Immigration: “We Are Better Than This”

From a Google Image Search – The Cut

Immigration: “We Are Better Than This”

A warehouse full of children. An air conditioned warehouse full of children with concrete floors, no beds, only two scratchy wool blankets. An air conditioned warehouse full of cold, anxious children with too few adults to care for them – children sleeping on concrete floors who have not been given clean clothing or a chance to shower or even a bar of soap, a towel, and a toothbrush. Does any of this sound like America to you? But it is happening in America. It is happening right now in America.

We have a President who has told us that the people coming across our southern border are animals. Do you believe that he is telling the truth? Are these people dangerous? Are they less than human? Why are they coming? The President thinks it is a planned challenge to his immigration policies, that Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador (the Northern Triangle countries) are “pranking” him somehow. Reporters who have visited these three nations tell a different story however. They tell a story about a once fertile triangle of farm land shared by these three nations. They tell us that the land is no longer fertile because the rainfall, once predictable, is now erratic. There are long periods of dry weather in recent years followed by too much rain all at once. This disruption in the usual water cycle could be temporary, but it could be due to climate change. The area is also threatened by gangs of men who snatch girls for trafficking purposes or for their own use and who snatch young men to increase memberships. These gangs are at war with each other and innocent citizens are killed in the ensuing violence. 

People usually love the country they were born in. They don’t want to leave it. If large numbers of people are migrating from one country to another country far away there is always a reason for it. People migrate when their home nation cannot offer enough food, or enough safety, or any opportunities for a better life. People of means may travel out of a sense of adventure, or to broaden their experiences, to enjoy other cultures and the beauty of foreign places. However, unless they stumble into a place they know is unstable and hostile, tourists do not end up sleeping in warehouses with concrete floors. And neither should people who are seeking asylum from a nation that no longer offers a viable life to its people. 

We cannot solve problems that arise from climate change, especially with an administration in charge of America that does not believe in climate change. But offering aid to a nation in need is something that we do know how to do. We cannot get rid of local gangs. We are not even doing well with keeping our own gangs under control. But we do know that when people are offered opportunities to learn a trade or get a college degree and find employment violence tends to decrease and the influence of gangs declines.  Aid can also be perceived to be nation building, can be seen as imperialistic interference done for personal gain rather than altruism, so the way help is offered matters. While giving aid it is not polite to see what resources you can steal from a nation that is suffering.

If one way to tackle the flow of migrants is to improve the conditions in the home nations, another way is to streamline our procedures for handling migration when it happens. Denying migrants access to the laws that govern immigration does not seem to stop people from immigrating. Separating children from parents does not seem to discourage the flow of immigration. Denying children showers and soap and toothbrushes may make them miserable but it doesn’t make them disappear (unless they die). Is that the plan? To let squalor do its work. Is that a plan Americans can live with?

“We are better than this.” Whenever I listen to panels of experts talk on my news channel (MSNBC) someone always says this. We can do better than taking children who came here with a parent or who have a contact who is a relative already in America, than housing them in a cold soulless shelter, leaving them in wet diapers and dirty clothing, allowing them to live with lice, and sending them to bed hungry with only a scratchy blanket for company. We are America. We are organized. We are humane. We are a can-do nation. If the system is overwhelmed then hire more people. Warehouse supplies, not people. Better yet, don’t detain children at all. Set to work immediately getting them to their destination if they have one, or finding them a family to act as a temporary sponsor. 

What the President would like to do is immediately deport them, but the law says they have a right to a hearing. He says that if they are released with a hearing date they will not return. Statistics say that the return rate is really good for adults. How do you give a hearing to a toddler who may be nonverbal? Applying the same practices for children that we have for adults makes no sense. HHS (Housing and Human Services) is full of experts in the care of displaced children. They should be called upon to suggest ways to handle minors separated from parents or guardians. Many experts have been making valid suggestions without getting much attention.

