News You May Have Missed: October 24, 2021

“Pipeline protest” by vpickering is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

SCIENCE, HEALTH, TECHNOLOGY & THE ENVIRONMENT

1. Enbridge paid police to arrest pipeline protestors.

American police were paid $2.4 million by the Canadian company Enbridge to arrest protestors, according to the Guardian: “Enbridge has paid for officer training, police surveillance of demonstrators, officer wages, overtime, benefits, meals, hotels and equipment,” the newspaper reported. Beyond that, Enbridge met daily with police, letting them know when they wanted protestors arrested. Protestors in Minnesota were shot by rubber bullets and sprayed with Mace. This arrangement was established by Minnesota Public Utilities Commission rules in an effort to avoid the costs associated with pipeline protests.

Enbridge is replacing its Line 3 pipeline, which goes through wetlands and will carry 760,000 barrels a day of the heavy oil bitumen; the climate action group 350 says that “the expanded pipeline will emit the equivalent greenhouse gases of 50 coal power plants.”

In other fossil fuel news: A plan to store natural gas in Nova Scotia’s underground salt caverns has been shelved by AltaGas. The plan had been challenged in court by Indigenous activists, who said that flushing out the salt would contaminate the Shubenacadie River. As the Toronto Star explained, “Mi’kmaq elders said the brine would pollute the 72-kilometre waterway, which has been central to the Indigenous population for 13,000 years.” 

Meanwhile, Indigenous protestors at the Coastal Gaslink site on Gidimt’en clan territory in British Columbia have been trying to stop the company from tunneling under the Wedzin Kwa/ Morice River. Coastal Gaslink is trying to build a pipeline to a fracking site in northern BC, according to the Narwhal. The river is sacred to the Wet’suwet’en people, and the land is an important archeological site, according to a letter from 25 archeologists protesting the excavations, the CBC reported. Two protestors were recently arrested, receiving rough treatment; as the CBC notes in another article, Indigenous protestors receive much harsher treatment from the RCMP, compared to the mostly white people who blocked roads to health care facilities earlier in September. RLS

If you’re rather appalled at the cozy relationship between Enbridge and Minnesota police that Minnesota Public Utilities Commission rules have established, you might ask the Minnesota Public Utilities Commissioners why they are allowing a foreign company to pay to have Americans’ constitutional right to protest blocked within their own country. Addresses are here. Canadians might want to ask @JustinTrudeau and RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki (@CommrRCMPGRC) why Indigenous protestors get “tackled, dragged and pepper sprayed” while white anti-vaxxers get a pass.

2. Miscarriages of Justice

 In early October, an Oklahoma jury convicted Brittney Poolaw, a Native American woman, of first-degree manslaughter for miscarrying a pregnancy after 15-17 gestational weeks. Poolaw had sought medical attention after miscarrying at home.  This conviction, reports local news station KSWO, was reached despite the fact that both a nurse and medical examiner testified to observing congenital abnormalities in the fetus and that the fetus had separated from the wall of the womb, a condition called fetal abruption, which can increase by eighteen times the likelihood of early fetal death by miscarriage, according to data published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.  

Poolaw’s conviction is an example of what the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) warns is “the precipice of a shocking and dramatic expansion of its criminal legal system,” according to past NACDL President Nina J. Ginsberg, one of the coauthors of a report released in August by the NACDL titled “Abortion in America: How Legislative Overreach Is Turning Reproductive Rights into Criminal Wrongs.” The report concludes, “should Roe v. Wade be overturned, states across the nation are prepared to arrest and prosecute women, their friends, their providers, and all those who assist them obtain what is presently, a legal medical procedure…. State legislative efforts criminalizing abortion have proliferated [think of Texas’ S.B.4 allowing private prosecution of those assisting a woman in obtaining an abortion, which the U.S. Supreme Court has twice refused to block]…. Historic prosecutions related to conduct of pregnant individuals suggests that these prosecutions will impact the poor more than the wealthy, Black people more than white people, and women more than men.” 

Such prosecutions of pregnant and miscarrying women are nothing new. An article titled “Arrests and Forced Interventions on Pregnant Women in the United States, 1973-2005: Implications for Women’s Legal Status and Public Health” appearing in a 2013 issue of the Journal of American Epidemiology, documents 413 such events in the period covered and states that that number is almost certainly a significant undercount. This article’s findings provide an early warning of the kinds of disparities inherent in such prosecutions. Consider this information on the demographics of those facing prosecution: 54% were Black, 59% were women of color (this includes the previous number), 41% were white. Eighty-six percent of these 413 women were prosecuted for at least one crime; 74% were charged with a felony. These women were overwhelmingly poor as evidenced that 71% of them were represented by “indigent defense” (another term for a court-appointed lawyer). S-HP

To prevent these unfair and unequal prosecutions, ask that the Senate take action on H.R.3755, the Women’s Health Protection Act, which was written to protect a person’s ability to determine whether to continue or end a pregnancy, and to protect a health care provider’s ability to provide abortion services; it has already been passed by the House. Find your Senators here.

3. EPA takes action to address the climate emergency

Given the Senate’s inability or unwillingness to pass meaningful climate change legislation, we—the U.S. and the world—need aggressive action from the Biden administration in response to the climate crisis. We can celebrate Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Michael Regan’s statement in an interview with the Washington Post’s “The Climate 202” that “EPA is at the center of the president’s ambitious climate agenda…. And in addition to the legislative pieces, EPA is already aggressively using its rulemaking authority to deliver the types of emission reductions that we need to protect people from climate pollution.” Regan explained that upcoming regulatory changes will help the U.S. meet the administration’s goal of a 50-52% reduction in emissions (as compared with 2005 figures) by 2030. One anticipated EPA move is targeting methane leaks from oil and gas operations. Another may be more aggressive greenhouse gas rules for power plants. S-HP

If you want to encourage further administrative action, thank Director Regan for this focus on what the administration can do while the Senate waffles and urge him to take all actions possible to reduce the climate crisis. Michael S. Regan, Director, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania NW 20460, (202) 564-4700. @EPAMichaelRegan.

4. Pig to Human kidney transplant performed successfully

In a long awaited confluence of technological advances, a genetically modified pig’s kidney was successfully transplanted into a human donor. The transgenic pig had been modified in such a way as to trick the human immune system and prevent rejection. Porcine organs are ideal candidates for human transplantation as they are the right size and rough biological capacity to substitute for human organs; indeed pig heart valves have been transplanted into humans for decades now, the BBC explains. The recipient of this kidney was brain dead and an organ donor themselves, allowing for an ethical way to experiment in a functioning human excretory system. Researchers suggest that if additional trials are successful, we could see pig organs become available for hearts, livers and lungs within a decade. JC

5. Wildlife Services kills wolf pups being studied by kids

For eighteen years, students at Timberline High School in Idaho have been studying a wolf pack in a nearby national forest. That wolf pack now faces threats to its continued existence.

According to wolf conservationist Suzanne Asha Stone, this spring, biologists observed that the pack’s den was unexpectedly empty. Then data released by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game revealed that eight wolf pups in the pack were killed this spring by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services. The USDA has since denied a request by conservationists that its killing of wolf pups on public lands be immediately halted, arguing that wolf populations are more apt to relocate after pups have been killed, limiting the need to remove adult wolves. At the same time, new Idaho legislation has made wolves and their pups even more vulnerable: Private contractors may legally kill off 90% of the state’s 1,500 wolves, wolves may be hunted using ATVs, snow mobiles, and helicopters, and pups can be killed on private land. Montana has enacted similar legislation.

  In 2020, the Trump administration ended engendered species protections for gray wolves in the “lower 48” states. The Biden administration may reconsider that decision, but has not yet acted. Students at Timberline High School have been writing President Biden to reinstate engendered species protections for gray wolves. S-HP

You can join students from Timberline High School in calling on renewed Endangered Species protections for gray wolves. Addresses are here.

DOMESTIC NEWS

6. Remain in Mexico program likely to be reinstated

The Remain in Mexico program (formally called the Migrant Protection Protocol–MPP) is a Trump-era policy dismantled by the Biden administration. However, a district court judge in Texas, in a decision upheld by the Supreme Court, ruled that Biden had done so improperly and therefore that it had to be either properly ended or reinstated. As NPR explained on Saturday, the policy was not supposed to be applied to asylum seekers, who should not be sent back to where they were in danger. Some 71,000 people are currently waiting in Mexican cities near the border, where they risk assault and kidnapping and lack basic resources in terms of food and shelter. They also place an enormous burden on small border communities. 

 Rather than ending the program, Biden is preparing to reinstate it, the Texas Tribune reported last week. However, he must consult with Mexico in order to do so. The newspaper quoted an unnamed source as saying that the new program would use “temporary courts in tent facilities set up at the same border crossings in Brownsville and Laredo used by the Trump administration.” RLS

You can remind President Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris that they can can–and should–terminate MPP rather than reinstating it, and that they should work with Mexico to address the 71,000 people already there. President Joe Biden, the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania NW, Washington. DC 20500, (202) 456-1111. @JoeBiden. Vice-President Kamala Harris, the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania NW, Washington, DC 20500, (202) 456-1111. @VP. Let your Senators and your Representative know your thoughts as well.

