NYMHM for 19 May 2019

In addition to offering opportunities to act or comment on items in the news, News You May Have Missed has added a new section on art projects around topics in the news. Thanks to Melissa for seeing that resistance is sustained by art and for bringing these events to our page.

DOMESTIC NEWS

1. Missing and murdered Indigenous women

According to the National Institute of Justice, four out of five American Indigenous women and men have suffered violence in their lifetimes. Indigenous women also experience intimate partner violence, human trafficking and rape at high rates, and the number of murdered and missing Native American women is also significantly under-reported. A 2008 Department of Justice report examined the issue in considerable detail and the National Institute of Justice report came out in 2016. At last, the bipartisan Not Invisible Act (S. 982), introduced by U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Jon Tester (D-MT), would address this crisis in the US. As Senator Murkowski’s website says, the bill would establish “an advisory committee of local, tribal and federal stakeholders to make recommendations to the Department of Interior and Department of Justice on best practices to combat the epidemic of disappearances, homicide, violent crime and trafficking of Native Americans and Alaska Natives.” 

If you want to learn about other pending bills on this subject and contact your senators about them, the information is here.

In process since 2016, Canada’s inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women has finally been completed; the report is due out in June. Profiles of Indigenous Canadian murdered and missing Indigenous women are in this CBC story

2. Detention in Louisiana

Lowering the state’s high incarceration rate was a commitment Louisiana’s Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, made when he was elected. However, once the jails empied out, ICE began detaining immigrants in them. There are fewer immigration attorneys in Lousiana so detainees often have to represent themselves. The few attorneys available work extremely long days. And the judges are more punitive; as Mother Jones reported, “One judge, Agnelis Reese, denied every asylum claim she’d heard between 2014 and 2018…her colleague John Duck denies 83 percent of claims.”

3. Children of LGBT parents described as “out of wedlock”

Another threat on the citizenship front involves gay and lesbian couples with children born via surrogate. One gay couple, Roee and Adiel Kiviti are American citizens, with a two-year-old son, born in Canada using an egg donor and a surrogate, who is also an American citizen. When the family was expanded to include the now-two-month-old Kessem, also born in Canada using an egg donor and surrogate, they were told that because Kessem was “born out of wedlock” she is not eligible for birthright U.S. citizenship. This is in accordance with new State Department policy that says a child born via “assistive reproductive technology” to a U.S. citizen father and an anonymous egg donor does not have a right to birthright citizenship, regardless of that father’s marital status. Roee told the Daily Beast, “This is a very clear attack on families, on American families. Denying American married couples their rights to pass their citizenship, that is flat-out discrimination, and everyone should be concerned about this.”

If you want to speak up about this issue, some suggestions are here.

4. Proposed amendments to anti-abortion law

You won’t have missed the news about the draconian anti-abortion laws being passed in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Alabama, and Missouri. Rewire News has a good explainer on the issues. In Alabama, four amendments were proposed before the anti-women-having-control-over-their-own-bodies-and-lives legislation was passed. One was proposed by State Senator Linda Coleman-Madison and would have required free prenatal and medical care for women in the state who are denied an abortion. State Senator Vivian Davis has three proposed amendments. The first would have expanded Medicaid to provide funding for mothers and young children. The second would have required those who voted for the legislation to pay the legal costs of defending it in court. The third would have outlawed vasectomies. Not surprisingly, none of them passed, but they forced those voting in favor of the legislation to embrace the hypocrisy of their “pro-life” stances.

If you want to thank the legislators who made those proposals, their contact information is here. See this link as well for information about demonstrations planned for May 21.

5. Public Utilities at fault

Electrical transmission lines owned by Pacific Gas & Electric Company were responsible for the Camp Fire last year that destroyed the town of Paradise, California, and killed 85 people, according to a report by The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. PG&E, which has filed for bankruptcy protection, faces multiple lawsuits from people whose lives were destroyed, and may be criminally prosecuted as well. Meanwhile, Geisha Williams, who was PG&E’s CEO during the wildfires, received a salary of 9.3 million during 2018.

In addition, the cause of a hundred-day leak of 100,000 metric tons of methane in Southern California in 2015-2016 that led to mass evacuations and countless illnesses was finally attributed to corrosion of the lining of storage tanks. According to the New York Times, “SoCalGas, the company that owns and operates the natural gas well, did not meaningfully investigate or analyze more than 60 previous leaks at the complex.” 36,000 people are suing SoCalGas.