The chaos we are seeing in the immigration system is due to this administration’s attempts to solve the problem by circumventing immigration laws, in other words by using approaches that are lawless, approaches for which there are no precedents and no organizational plans. Orders are given and they must be accomplished although no resources are offered to accomplish what the administration wants. If everyone is to be sent back home why aren’t they loaded immediately onto planes? Because no logistics have been designed to make this possible. So migrants seeking asylum are caught between a rock and a government-engineered hard place and they cannot solve their own dilemma. But we can. “We are better than this.”

The United States of Earth

earth Blue Marble Review

Republicans go on and on about the evils of globalization as if liberals want to demolish nations and become the United States of Earth. I do not believe that the modern movement towards globalization is about anything of the kind.

The globalization of which we libtards speak has two parts. One is for the nations of the world to work together globally to be better caretakers of our planet. We have plundered our planet, trashed our planet, and moved harmful chemicals from places where they did no harm to places and in combinations where they threaten our clean water supplies and the layers of air above us that protect us so well from the airless space beyond. What will our planet be like without our ice caps? The very fact that they are melting is proof that earth is warming. As the earth warms our weather appears to grow more severe. Whether we caused this uptick in global heating or not, doesn’t it make sense to explore ways we could slow it down or reverse it? Climate deniers say earth is too big to be affected by human activities, but our planet seems smaller every day.

The other way that us liberal snowflakes use globalization relates to fighting poverty, illiteracy, disease, and lack of opportunity worldwide, especially in nations that may be challenged by harsh climate conditions or constant power struggles that savage land and people. The world has had to contend with at least two or three new diseases that seemed to emerge from these very same challenged areas. HIV had roots in Africa, Ebola virus did also, and West Nile virus, which holds horrors for pregnant mothers, seems to also have come from the tropics. In the past, when travel was difficult these diseases mostly stayed put (although previously some diseases were spread through shipping). Now they threaten everyone on the planet. Keeping people around our planet healthy may be altruistic, but it is also quite selfish. Although drugs can be and are developed to treat these new diseases, raising the standard of living for all people everywhere on earth will offer the best protection of all.

As I listened on this Tuesday, September 25, 2018, to Trump give his speech (Steven Miller’s speech) to the UN and tout the glories of the new nationalism, it did not escape me that the sense of barriers going up around states all over Europe arose from the very Pandora’s Box that the Republicans insisted on opening in Iraq (which they now blame on the Democrats because of Libya). The wave of war spread across the Middle East from Iraq until it arrived at Syria and sent migrants outward into Europe. People leaving a war torn nation where their leader used chemical weapons on his people; that’s a thing we should all comprehend. But the fear of people arriving in a settled nation in large numbers, the timing of these migrations after a long spate of terrorists activities in European nations, and the lack of a good plan for how to offer hospitality to traumatized families has set up new opportunities for power for those who give voice to anti-migrant speech.

Trump can sense fear in others because he feels it himself, hence his support for white supremacists. Trump can sympathize with the rise of dictators in Europe who promise to keep migrants out of their nations. By turning to policies of “our nation first” “earthlings” will lose the very important outcomes of the dual goals of globalization. As a result, Nationalism could destroy America as we know it, but it could also destroy our entire little planet out here in a lonely corner of space. Please keep the destruction down all you powerbrokers, until we find Earth B out there in the void.

Globalization, as us lefties define it, is not completely at odds with Nationalism, so stop making it look like we can only have one or the other. The New World Order is not a real thing. It is a made-up political construct, a conspiracy theory, to deliver a message that the left has extreme and diabolical plans for global domination. If anyone has such plans however, it is the right.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Blue Marble Review

Keep an Eye on the News, Summer 2018

The news is coming fast and furious right now, probably because of the coming midterms and there are so many interesting stories that I will not be able to write in depth about each one of them while they are still relevant. So here are a few things you might want to keep an eye on.

