NYMHM for 28 Oct 2018

#newsyoumayhavemissed for October 28, 2018 is finding it difficult to focus on anything other than the deaths at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh—but we know we have to keep a panoramic view, and do.

Some of our friends are donating to HIAS, the organization that supports refugees which the shooter seemed to be obsessed with. Others are donating to the Center for Public Integrity in memory of Jamal Khashoggi.

Finding ways to change the world in which these crimes proliferate is essential. Also see the resources section if you’d like to object to the plan to destroy government documents.


The synagogue shooter was especially incensed about HIAS—the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which aids refugees of all backgrounds. A good opinion piece about what HIAS does is in the NY Times.

Jamal Khashoggi’s editors have an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit. You may want to donate in his memory to the Center for Public Integrity—to support investigative reporting. Look at their stories on their main page while you are at it.

Martha’s list reminds us that we have only until November 6 to weigh in on the proposal to end the Flores amendment, which (among other things) states that child immigrants can only be incarcerated for 20 days. The list includes a link to comment on the Interior Department’s plan to destroy its records. Alt.gov has additional information.

A link to advocate for the release of the 80 mothers and children still in immigrant detention in Dilley, Texas, is in the comments. It is sponsored by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the ACLU.

Sarah-Hope’s 10/13 list of places and people to write is still relevant. She’ll give us an updated one after the midterms.

Last but not least: Chrysostom has a thorough pre-election roundup—and is posting daily.


1. Kroger shooting victims

In danger of being lost in the horrors of the synagogue shooting are the victims of the Louisville Kroger shooting, Maurice Stallard and Vickie Lee Jones, both black grandparents. The shooter had tried to enter a black church shortly before but the doors were locked. The shooter, who is white, made a racist comment in the parking lot after the shooting, according to one witness; he also has a history of domestic violence and mental illness, the latter according to his Facebook posts. [Courier-Journal]

2. Muslims raise funds for synagogue survivors

As of October 28th, the day after the attack on the Tree of Life synagogue, two Muslim organizations, Celebrate Mercy and MPower Change, had raised $57,362 for survivors and families of the victims to help pay for medical and funeral costs. On its fundraising page, the group wrote:

Through this campaign, we hope to send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate and violence in America. We pray that this restores a sense of security and peace to the Jewish-American community who has undoubtedly been shaken by this event.

[Hill, Forward, fundraising site]

3. Patterns of right-wing violence

The Intercept has a partial list of right-wing attackers inspired by Trump’s rhetoric, along with the administration’s responses (or lack thereof). And the Center for Investigative Reporting ran a piece last summer that identified right-wing incidents or plots as occurring twice as often as those initiated by such groups as the Islamic State (most of which were foiled). Left-wing plots or incidents were quite rare. [Intercept, Center for Investigative Reporting]

4. War games as US withdraws from arms treaty

As Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INFT) with Russia, NATO has launched a series of war games in Norway, involving 50,000 troops from 31 countries, according to Democracy Now. The treaty had lowered stockpiles of nuclear weapons worldwide from 70,300 weapons in 1986 to 14,485 today, according to Derek Johnson, writing for CNN.

One opinion writer, Marc Thiessen, argues that the withdrawal sends a message to North Korea—that if the country declines to end its nuclear program, it could be surrounded by short- and medium-range missiles. But Conn Hallinan, who writes for Foreign Policy In Focus, pointed out to us that the loss of the INFT matters not only in its own right but because “a unilateral withdrawal puts other treaties in danger.” [CNN, Santa Cruz Sentinel, Democracy Now]

5. Make it Viral

A superb ad supporting Democratic candidates—all women with histories of military or government service—is not being aired due to campaign financing laws; an entity such as the Democratic Party would have to sponsor it, which they have not yet done. Of course, nothing prevents you from sharing it. Link in the comments. [NY Times]


6. Caravan myths and facts

The caravan traversing Mexico to escape conditions in Honduras has been supported by Mexicans all along the route, Mexicans who have given the migrants food, water, clothing, and medicine. “Today it’s them. Tomorrow it could be us,” said one volunteer.

