for her potential business as she waited three years to line up the approvals to open, De La Vega was forced to look for partners. She says the process was overwhelming, confusing and intimidating. There were times she thought she might just give up.

“How was I supposed to secure a location in 2017? I had no money. And then I had investors and companies throwing money at me,” she explained of trying to navigate a cut-throat and complicated business she didn’t fully understand at that time.

She says if it wasn’t for advice from the Equity Program, she would not have found investors who wanted to help educate and train her in all aspects of the business so she could run it. De La Vega owns 40% of the new shop and The Shryne Group retains the balance. Prior to opening, she shadowed the company’s employees for close to two years to gain hand-on experience in management.

“My message to equity applicants is don’t sell out. This is an important platform and you have to do the work,” she advises to other people who may qualify for the program in other states and cities.

With the dispensary doors open, De La Vegas says she looks forward to helping the community where she grew up. She serves on the board of the United Playaz, the program that kept her from becoming a high school dropout and will help raise money to support the charity. More than anything, she hopes her story will inspire her two daughters, her neighbors and other women struggling with poverty and domestic abuse.

“Look, Cindy De La Vega made it,” she says with pride to future applicants, “I came from the same place that you guys come from. I look like you guys. I don’t have millions of dollars. Look, I am a CEO now. I am a business owner.’ And they are going to look at that and say, ‘This is possible. This can work because it is already working with me.”

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Oil steady as rising coronavirus cases stokes demand concerns

FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian wearing a protective mask walks past an oil derrick in Huntington Beach during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Huntington Beach, California, U.S., April 25, 2020. REUTERS/Kyle Grillot

October 14, 2020

By Jessica Jaganathan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices were steady on Wednesday on concerns that fuel demand will continue to falter as rising coronavirus cases across Europe and in the United States, the world’s biggest oil consumer, could impede economic growth.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said in its monthly report on Tuesday that oil demand in 2021 will rise by 6.54 million barrels per day (bpd) to 96.84 million bpd, 80,000 bpd less than its forecast a month ago, as a result of the economic dislocations caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Brent crude futures <LCOc1> for December fell by 8 cents, or 0.2%, to $42.37 a barrel by 0142 GMT while U.S. West Texas Intermediate <CLc1> futures were down 9 cents, or 0.2%, to $40.11.

The heads of two of the world’s biggest oil producers, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, discussed the current situation in the energy markets during a telephone call, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

OPEC and producer allies such as Russia, a group known as OPEC+, will stick to their plans to taper oil production cuts from January, Suhail al-Mazrouei, the energy minister of the United Arab Emirates said on Tuesday.

“Oil prices are steady in Asia as the dollar rally takes a break and as the Russian and Saudis show a united front in making OPEC+ oil producers live up to their pledged output cut promises,” said Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at OANDA.

“Crude prices are looking very vulnerable as the coronavirus continues to spread like wildfire across Europe and trending higher in the U.S.,” Moya added.

On the supply side, crude oil production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico continued to recover four days after Hurricane Delta made landfall with the amount shut falling to 44% on Tuesday from 69% on Monday.

U.S. crude oil inventories were seen falling last week, while distillate stockpiles likely declined for a fourth week, a preliminary Reuters poll showed on Tuesday.

The poll was conducted ahead of reports from American Petroleum Institute and the Energy Information Administration. Both the reports were delayed by a day because of the Columbus day holiday on Monday in the United States.

(Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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Which countries have rising numbers?

A restaurant in Karachi closed for violating coronavirus regulations

India has the second-largest number of coronavirus cases in the world with over seven million cases and could soon overtake the US with the most infections.

But while there are some signs of the pandemic slowing in India, could some of its neighbours be witnessing a second spike in cases?

Daily cases are rising in some countries

India’s population of 1.3 billion dwarfs that of its neighbours, so it’s no surprise that its overall infection numbers are much higher.

It continues to record the highest daily case numbers in the world, although the rate of growth in cases has appeared to slow.

But in some other countries in South Asia, there seems to be a renewed increase in infections.

Pakistan is witnessing a rise in daily cases in its Punjab province, but overall cases are still below the 1,000 a day mark.

The authorities, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, have advised people to continue wearing masks and maintaining social distancing as they fear a second peak during winter.

Chart comparing infections in South Asia
Chart comparing infections in South Asia

The country even reopened its schools in September after over five months of closure.

Nepal is now seeing reported infection rates rising again after an earlier peak in June. It recorded the highest single-day spike with over 4,000 cases on 7 October – more than half of them in Kathmandu.

Bangladesh saw its daily cases peak around mid-June before they dropped in the last week of July and beginning of August. Daily cases hover between 1,000 and 1,500.

Police and army at a checkpoint during a curfew in Colombo
Sri Lanka imposed tough restrictions on movement across the island

Afghanistan has also reported new cases dropping off to very low levels, although there are questions about the reliability of its official figures.

Sri Lanka is witnessing a spike in cases after a cluster was found this month in a garment factory. It has had spikes in cases since April, but has had relatively low numbers overall.

