Last week we described the other civil rights issues involved in the Texas abortion law allowed to stand by the Supreme Court–the ways it is set up to be enforced by vigilante actions; public officials are not allowed to enforce it. Vox explains why the bill was constructed the way it was: The law allows private citizens rather than officials to essentially prosecute women suspected of getting abortions after six weeks, as well as those who provide them, and anyone who assists a woman or a provider. Thus, officials cannot be sued for enforcing it. Among the dangers, Vox points out, is that if it is allowed to stand, any law could be constructed this way, putting it beyond challenge.
A striking array of corporations funded SB8, directly or indirectly. Here you’ll find mailing addresses for companies outside of Texas that have made substantial donations to the Texas legislators who sponsored SB8. And here you’ll see mailing addresses for Texas-based companies, so you can ask what they’re doing to respond to SB8. Finally, here are addresses for companies that are taking action in resistance to SB8.
1. Biden continues to deport families to Mexico
In response to a lawsuit from the ACLU, District Court judge in Washington D.C. has enjoined the Biden administration from continuing to deport families seeking asylum at the border, the Daily Mail reported on September 16. Biden has been using Title 42, the CDC policy developed under the Trump administration, to justify sending families to Mexico. Mexico, however, has become increasingly reluctant to take young children, especially those who are not Mexican, according to the Daily Mail. And the judge found in his ruling that “migrant families subjected to the policy are deprived of statutory rights to seek protection in the U.S. and ‘face real threats of violence and persecution.'”
The Biden administration almost immediately appealed the ruling, the LA Times reported. Under the ruling, the administration could still deport single adults but not families with children; at an earlier stage in the case, Biden agreed not to deport unaccompanied children.
In response to claims that unvaccinated asylum-seekers are leading to a surge in COVID-19 cases, the AP explained that in fact, unvaccinated Americans are responsible for it. Asylum applicants are tested and sent to hotels to quarantine, either through non-profit organizations or local governments. And in any case, the number of migrants with COVID is too small to be responsible for the surge in COVID cases, said the AP. As the local health officer in Hidalgo County, Texas, put it, “Is it a pandemic of the migrants? No, it is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” RLS
2. Haitians to be deported are threatened with whips–14,000 to be expelled in the next three weeks
The Biden administration has begun deporting Haitians seeking humanitarian assistance back to Haiti, despite that country’s objections. Haitian officials, according to the New York Times, say that because the already-impoverished country is coping with the assassination of its president in July and an earthquake in August, it cannot cope with those returning. 650,000 people–including 260,000 children–still need emergency assistance, the United Nations stated. Among those being deported are those whose homes were destroyed in the earthquake. The Times quoted the minister in charge of migration, Jean Negot Bonheur Delva, as saying that “’ongoing security issues’ made the prospect of resettling thousands of new arrivals hard to imagine. Haiti cannot provide adequate security or food for the returnees.” He asked the U.S. for a humanitarian moratorium. Instead, border agents on horseback charged those appealing for asylum with whips, according to the El Paso Times, and the U.S. is deporting them, many in shackles. RLS
If you would like to see the U.S. offer a humanitarian moratorium on the deportation of Haitians, let your Representative and your Senators know.
3. US admits it targeted the wrong man–offers no compensation
The drone strike that killed seven children, as we noted last week, had targeted the wrong person, according to a New York Times investigation. Now military officials have acknowledged that the strike targeted the wrong white Toyota Corolla, calling it a “tragic mistake,” according to the LA TImes. Zemari Ahmadi, who had for 16 years worked for a charity based in California that provides aid to farmers in Afghanistan, was killed in the attack, along with three of his children, one of his brothers, and his brother’s children. The death of Ahmadi and his family illustrate one of the problems with using drones; they tend to kill civilians, as foreign policy writer Conn Hallinan points out. 250 children were killed by drones in just the first year of the Trump administration. Heather Cox Richardson’s column for September 19 sketches the recent history of drone use and identifies the high human cost.
Left without its only breadwinner, the Ahmadi family is asking to be relocated to the US or another safe country, since they are now visible as having been connected to a US organization, according to the Washington Post. They also want those who surely could have seen that there were children in the household held accountable. They would also like headstones for the dead, which they cannot afford. A family spokesperson said that no one from the US military has contacted them. RLS
You might want to write Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., head of U.S. Central Command, which oversees the Afghanistan operation, about relocating Ahmadi’s extended family quickly. You may want to point out that drones more often kill civilians than soldiers and terrorize local populations. @CENTCOM.
SCIENCE, HEALTH, TECHNOLOGY & THE ENVIRONMENT
4. Anti-vaxxers happy to use expensive monoclonal antibodies
Last week we noted that monoclonal antibodies were an underused but effective treatment for mild-moderate coronavirus. We spoke too soon: the use of monoclonal antibodies has spiked. It turns out that people opposed to vaccines will take monoclonal antibodies when they get COVID, creating shortages. That is, they will accept a $2100 option after having declined the cheap, easily available vaccine, the New York Times points out. Surely non-scientists can’t know any more about what is in monoclonal antibodies than what is in the vaccine. Perhaps it is the FOG factor–the Fear of God factor–when people discover the disease is real?