7. Thank the Bannon 9

Steve Bannon’s refusal to respond to a subpoena from the House committee investigating January 6 has been forwarded to the Department of Justice for investigation following a vote of the House. All House Democrats voted in favor of the forwarding. They were joined by nine Republicans. S-HP

You can thank the House Republicans who put constitution over party and voted to support efforts to hold Bannon responsible for his failure to respond to a Congressional subpoena. Addresses are here.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

8. House could take action to assist Uyhgurs

The House has an opportunity to vote on two pieces of legislation in support of China’s badly abused Uyghur Muslim population. S.65, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, was passed by the Senate in July. It has since been “held at the desk” in the House. S.65 puts limitations on imports from China produced with forced labor, particularly within the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), and imposes sanctions related to such forced labor. It also expands existing asset- and visa-blocking sanctions related to Xinjiang to cover foreign individuals and entities responsible for serious human rights abuses in connection with forced labor.

  H.R.4785, the Uyghur Policy Act, has made it through committee and can now be brought to a full vote of the House. This legislation calls for:

◉The XUAR to be open to Congressional visits

◉China to respect the distinct ethnic, cultural, religious, and linguistic identity of Uyghurs and members of other groups in the XUAR

◉China to cease all government-sponsored crackdowns, imprisonments, and detentions of people throughout the XUAR aimed at those involved in the peaceful expression of their ethnic, cultural, political, or religious identity

◉The appointment of a United States Special Coordinator for Uyghur Issues within the Department of State

◉An immediate closure all detention facilities and “political reeducation” camps housing Uyghurs and members of other ethnic minority groups in the XUAR

◉Opposition to any efforts to prevent the participation of any Uyghur human rights advocates in nongovernmental fora hosted by or otherwise organized under the auspices of any body of the United Nations

H.R.4785 goes well beyond any concessions the Chinese government might be willing to make in regards to its Uyghur population—in fact, concessions no matter how minor are unlikely. Nonetheless, it offers an opportunity to bring the current conditions of Chinese Uyghurs and others to U.S. and world attention. S-HP

To move these bills forward, you can urge Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to see that S.65 is assigned to an appropriate committee or that other action is taken to bring it to the floor of the House and to see that H.R.4785 is brought to a vote of the House as well. Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Speaker of the House, 1236 Longworth House Office Building, Washington DC 20515, (202) 225-4965. @SpeakerPelosi. Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Majority Leader, 1705 Longworth House Office Building, Washington DC 20515, (202) 225-3141. @LeaderHoyer. You can also ask your Representative to support S.65 and H.R.4785.

RESOURCES

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has a podcast series of 70 years of displacement.

The Americans of Conscience checklist points out that there are only 55 weeks till the midterms, and suggests a series of actions you can take toward election security.

Are you trying to decide whether to go to an in-person event? The Canadian Institute on Ageing offers a detailed, well-grounded risk assessment tool.

Moms Rising always has clear, focused actions you can take to make change, this month focusing on juvenile justice.

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.

Freedom for All Americans has a very useful legislation tracker on trans issues.

News You May Have Missed: October 17, 2021

“Newseum newspaper headlines” by m01229 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The increasingly slippery news cycle means that not only is it easy to miss news, but it is hard to keep track of where it went. This week we are circling back to a few key stories. By the way, you may have missed that our site is searchable and has a month-by-month archive; of course any good newspaper will be more comprehensive, but you might find you get a flavor of the times that are a-changin’ so quickly.

DOMESTIC NEWS

1. What to do if voting rights legislation fails

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to schedule a vote this week on the Freedom To Vote Act (S.2747), according to the New York Times, a vote Republicans are expected to filibuster. At the insistence of Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), the bill now only requires states to “allow a minimum of 15 days of early voting, ensure that all voters could request to vote by mail and make Election Day a national holiday, among other provisions.” Historian Heather Cox Richardson sketches the history and the stakes in this legislation, pointing out that “If the Democrats do not succeed in passing a voting rights law, we can expect America to become a one-party state that, at best, will look much like the American South did between 1876 and 1964.”

News You May Have Missed took a somewhat different position in August, when we suggested that it might be better to take up voting rights legislation piecemeal, in small chunks that would have a better chance of passing. We drew up a database of voting rights legislation already in the works and provided a contact list of committees which have these pieces of legislation in their purview. If the Freedom to Vote Act fails, this strategy will be essential. S-HP/RLS

2. Thousands of deported asylum seekers assaulted, killed

The right-wing myth of millions of migrants entering the U.S. with COVID has been entirely refuted by new data published on Friday. Since March 2020, 1,163,000 people seeking asylum were not screened for humanitarian assistance but expelled immediately under Title 42, the Trump era rule preventing asylum-seekers from entering the country under the guise of COVID 19 protection. Only 3,217 were considered for asylum and only 8% of those were allowed to stay–those who could prove they had a reasonable fear of being tortured, according to CBS News.

As CBS points out, Title 42 contravenes  U.S. and international refugee laws, which establish that people are allowed to seek asylum if they fear persecution in their own countries. Others have been allowed to stay under other rubrics; in particular, the Biden administration stopped deporting unaccompanied children. However, it continues to deport families with children, a policy which is being challenged in court by the American Civil Liberties Union and others; recently an appellate court gave the administration permission to continue summarily deporting families with children while the case proceeds, according to the LA Times.

Human Rights First and a long list of associated organizations have documented 6,300 instances of violence against those turned away at the border–murders, rapes, kidnappings, assaults. The groups have asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to stop the Biden administration from expelling asylum-seekers under Title 42, calling it a form of genocide. They point out that border officials assess and admit millions of travelers at the southern border every year, so the prohibition against entry by asylum-seekers is discriminatory. RLS

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

3. Afghan family mistakenly targeted will receive compensation, relocation assistance.

In September, we highlighted the story of the Afghan family killed in a drone attack, which the US government eventually admitted was a mistake. As of mid-September, no one from the military or the Biden administration had contacted the family. Now the US government has agreed to make “condolence payments” in an unspecified amount to the families of the 10 civilians killed, according to Slate. Zemari Ahmadi, the man mistakenly targeted, had worked for years as an engineer for Nutrition & Education International, a California company, providing assistance to farmers in Afghanistan. According to the Washington Post, the State Department is assisting family members who wish to relocate to the US, as the family is now visible as having worked for a US company. As Common Dreams points out, likely the family is being offered assistance and compensation because Ahmadi’s company got involved and is being represented by the ACLU. Too often, civilians suffer from the actions of the US military, which takes no responsibility. Common Dreams quoted Daphne Eviatar, director of the Security With Human Rights program at Amnesty International USA, as saying “President [Joe] Biden should show real concern for civilians by taking more meaningful steps to prevent civilian casualties as a result of all U.S. lethal operations, as well as to investigate and assist those harmed.” RLS

If you’d like to see this and other atrocities stopped, you can ask President Biden what the U.S. is doing to prevent civilian casualties in drone strikes and urge swifter, more transparent, and more humane responses to killings of civilians by the U.S. military. President Joe Biden, the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania NW, Washington DC 20500, (202) 456-1111. @JoeBiden.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, TECHNOLOGY & THE ENVIRONMENT

4. Climate Change: Are we there yet?

The climate crisis, of course, is always news. At Biden’s request, 23 agencies listed their top climate concerns and their intended approaches to them; all agencies were asked to keep social justice in mind as they drew up their reports, according to the New York Times. The Times article provides a sketch of what we need to worry about, from food security to transportation challenges to climate refugees. 

The Guardian points out what we must know, that the crisis is already here. From fires to floods to severe heat waves to drought, the evidence is all around us. The Guardian piece meticulously details the relationship of these changes to apparently infinitesimal rises in temperature, quoting Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University and chief scientist at the Nature Conservancy as saying, “We have built a civilization based on a world that doesn’t exist anymore.”
Building on a 2019 article in Nature, a piece in Grist frames the issue differently, around tipping points in sea, ice and land; tipping points, as Grist sees them, are those moments that trigger others–along with contributing to climate change itself: “Warming increases the frequency of wildfires, which in turn increases the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from burning trees, which leads to an increase in global temperature, which means, you guessed it, even more wildfires.” Grist sees social tipping points as the solution, as scientists writing in PNAS last year suggested, a rapid shift in social mores that could bring about change quickly. RLS

You can view federal agencies’ Climate Adaption Plans at https://www.sustainability.gov/adaptation/. Then you can urge swift action on these plans and remind them to act in ways that address social justice concerns. Addresses are here.

5. Migratory birds again (partially) protected

In September, 2020 and earlier, we described the Trump administration’s efforts to reduce protections for migratory birds when he attempted to institute a policy to block penalties for killing them if the deaths were incidental to something else–e.g., an oil spill. Now, the Biden administration has completely reversed Trump’s policy, restoring century-old protections, according to the Washington Post, which pointed out that the oil and gas industry benefited the most from Trump’s policy. Industry officials objected strenuously to the restoration of protections and hinted that the policy would be held up in court. The Post quoted Aaron Weiss, deputy director of the Center for Western Priorities, as celebrating the policy but calling for the cancellation of the oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico: As Weiss put it, “How many migratory birds are going to die from the effects of pollution when they are about to auction off the rights to a billion barrels of oil?” RLS

You can see live maps of migratory birds’ routes at a site developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

You might thank President Biden and Interior Secretary Haaland for reinstating migratory bird protections and point out that they could go even further in protecting migratory birds by cancelling oil and gas leaks in the Gulf of Mexico: President Joe Biden, the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania NW, Washington DC 20500, (202) 456-1111. @JoeBiden. Deb Haaland, Secretary of Interior, Department of Interior, 1849 C St. NW, (202) 208-3100. @SecDebHaaland.