It has implemented a curfew in some areas and shut educational institutions until further notice.

How much testing is done in South Asia?

Testing is key to finding out how the virus is spreading.

The Indian government committed to significantly ramping up testing, achieving one million tests in a single day on 21 August.

Although this seems like a large number, it is not when compared to the size of the population, says virologist Dr Shahid Jameel.

Bar chart comparing different countries on testing - updated to October
Bar chart comparing different countries on testing – updated to October

The “total number of cases per million in India and the rest of South Asia are low, but so is the number of tests per million,” he says.

India has so far conducted nearly 80 million tests. Pakistan has carried out nearly four million.

Bangladesh was testing over 18,000 a day in June, when it witnessed a spike in cases, since then, daily testing has hovered between ten and fifteen thousand.

Bangladesh’s testing numbers fell after the government introduced a high testing fee in July. There’s also been a scandal around the sale of fake negative test certificates.

Afghanistan has tested 112,278 samples as of 5 October and the health ministry says the proportion of positive cases in the country stands at 6%.

But the Red Crescent warned earlier this year that the actual number of cases could be much higher than officially announced.

Pakistan has increased its testing since September, and its positivity rate continues to be around 2%.

But the level of testing in these countries is generally far lower than in other countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has set a benchmark range for adequate testing of between 10 and 30 per confirmed case in a country or region.

Comparison chart of number of tests per positive cases - updated to Oct 7
Comparison chart of number of tests per positive cases – updated to Oct 7

South Asian countries have ramped up testing and Nepal, India and Pakistan do now just fall within the range deemed adequate by the WHO.

Russia and Japan, which have populations similar to Bangladesh, are testing far more widely, finding a positive case for every 39 and 38 tests respectively. But Bangladesh is identifying one positive case for every eight tests carried out – well below the WHO benchmark.

What about the death rate in South Asia?

The overall death toll in India is currently the third highest in the world, although the proportion of people who die after getting sick remains low compared to the global average.

Deaths recorded elsewhere in South Asia are lower than in many other parts of the world, both in terms of absolute numbers and per capita figures.

Click here to see the BBC interactive

This appears to be an encouraging sign, but questions remain about the reliability of data in a region with relatively low levels of public health spending.

“Many deaths are not reported within the vital registration system and the causes of deaths are incorrectly classified,” says Professor Kamran Siddiqi, a public health expert at the University of York.

But Dr Shahid Jameel says even if deaths are under-reported, the difference from other areas of the world is “quite stark”.

“The most plausible explanation is that the populations in South Asia are made up of far younger people than say in Europe and the US,” Prof Siddiqi says.

Additional research by Saroj Pathirana in Colombo, Waliur Rahman Miraj in Dhaka and Rama Parajuli in Kathmandu

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A look at the rising popularity of curbside pickup at US retail chains like Target, which coincided with Amazon's struggles during the pandemic's early months (New York Times)

New York Times:

A look at the rising popularity of curbside pickup at US retail chains like Target, which coincided with Amazon’s struggles during the pandemic’s early months  —  Online orders have surged for retailers in the pandemic, as curbside pickup helps Americans satisfy their desire to hop in a car and drive to the store.

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Gov Cuomo shuts down nine NYC neighborhoods where COVID is rising

Gov Cuomo forces non-essential businesses to close, bans religious gatherings of more than 10 people and stops all dining in nine NYC neighborhoods where COVID-19 rates are surging

Governor Andrew Cuomo has imposed strict new restrictions on nine New York City neighborhoods where COVID-19 rates are surging that includes shutting down non-essential businesses and banning religious gatherings of more than 10 people.

Cuomo made the announcement on Tuesday just one day after he ruled that hundreds of schools in those nine neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens had to close.

In addition to the ban on large religious gatherings and closure of non-essential businesses, restaurants will also be forced to go back to offering takeout only – just a week after they were cleared to begin welcoming diners back indoors.

The new rules, which will be in place for at least two weeks, will go into affect as early as Wednesday but no later than Friday. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo has imposed strict new restrictions on nine New York City neighborhoods where COVID-19 rates are surging that includes shutting down non-essential businesses and banning religious gatherings of more than 10 people

The tough new restrictions (above in red) will currently apply to nine neighborhoods in Brookyn and Queens where COVID rates are surging. Restrictions will also be imposed on some surrounding neighborhoods to act as a buffer

The tough new restrictions (above in red) will currently apply to nine neighborhoods in Brookyn and Queens where COVID rates are surging. Restrictions will also be imposed on some surrounding neighborhoods to act as a buffer 

New York City, overall, continues to see the virus spread at relatively low levels compared to much of the rest of the country but a handful of areas in Brooklyn and Queens have seen infection rates rising.

The nine ZIP codes singled out for restrictions have been responsible for more than 20 percent of all new infections in the city over the past four weeks despite representing only 7 percent of the population.  

The citywide positive infection rate is now at 1.9 percent. Rates in those nine hotspot zip codes is as high as eight percent in some neighborhoods.  

Most of the neighborhoods targeted by the restrictions are home to part of the city’s large Orthodox Jewish community. 

