#newsyoumayhavemissed for September 23, 2018: We know it’s easy to get paralyzed in the current atmosphere. The cure is to take a few focused actions: 1) Urge your friends/colleagues/students to register to vote. See the overview on voting issues in the Daily Kos. 2) And write a comment or a letter on something that matters to you. See the opportunities to comment or write a letter.
- Do you care about coal ash? Lead in drinking water? Methane emissions? Christine Blasey Ford? Refugees? The evacuation of prisoners, which we reported on last week? See Sarah-Hope’s site for summaries of the issues and places to write.
- Have something to say about EPA policies, Brett Kavanaugh, or Trump’s tariffs? See Martha’s list for invitations to comment.
- Chrysostom has a comprehensive summary of election news—along with a batch of polling information.
1. Why people don’t report
If you had any questions about why people don’t report sexual assaults, you can read through the twitter hashtag #WhyIDidntReport, for as long as you can stand it. Or read Amber Wyatt’s story in the Washington Post and note how the assault was compounded by the brutal harassment she received when she did report. The story has not gotten the play it should have; we can honor her survival by reading it. [Washington Post, Twitter]
2. Russia & the election overview
You may feel you’ve heard all you can stand to hear about Russian involvement in the 2016. Still, given the difficulty of tracking the many moving parts, you might want to read the overview the New York Times has put together. The piece has gotten peculiarly little attention—perhaps it’s been swamped by the Brett Kavanaugh debacle. It’s comprehensive (though not complete)—really worth reading as we head into the mid-terms.
If you want more backstory, some months ago (as we noted then) Frontline posted 64 interviews they had done with a variety of sources on the Russian interference issue; not only was the reporting formidable but the move toward transparency in posting the background reporting was stunning. [NY Times, PBS]
3. Limits on refugees
The Trump Administration has announced its intention to limit refugee admittance to the U.S. next year to just 30,000 individuals, by far the lowest number since the current refugee program was put in place in 1980. This decision comes at a time when the world is experiencing huge growth in refugee populations, including many individuals fleeing regions in which the U.S. had been supporting military conflicts—such as those in Yemen and Syria.Sarah-Hope on Whatifknits. See her blog if you want to write decision-makers. [Whatifknits, NPR]
4. Immigrants suspected of someday needing public assistance to be denied green cards
A new policy targeting legal immigrants would deny green cards to anyone using Section 8 vouchers, Medicaid or other government assistance programs—or suspected of being likely to need them at any point in the future. Previously drafts of the policy, as we noted when we posted this story earlier, would have excluded anyone who received health insurance under the Affordable Care Act; this provision has been dropped.
Still at issue is whether immigrants will be permitted to use CHIP, the health care program for children—even citizens—whose families make too much money to receive Medicaid. Without green cards, of course, it is difficult for immigrants to find work, and so this policy is clearly aimed at keeping immigrants who are not independently wealthy in a permanently marginal status. [Politico, Washington Post, NY Times]
If you want to speak up about this, see Martha’s list of places to comment. Your comment will be included in the Federal Register.
5. Follow the money: Trump supporters involved in companies detaining children
The enthusiasm of the Trump administration for detaining immigrant children comes into perspective when we learn that contractors who runs these facilities have over a billion dollars in contracts—and two of the largest contractors are significant donors to Republican candidates.