RESOURCES

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has a podcast series of 70 years of displacement.

The Americans of Conscience checklist points out that there are only 55 weeks till the midterms, and suggests a series of actions you can take toward election security.

Are you trying to decide whether to go to an in-person event? The Canadian Institute on Ageing offers a detailed, well-grounded risk assessment tool.

Moms Rising always has clear, focused actions you can take to make change, this month focusing on juvenile justice.

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.

Freedom for All Americans has a very useful legislation tracker on trans issues.

News You May Have Missed: October 10, 2021

“Maple Leaf Structure” by jurvetson is licensed under CC BY 2.0

On Canadian Thanksgiving and Indigenous People’s Day, we want to acknowledge that News You May Have Missed is produced in three places: On the traditional land of the Awaswas people, whose contemporary descendants are the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band. (They were called Ohlone by the Spanish and some still call themselves Ohlone.)  On the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and the Mississaugas of the Credit, land which is still home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island. And on the home of the Shawnee, Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Yuchi tribal nations. We are grateful and honored to be here.

You can locate yourselves on this map. We understand that acknowledging the land is only a beginning.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

1. Government of Canada must compensate Indigenous children

Indigenous children who had been taken from their families by child welfare authorities, as well as Indigenous children now in the child welfare system won a significant victory on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 29). The Canadian Federal Court upheld the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s 2019 ruling ordering the Canadian government to pay $40,000 each (all that is allowed) to the children who had been removed from their homes since 2006, the Toronto Star reports. According to Canadian Lawyer, some 54,000 children and their parents or grandparents (except for those who had abused their children) will be compensated. The ruling also ordered the government to provide equal child welfare services to children on reserves. Astonishingly, the Canadian government has been fighting these orders since 2007, while a generation of Indigenous children on reserves has suffered from child welfare services that are desperately underfunded.

The government of Canada could still appeal the ruling. The original human rights complaint was filed by Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, along with the Assembly of First Nations. In response to the decision, Blackstock said to the CBC, “Will the federal government finally put down its sword and stop fighting First Nations children and treat them equally?” RLS

Cindy Blackstock encourages those who would like to see Justin Trudeau implement the decision rather than appealing it further to write him. @JustinTrudeau.

2. Climate activists among those trying to leave Afghanistan

Scientists left in Afghanistan fear their research will never be restarted, in part due to the pressures of the Taliban and in part because the grants that fund their labs are frozen, according to an article in the journal Nature. Climate activists, too, fear reprisals and have been trying–with mixed success–to leave the country. Though the Taliban says it wants to fight climate change, environmental activists fear they will be targeted, according to the Independent. Fridays for the Future has been trying to get activists out of the country, according to a tweet by Greta Thunberg at the end of August. RLS

If you want to help evacuate and relocate climate activists, donate if you’re able to Climate 2025 and ASK that your donation be earmarked for evacuation of Afghan climate activists: Climate 2025, 3 Concourse Way, Sheffield, England S1 2BJ, United Kingdom

You can also urge the House Judiciary Committee to take swift, positive action on H.R.4736, the Improving Access for Afghan Refugees Act, and to include Afghan climate activists among those whose qualify for assistance as victims of persecution. Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Chair, House Judiciary Committee, 2141 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC 20515, (202) 225-3951. @RepJerryNadler.

You can also urge the House Foreign Relations Affairs to take swift, positive action on H.R.5117, which blocks federal aid to Afghanistan and places sanctions on Afghanistan until the President certifies to Congress that all U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, coalition partners, and Afghan allies—which should include climate activists—who desire evacuation have been evacuated. Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Chair, House Foreign Affairs Committee, 2170 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC 20515, (202) 225-5021. You can also call on your Representative to support both H.R.4736 and H.R.5117 and on your Representative and Senators to act in support of efforts to help climate activists who wish to leave Afghanistan. S-HP

DOMESTIC NEWS

3. Four Black women per day were killed in the US in 2020.

The murder rate in the US jumped by 30% in 2020; 77% of these homicides were committed using firearms, according to the Guardian. Experts on gun violence attribute the rise in homicides to the pressures of the pandemic and the easy availability of guns. As Shani Buggs, an assistant professor at the University of California, Davis who studies these issues, put it, “you have mundane issues that are turning lethal because there is so much anger, and rage, and guns available.”

In the US, over half the homicide victims were Black, although Black Americans represent only 14% of the population. The increase in homicides meant that four Black women per day were killed in 2020. The circumstances of these deaths have not been tallied; some are the result of domestic violence, while others were accidental. Some analysts wonder whether so many Black women died because so many were essential workers during the pandemic and therefore were vulnerable to violence in the community, according to the Guardian. Kimberlé Crenshaw, a Black feminist legal scholar, told the Guardian that “many factors make Black women more vulnerable to violence, including widespread access to firearms, and barriers to access of preventive services and mental healthcare, factors that probably worsened during the pandemic.”

Our database of pending gun legislation–on which no progress has been made since we posted it on August 8–is available here.

In Canada, by contrast, the homicide rate increased by only 7% in 2020, according to Statistics Canada, to 1.95 homicides per 100,000 people. In the US, there are 5.8 homicides per 100,000 people, according to the CDC. However, Black Canadians account for 44% of these homicides, according to Toronto.com, though they are only 3.4% of the population; the rate of homicide for Indigenous people in Canada is 7 times that for non-Indigenous Canadians. RLS, S-HP

If you want to act on this issue, you can urge your Senators and Representative to:

1) Support gun control legislation (use our database) to see what legislation is with specific Senate and House committees;

2) Treat violence against women as the public health crisis it is;

3) Increase violence prevention programs;

4) Increase access—particularly for Black women—to preventive health services and mental health care.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, TECHNOLOGY & THE ENVIRONMENT

4. New/old approach to reproductive rights

Women in Texas were able to get legal abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy for just a day, when on Wednesday a judge–responding to a request by the Biden administration–held that women had been “unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution,” according to the BBC. His ruling was almost immediately put on hold by the 5th Circuit in response to a suit by Texas officials. As a result, pro-choice activists nationwide have organized networks to enable Texas women to get abortions out of state, ABC News reports. These echo the underground “Jane” networks that operated pre-Roe v. Wade, eloquently described in a 2019 Vanity Fair article. 

The “Janes” relied on D & C (dilation and curettage) procedures) performed by doctors or others with some medical training–and ultimately they trained themselves. D&Cs are generally safe if they are performed by trained practitioners in sanitary settings, but they carry a small risk of uterine perforation or infection, according to the Mayo Clinic. A new group, Plan C, is trying to make medication abortion more easily available. Approved by the FDA over twenty years ago, medication abortion involves taking two drugs, Mifepristone and Misoprostol, 24-48 hours apart. The drugs can be used up until the 10th week of pregnancy; they work by blocking progesterone and thus causing what is in effect a miscarriage. These medications are not without risks; if a woman has an ectopic pregnancy (in her fallopian tubes), they will not work–an ectopic pregnancy is life-threatening. In addition, heavy bleeding or infection can follow, though these complications are rare and need to be weighed against the risk of pregnancy itself. For these reasons, the FDA previously required women to see health practitioners in person–in some areas, three visits were required, one for each dose and one to make sure the abortion was complete. During the pandemic, however, these drugs were allowed to be dispensed by mail, and it is this practice that Plan C activists are building on. 

There are still legal risks to Plan C, as Ms. Magazine explained last year. Groups such as Reproaction are advocating for widespread availability of self-managed abortion care, but caution that 21 women have been arrested for using Mifepristone and Misoprostol outside a clinic setting. The SIA legal team provides a detailed discussion of the issues. RLS

You can thank the Attorney General for defend the Constitutional right to reproductive health care, including abortion. Merrick Garland, Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington DC 20530-0001, (202) 514-2000.

You can also urge your Senators to support the Women’s Health Protection Act, already passed by the House, which guarantees women’s access to a full range of family planning services, including abortion (this legislation was H.R.3755 in the House; the identical Senate legislation is S.1975).

You can also urge the House Judiciary Committee and your Representative to support H.R.5226, Preventing Vigilante Stalking the Stops Women’s Access to Healthcare and Abortion Rights Act, which increases the maximum sentence for stalking if it involves an attempt to obtain a woman’s health records or to prevent her access to healthcare, including abortion and other family planning services. Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Chair, House Judiciary Committee, 2141 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC 20515, (202) 225-3951. @RepJerryNadler. S-HP

RESOURCES

Are you trying to decide whether to go to an in-person event? The Canadian Institute on Ageing offers a detailed, well-grounded risk assessment tool.

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.

Freedom for All Americans has a very useful legislation tracker on trans issues.

News You May Have Missed: October 3, 2021

“Secrecy for Sale” by thedescrier is licensed under CC BY 2.0

DOMESTIC NEWS

1. 29,000 off-shore accounts discovered: they drain tax revenues, support criminal activity

It’s hard enough to understand the world economic system as it is. But what if there were a second system, parallel to the first, which permitted huge sums of money–11.3 trillion dollars–to be siphoned off, invisible to world governments and therefore untaxed? According to a new trove of leaked documents, called the Pandora Papers, there is. As the Washington Post describes it, the 29,000 offshore accounts just discovered constitute a “parallel financial universe whose corrosive effects can span generations — draining significant sums from government treasuries, worsening wealth disparities, and shielding the riches of those who cheat and steal while impeding authorities and victims in their efforts to find or recover hidden assets.”