‘A mass gathering causes infections, infections cause a cluster, a cluster causes community spread,’ Cuomo said. ‘That is the national evolution of things unless we intervene and we stop the cycle.’  

Cuomo’s announcement came just hours after Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was ready to shut down non-essential businesses in the nine zip codes. 

De Blasio had put forward the plan to Cuomo to shutter non-essential business but needed state approval. 

Cuomo was scheduled to meet with Orthodox leaders on Tuesday to seek their help with getting people to comply with social distancing rules. 

The governor and mayor have repeatedly squabbled over government responses to the spread of COVID-19.  

POSITIVE TEST RATE: The citywide positive infection rate is now at 1.9 percent. Rates in those nine hotspot zip codes is as high as eight percent in some neighborhoods

POSITIVE TEST RATE: The citywide positive infection rate is now at 1.9 percent. Rates in those nine hotspot zip codes is as high as eight percent in some neighborhoods

Rates in those nine hotspot zip codes is as high as eight percent in some neighborhoods

Rates in those nine hotspot zip codes is as high as eight percent in some neighborhoods


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AFL Rising Star 2020, odds, nominations | AFL Rising Star TV times, Matt Rowell, past winners, rules, Ultimate Guide

Can a player win the Rising Star award after managing four-and-a-bit (breathtaking) games?

Technically, yes. Morally? That’s what this year’s AFL Rising Star judges have been contemplating over recent days and weeks.

Not only was Gold Coast’s Matthew Rowell, an 18-year-old midfielder in his first AFL season and representing the team almost unanimously tipped pre-season to ‘win’ the wooden spoon this year, a ridiculously short favourite to win the Rising Star award after four rounds, he was also one of the favourites to win the Brownlow Medal.

Get all the latest AFL odds with PointsBet

Finals Week 1

Watch the 2020 Toyota AFL Finals Series on Kayo with every game before the Grand Final Live & On-Demand. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >

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AFL 2020, AFLPA Awards, AFL Awards, best captain, most courageous, best first year player, Rising Star, Scott Pendlebury

Collingwood star Scott Pendlebury has been recognised by his peers as the competition’s best captain, just a day after becoming the club’s leading games record-holder.

Pendlebury played game No.314 against the Power on Monday, with the AFL Players’ Association award capping off a big few days for the 32-year-old.

The Magpies midfielder polled 316 votes, to win the award ahead of Bulldogs and Power leaders Marcus Bontempelli and Tom Jonas.

Watch the 2020 Toyota AFL Finals Series on Kayo with every game before the Grand Final Live & On-Demand. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >

Finals Week 1

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Dollar jumps as risk assets tumble on rising COVID-19 cases, U.S. election uncertainty

Article content continued

“If Jerome Powell and the rest of the Fed speakers don’t

really add more meat to the Fed plans for how it’s going to

reach an average 2% inflation I could see the U.S. dollar

trading even higher this week,” said Bregar.

The euro traded 0.58% lower against the dollar at $1.1768

. Sterling also fell 0.82% to $1.2809 as the

dollar gained steam.

The Australian dollar traded down 0.9% against the greenback

at US$0.7222, while the New Zealand dollar was

down 1.4% at US$0.6664.

The U.S. dollar was last up 2.2% against the Crown

after hitting its highest level against Norway’s currency since



Currency bid prices at 3:26PM (1926 GMT)

Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid

Previous Change


Euro/Dollar EUR= $1.1768 $1.1837 -0.58% +4.99% +1.1871 +1.1732

Dollar/Yen JPY= 104.7400 104.5500 +0.18% -3.78% +104.8300 +104.0100

Euro/Yen EURJPY= 123.27 123.78 -0.41% +1.08% +123.9300 +122.5300

Dollar/Swiss CHF= 0.9141 0.9116 +0.27% -5.55% +0.9170 +0.9088

Sterling/Dollar GBP= 1.2809 1.2915 -0.82% -3.39% +1.2966 +1.2776

Dollar/Canadian CAD= 1.3306 1.3204 +0.77% +2.46% +1.3320 +1.3172

Australian/Doll AUD= 0.7221 0.7289 -0.93% +2.85% +0.7324 +0.7200


Euro/Swiss EURCHF= 1.0760 1.0792 -0.30% -0.85% +1.0799 +1.0740

Euro/Sterling EURGBP= 0.9187 0.9162 +0.27% +8.67% +0.9196 +0.9148

NZ NZD= 0.6664 0.6759 -1.41% -1.07% +0.6777 +0.6653


Dollar/Norway NOK= 9.2850 9.0931 +2.11% +5.77% +9.3334 +9.0646

Euro/Norway EURNOK= 10.9293 10.7666 +1.51% +11.09% +10.9604 +10.7600

Dollar/Sweden SEK= 8.8452 8.7470 +0.35% -5.34% +8.8880 +8.7383

Euro/Sweden EURSEK= 10.4142 10.3781 +0.35% -0.53% +10.4305 +10.3714

(Additional reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York;

Editing by Bernadette Baum and Tom Brown)

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