6. Fracking earthquake country

On May 9, Trump released plans to allow fracking across 725,000 acres of federal land on the coast of California and in the Central Valley, according to the Sacramento Bee. An earlier plan would allow fracking on an additional 1.6 million acres. California sued the Trump administration in January to prevent that plan from going forward. The Center for Biological Diversity says that fracking in these areas would lead to “air pollution, drinking water contamination, risk of induced earthquakes, industrial disturbance, habitat fragmentation, and noise and light pollution.” The organization points out that California is already the third-largest oil producing state and that continuing to develop fossil fuels will contribute to climate change.  

If you’re of a mind to speak up about this issue, Martha has located where to comment.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

7. Canada ends “safe country” policy

Canada has quietly ended its policy of subjecting refugees who come from 43 so-called “safe countries,” including the United States, to abbreviated processes and restrictions on work permits; they were also deprived of the right to appeal. The policy was supposedly designed to reduce the backlog in the immigration system; it did not succeed in doing so, according to CTV. In 2015, 16,000 people applied for asylum in Canada; in 2018 55,000 applied. Most of the applicants were young men.

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & THE ENVIRONMENT

8. Technique to manipulate single atoms has been developed

Individual atoms can be manipulated into place using the electron beam of scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM), which is controlled using magnetic lenses, according to a paper submitted to the journal “Science Advances.” The paper, by a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Vienna, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and others in China, Denmark and Ecuador, opens the door for truly atomic scale engineering. While individual atoms have been painstakingly put into ordered positions before, scientists used a mechanical method involving the minute tip of a scanning tunneling electron microscope to pick up and drop atoms into place. This new method is completely electronic and uses no mechanical moving parts making it potentially much much faster and more accurate than old methods. Instead of a sort of nano-scale claw machine, this process resembles an expert billiards player who can calculate the exact force and angle to predict precisely where his aimed shots will go across a “table” made of a single atom thick layer of graphene.

9. Trump administration unrolls site to report ‘censorship’ by social media companies

Citing “political bias,” the White House has launched an online form to report social media platforms for what they describe as censorship. The Trump administration alleges that social media companies should “advance FREEDOM OF SPEECH” (their caps) and that “too many” Americans have been suspended or banned for violated terms of service that are apparently not well understood. This comes in the wake of a series of high profile bans of alt-right media personalities from platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, all of whom were wildly outside of the terms of service conditions regarding hate speech, Ars Technica reported. The first amendment of the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech in that the federal government is prohibited from curtailing the free speech rights of Americans; however. as most people are well aware private companies also have  rights and are in no way compelled to allow persons free access to their services to promote views they feel are contrary to their economic interests.

ARTS & CULTURE

Artists in Response

In Response is a visual resource of artists, cultural organizers and organizations who engage the arts to investigate and amplify issues related to immigration.  While centered in New York, the site lists organizations and resources from around the country.  Well worth investigating!

Commemorating students killed in school violence

A graduating Ohio student has decorated her mortarboard with QR code that leads to a list of students killed in school shooting, with the heading, “I graduated. These high school students couldn’t.” A CNN article includes a link to a printable version of the QR code, in case you know of any students who might want to do the same

Art and the Environmental Crisis

Christie’s Education is putting on a symposium June 11 in New York, asking such questions as:
• How does contemporary art communicate information about global climate change and its consequences?
• How can art assist in decision making about climate change?
• What methods, materials and processes are among those being utilized by artists?
• How does the context in which we encounter this work impact our response to it?
• How do we gauge its effectiveness?

The cost is $125 – 15% discount using the code: SYMPOSIUM19

RESOURCES

  • If you want to speak up about gun violence, pregnancy-related deaths among Black women, the “conscience” rule permitting health care providers to refuse to care for LGBTQ+ patients and others–and much more, see Sarah-Hope’s list.
  • The Americans of Conscience list has a list of actions you can take, along with some good news.
  • Martha also has good news: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reversed the Medicare Part D rule which would have permitted plans to exclude protected classes including people with HIV or cancer. Comments can make a difference! To comment on other issues, among them RoundUp, HUD targeting undocumented residents (see our story last week), exposing miners to diesel exhaust, the ACA, elections and voting systems, municipal sewer run-off, and more, see her list.
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