The information–buried in 11.9 million confidential files–was uncovered through a two-year investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and 150 media partners. 330 public officials–including a number of heads of state–are implicated. The Pandora Papers are a sequel, so to speak, to the Panama Papers, which revealed leaked records from just one law firm; the Pandora Papers revealed twice as many accounts. We describe these accounts as “offshore,” but some states–among them South Dakota and Nevada–have passed financial secrecy laws so stringent that some accounts are hidden there. Not only do secret accounts damage governments’ ability to function by draining profits that should be taxed, but they facilitate drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms deals, and child pornography.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) estimates that $15 billion in tax dollars are lost to offshore accounts, according to the Toronto Star. To keep this number in proportion, the province of Ontario projects that it will spend $8.9 billion on COVID-related health care costs in 2021-2022. The Star quotes Toby Sanger, executive director of Canadians for Tax Fairness, as saying, “That’s more than enough to have free tuition at all the universities and colleges across Canada. It’s more than enough for a national childcare program.” RLS

2. Building Back Better under siege

The second and third segments of  Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan, which would provide free community college, subsidized day care, universal pre-Kindergarten, paid family leave, and lower drug prices, according to CBS News, are at risk due to the intransigence of two Democratic senators and a well-funded right-wing siege. The Infrastructure Bill is estimated to cost $1.2 trillion over five years and the Reconciliation Bill, $3.5 trillion over ten years.

Not surprisingly, given that Biden plans to fund the bill through increases in corporate taxes, especially those corporations that acquire profits overseas, monied interests are fierce in their opposition.  Much of the press coverage has focused on the way Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia have held Biden’s agenda hostage, and indeed, as the Guardian notes, they could take down these two essential initiatives. It is not clear what either senator wants, and Sinema has been particularly enigmatic, Vanity Fair points out. From the right, the Koch Network–which is quite desperate to stop Biden’s agenda, according to Rolling Stone— has been lobbying moderate senators intensely. Various Koch affiliates (of which there are at least 100)–such as Americans for Prosperity, which is running ads headed “Tell Congress to stop the Biden-Sanders spending spree,” and the LIBRE Initiative, which is trying to persuade Latinos in the Southwest that Biden’s infrastructure plans would be bad for their communities–are part of the Network’s plan to undermine Biden and to fight Biden’s efforts against climate change. 

Twenty corporations have also lobbied against Biden’s bills, Sondra Youdelman explains, writing on the Institute for Policy Studies’ op/ed site, OtherWords, spending $201 million so far. The pharmaceutical industry is the largest of those in opposition. The organization Youdelman works for, People’s Action, has put out a report on the many ways in which corporations are working to undermine democracy. RLS

3. Bipartisan effort to bring back congressional authority to declare war

A bipartisan bill to rein in the power of presidents to wage war has been introduced in the House, rather astonishing given the high stakes legislative wrangling that is going on. Introduced by the Chairman of the House Rules Committee James P. McGovern (D-MA) and Representative Peter Meijer (R-MI), who is the ranking member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Management, & Accountability, the National Security Reforms and Accountability Act (H.R. 5410) would restore the authority of Congress to declare war. As McGovern’s press release explains, the bill would “recalibrate the balance of power between the president and Congress by reclaiming congressional oversight of arms sales, emergency declarations, and the use of military force.”

As the Brennan Institute explains, the bill would both repeal and revive the War Powers Resolution of 1973, enacted near the end of the Vietnam War, which established that only Congress could declare war. Presidents since then, including Joe Biden, have used loopholes in the language of the Resolution to proceed without congressional authorization. A similar bill, the National Security Powers Act, was introduced in the Senate in July, and Congress has some interest in revisiting the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which was passed following the 9/11 attacks and used to cover US military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Oddly, the only significant media outlet covering the bill is Politico, which points out that the bill will also require congressional authorization for certain arms sales and impose limits on emergency declarations. RLS

If you support these bills, you may want to alert your Senators and Representative: (HR 5410 in the House, S 2391 in the Senate). Find your Senators here. Find your Representative here.

4. Doing no harm

In 1993, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was passed to protect the rights of minority religious groups. However, according to the Human Rights Campaign, since then it has been subverted, used to allow religious groups to discriminate against others, as in the Hobby Lobby case, in which the Supreme Court upheld the right of a corporation to decline to provide insurance coverage for contraception.

H.R.1378, the Do No Harm Act, would clarify that the intent of RFRA was to protect the rights of minority religious groups, not permit those groups to do harm. The legislation was introduced in the House in February. As the Congressional summary explains, the Do No Harm Act would ensure that the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act is “inapplicable to laws or the implementation of laws that protect against discrimination or the promotion of equal opportunity (e.g., the Civil Rights Act of 1964).” It would also “require employers to provide wages, other compensation, or benefits, including leave; protect collective activity in the workplace; protect against child labor, abuse, or exploitation; or provide for access to, information about, referrals for, provision of, or coverage for, any health care item or service.” Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) has now introduced companion legislation in the Senate, S 2752. H.R.1378 is currently with the House Judiciary Committee’s Constitution, Civil Rights, and the Civil Liberties Subcommittee to which it was referred in March. S-HP

If you support the Do No Harm act, you might urge swift, positive action on the legislation in the House Judiciary Committee and its Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Subcommittee and emphasize that real religious freedom should not include the right to discriminate or withhold basic workplace or civil rights. You might also tell your Senators and your Representative that you want to see them actively supporting the Do No Harm Act because real religious freedom should not include the right to discriminate or withhold basic workplace or civil rights. Addresses are here.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

5. Lessons from 50 years covering foreign policy

Instead of providing our own summary and commentary on international news this week, we recommend to you writer Conn Hallinan’s reflections on writing about foreign policy for the last 50 years, posted on Foreign Policy in Focus (which we also recommend). Region by region, Hallinan notes the patterns he perceives and the directions he suggests we go (spoiler alert: we need an international health care treaty).

SCIENCE, HEALTH, TECHNOLOGY & THE ENVIRONMENT

6. Notification of Oil Spill Delayed Because?

Don’t go barefoot on the beach after an oil spill. You’ll carry the black, sticky patches on your feet for days, as well as the knowledge of what must be happening to sea birds. Southern Californians are facing this reality–and they have questions about why it took over 24 hours for the scope of the 126,000 oil spill to be announced, the LA Times reports. Coming from a platform owned by a Houston-based company, Amplify Energy, the leak is off the coast of Long Beach. Somehow the company was unable to stop the leak once they were notified of it. 

The oil has already reached sensitive wetlands in Orange County, according to the Times, killing birds and fish. The Times cites a wetland biologist who notes that the area is home to birds that are rare on the West Coast, including “gulls, willet, long-billed dowitchers, elegant terns and reddish egrets.” Oil destroys the waterproofing on birds’ feathers, the Canadian Wildlife Foundation points out, and as they try to remove it, they ingest the toxic material. Other sea life–dolphins, turtles, seals–also swallow the oil and can be poisoned by it; marine mammals with fur also suffer from encounters with oil, as it destroys the insulation they depend on, according to the National Ocean Service

Oil spills are only one of the hazards of fossil fuels, of course. Back in March, the Guardian published an article based on internal memos and documents from energy companies which revealed that these corporations–Exxon, Shell and others–had understood 50 years ago how fossil fuels put human health at risk and foresaw the effects on climate–yet continued to deny these facts. Indeed Exxon funded climate deniers, as the Guardian reported some years ago and scientists at George Mason university verified in a report called America Misled.

RESOURCES

Are you trying to decide whether to go to an in-person event? The Canadian Institute on Ageing offers a detailed, well-grounded risk assessment tool.

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.

Freedom for All Americans has a very useful legislation tracker on trans issues.

News You May Have Missed: September 26, 2021

“Orange Shirt Day Across Delta” by deltaschools is licensed under CC BY 2.0

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL NEWS

1. Truth and Reconciliation September 30

Gabby Petito, who disappeared while traveling in a van with her boyfriend and who later was found murdered in Wyoming, captured the heart of the Internet. But the intense interest in her story rings hollow to First Nations people, who point out that over the last 10 years, “710 Indigenous people were reported missing across Wyoming,” according to the Guardian. Indigenous people make up only three percent of Wyoming’s population, but over the last 20 years, 21% of all the people killed in Wyoming were Indigenous. A report from the University of Wyoming points out that “Only 30% of Indigenous homicide victims had newspaper media coverage, as compared to 51% of White homicide victims. Indigenous female homicide victims had the least amount of newspaper media coverage (18%).”

The issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) is not particularly a rural problem. The Urban Indian Health Institute found that in 2016, there were 5,712 instances of missing Indigenous women and girls across the US. The cities with the highest number of MMIWG are Seattle, Albuquerque, Anchorage, Tucson, Billings, Gallup, Tacoma, Omaha, Salt Lake City and San Francisco. However, the Department of Justice missing persons department only had recorded 116 of those missing; the lack of data, as well as the lack of coverage, makes it difficult to address the issue. 

As we noted in May, Canada has also been grappling with the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Statistics Canada found that between 2000 and 2015, 25% of all homicide victims were Indigenous women and girls. The final report of an inquiry begun in 2016, “Reclaiming Power and Place,” found that “persistent and deliberate human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses are the root cause behind Canada’s staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.” It includes 231 individual Calls for Justice, summarized here by the CBC.

