News You May Have Missed September 15, 2019

A youth-led climate strike is set for September 20 & 27. Canadians might want to look at this Chatelaine (yes, Chatelaine!) story for an overview. The overall climate strike website is a bit glitchy, but it identifies all the supporting organizations and will help you identify climate strike actions nearby. As Chatelaine points out, Canada is nowhere near the targets in the Paris Agreement that it signed; the Climate Action Network identifies the shortfalls and necessary steps. Vice has some ideas about how to support the climate strike if you can’t attend.

A few related sites: Toronto Climate Action Network, Rally and March September 27. Code Pink (San Francisco March September 20)

Closer to home, note Martha’s list below. Propose rule changes would relax safety regulations in nursing homes, but Monday the 16th is the last day to comment.

Our colleague Crysostom has news, polls, gossip and analysis on important state elections, as well as some possible gubenatorial recalls.


1. Trump blocks Temporary Protected Status for Bahamians

Hurricane Dorian has left the Bahamas devasted—an over-used word that might well be an understatement in the current moment. Mark Morgan, current chief of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), had suggested that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) could be extended to Bahamians as a result, which would be in line with past practice regarding TPS. Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio (both from Florida) have also called for TPS for those affected by Dorian. Donald Trump has shot down that possibility, claiming “very bad people” from the Bahamas would be a threat to the safety of Americans if allowed to remain in the country.

As the Los Angeles Times explains, the TPS program was established by Congress in 1990 and allows the Secretary of Homeland Security to grant temporary legal status to individuals in the U.S. whose home countries have been impacted by armed conflict or natural disaster to such an extent that it would be “unsafe and inhumane to force them to return.” TPS does not grant a path to citizenship; it merely allows those affected by disaster to remain in the U.S. for appropriate periods of time. Hurricane Dorian is clearly the sort of disaster to which TPS was intended to respond. S-HP

If you want to urge your representatives to advocate for TPS and appropriate visa waivers for survivors of Hurricane Dorian , you can find their addresses at this link.

2. Supreme Court allows Trump to require that refugees apply for asylum in the countries they pass through

Asylum-seekers now must apply for asylum in any country they pass through before arriving in the United States, according to a recent Supreme Court ruling. (Ginsburg and Sotomayor dissented.) For example, an asylum seeker from Guatemala must first apply and be turned down in Mexico. A lawsuit on this issue is wending its way through the lower courts, and while an injunction had kept the policy from being implemented, the Supreme Court said it could go forward while the lawsuits proceeded, NBC News reported. Mexico said it would not change its policies in order to accommodate the US policy, according to Democracy Now.

More than 10,000 asylum seekers are waiting at the Tijuana-San Diego border to apply for asylum in the US. El Otro Lado is the only group providing legal aid at that site; in a tweet they wrote, “This is a death sentence for most of our clients.” RLS

If you want to advocate for the rights of asylum seekers, the addresses of appropriate people are here. You can also donate to El Otro Lado here.

3. Funding to analyze backlogged rape kits must be reauthorized by September 30

The Debbie Smith act, due to expire September 30, has resulted in  200,000 solved rape cases. The act, reauthorized in 2014, provided funding to test backlogged rape kits, which contain the evidence gathered when someone has reported a rape. In 2017 the backlog was 169,000, according to the Washington Post; another 200,000 remain in labs and police evidence rooms.  One in five rape kits identifies a serial rapist.
In a reversal of the usual story, the Senate has reauthorized the funding, while the House has not; reauthorization is buried in the Violence Against Women Act, and a reconciliation process has not yet begun.
As Debbie Smith, for whom the Act was named, told the Post,  Smith said. “Hope deferred means another day, week or year that a rapist remains on the street.” RLS

To urge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and your representative to make sure that funding is authorized by the deadline, find their addresses here.

4. California passes bill banning for-profit prisons and detention centers

Assuming Governor Gavin Newsom signs the bill just passed by the California legislature, private prisons and immigrant detention facilities would be banned in California. There are currently four privately owned detention facilities in California, which are for all practical purposes prisons; in one of these facilities, Adelanto, immigrants were subject to abuse and denied medical care for “weeks and months,” according to the LA Times. The facilities will not be closed immediately but when their federal contracts end, Vice reported. Newsom is likely to sign the bill; as Democracy Now reported, when he was inaugurated, he said that California should “end the outrage of private prisons once and for all.” RLS

If you want to urge Governor Newsom to sign the bill–or suggest that your representatives sponsor similar legislation on the national level, check here for addresses.