21contractors-01-jumbo

Immigration:

We still have to watch what will happen to those children we have stolen, the ones we now don’t have enough information to give back to their parents. Will we find a way to reunite these families. These children have disappeared into the foster care system or into centers run by charitable organizations who have been taking care of immigrant children for some time now. There is also a private business called MVM which is being paid $750/day for each child in their program.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/intelligence-contractor-makes-millions-flying-immigrant-kids-to-shelters

https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2016/09/15/nearly-500-immigrant-children-call-fort-bliss-home-temporarily/

We also have to keep an eye on Congress in the matter of immigration. Trump is very angry at Democrats and is saying some pretty terrible things about them, such as calling them child traffickers because they will not vote for the hardline Goodlatte immigration bill favored by Trump and the extremists on the right-wing in the House – The Freedom Caucus. Goodlatte version 1 failed to pass the US House vote – today, 6/19/2018. Is there a bill that can pass and what will it mandate at our southern border?

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/393460-hardline-immigration-bill-fails-in-the-house/

Leaving Our Allies

leaving un human rights Getty images

Human Rights Council of UN – We left the Council.

“After more than a year of complaints and warnings — some subtle and others a little less so — the Trump administration has announced that the United States is withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley announced the decision in a joint statement Tuesday.”

“’I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from human rights commitments,” Haley told the media. “On the contrary, we take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights.’”

https://www.npr.org/2018/06/19/621435225/u-s-announces-its-withdrawal-from-u-n-s-human-rights-council

Are you feeling the isolation yet?

China and Plastics

plastic waste big nyt.com

China will no longer collect the world’s plastics.

“An estimated 111 million metric tons of plastic waste will be displaced by 2030 as a result of China’s recent ban on the import of most plastic waste, according to new research.”

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/06/21/china-ban-plastic-waste-recycling/721879002/

Climate Change and Immigration:

draught in Honduras, etc big

Apparently climate change is making matters worse in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, which may be a partial explanation for the tensions and gang activities in those nations and in the number of immigrants we are seeing. The Northern Triangle, the dry corridor, consisting of these three nations, has been experiencing long draughts and then long periods of torrential rains which has caused crops to fail and raised prices on food and made choices scarcer.

“One factor causing migrants to risk everything—even potentially losing their children—to travel through the heat of summer in the dangerous desert and towards the barbed wire fences and tent cities springing up just south of the United States border: climate change.

Many of the migrants being detained here now hail from what’s referred variously as the Dry Corridor or the Northern Triangle, which consists of the three countries immediately south of Mexico: Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.”

https://www.thedailybeast.com/climate-change-sparked-the-border-migration-crisis

Reorganizing Government

Mick Mulvaney nyt big

There is plan afoot to combine some government departments to help make government smaller, supposedly. Mick Mulvaney would like to combine the Departments of Education and Labor. (Do we see how this might lead to an emphasis on vocational training, over a more college bound approach to education, in order to remake the goals students will tend to pursue after leaving high school.) This reorganization includes changes in our social safety net. Read all about it.

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/393479-white-house-releases-sweeping-proposal-to-reorganize-government/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/congress/white-house-to-propose-merging-education-labor/2018/06/21/8f5e8e54-7561-11e8-bda1-18e53a448a14_story.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/20/us/politics/trump-welfare-department-reorganization.html

Will An Authoritarian Leader Be Unseated

Muharrem Ince big Turkey

Erdogan is the leader of Turkey and, if you have been paying attention, he has grown more and more authoritarian in his approach to governing Turkey. There was a coup, which many think Erdogan may have engineered. When Erdogan ended the coup he got to do some pretty brutal purging.

On June 24ththere is an election in Turkey. Mr. Ince is running against Erdogan and he is attracting crowds, surprisingly. The world is kind of waiting with some hope that Ince can unseat Erdogan on June 24th. That’s pretty close to now. Keep an ear bent.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/19/opinion/ince-erdogan-turkey-election.html

 

In Other News

Behind all the trending news of the week, the news that is so interesting and full of implications about the Trump White House (Hope Hicks is leaving, Jared has no security clearance, Trump v Congress and the NRA on guns, shades of the DACA summit) news which we love to speculate about – and behind the news today of the tariffs on steel (25%) and aluminum (10%) –  there is plenty of other news about subjects I have been following that gets little coverage on television. Some great articles have been written recently on these topics.