In contrast, right-wing social media has spread hoaxes about the caravan, among them that they are funded by George Soros, planning an invasion, or—as Trump said—had among them dangerous people from the Middle East. The migrants themselves say they are fleeing violence or trying to rejoin family members in the U.S.

The violence in Honduras has some of its origins in the 2009 coup, in which President Manuel Zelaya, democratically elected, was removed from office by right-wing lawmakers and the military—a coup which then-Secretary of State Clinton supported. Since then, human rights abuses have accelerated.

The Atlantic has a history of how the Trump administration partnered with Fox News to construct the caravan as a national emergency—just in time for the midterm elections, and just in time to inspire the man who killed 11 people in the Tree of Life synagogue, the man who blamed Jews for the caravan.

The Department of Homeland Security has said it will send National Guard troops to the border, and White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders referred to the “influx” of immigrants. However, border patrol apprehensions have dropped sharply; they are now at the lowest level in 37 years—though border patrol staffing has more than doubled. [WaPo (1, 2, 3), Center for Public Integrity, the Atlantic, CNN, FPIF]

7. Brazil’s new president endangers LGBTQ, indigenous people, as well as the Amazon

Jair Bolsonaro—who has made virulent anti-gay remarks, praised previous right-wing dictatorships, and said his political opponents should be shot—won the run-off vote for Brazil’s presidency, ending 15 years of left-wing governance. He has promised to make Brazil “great” again and has castigated the “fake news”; his campaign depended on the deft use of social media and the critique of the corruption that has plague the country.

Bolsonaro has pledged to take Brazil out of the climate accord, take land away from indigenous people and end environmental protections for the Amazon. Climate activists have said that the EU could pressure Bolsonaro with trade restrictions, however, if EU countries were moved to act. [Washington Post, Climate Change News, Guardian]


8. Social media under scrutiny for lack of self policing in wake of high profile right-wing terrorism

Social media giant Twitter is coming under fire after revelations that threatening tweets authored by suspected mail bomber Cesar Altieri Sayoc were reported to Twitter, which then failed to take action, saying they did not find the threats “serious.”

Also under fire is social media site “Gab,” which has become a haven for far-right extremists due to its relaxed “free speech” policies. Gab has had its payment processing services pulled as well as its cloud hosting service in the wake of postings found there authored by Synagogue shooting suspect Robert Bowers. Social media companies are front and center in national discussions about the role they play as a tool in the hands of propagandists and in facilitating terrorism within the context of freedom of speech. As no legislative options appear forthcoming, it has fallen to private industry to rein in irresponsible behavior by such companies. [Gizmodo]

9. Oldest intact ship wreck found at the bottom of the Black Sea.

A Greek ship some 2400 years old has been found by an archaeological survey about fifty miles off the coast of Bulgaria; it is in remarkable condition, with goods still piled on its decks and benches still intact for long-dead rowers. The Black Sea has some unique traits which make it ideal for preserving ancient wooden artifacts like ships; the lower depths’ water doesn’t mix with top layers and as a result is devoid of oxygen which combined with the cold and lack of light keeps wood from deterioration. The design of the ship is unmistakable, very closely resembling paintings on period vases, including such details as the rudder and mast positions. The wreck sits at a depth of two thousand meters, making recovery efforts very difficult; on the bright side, the depth protects it from would-be looters as well. [Ars Technica]

10. Study of Puerto Rico rain forest shows disturbing drop in insects and insectivores

A study conducted by biologists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York has determined that the overall biomass of arthropods (insects) and insect-feeding animals has dropped to between a quarter and an eighth of what it was forty years ago. This closely mirrors similar declines recorded in German nature preserves, including a 76% drop in flying insects that NYMHM reported previously.

This is described as one of the most disturbing articles one expert in insect conservation has ever read. It’s important to note that these areas in Puerto Rico and Germany are well protected reserves, meant to be “pristine”—and the declines are still drastic. The suspected culprit is a warming environment, caused by man-made increases in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Insects make up the base of the food chain and the majority of animal biomass on land by far.

To put this in perspective, of the dozen or so mass extinctions in earth’s history, only one claims the distinction of being the only mass extinction event for insects: the Permian/Triassic otherwise known as “The Great Dying.” It seems the man-made ongoing “Holocene” extinction event is going to give it a run for its money. [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nature]