70 percent of the doses thus far have gone to patients in seven southern states, Alabama, Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Louisiana, according to the Washington Post. Except for Florida, these are all states where the vaccination rates are lower than average. Monoclonal antibodies are targeted to people with significant COVID symptoms who are not yet hospitalized; they are given in an infusion which takes an hour and half of staff time. To make sure that the treatment continues to be available, the federal government just announced that it will take control of distribution, alarming some Southern governors. RLS
5. Hospitals rationing care due to COVID explosion
Meanwhile, COVID cases in under-vaccinated states are through the roof, jamming emergency rooms and clogging ICUs, such that people with other urgent illnesses can’t be seen. An obituary for an Alabama man who had a heart attack noted that emergency staff contacted 43 emergency rooms before finding one that would take him. In Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where only 45% of the population has had even one shot, hospitals are running out of oxygen, and medical officers are talking about “death panels” that decide who can get treatment–real death panels, not those hallucinated by Sarah Palin to whip up opposition to the Affordable Care Act, according to the Seattle Times. In Canada, Alberta Premier Jason Kenny says the province could be out of ICU beds by September 27, according to the CBC, and will have to ration care. Kenny issued a tepid apology for ignoring the advice of public health officials, who had urged that the province not reopen early in the summer, CTV reported on Sunday. RLS
6. Profit or the Planet?
Warnings about the pace and trajectory of global climate change are growing more urgent. One of the latest comes from the U.N., which notes that while we need to cut emissions by 45% no later than 2030, actual emissions are projected to increase by 16% over that time period. Bottom line: “we” are making an irreversible decision to prioritize profit over planet. And, a corollary to that point is that profit will have to become less lucrative or much more difficult to obtain if we want to build momentum to change the fate of our planet. That means not just looking at new, cleaner sources of energy, but also making dirty energy more costly and difficult to produce—and making sure that all possible actors are taking on that challenge.
Case in point: the U.S. Treasury. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is currently reviewing ways federal banking regulators could protect our financial system from climate-related risks, the Washington Post notes. Yellin’s current approach is cautious—focusing on making corporations acknowledge the greenhouse gas emissions for which they are responsible and the risks these pose for investors. However, acknowledgement alone doesn’t guarantee any change in emissions output. For this reason, environmental advocates are urging Yellen to go further and use federal regulatory powers to mitigate climate change by, for example, making it more difficult for Wall Street banks to make loans to corporations that are major emitters of greenhouse gases. As Alexis Goldstein, an Open Markets financial expert, explained to the BBC, “Climate risk impacts all the firms that the financial regulators supervise. As a convener of regulators, Treasury needs to do more than acknowledge it—it should urge each financial regulator to use every tool at its disposal to tackle climate risks.” S-HP
You can add your voice to this conversation and urge Secretary Yellen to use the full range of her powers to slow global climate change; explain that fewer profits for some are needed now, if we’re to have a livable planet in the future. Janet Yellin, Secretary of the Treasury, Department of Treasury, 1500 Pennsylvania NW 20220, (202) 622-2000. @SecYellen
7. Communities with more white people receive more money to improve water quality
An analysis released last month by the Environmental Policy Innovation Center (EPIC) has determined that over the past decade, very little money from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program has gone to smaller, more diverse communities. Plus, state release of these funds tends to favor loans over grants. While states can use up to 35% of funds from the program for grants and other cost reducing or eliminating strategies, nationally only 26% of funds are being spent that way, which reduces impoverished communities’ opportunities to improve drinking water infrastructure.
E&E reporting on the study cites a statement by Katy Hansen, senior water adviser at EPIC and a co-author of the study, who says that “[the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund is] a $45 billion program that’s been going for over 20 years, and there hasn’t yet been a wide-scale analysis that we’re aware of, of how the money is spent.” While poorer communities are receiving funds, funding among poorer communities shows significant racial disparities. Statistically speaking, the greater the proportion of Whites within a particular impoverished community, the more likely that community is to receive funding. S-HP
If you want to address this issue, you can ask the EPA what steps they are taking to address the biases found in EPIC’s study. Michael S. Regan, Director, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania NW. 20460, (202) 564-4700. @EPAMichaelRegan
You can also alert your Congressmembers to the EPIC study’s findings, provide the internet site at which it can be viewed, and ask what actions they can take to support more equitable distribution of drinking water funds. Find your Senators here and your Representative here.
Moms Rising always has clear, focused actions you can take to make change. Note in particular their suggestion to tell your Governor to stop playing politics with kids’ health. Apropos of which, note the CDC report from May that describes how masks and vaccines reduce transmission in schools.
The Americans of Conscience checklist has relaunched! They offer new actions every other week that will enable you to make your voice heard quickly and clearly. In addition, they have a good news section that will help you keep going.
The American Medical Association (AMA) has a useful FAQ about COVID-19 and the vaccines.
The World Food Programme estimates that 12.4 Syrians are food-insecure, an increase of 4.5 million over the last year. They are receiving donations for their work providing food for the most vulnerable families. The UNHCR is also requesting donations for displaced families in Syria and surrounding countries, particularly Lebanon and Turkey.
The UN Refugee Agency is requesting donations for humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, especially for the hundreds of thousands of displaced people. Not only because Afghan assets have been frozen, but because of massive inflation and the lack of funds to pay the salaries of public employees, the country is at risk of “a total breakdown of the economy and social order,” according to the UN Special Envoy on Afghanistan.
Among the organizations that supports kids and their families at the border is RAICES, which provides legal support. The need for their services has never been greater. You can support them here.
Al Otro Lado provides legal and humanitarian services to people in both the US and Tijuana. You can find out more about their work here.
The Minority Humanitarian Foundation supports asylum-seekers who have been released by ICE with no means of transportation or ways to contact sponsors. You can donate frequent-flyer miles to make their efforts possible.
The group Angry Tias and Abuelas provides legal advice and services to asylum-seekers at the border. You can follow their work on Facebook and see the list of volunteer opportunities they have posted.