5. Emoluments lawsuit against Trump can proceed

Trump may yet have to face a lawsuit based on the emoluments clause, which forbids elected officials from accepting profits from foreign governments. Though several courts had tossed out lawsuits saying they were politically motivated, a federal judge said that whether a lawsuit has political motivations is beside the point; lawsuits have to be evaluated on their merits. Time-consuming legal maneuvering will likely keep the case from going forward until after the 2020 election, according to Politico. RLS

If you wish to ask the Chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to continue to monitor possible emoluments clause violations by Donald Trump, you can contact him at this address.


6. Climate catastrope projected for Europe

Flooding and extreme rain in Northern and Central Europe. Drought in Southern Europe. The destruction of trees by bark beetle. Deadly cyanobacteria in warming lakes. Europe can expect an acute climate crisis unless carbon emissions are drastically reduced, according to Foreign Policy in Focus.

Various European political parties have advocated for the Green New Deal for Europe, which has identified ways to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

See the information above on the climate marches September 20 & 27.


7. Speaking of climate change…

A piece in the Washington Post outlines recent research showing that for many areas of the globe, the 2 c global warming “tipping point” is already here. While there have been many headlines about how global average temperatures are rising, not as much has been said of local temperature deviations, such as a “blob” of ocean just off the coast of Uruguay that has warmed by 3 c  since the 1980s, an increase which is having profound effects on local life and economies. An example is the yellow clam, once a significant food source that was abundant and gathered easily, with hundreds of tons collected in the mid 80’s. 1994 saw a massive die off of yellow clam; beaches were littered for miles with rotting shellfish. Stocks have not and likely will not ever recover.

Closer to home, the city of Philadelphia is enacting sweeping new procedures and protocols for heat emergencies as the number of days over 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the city have gone from an average of just three a year between 1950 and 1999 to over twice that in the last five years, according to Physics.Org. Heat emergencies present lethal danger to the elderly and infirm and by the end of the century, Philadelphia is expecting up to 53 days over 95 degrees. JC

8. Trump administration orders oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a 19.3 million acre home to herds of caribou, polar bears, seals and dozens of migratory birds. It has also long been a target for the oil and gas industry, with large reserves of both oil and natural gas suspected to lie in the same geological formations that made areas like Prudhoe Bay so productive. The Trump administration managed get access to drilling with a provision in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, controversial for its enormous tax cuts to wealthy corporations, legally opening the way to drilling and actually requiring that three leases to ANWR land be sold to the petroleum industry, the Washington Post reports.

The current proposed plans include four airstrips and drilling pads, 175 miles of roads, supports for pipelines and a seawater treatment plant. It is projected that the end of this century will see the extinction of several bird and seal species that depend on sea ice as well as many other species driven to threatened or endangered status. Scientists say that in order to prevent the worst case scenarios for climate change, we must stop all consumption of carbon fuels immediately; additional drilling is literally pouring fuel onto the fire. JC

See Martha’s list to find out how to comment on the plan to drill in Alaska’s Coastal Plain.


  • The Americas of Conscience Checklist emphasizes election security preparation and Temporary Protected Status for Bahamians. They also offer some good news.
  • Martha’s list alerts us to how the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services wants to modify nursing home regulations yet again – all but eliminating the ombudsman program and other protections. The proposed requirements would rollback numerous resident protections by eliminating or easing up on specific nursing home responsibilities. The result for residents? Reduced standards for safety, quality care and rights. Comment by the end of the day on the 16th. If you miss it, look at all the other issues in play.
  • See Martha’s list as well for opportunities to comment for the public record on cuts to food stamps, regulations linked to USCIS public charge rule, expedited removal of immigrants, immigration court changes, the Medicaid work requirement, and more.
  • Sarah-Hope’s list this week focuses on California. Because the legislature had to pass bills by September 13, a pile of crucial laws are now on Governor Newsom’s desk.
  • Rogan’s list also has some crucial items–on stopping adoptee deportation, stopping open carry in stores, forgiving student loans, and much more, including a list of where companies make political donations.