First topic: Unions

The decision in front of the Supreme Court is about something called an agency fee which allows unions to charge fees in lieu of dues to non-members of the union (because  non-members also benefit from the wins unions get on behalf of employees). In this case the unions we are talking about are public employees unions, although there would be implications for all unions.

The opponents of the unions, mostly Conservatives, right-wingers, the Koch brothers, contend that they favor “right to work” laws, laws which get rid of the possibility of charging an agency fee to non-members. Right to work laws hurt unions and, in the long run, employees by robbing the unions of power, of funding, and of leverage. Right to work laws sound like they favor employees but they actually favor employers. This matter was argued in front of the Supreme Court on Monday, 2/26/2018.

An interesting article in The New York Times describes the matter as more heated than one would think. The lawyer presenting the case for the unions is a former colleague and friend of Neil Gorsuch, a member of the same law firm. That suggests some black-robed drama right there as they are believed to be on opposite sides in this case.

The Conservative Supremes accused unions of bringing cities to the brink of bankruptcy to which the unions responded that this is not the point of the case. But evidence of the Freedom Foundation and other right wing groups meddling in the business of the court suggests that the fix is in. If this doesn’t highlight the partisan nature of this Supreme Court then you are clearly blinded by you own political (right wing) bubble.

“Confronted with such briefs and articles, some judges might pull back and think twice about overturning a 40-year-old precedent for reasons so obviously grounded in policy rather than law. But if the effort was to shame the five justices who now hold the upper hand, I think it most likely backfired. The voice that came through to me was one that said: “Oh, yeah? Save your breath. We’ve got the votes and — in case you’ve forgotten — life tenure besides.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/01/opinion/supreme-court-labor-unions.html

Second Topic: Sinclair Broadcasting – Conservative creep

Sinclair Communications/Broadcasting is still pursuing its merger with Tribune Media even though this puts them over the current limit of  ownership as set by the FCC.

The FCC admits that they are custom-building their policy for Sinclair as we are told in this article from The Daily Beast.

http://thebea.st/2CIv4LZ

But Variety calls out Sinclair’s proposed scam of selling off the media outlets which put it over the FCC limit but signing management agreements with those same outlets so as to maintain control over those markets. If the FCC is forced to stick to existing rules Sinclair has strategies they hope will make their merger happen anyway.

http://variety.com/2018/politics/news/newsmax-sinclair-broadcast-group-fcc-1202713846/

“Newsmax, the conservative news outlet, says Sinclair Broadcast Group’s plans for station sales are a “sham” to gain FCC approval for its proposed   acquisition of Tribune Media.”

Third Topic : Changes at the New York Times

The New York Times has made editorial changes which have created “an op-ed crisis.” NYT was reliably left-leaning and moderate – but after the 2016 election the op-ed section has turned more activist, as have most readers on the left. James Bennet seems to be unhappy with that slant and is trying to introduce “balance”, which means more right wing input, and he is also moving to give new authors coverage, but the new authors he is choosing do not please the traditional NYT reader. The right wing, which has its own 24/7 television channel and plenty of talk radio coverage has been whining about unfair coverage by mainstream media. It is my contention that if the right said anything that could be mistaken for good policy then they would not have to whine and tattle. I am thinking about switching my subscription to the Washington Post.

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/02/new-york-times-op-ed-crisis-james-bennet

Fourth Topic: Deportation

ICE and the mayor of Oakland, California are involved in a conflict over deportations because she keeps warning residents about upcoming deportations.