September 30 is “Orange Shirt Day” in Canada–it is the first official Day of Truth and Reconciliation, commemorating all the Indigenous children who were taken away from their parents and forced to attend residential schools–places where they were stripped of their culture and sometimes their lives: thousands of children did not return home. The orange shirt refers to a story told by a residential school survivor, Phyllis Webstad, who at age 6 was given an orange shirt by her grandmother when she was sent away to school. When she got there, all her clothes were taken and she never saw the shirt again. The CBC tells Webstad’s story; if you search “Orange Shirt Day” and your area, you will find links to fundraisers for residential school survivors and ways to learn about and support them. RLS

2. Four land and environment defenders murdered every week worldwide

Every year since 2009, Global Witness has published a list of murdered land and environmental defenders. This year’s list is the longest ever, documenting 227 lethal attacks on environmental defenders—an average of more than four killings a week. Global Witness explains that “these lethal attacks are taking place in the context of a wider range of threats against defenders including intimidation, surveillance, sexual violence, and criminalisation. Our figures are almost certainly an underestimate, with many attacks against defenders going unreported.” Global Witness advocates for United Nations (UN) action: official UN recognition of the human right to a safe, healthy, and sustainable environment; the addition of human rights provisions to the Paris Agreement, the globe’s largest and best known multinational effort to slow climate change; and implementation of recommendations by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

 In an editorial in The Guardian, Bill McKibben emphasizes that the local activists being murdered are on the front lines of our struggle against catastrophic climate change. McKibben calls out corporations as a powerful, if insufficiently recognized, force behind these murders: “The demand for the highest possible profit, the quickest possible timeline, the cheapest possible operation, seems to translate eventually into the understanding, somewhere, that the troublemaker must go. The blame rarely if ever makes its way back up to a corporation’s HQ. But it should.” He argues that one of the key measures of global success in fighting global climate change should be a decrease in such killings.

 One piece of pending U.S. legislation that acknowledges the killing of climate activists is the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, H.R.1574. H.R.1574 would prohibit U.S. military and police aid to Honduras until specific steps are taken to address the killing of climate activists, including:

◉The Honduran government has pursued all legal avenues to reach verdicts in the killings of Berta Cáceres and 100 small-farmer activists;

◉The Honduran government has investigated and prosecuted members of the military and police who have violated human rights;

◉The Honduran government has taken effective steps to ensure the rule of law.

This legislation is currently with the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Financial Services Committee. S-HP

If you want to take action on this issue, call on President Biden and UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield to promote Global Witness’s recommendations for connecting the intersection of the climate crisis and global human rights via the United Nations. Ask your Congressmembers what they are doing to investigate and respond to the intersection of the climate crisis and global human rights, and urge swift, positive action on H.R.1574 by the appropriate House Committees. All addresses are here.

3. California families, others, still trapped in Afghanistan

As the news cycle marches implacably on, those still stuck in Afghanistan after the precipitous US withdrawal are in danger of being forgotten. Among those are 41 Sacramento-area students, who had gone to visit family members before the Taliban takeover or who were with their families there. Some were scheduled to take flights out but were caught in the chaos after the bombing of the airport in Kabul, according to the Sacramento Bee. Sacramento is home to a large number of people from Afghanistan–almost ten thousand. 

Some San Diego families had also been stuck in Afghanistan, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune; as of early September, all but one family had escaped in what the Union-Tribune described as a harrowing process.

Others, too, are stranded in Afghanistan. Some Afghans who worked for the US and who were on lists to be brought to the US have still not been gotten out, according to CNN, particularly those who had to leave the airport when it was bombed. About 200 Ukrainians have been unable to leave; they are out of money and some need medical care, but no provision for their departure seems to have been made by Ukraine, according to Al Jazeera. An evacuation flight was permitted to leave September 19 with nationals from various countries, according to ABC News, but the coverage of both American and Canadian Afghan allies and citizens of countries elsewhere who need to leave Afghanistan and cannot is spotty. One source says that family members of Canadians are being told that no more evacuation flights are planned.

Meanwhile, nearly ten thousand Afghan refugees are in camps in Germany, waiting to be flown to their final destinations in Canada and elsewhere, CTV reports. RLS

If you are concerned about Sacramento area families who are stuck in Afghanistan, you can call the local offices of Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove and Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, the Bee suggests.Congressman Darrell Issa (R-California) worked to get San Diego families and others out; the form on his website is very informative.

4. Discrimination against Haitians seeking asylum

People around the world have been appalled by images of U.S. Border Patrol horseback units rounding up Haitian refugees in one South Texas encampment. In response, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas has suspended all use of Border Patrol horse patrols (which is not necessarily an entirely good thing, given that horse patrols—when not brutalizing asylum seekers—can perform certain kinds of rescues that are impossible on foot or by vehicle).

However, the history of relations between Haiti and the US has been problematic for centuries. In providing an outline of that history, the Associated Press points out the almost sixty-year struggle to get the US to recognize Haiti after its liberation, largely because of fears that the example of Haitian slaves rising up to fight for their freedom might inspire slaves within the U.S. After the assassination of the Haitian president in 1915, the US occupied Haiti and continued to control the country for nineteen years. Some 30,000 Haitian died during the brutal regime of Francois Duvalier, who was backed by the US. The country suffered a major earthquake in 2010 and another this year, destroying what infrastructure the country had.

  As The Guardian explains, many Haitians left to live in other countries following the 2010 earthquake, particularly in Chile and Brazil, and among those now struggling to enter the US are many who have not lived in Haiti in years and whose children born abroad don’t have Haitian citizenship. Some of these families are among the almost 2,000 people who were deported to Port-au-Prince last week. UNICEF has been tracking those deportations and estimates that 2/3 of deportees are women and children, and 40% of those deported are part of family units, reports the New York Times. The Hill reports that thousands of Haitians are being expelled from the US under Title 42, the controversial rule used extensively by the Trump administration, that grants sweeping powers to refuse entry to asylum seekers during a pandemic.

 Associated Press reporting also documents the higher rates of deportation of Haitian asylum seekers in comparison with other groups from Central America and the Caribbean. Only 4.62% percent of Haitian asylum seekers gain admittance to the US. For asylum seekers from El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Honduras, admittance rates range from 6.1% to 14.12%.

 An August piece from Reuters examines an increasing acknowledgement that many US immigration policies originate in racial bias and determination to keep the US “white.” In a ground-breaking ruling, a federal judge has determined that a policy categorizing initial undocumented entry into the US a misdemeanor, while reentry is categorized as a felony that can be punished by up to 20 years in prison was “enacted with a discriminatory purpose and… has a disparate impact on Latinx persons.” In fact, from 2008 to 2019, illegal entry and reentry have been the most prosecuted crimes in federal courts according to data from the Administrative Office of US Courts.

Reuters deems the August ruling as “a rare admission by the courts that the foundational elements of federal immigration machinery—enforcement policies we now take for granted—actually clash with Constitutional equal protection guarantees, and perpetuate a stigmatizing disparate impact on Latinos and Hispanic people.” The ruling is “a recognition that courts can and should strike down laws motivated by bias.”  In other legal news, Haitian Bridge Alliance, The UndocuBlack Network, Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) and African Communities Together on Friday sent a letter of complaint to the Department of Homeland Security’s head of Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, according to The Grio, demanding that those who have been victimized and those who witnessed the abuse at the border be protected from deportation.

If you are interested in donating to support earthquake relief efforts, New York Magazine’s the Strategist reminds us that reporting from NPR and ProPublica found that the Red Cross—for many people a “go-to” relief organization—mismanaged aid donated after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. They urge donating to organizations already on the ground in Haiti, who have strong relationships with local communities and offer a list of suggested organizations to donate to. Charity Navigator gives the organization Hope for Haiti a four-star evaluation. S-HP

Other actions you can take include these (relevant addresses are here):

◉ Urging Vice President Kamala Harris, who has been charged with addressing US immigration policy, to speak out on the treatment of Haitian asylum seekers and calling for actions that can make a real difference in the treatment of those from the Caribbean and Central America.

◉Thanking Secretary Mayorkas for speaking out after the violence by Border Control horse patrols, but pointing that cancelling such patrols will not have the impact that investigating those responsible for them would have and urging him to take a more comprehensive approach to addressing abuse of asylum-seekers and migrants, particularly for those from regions or communities that have been subject to unfair bias in the past.

◉ Asking your Congressmembers what they are doing to address both the current treatment of Haitians seeking asylum and the racist underpinnings of present-day immigration law.

