NYMHM for 14 Oct 2018

#newsyoumayhavemissed for October 14, 2018 is catching its breath following the careening news last week. We especially recommend that you read the climate change story, even though fewer than half of major newspapers thought it important enough to run (see the last story). And we offer carefully chosen ways to take action, thanks to Sarah-Hope and Martha.



1. Last day to comment on proposed policy re: White House protests

The National Parks Service has proposed changing regulations regarding protests near the White House and on the National Mall, including charging fees and potentially imposing criminal penalties on those protesting on sidewalks near the White House. The proposal was quietly introduced in August and the public comment period ends on Monday. See the google doc in the Resources.

2. Voter Suppression: Black voters in Georgia, Native American voters in North Dakota

53,000 voters in Georgia have had their registrations held because they are not an exact match with other data that the state has on the voter. The differences can be as small as an extra hyphen or incomplete middle name. 70% of these frozen registrations are for black voters. The policy is being administered by Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brian Kemp—who is a candidate for governor. His opponent, Stacey Abrams, is black.

As Vox points out, Kemp has a long history of harassing activists, alleging that voter registration drives result in fraudulent ballots, and purging voters—1.5 million between 2012 and 2016. [Vox, Washington Post, WABE]

Thousands of Native American North Dakota voters—and tens of thousands of other North Dakotans—will likely lose their right to vote in the upcoming midterm elections, given that the Supreme Court refused to intervene in North Dakota’s voter registration law that had been challenged by Native American voters. The law requires voters to register with a street address, but Native Americans living on reservation often do not have a street address and use post-office boxes, as do other rural North Dakotans.

Voters can bring supplemental documentation such as a utility bill, but those homeless or living in poverty (or in a household where the utilities are not in their name) will not have such documents. Sarah-Hope {see the resources links} recommends that we lobby Congress for a national voters’ bill of rights.

Incumbent North Dakota Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp is ten points behind her Republican challenger. [ACLU, NPR, Scotusblog]

Meanwhile, NBC cites a report from the Brennan Center for Justice which asserts that nine states with a history of racial discrimination in voting practices have been particularly active in purging voter rolls since the Supreme Court struck down the Voting Rights Act in 2013. [NBC]

3. Immigration: It gets worse


In the chaos surrounding child separation, judges may decide to place the children of deported migrant parents with adoptive parents—without ever notifying their actual parents, according to an investigation by the AP. AP reporters tell the heart-breaking story of five-year-old Alexa, whose foster parents were given custody of her over the objections of her Salvadoran mother, in part due to unsubstantiated allegations of abuse and the lack of judicial expertise. Once the decision was reversed, leaving her foster family and reuniting with her mother in El Salvador was traumatic for her as well. [AP]

New family separation policy

A new family separation policy is being considered by the Trump administration. Under a policy called “binary choice,” parents and children would be detained together for up to 20 days; then, parents would be offered the choice of staying in detention with the children or releasing them to a government shelter, after which relatives might be able to seek custody. Lack of facilities for family detention appears not to deter policy-makers. The ACLU said it would challenge any such policy, noting that “It is deeply troubling that this Administration continues to look for ways to cause harm to small children.” [Washington Post]

Parents deported

According to the Center for Public Integrity, 87,351 people with at least one child who is a US citizen were deported in the three years from 2015-2017. ICE is currently holding over 44,000 people in custody, 58% of whom had no criminal convictions and 21% of whom were guilty of only minor traffic violations. These children have little likelihood of ever reuniting with their parents, many of whom tried every possible route to legal status. [TracImmigration, Center for Public Integrity]

4. Kavanaugh process mis-steps

Did you have any doubt that the White House limited the scope of the FBI investigation? In response to questioning by Kamala Harris, FBI Director Christopher Wray confirmed in a Senate hearing on Wednesday that “the investigation was very specific in scope, limited in scope.” He refused to say whether the FBI looked into the possibility that Kavanaugh lied to Congress. [Mother Jones]

Though he declined to do so before Kavanaugh was confirmed, Chief Justice Roberts has now requested the 10th Circuit Court to investigate 12 ethics challenges—along with any new complaints on the same matter—of Kavanaugh, having to do with his behavior in the Senate hearing. [CNN, Forbes]

5. Like father-in-law, like son-in-law: Kushner and taxes

Though his net worth is something like $324 million, Jared Kushner has paid almost no taxes over the last few years. He managed this feat by declaring depreciation on his properties, even when he borrowed heavily to acquire them—so that he has been using other people’s money to reduce his tax bill. Kushner files separately from his wife, Ivanka Trump.

If you haven’t yet read the NY Times piece on how Trump himself engaged in sketchy tax practices to help his father avoid paying taxes (and to avoid taxes himself), do. [Press Democrat, NY Times]


6. Dietary supplements found to contain dangerous substances

A study conducted by the California Department of Public Health and published online in the journal JAMA Network Open outlines that supplements regulated by the FDA have had 700 warning issued regarding substances found not listed in the ingredients. The substances are in many cases drugs or drug-like compounds that require a prescription, with the majority of the problem supplements being marketed for “enhanced sexual pleasure” and “weight loss” as a close second. The problem appears to be growing more severe as half of the warnings have been issued since 2012; while the FDA has the authority to remove products from the market, it usually only does so after problems are reported. The two most common drugs found were sildenafil (viagra) and sibutramine, an appetite suppressant taken off the market due to cardiovascular risks in 2010. [Medical Xpress]

7. EPA disbands long standing air pollution advisory panel

The EPA has decided to eliminate the 20 person Particulate Matter Review Panel, handing off its duties to an existing seven-person Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, in a move experts worry will reduce the breadth of expertise available to weigh in on dangers posed by particulate pollutants. Particulates such as soot are a major variety of pollutant with wide-ranging health impacts, increasing instances of asthma but also implicated with ailments as varied as dementia and mouth cancers. While there is no legal requirement to maintain the PMRP, as we have noted in past articles, scientific advisory panels are a vital part of our oversight process and an avenue through which regulations can be undermined or softened by careful pruning of which voices are allowed to remain to advise regulators. [IFL Science]

8. Our time to mitigate climate change is running out

A major UN study released by the Intragovernmental Panel on Climate Change contains some of the direst warnings ever issued by experts. The world has just over a decade to drastically rein in carbon emissions if there is any hope of preventing catastrophic warming to the planet. The study involved a hundred respected scientists and thousands of peer comments and reviews; it determined that the current rate of warming is simply unprecedented in earth’s history. In order to preserve something like the climate our species has enjoyed for all of recorded history, carbon emissions would need to be cut by a billion tons by 2030. Currently, emissions are still growing and not shrinking at all. Almost all coal would need to be eliminated from the world’s power grids by 2050 and in addition to these cuts, the world would need to institute huge carbon capture programs to sequester existing carbon already in the atmosphere.

Despite the weight of this news, fewer than half of U.S. major newspapers reported on this study on their home pages. Media Matters has a list (link in the comments) of newspapers that did not mention it. [Media Matters, Washington Post]