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-oakland-mayor-ice-20180228-story.html

150 to be deported in California is a story reported in the UK press.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5444129/ICE-arrests-150-illegal-immigrants-California.html

From Syracuse, NY, another sanctuary city, we have more news about deportation.

http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2018/02/once_tolerated_now_targeted_illegal_immigrants_in_cny_caught_in_crackdown.html

This article asks what happens to family members left behind after deportations.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/28/opinion/american-families-immigrants-deportation.html

Fifth Topic: New Study on Segregation (and it is not good news)

A new study shows that segregation and inequality are worse, and makes the argument that these issues will not be solved by privatization. This article includes excellent graphs and charts.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/02/28/opinion/the-unmet-promise-of-equality.html

Sixth Topic: Climate Change

The New York Times adds to its Climate Change series with another article headed by a spectacular video showing permanent changes on the Louisiana Delta caused by rising seas.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/02/24/us/jean-lafitte-floodwaters.html

Seventh Topic: Conspiracy Theories (How they go mainstream)

https://www.salon.com/2018/03/01/how-right-wing-conspiracy-theories-grow-mainstream-pundits-give-them-power/

 

I could go on but I won’t. Clearly there are stories about the White House and then there are the other news stories that describe the aftereffects of what goes on in the White House and Congress. Keeping an eye on how Conservative policies are working is a must if we someday hope to overturn these policies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Earth Day, 2017

 

Sea Sick

This article was originally posted on 5/21/2015 after an oil pipe leak onto a beach in Santa Barbara, California but I think it is quite appropriate for Earth Day in 2017. This article can also be found in my book, Environmental Diary, The Obama Years with a link at http://notabene718.com/

We sort of view our oceans, seas, rivers, and lakes as a giant purification system. We can empty any dirty old thing in there and it will come out clean. But we have been fooling ourselves with this science of wishful thinking. When our population was smaller and the waste we emptied into our water was mainly organic, this faux water science sort of worked. But with 7 billion plus people on the planet even organic wastes are taxing our water systems, fresh and salty.

When we were at the peak of the Industrial Age we put heavy toxic chemicals and more complex organics like oil into our water systems routinely. This was done so slyly that we can conclude that businesses were aware of both the true science of their acts and of the moral quicksand they were standing on, but this was the standard procedure in industry at that time and many sins were hidden under our waters.

I’m sure local government leaders and other government people on up the chain were at least peripherally aware of what businesses were doing but industry was so important to an area’s economic health that secrets were kept. When our factories left us in The Great Industrial Migration, which began in the 80’s and 90’s and is still going on, these same governments suddenly found themselves stuck with the toxic waste left behind in local water systems (and in the earth too, in many cases). In some cases local governments were able to hold a business’ feet to the fire until they mounted some kind of clean up.

I have seen this whole dynamic play out in my own town which has had the honor of being host to Onondaga Lake, the dirtiest lake in America. Between Allied Chemical and Honeywell dumping heavy metals and other toxins into this small and scenic urban lake and the sewage that overflowed the city water treatment plant whenever it rained, our beloved lake practically glowed in the dark. We could no longer fish or swim in it and if you were boating you shared tales of what would happen to you if you fell in.

There are reasons our planet’s surface is three-quarters water. Without a water cycle that repeats predictably life could not exist on our planet. We are 90% water. We only survive a short time without water to drink. Water is life. Water supports marine life which we enjoy eating but which could prove essential to life if we ever do descend into survivalist mode. Primitive man treasured fish because it added variety to their diet and healthy Omega-3’s, which they did not have a name for, but which they instinctively knew to be good for them. Even if you don’t eat seafood, I’m sure derivatives are in many products you do use.

Now we watch in horror as the petroleum industry expects us to believe that the earth’s water system, including the wildlife in it, can absorb oil spill after oil spill and that the negative effects will be purely temporary. But that queasy feeling we get each time a new oil spill sullies another pristine spot is our inner primitive survivalist telling us that we don’t believe a single disclaimer from these planet-trashers.

Honeywell may be able to help clean up my community’s small lake, but the oil companies cannot clean our oceans. There will be a tipping point eventually when the seas, river, lakes, oceans cannot take the toxic onslaught anymore. I hope we don’t wait that long. I applaud efforts to find new energy sources, but we need safeguards for oil drilling and oil delivery that really work and we need them now. (Hint, hint; oil people, stop operating on the cheap.)