5. Benefits for those caught in “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

On September 20, the 10th anniversary of the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) announced a policy providing benefits to those who had been discharged under DADT and under previous, even more restrictive rules. In a piece for the VA blog, Kayla Williams, VA Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, writes “Today, we are… taking steps to clarify VA policy for Veterans who were given other than honorable discharges based on homosexual conduct, gender identity or HIV status. Under this newly-issued guidance, VA adjudicators shall find that all discharged service members whose separation was due to sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status are considered ‘Veterans’ who may be eligible for VA benefits, like VR&E (Veteran Readiness and Employment), home loan guaranty, compensation and pension, health care, homeless program and/or burial benefits, so long as the record does not implicate a statutory or regulatory bar to benefits.” Williams acknowledges being bisexual and having presented as straight during the battle to repeal DADT and acknowledged that “It took many years for me to shed the toxic legacy of having served under DADT.” Williams’ blog contribution ends with a call for veterans dishonorably discharged under DADT or other homophobic rules to apply for a discharge upgrade. S-HP

You can thank President Biden and the Veterans’ Affairs Secretary for these changes in policy, President Joe Biden, the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania NW, Washington DC 20500, (202) 456-1111. @POTUS. Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, 1722 I Street NW, Washington DC20006, (800) 827-1000. And thank Kayla Williams for her articulate presentation of these policy changes and her personal testimony. Kayla Williams, Assistant Secretary, Veterans’ Administration Office for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave. NW, Washington DC 20420

SCIENCE, HEALTH, TECHNOLOGY & THE ENVIRONMENT

6. Protecting Women’s Health

On September 24, the House passed H.R.3755, the Women’s Health Protection Act, which confirms that “Abortion services are essential to health care and access to these services is central to people’s ability to participate equally in the economic and social life of the United States.” H.R.3755 affirms that heath care providers have a right to provide abortion services. It also prohibits many limitations on the provision of abortion services, including requirements for specific tests or procedures that are not required for medically comparable procedures, requirements for medically unnecessary in-person visits to an abortion provider or to any entity that does not provide abortion services, and prohibitions on abortions after fetal viability if the health care provider determines that delaying the procedure poses a risk to the patient’s health. H.R.3755 empowers the Attorney General to commence civil action against any state or government official that violates the provisions of the law,  The vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act was 218-211. All 218 aye votes were cast by Democrats. 210 of the 211 nay votes were cast by Republicans, with the additional nay vote being cast by Democratic Representative Henry Cuellar of Texas. This legislation was introduced by Representative Judy Chu of California. Identical legislation, S.1975, is currently with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

If this issue is important to you, you can check how your Representative voted on H.R.3755 and thank or excoriate as appropriate. Find your Representative here. You could also tell your Senator that you are heartened by the passage of H.R.3755 and urge their support of S.1975. Call for swift, positive action on S.1975 by the Senate Judiciary Committee: Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair, Senate Judiciary Committee, 224cDirksen Senate Office Building, Washington DC 20510, (202) 224-7703. @SenatorDurbin.

RESOURCES

Are you trying to decide whether to go to an in-person event? The Canadian Institute on Ageing offers a detailed, well-grounded risk assessment tool.

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.

News You May Have Missed: September 19, 2021

“Intravenous IV” by Twm™ is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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.

DOMESTIC NEWS

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.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

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.

RESOURCES

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.

News You May Have Missed: September 12, 2021

“Texas Flags painting by Chris Stewart” by joncutrer is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

DOMESTIC NEWS

1. New Texas law targets more than reproductive rights

Texas’s SB8, a sweeping anti-abortion bill, has generated a great deal of anger and despair, but figuring out how to take action isn’t necessarily easy. SB8 allows private individuals to sue anyone who may have aided in some way to a post-six-week abortion. The law deliberately attempts to avoid constitutional equal protection guarantees by making the plaintiffs in such suits individuals, rather than law makers or law enforcement. Anyone who successfully sues an “abortion assistant” (a car driver, someone who spoke on an information phone line, someone who helped a friend or relative pay for the procedure, etc.) is guaranteed that all court costs will be borne by the individual sued. In addition, in successful suits, the plaintiff may receive up to $10,000 in punitive damages from the individual sued. There are no provisions to cover court costs for those who are forced to defend themselves because of such suits—even if those suits prove to be groundless, even vindictive.

Among the shocking news about SB8 is how many corporations donated to those who sponsored it. AT&T has donated $301,000 to the bill’s sponsors over the last several years. CVS Health, which tweeted “At #CVSHealth, we’re working together to support the unique health needs of women at every age,” donated $72,500, Anthem, which recently tweeted about the importance of gender equity, donated $87,250. As Newsweek points out, many of these are companies who in other venues express their commitment to women’s rights and women’s health. The largest contributor was a group of wealthy Texans, “Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR),” which donated $2.3 million, according to Popular Information.

As our readers may well have concerns over SB8, we have developed a comprehensive list of companies who were implicated in its passage. The information is divided into three sections. The first section offers mailing addresses for Texas-based companies, so you can ask what they’re doing to respond to SB8 and tell them how you’re feeling about their products at this moment. The second section offers mailing addresses for companies outside of Texas that have made substantial donations to the Texas legislators who sponsored SB8. The final section offers mailing addresses for companies that are taking action in resistance to SB8 and who deserve thanks. Choose the companies you’re most familiar with (or most pissed at) and help demonstrate that depriving individuals basic rights is no way to build brand loyalty. S-HP

We can write the Department of Justice to thank them for filing suit to block SB8, arguing that it violates the “equal protection under law” provision of the 14th Amendment: Merrick Garland, Attorney General, U.S.Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington DC 20530-0001, (202) 514-2000. @TheJusticeDept.

2. Confirmed: Black Lives Matter protesters were targeted

Black Lives Matter protesters were systematically targeted by police and federal prosecutors during the Trump era, according to a new report jointly produced by The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL),  a coalition of more than 50 activism and advocacy civil rights groups, and the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) clinic at City University of New York School of Law. The report points out that former President Trump and former Attorney General Barr consistently pressed for federal charges to be laid, charges which carry stiffer penalties than state charges. It compares the disparate police responses to Black Lives Matter protests and anti-mask/anti-vax protests, and explains that policing and prosecutions of BLM protesters drew heavily on Joint Terrorism Task Forces and counter-intelligence operations, NPR notes.

Both M4BL and CLEAR are calling for amnesty for protesters as well as reparations, and for the introduction of the BREATHE Act, according to NPR, which would remove funds from traditional policing and incarceration, Vox notes, and would instead fund new approaches to community safety. The BREATHE Act is supported by progressive Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI). Thus far, elements of the BREATHE Act have been incorporated into HR 7120, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, according to Insider.com; the House Judiciary Committee has produced a fact sheet on what the bill would do. The Act was passed by the House but is stalled in the Senate, according to NPR. RLS

If you want to support the principles underlying Black Lives Matter, tell your Representative that you want to see the four elements that would be in the Breathe Act introduced as comprehensive legislation: • divesting from incarceration and police, • community safety funding initiatives to try new approaches, • money to build “Healthy, Sustainable & Equitable communities,” • accountability of officials and enhancing self-determination of Black communities. In addition, you could call on your Senators to move the Justice in Policing Act forward.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

3. Drone strike that killed seven children in Afghanistan targeted the wrong man

The US drone strike that killed seven children in Afghanistan may very well have targeted the wrong person, according to the New York Times. An investigation of the security footage reveals that Zemari Ahmadi was most likely not a terrorist planning to bomb the airport but an aid worker returning home. The many errands that US intelligence found suspicious were stops he made in the course of his job and the packages he brought into his house were water bottles, not ammunition.

A YouTube video posted by the Times clearly shows Ahmadi’s activities and his household. Ahmadi worked for Nutrition and Education International, an aid group based in California that taught 125,000 farmers in Afghanistan to grow soybeans, delivered millions of meals to malnourished children there and mentored women farmers to support their independence.  Ahmadi and his cousin Nasar, who was also killed along with his children, had both applied for refugee resettlement in the U.S. Interviews with colleagues and friends indicated that Ahmadi had no links whatsoever to terrorist activities. The Times quoted his brother as saying, “All of them were innocent. You say he was ISIS, but he worked for the Americans.” RLS

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.

4. Humanitarian crisis in Syria intensifies

After 11 years of civil war, the humanitarian crisis in Syria is deepening, according to the UN High Commissioner on Refugees  (UNHCR); the many factors–political violence, displacement, loss of infrastructure, destructive weather–behind the crisis are described here. “Political violence” is an understatement: “The Syrian government has tortured 14,000 Syrians to death, and 130,000 Syrians are missing or remain ‘arbitrarily detained,’  the New York Times reported in July, in the course of explaining why the Biden administration has imposed sanctions on Syrian prisons and prison officials. 

The UNHCR explains that in 2011, the violent government repression of protests in support of teenagers arrested for anti-government graffiti sparked a civil war. Millions of people were displaced from their homes but remain inside Syria, while millions of others fled to nearby countries. The population is traumatized by violence and impoverished by lack of work; many Syrian children have been unable to obtain an education for 10 years. In Northwest Syria, political violence has been especially acute, forcing many to leave their homes in 2019-2020. Devastating weather in Idlib destroyed some 25,000 tents and food supplies and left tens of thousands of families homeless.

 The coordinator of emergency relief for the UN, Martin Griffiths, recently visited Syria and the surrounding countries hosting approximately 5.6 million Syrian refugees; he maps his concerns in this report. Currently the UN and other aid agencies can only meet 27% of the need. Griffiths said that people in the province of Aleppo asked for the restoration of basic services and the ability to meet basic needs: “Health care, water, electricity and fuel to keep warm in winter. Children want to learn, and young adults want to work. They want support to forge their own dignified path to a better future.” RLS

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.

In addition, you could contact Congress and call for aid to Syria through humanitarian NGOs that serve people and that aren’t representatives of any of the specific forces involved in the Civil War. Find your Senators here. Find your Representative here.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, TECHNOLOGY & THE ENVIRONMENT

5. Treatments and “treatments” for COVID

It would be hilarious if it weren’t tragic. People with COVID have flocked to Ivermectin, which has never been shown to be a viable treatment, while declining to take the vaccines which have been proven effective or to request monoclonal antibody treatment, which has been approved by the FDA. Prescriptions for Ivermectin–which is used for human parasites and skin diseases such as rosacea–have risen to 88,000 per week, according to the New York Times, while some people who cannot get prescriptions have used veterinary formulations, leading to a five-fold rise in calls to poison control centers. 

