Archive | August, 2017

At Least 1,200 Die as Devastating Climate Change-Linked Floods Submerge Parts of South Asia

In the past month, more than 1,200 people have died amid flooding in Bangladesh, Nepal and India. This year’s monsoon season has brought torrential downpours that have submerged wide swaths of South Asia, destroying tens of thousands of homes, schools and hospitals and affecting up to 40 million people. Aid organizations are warning that this is one of the worst regional humanitarian crises in years, with millions of people facing severe food shortages and disease caused by polluted flood water. Flood victims in southern Nepal say they have lost everything. We speak with Asad Rehman, executive director of War on Want. He has worked on climate change issues for over a decade.


AMY GOODMAN: Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: While Houston remains under water after a historic storm, we turn now to look at massive flooding across the globe in South Asia. Over the past month, more than 1,200 people have died amidst flooding in Bangladesh, Nepal, and India. This year’s monsoon season has brought torrential downpours that have submerged wide swaths of South Asia, destroying tens of thousands of homes, schools, and hospitals, and affecting up to 40 million people. Flood victims in southern Nepal say they have lost everything.

UNKNOWN: If our demands are not fulfilled, what should we do? We have to sleep on the side of the road. We have to die on the side of the road. We have nothing. We don’t have a house. Nothing to eat. We don’t have food to eat. Everything was swept away by the flood.

AMY GOODMAN: Aid organizations are warning this is one of the worst regional humanitarian crises in years, with millions of people facing severe food shortages and disease …read more

Via:: Truthout



ICE Plans to Start Destroying Records Detailing Immigrant Sexual Abuse and Deaths in Its Custody

A man is detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), agents early on October 14, 2015, in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo: John Moore / Getty Images)

A man is detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents early on October 14, 2015, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: John Moore / Getty Images)

The openly anti-immigrant agenda of the Trump administration has led to a drastic increase in deportations of undocumented immigrants, and a looming threat of removal for Dreamers who have spent most of their lives in the U.S. Those policies promise only to further tax the country’s immigration detention centers, where watchdog groups and detainees frequently report unsafe conditions. The dangers these detainees face are often revealed through careful reviews of records that document violations of immigrants’ human and civil rights. Now the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, better known as ICE, wants permission to destroy those records, which detail immigrant abuses ranging from sexual assaults to wrongful deaths.

A press release from the ACLU indicates that ICE has submitted the new request on recordkeeping to the National Archives and Record Administration, which oversees the handling of federal records. Under the new terms, ICE would be allowed to destroy 11 types of records, “including those related to sexual assaults, solitary confinement and even deaths of people in its custody,” as well as “regular detention monitoring reports, logs about the people detained in ICE facilities and communications from the public reporting detention abuses.” The ACLU report indicates that ICE now wants to destroy records on sexual abuse after 20 years, while those related to solitary confinement would be removed after just three years. In the short term, NARA has greenlit this highly problematic new timescale:

NARA has provisionally approved ICE’s proposal and its explanations for doing so are troubling. In cases of sexual assault and death, for example, NARA states …read more

Via:: Truthout



Communities Need to Reduce Violence Against Women of Color Without Police

Activists display a sign in honor of Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd, Alesia Thomas and Dhantel Davis, four black women who were murdered by police, on August 9, 2014. (Photo: Joe Brusky)

In this excerpt from Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color, Andrea J. Ritchie discusses how police often respond to complaints of violence by exacerbating violence against women of color, and the alternatives to calling the police that some anti-violence organizers have developed.

Activists display a sign in honor of Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd, Alesia Thomas and Dhantel Davis, four Black women who were murdered by police. (Photo: Joe Brusky)

Invisible No More is a timely examination of police violence against Black women, Indigenous women and other women of color. “Thanks to Andrea Ritchie’s thorough research and raw storytelling,” says Robin D.G. Kelley about the book, “we can finally begin to #SayHerName and end the state’s war on women of color once and for all.” Get a copy by donating to support Truthout now!

In the following excerpt from Invisible No More, Andrea J. Ritchie discusses how police often respond to complaints of violence by exacerbating violence against women of color, and the alternatives to calling the police that some anti-violence organizers have developed.

The Ann Arbor Alliance for Black Lives initially arose out of a solidarity march with Ferguson in the wake of the murder of Mike Brown in August 2014. Since then it has largely focused on demanding accountability for the killing of Aura Rain Rosser, an artist and mother of three killed by Ann Arbor police three months later. Officers David Ried and Mark Raab responded to a domestic violence call at Aura’s house. Claiming that Aura caused them to fear for their safety as she walked toward them from fifteen feet away holding a four-inch knife, officers made no effort to de-escalate the situation or give her an opportunity …read more

Via:: Truthout



The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Tax Americana

By Elaine Godfrey

Today in 5 Lines

Five days after hitting Texas, Hurricane Harvey, now classified as a tropical storm, made landfall again, this time in Louisiana. The National Weather Service warned that “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding will continue” in Texas and Louisiana for the rest of the week. The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved more than $23.5 million in assistance for people affected by the storm. During a speech in Springfield, Missouri, President Trump said Republicans have a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to pass tax reform, adding that he doesn’t “want to be disappointed by Congress.” Trump also targeted Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, telling attendees to “vote her out of office” if she doesn’t help with tax reform.