Without clean water we will die, rich or poor, we will die.

Here’s a few links to lists of oil spills:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oil_spills

http://www.itopf.com/knowledge-resources/data-statistics/statistics/

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0001451.html#ixzz3amWW16pK/

Of course it is no longer 5/21/2015 and the list of spills is much longer as we get ready for Science March this weekend 4/22/17 and the Climate Change March next weekend 4/29/17.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Environmental Diary: The Obama Years by N. L. Brisson

While this may not be an auspicious day for a book that talks about earth’s environmental issues, as of today my book is available on Amazon.com- Environmental Diary: The Obama Years by N. L. Brisson.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/0692807004/ref=nav_timeline_asin?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

 

environmental-diary-book-cover

Running Out of Time

outoftime

We do not have time to legislate morality and it is not even appropriate to do so in America. We have issues of life and death to consider like how to reverse climate change on our planet, how to get off our planet if it becomes impossible to survive here. We need to decide what we will do if the air becomes un-breathe-able, if the water becomes undrinkable.

 

We don’t need to go back over things that have already been decided. We don’t need to rethink birth control, or a woman’s right to make decisions about her life and body including being able to have an abortion if she so chooses. Deciding exactly when life begins is irrelevant in these circumstances where the population of earth is well over 7 billion.

 

We need to plan for how we will feed the world’s people. We need to enlist everyone’s help make some tough decisions about our survival as a species.

 

We don’t have time to revisit whether or not the US will become a religious nation. It was already decided by our forefathers. We keep our government and our religion separate because our nation believes in freedom of religion and there are not different ways to parse this.

 

We do not have time for a new civil war over nonsense like whether our government will be large or small, whether it will be all white, all male or all diversified as to gender and race. Diversity is here and we don’t have time to reverse it. That cannot be a priority.

 

We don’t have time to worry about people’s sexual orientation. It doesn’t really matter.

 

We don’t have time for sectarian violence and all the ideological/religious chaos around the world. It is time to pretend that aliens have attacked us and we must unite to repel them. Of course, so far there are not any aliens, but nevertheless the planet is under attack and being destroyed. The reports about what we are doing to the earth are never good these days.

 

We don’t have time for climate deniers and Creationists. If they have their way we will lose the freedom we need to adopt laws that will help us meet the need of humans without destroying the home planet we are unable to leave.

 

We do not have time to fight about whether we should buck up the poor or let them die off if they can’t take care of their own needs. Perhaps someone from those humans at the bottom of the economy may offer valuable ideas that will help us all. We cannot afford the instability that will ensue if we no longer support our poorest citizens. We need to concentrate on human survival on earth. We need to expand our space program drastically so that, if we can’t save the planet, we can send some or all humans to a new planet to insure survival of the species.

 

We do not have time to attack our schools and make war on education. We can’t un-eat that apple from Eden, reverse that original sin. Ignorance will not bring back our innocence. It can’t be considered acceptable that keeping people uneducated will create a more malleable underclass. Who, except modern Republicans, thinks like that?

 

Maybe I’ve gone off the deep end and things are not nearly as dire as they seem to me, but it can’t hurt to try to create a better future through conservation, better organization, cooperation and thinking way outside the box. Perhaps there is so much distraction, escapism, and division all around the world because somewhere, at our core, we recognize that we are living in an age that represents a turning point, a pivot. We will either pivot back to a more primitive, less populated, and simpler life (if this is even possible given the state of our natural resources) or that pivot will deposit us in the future. Right now that primitive thing looks more likely.

 

I think a representative world body with some clout that spent its time brainstorming and collecting ideas, conducting research, and coordinating a space program and even an implementation of that much maligned Agenda 21 are starting to look like a pretty good way to start.

 

This could be our World War III, a cause larger than any one of us that brings us all together.