How did Ivermectin come to be thought of as a COVID treatment? Slate explains that a group called America’s Frontline Doctors is partially responsible. They are actual doctors but they are not actually on the front lines; that is, they are not in hospitals treating COVID patients. They promote unproven cures as a way of promoting their practices, according to Slate, and they may get a cut from speakwithanmd.com, a telemedicine website that provides prescriptions for Ivermectin. As Slate puts it, “Health misinformation is a super profitable business.”

Safer–and way more effective–is treatment with monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies work by mimicking the action of the immune system. Although the FDA has pulled its approval for the first two in use (bamlanivimab and etesevimab), as they are significantly less effective against the variants of COVID, still others are notably viable,    Daily Kos points out. The FDA just approved an emergency use authorization (EUA) for another monoclonal antibody, sotrovimab, authorizing its use among patients with mild-moderate COVID symptoms who are at high risk for severe COVID. In a randomized controlled trial of 583 patients, the FDA reported, among those who were given sotrovimab, there was an 85% reduction in the number of patients whose COVID progressed to hospitalization or death compared to those given a placebo. 

Health Canada has also approved sotrovimab, along with casirivimab and imdevimab, two earlier monoclonal antibody treatments also approved by the FDA. In the U.S., the National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends that where there are logistical challenges to administering monoclonal antibodies, unvaccinated patients should be prioritized, as well as vaccinated patients who may not be able to launch an immune response. The NIH also provides guidelines and a rationale for administering them. Given their effectiveness, why are monoclonal antibodies not more widely used? It may be because they are only effective in the 10 days following the emergence of symptoms, explains Scientific American, and patients may wait too long to seek treatment. Because they are administered through an injection or an infusion, hospitals may be too overwhelmed with even sicker COVID patients to see them. RLS

RESOURCES

The 20th anniversary of 9/11 brought out a number of important analyses and painful memoirs. Heather Cox Richardson’s 9/11 column is notably good in the way that it reviews the ideology that emerged immediately after the attacks and connects that ideology to the current movements to suppress the vote.

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 is preparing to relaunch–but they would first like to know what is on your mind. You can take their survey here.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has a useful FAQ about COVID-19 and the vaccines.

News You May Have Missed: September 5, 2021

“Labour Day Parade, Queen St. W., looking east from west of Givins St,” by Toronto Public Library Special Collections is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. 1905.

News You May Have Missed is on hiatus this weekend in honor of Labor Day (and class prep). See you next weekend!

However, you might want to look at last week’s issue for round-up of some of the news that affects children–and to find our database of the significant voting legislation that is pending.

News You May Have Missed: August 29, 2021

“Children aren’t coloring books. You don’t get to fill them with your favorite colors.”” by meghla_akashe_pori_:) is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.

Any issue comes into focus when you ask what it will mean for children. Food insecurity, pesticide exposure, evictions, biases around gender identity, illnesses, racial inequity–all have particular impact on children, who have the fewest resources to cope. Even voting rights, which can only be exercised by those over 18, affect children, as those parents who brought their children to Saturday’s March on DC clearly knew. Those of you in California who must vote soon on the recall of Governor Newsom might want to read the New York Times voter guide through the lens of the consequences for children to see what the implications of replacing the governor could be. And remember our database of the many pieces of voting rights legislation that are going to become extremely important if the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which the House passed last week, stalls in the Senate.

DOMESTIC NEWS

1. 1 in 7 children—10.7 million—go hungry. New funding may help.

Children in American have become more food-insecure since the pandemic. With schools closed, poor children did not get the breakfasts and lunches that they depended on, and food banks reported distributing 43 per cent more food, according to the AP. The Children’s Defense Fund reported in May that one of seven children lives in a food-insecure household, meaning that members of the household do not get enough to eat. The rate is double that for Black and Latino children. (See the chart on food insecurity state by state from FeedingAmerica.org, a network of food banks.)

Beginning in October, recipients of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, colloquially known as “food stamps”) will be receiving increased benefits based on a new assessment of basic nutritional needs and their costs. For example, previous food cost estimates for the program assumed recipients would be using cheaper dried beans, rather than canned, when in reality most families receiving food stamps don’t have the time to prepare dried beans. The new estimates assume the cost of beans to be the cost of canned beans. While all recipients will see some increase in benefits, these will vary by state. The New York Times reported that the average benefit of $121 a month will increase to $157—just shy of a 30% increase. The Times also includes United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics that show most families have used up all food stamps by midway through the month—and 43% of food stamp benefits cover children, who are unlikely to be able to add to the family income. S-HP/RLS

Thank the USDA for this increase that more accurately acknowledges the needs of American families: Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence SW, Washington DC 20250, (202) 720-2791. And donate to your local food bank.

2. The Supreme Court allows massive evictions. Children’s health will suffer.

Hundreds of thousands of people could be evicted–in a pandemic–as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Biden administration’s ban on evictions, the New York Times reports. While funds have been earmarked to keep people in their homes, only 11% have reached renters, due to various bureaucratic snafus, NPR reports. As Child Trends, a research institute on children’s issues points out, unstable housing is detrimental to children’s well-being. Housing Matters, a branch of the Urban Institute, points out that when families are late on rent, endure multiple moves, or become homeless, the health of children suffers. Their data precede the pandemic, so the consequences of families doubling up with other family members or living in shelters for the spread of COVID have not been calculated. The Court believes that Congress needs to pass an eviction moratorium for it to be legitimate. RLS

You can urge your members of Congress to address the issues of evictions immediately. Find your representative here and your senators here.

3. Pressley bill would put mental health staff, not police in schools

Having police in public schools does not make children safer, research shows. Instead, it tends to criminalize children of color and traumatize children who have already had negative contact with police, according to the Healthy Schools Campaign.

Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) has introduced the Counselling Not Criminalization in Schools Act (H.R.4011), which would prohibit the use of federal funds to pay for law enforcement officers in public schools. Instead, schools would have access to a grant program to help replace law enforcement with personnel and services that are trauma-informed and designed to support mental health. When we talk about defunding police (this writer’s language, not the language of the legislation), we are talking about programs like these that reduce the burden on law enforcement and that put in place professionals in services like mental health. This legislation is currently with two House committees: Education and Labor and Judiciary. S-HP

If you want to get involved in this issue, you can thank Representative Pressley for introducing this legislation, urge swift, positive action by the committees currently considering it, check whether your Representative is a cosponsor and thank/nudge as appropriate [note: Representative Panetta is not a cosponsor]: Addresses are here.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

4. Drone strike kills children

Seven children were among the civilians killed by a U.S. drone strike against an Islamic State car bomb; along with their family, they were getting out of a nearby car, the New York Times reported. At least 90 civilians–along with 13 U.S. military personnel–were killed by the Islamic State attack on the Kabul airport. Meanwhile, the Afghan health care system is at risk, as the closure of banks means that hospitals cannot pay workers or buy supplies, as woman health workers stay home, and as foreign donors (including the World Bank and European Union) stop providing funds in the wake of the Taliban takeover, Al Jazeera reports. The WHO and Doctors Without Borders have had difficulty flying medical supplies into the region. RLS

5. US arms sales to Saudi Arabia harm children, could be blocked

Between 2015 and 2020, the U.S. sold $10.7 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia, most of which it used in the catastrophic war again Yemen. As a consequence of that war, half of the children under 5 in Yemen are malnourished, and 400,000 could die if they do not receive immediate treatment, according to Forbes.

In April, the House passed the Protection of Saudi Dissidents Act (H.R.1392), which blocks arms sales to Saudi Arabia and requires actions in response to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was a Saudi journalist and official U.S. resident. Since leaving the house, this legislation has been with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which has not yet acted upon it. S-HP

If you think there should be action on this issue, remind the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the importance of protecting journalistic freedom globally, urge swift, positive action on H.R.1392 by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and tell your Senator you want to see their support for H.R.1392 when the legislation reaches the Senate Floor. Addresses are here.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, TECHNOLOGY & THE ENVIRONMENT

6. Most important back-to-school supplies: Masks

As kids too young to be vaccinated head back to in-person school, the possibility that COVID will spreading among them is of grave concern. As the Toronto Star points out, whether kids are likely to transmit COVID depends in part on the vaccination rates in the community around them. (The Star offers a school-by-school analysis of vaccination rates in each Toronto community, while the Local offers a list of high-risk schools.)

In the US, ten states require masks in schools while eight–Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Florida, South Carolina, Texas and Utah–forbid districts from requiring them, according to the Pew Trusts. In July, the CDC recommended that in view of the Delta variant and the increased numbers of COVID cases that are filling up hospitals, masks should be required in schools.

With 32 states leaving decisions about requiring masks up to individual districts, Mom’s Rising recommends that parents write their superintendents and their school boards, download a vaccine fact sheet to share with other parents, and urge that children old enough be vaccinated.

You can find the petition, sample letter and other recommendations for action at the Mom’s Rising website.