“From 2015 to 2018 the average daily number of immigrants in detention went from 28,449 to 41,836,” wrote the Center for Public Integrity, which has a detailed investigative piece on its site identifying how much the two key companies involved in immigrant detention contributed to the Trump inauguration, how one of them threatened detainees with solitary confinement if they did not agree to work at the facility for a dollar a day, how detainees’ medical care was denied or delayed, resulting in several deaths—and more. [NY Times, Center for Public Integrity]
6. Due for deportation: Vietnamese immigrants
Among those the Trump administration has targeted for deportation are about 8,000 immigrants from Vietnam, including those who were children of servicemen. Following the American/Vietnam war, many thousands of Vietnamese were permitted to immigrate, in an arrangement solidified by an agreement with Vietnam in 2008.. Not all of them had the education or financial means to go through the citizenship process. Now, any non-citizen Vietnamese-Americans who arrived through that program and have since had any criminal conviction, including misdemeanors, are subject to deportation to a country they have not seen since they were small children, a country which does not, in fact, want them back. [Washington Post]
7. Policy whiplash on people claiming children
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been arresting parents and other undocumented adults coming forward to claim children in ICE or HHS custody, regardless of criminal activity or lack thereof, a reversal of the agency’s previous policy. In addition to its other inhumane element, this policy is one of the reasons that the number of children in custody is increasing, stretching federal resources beyond their limit. As Bob Carey, who oversaw child detention under the Obama administration, told CNN, “These are kids who fled some of the most violent countries in the world. Many have experienced trauma… rape, robbery, all kinds of exploitation.” [CNN]
8. Robbing cancer patients to pay for detaining immigrants
Following up on our story last week about transfers to ICE from other government programs, Newsweek is reporting that the Trump administration is reallocating 266 million dollars from programs for cancer research, substance abuse, domestic violence, and refugee services to pay for the detention of immigrants, especially children. This sum is in addition to $200 million already diverted last week. [Newsweek, Think Progress]
9. Mennonites caught in immigration raid
About 100 Mennonites were arrested during a recent ICE raid at a Texas trailer factory. With Mexican or Canadian citizenship—or in some cases no citizenship at all, these Mennonites tend to come into the U.S. for brief periods to work. Their only access to citizenship is through their American children, once they are old enough to sponsor them. [Mennonite World Review]
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
10: FCC ordered by court to turn over data regarding net neutrality commenting
The ongoing criticism of the FCC commenting period for their controversial decision to reverse Obama era net neutrality protections has reached the US District Court for the District of Columbia, which has ordered the FCC to turn over all data for comments left in support of the repeal. This decision comes after an ISP funded study found that millions of potentially fraudulent comments were submitted using throw-away email addresses and in 10 million cases, duplicate home addresses and names.
FCC commenting periods are supposed to weigh heavily into regulatory decisions; however, FCC chairman Ajit Pai had been clear on his intent to remove regulations from content providers and ISPs identifying them as “common carriers” similar to other utilities, which meant they could not favor any content over another but must deliver all data to consumers on an equal basis. [Countable]
11. PayPal latest internet service to ban Alex Jones
PayPal has joined the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Apple and Spotify in blocking Alex Jones and his media company Infowars from utilizing their services. In a statement to the New York Times, PayPal said via spokesperson “We undertook an extensive review of the Infowars sites and found instances that promoted hate or discriminatory intolerance.”
The payment processing giant provided Mr. Jones with 10 days to find another payment processing site for his business. Infowars has gained notoriety for promulgating bizarre conspiracy theories such as “Pizzagate,” which claimed a pedophilia ring run by powerful figures in the Democratic party was being run out of a DC area pizza parlor, and that the Sandy Hook school shooting which ended the lives of 26 people—including 20 children ages six and seven—was a government sponsored hoax. [Ars Technica]
12. Environmental concerns mount in wake of Hurricane Florence flooding
Coal giant Duke Energy confirmed on Friday that in a developing situation, coal ash has been released into the Cape Fear River, which supplies drinking water to the city of Wilmington North Carolina. Coal ash is the waste product of burning coal to generate electricity and contains several toxic substances including mercury and arsenic. The coal ash had been stored on site at the L.V. Sutton power plant that has been converted to run on natural gas but was formerly coal burning. Flood waters over-topped the retaining walls holding the coal ash; streams of gray runoff can be seen in aerial photographs. The coal ash joins chemical pollution that has long been a problem in the Cape Fear River from a legacy of chemical manufacturing located along its shores as well as biological contamination from livestock waste holding ponds. [Gizmodo]
If you want to speak up about this, whatifknits has contact info for the EPA.