7. Children of color more likely to die from flu

Children of color are more likely to hospitalized and are three to four times more likely to die from the flu, according to Consumer Reports, citing a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The youngest children are the most vulnerable. The researchers, who were affiliated with the CDC and 18 other academic institutions and health departments, looked at 113,352 flu hospitalizations; they note that the most important strategies to prevent flu deaths in children are immunizations and anti-viral treatment. The flu kills 12, 000 to 61 ,000 people (both children and adults) each year. RLS

8. Use of pesticide that damages children’s brains now must be drastically reduced

Beginning in February, agricultural use of chlorpyrifos in the U.S. will be cut by over 90%. Chlorpyrifos, a pesticide, is known to cause neurological damage in children and is correlated with low birth weight, lowered IQs, and developmental problems in children, according to the New York Times. During Trump’s administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chose not to ban chlorpyrifos, despite overwhelming evidence of the dangers it presented. In response, a suit was filed challenging that decision. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has now ruled that evidence of chlorpyrifos’ dangers is so overwhelming that unless the administration can demonstrate new, convincing evidence of its harmlessness, most agricultural uses of the chemical must be ended. The Biden EPA chose not to challenge this decision. Because the change is the result of a court ruling, there will be no mandatory public comment period, which could have allowed continued use of chlorpyrifos while a proposed ban worked its way through the federal rule-making process. S-HP

It is worth thanking the current EPA for refusing to support the Trump EPA’s misleading claims about chlorpyrifos and for agreeing to ban most uses of the chemical: Michael S. Regan, Director, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania NW, 20460, (202) 564-4700.

RESOURCES

Heather Cox Richardson has some excellent reflections on the March on Washington and voting rights.

The International Rescue Committee is working to assist refugees caught in the violence in Afghanistan.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has a useful FAQ about COVID-19 and the vaccines.

Mom’s Rising  has a summer postcarding campaign that may interest you, along with a five simple, clear actions you can take each week.

Data on refugees in the US: Pew Research Center. Refugee statistics worldwide: UNHCR.

No More Deaths/No Más Muertes‘ three-part report, Left to Die, details how asylum-seekers in the desert are abandoned by the Border Patrol. Though 911 calls are routed to them, they did not respond in 63% of cases. Lee Sandusky’s piece of literary journalism, “Scenes from an Emergency Clinic in the Sonoran Desert,” eloquently describes the work No More Deaths/No Más Muertes does.

The National Lawyers Guild has a series of webinars on issues from the global repression of voting, the local suppression of voting and the detention of immigrants.

trans hotline with both Canadian and US numbers–and with operators who speak Spanish–provides services by and for trans people. You don’t need to be in crisis to call, and if you are a friend or a family member of a trans person, you can also call to find out how to support them. If you would like to know more about the organization, see their staff bios here.

The Americans of Conscience checklist has 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.

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.

News You May Have Missed: August 22, 2021

“Capitol Hill, Washington DC” by KP Tripathi (kps-photo.com) is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Our main project this week is a database of 90 pieces of federal legislation that would affirm voting rights and protect the integrity of elections. We would prefer to see comprehensive pieces of legislation, notably the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, go through, but by time Congress amends those pieces of legislation enough to pass them (and who knows if that’s possible?), they’re probably going to be significantly less comprehensive than there were at the onset. A glance at this document will show how many separate pieces of legislation it would take to have the same effect as the For the People Act or the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

There may, however, be some sense in going for things piecemeal. Breaking voting rights up into many smaller issues should mean we can get some things accomplished—and we definitely need to accomplish some things by 2022. And bringing up legislation one piece at a time will force those opposed to go on the record again and again and again as refusing to protect the vote.

If we take a piecemeal approach, we can also focus our efforts on one or more specific committees. If we want increased voter registration opportunities, we can look at the database and see that we need to be putting pressure on the House Administration Committee (with other committees added for specific pieces of legislation). If we’re concerned about the number and accessibility of polling places, we can look at the database and see that we need to be putting pressure on the House Administration and Judiciary Committees and the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. And we can offer members of those committees lists of specific pieces of legislation they could choose among.

Here is a list of the relevant committees, their contact information and their chairs to make your job a little easier. Note that you may have to expand some of the columns to see all the committees involved with a particular piece of legislation. S-HP

DOMESTIC NEWS

1. Gunshot detection algorithms result in false arrests

Data from the gunshot detection firm ShotSpotter has been used in 200 court cases nationwide, according to a comprehensive investigation by the AP. However, its algorithms, which it keeps as a proprietary secret, are significantly inaccurate, as the AP was able to demonstrate, miscounting the number of gunshots or mistaking fireworks or cars backfiring for gunshots. Even more alarming, employees changed the data ShotSpotter produced at the request of police. 

These flaws are not abstractions. The AP recounts the heartbreaking story of Michael Williams, an innocent black man accused of killing someone who had asked him for a ride. He was arrested not based on witness identification or any information other than the data from ShotSpotter, and spent a year in jail, during which he had COVID twice, episodes which left him with a tremor that prevents him from feeding himself. SpotShotter data in fact do not work in cars, but still Williams was imprisoned; later information emerged that ShotSpotter analysts do not receive any formal training and that ShotSpotter employees had changed the report on the sound from a firecracker to a gunshot at the request of police, and altered the location from where it had actually been detected to Williams’ street.

On top of its inaccuracies and vulnerability to manipulation, ShotSpotter does not reduce gun violence or gun homicides, according to a study cited by the AP from the Journal of Urban Health; in contrast, the study authors wrote, “Counties in states with permit-to-purchase firearm laws saw a 15% reduction in firearm homicide incidence rates; counties in states with right-to-carry laws saw a 21% increase in firearm homicide incidence rates.” RLS

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

2. What they knew, when they knew it and what they would (not) admit to knowing in Afghanistan

In a report this week, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction mapped the failures of American efforts in Afghanistan, according to an investigation by ProPublica, which wrote, “The U.S. effort was clumsy and ignorant, the report says, calling out the hubris of a superpower thinking it could reshape a country it didn’t understand by tossing gobs of money around.” Noting that the war cost the lives of 2,443 U.S. servicemembers and more than 114,000 Afghans, ProPublica also notes that the Inspector General has been pointing out the flaws in America’s Afghan strategy for 13 years. In 2019, the Washington Post drew on confidential documents that demonstrated that “senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.” See reporter Sarah Chayes’ quite remarkable analysis and history of the region. “The Ideas of August.” RLS

3. Evacuations from Afghanistan

Heather Cox Richardson has a quiet summary of where things stand vis a vis the evacuation of Americans and their allies from Afghanistan. She points out: “Yet, on CNN this morning, Matthew Dowd, who was the chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney ticket in 2004, noted that more than 20,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan without a single loss of an American life, while in the same period of time, 5000 Americans have died from Covid-19 and 500 have died from gunshots.” Twelve Afghan civilians died as people rushed the airport.

Still, American veterans are getting frantic messages from the Afghan interpreters who worked with them, imploring the veterans to help them get out of the country with their families, Business Insider reports. The State Department says it had a backlog of 17,000 visas from the Trump administration, though it only issued 134 between January and March of 2021. The US says it is committed to evacuated 50,000 – 60,000 Afghans. 

Canadian interpreters and others who worked for Canadian forces are equally frantic, as the Toronto Star points out, describing the case of a man and his family who have appropriate documents but who are not being permitted to board an aircraft, as flights out had been delayed for a week. Outside the airport, it is cold at night; food and water are scarce. Still, Canada has authorized its special forces to go outside the borders of the airport to bring in Canadian citizens and some 6,000 Afghan nationals and their families who assisted Canadian forces, which Britain and the US has not, according to the Globe and Mail. In addition, Canada has authorized 15,000 Afghans who are in refugee camps outside the country to resettle in Canada. RLS

SCIENCE, HEALTH, TECHNOLOGY & THE ENVIRONMENT

4. Treatment for prevention and treatment of COVID vastly underused.

COVID deaths occurred much earlier than was generally thought–in January 2020–and in disparate locations, at least in California, Georgia, Alabama and Oklahoma, according to an article in the Mercury News. The Mercury suggests that COVID cases probably first appeared in November and December, though researchers have not been able to confirm this possibility. The newspaper provides a table of deaths from pneumonia, flu and COVID

If you think we’re out of these woods, read ProPublica’s remarkable story about the exhaustion and frustration of the EMTs transporting COVID-19 patients to overcrowded hospitals. The reporter, Ava Kofman, spent three weeks riding with EMTs, documenting how long their patients had to wait in the halls and how depleted basic supplies were, from masks to oxygen. This piece was produced in April, when we thought we were emerging from the pandemic and well before the Delta variant took hold. 

As we noted previously, monoclonal antibodies are a proven treatment for COVID; they have also just been shown to be effective among high-risk people who have been exposed to COVID, according to the Washington Post. They are free and available as an infusion in most hospitals, but they have been very much underused. The treatment needs to be given within 10 days after symptoms begin. RLS

RESOURCES

The International Rescue Committee is working to assist refugees caught in the violence in Afghanistan.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has a useful FAQ about COVID-19 and the vaccines.

Mom’s Rising  has a summer postcarding campaign that may interest you, along with a five simple, clear actions you can take each week.

Data on refugees in the US: Pew Research Center. Refugee statistics worldwide: UNHCR.

No More Deaths/No Más Muertes‘ three-part report, Left to Die, details how asylum-seekers in the desert are abandoned by the Border Patrol. Though 911 calls are routed to them, they did not respond in 63% of cases. Lee Sandusky’s piece of literary journalism, “Scenes from an Emergency Clinic in the Sonoran Desert,” eloquently describes the work No More Deaths/No Más Muertes does.

The National Lawyers Guild has a series of webinars on issues from the global repression of voting, the local suppression of voting and the detention of immigrants.

trans hotline with both Canadian and US numbers–and with operators who speak Spanish–provides services by and for trans people. You don’t need to be in crisis to call, and if you are a friend or a family member of a trans person, you can also call to find out how to support them. If you would like to know more about the organization, see their staff bios here.

The Americans of Conscience checklist has 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.

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.