Today on The Atlantic

  • Limited Powers: President Trump said that “all options are on the table” after North Korea fired a missile over Japan. But Garrett Epps explains that one option—a preventative strike—would require congressional approval.

  • Desegregation On Hold: The Department of Housing and Urban Development has suspended an Obama-era policy that would have helped low-income Americans move into areas with better schools, worrying some housing activists who argue the agency is turning its attention away from the poor. (Alana Semuels)

  • Who’s Running the Show?: While debates between the White House and State Department are common, it’s difficult to tell who, exactly, is guiding foreign policy in the Trump administration. (Krishnadev Calamur)

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Via:: <a href= class="colorbox" title="The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Tax Americana” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic



Trump’s Fill-in-the-Blanks Tax Reform Plan

By Russell Berman

Four months ago, the Trump administration released the outlines of a tax-reform plan—a one-page list of ideas and principles that was notable mostly for how many questions it left unanswered.

On Wednesday, President Trump traveled to Missouri to expand on the need for tax reform, to lay the groundwork for a major legislative push in Congress this fall. But more than anything else, what Trump’s speech revealed was that despite months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, Republicans aren’t much closer to enacting the most significant overhaul of the tax code in 30 years than they were back in April.

Trump was pitching a plan that doesn’t exist and demanding votes for a bill that hasn’t been written. If anything, the address the president delivered was even less detailed than the skimpy blueprint the White House issued in the spring. The most specific item Trump mentioned—a 15 percent corporate tax rate, down from the current 35 percent—is something that Republican tax-writers on Capitol Hill believe is impossible to achieve under the parameters with which they must work. He talked in broad terms about simplifying the code so that it’s easier for people to file their taxes, removing unspecified special interest loopholes, and encouraging businesses to bring back profits they’ve parked overseas—all policies that have been central to GOP proposals for years and offer little indication of the particular direction the party plans to go.

This was a bully pulpit speech. Having laid down his principles, Trump is once again leaving the dirty work to Congress, a strategy that even he seemed to acknowledge was as risky as it is politically necessary. “I don’t want to be disappointed by Congress, do you understand me? Do you understand?” he warned at one point, a none-too-subtle reference to his recent hectoring over the GOP’s failure to deliver …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Seeking Legal Help in the Middle of Hurricane Harvey

By Vann R. Newkirk II

With much of the Houston area still underwater, levees in surrounding counties breached, and stormwater reservoirs overflowing, it might seem an odd time for victims of Hurricane Harvey to think about legal services. But as first responders try to save lives in the middle of an increasingly deadly storm, legal-aid organizations along the Gulf Coast of Texas are already working to assist victims with a process that can be almost as stressful as a natural disaster itself: rebuilding.

Disasters like Harvey can create legal crises for families that last long after the waters recede. Long-term evacuees from neighborhoods like those near the Addicks Reservoir’s spillways, which might be flooded for months, are at risk of having their homes auctioned off if they can’t move back in soon enough. People who flee can lose track of their mortgage payments and face foreclosure when they return. Evacuees from rental properties and apartments can face evictions, rising rents, and other challenges from unscrupulous landlords.

In addition, people often lose vital documents in floods, and without them might not be able to enroll their children in school or receive medical care. Those with few resources can face personal bankruptcies or even unlawful job terminations if they can’t make it back into work. And every property owner will likely face months of dealing with insurers, contractors, small-business-loan authorities, the incredibly dysfunctional National Flood Insurance Program, FEMA programs, or some combination of them.

And filing claims is just the beginning: After Hurricane Katrina, FEMA sent collection letters to thousands of people the agency claimed it had overpaid, and many families had to take insurers to court in order to recover full reimbursements. Even for wealthy residents with private legal representation, the road to rebuilding will be taxing. For people with fewer resources, the …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Trump Works to Remedy His Empathy Deficit

By David A. Graham

After receiving sharp criticism for his rhetoric about Hurricane Harvey during a short visit to Texas on Tuesday, President Trump offered a fresh message on Wednesday: I care.

In short remarks ahead of a speech promoting tax reform, the president tried to correct course, steering away from the rah-rah character of his tour in Texas and radiating more sympathy.

“In difficult times such as these we see the true character of the American people: Their strength, their love, and their resolve,” he said. “We see friend helping friend, neighbor helping neighbor, and stranger helping stranger. Together, we will endure and we will overcome. To those affected by this storm, we are praying for you and we are with you every step of the way.”

That was a departure from his tone in Texas. During stops in the state, he focused on inspirational praise for the indomitable American spirit and wonderment at size—both the size of storm, and in a strange moment, the size of the audience there to greet him. (“What a crowd, what a turnout.”) It was left to Governor Greg Abbott to insist that Trump was “heartbroken.”

As I wrote on Tuesday, presidents tend to respond to disasters with a mix of inspiration and consolation. Trump is good at celebrating resilience, but sympathy is not a mode that seems to come to him naturally, and there are few instances of him expressing it publicly during his political career. Also missing from his remarks was any comment on the deaths of civilians or first responders during the storm, an unusual omission.

On Wednesday, he corrected that. “To those Americans who have lost loved ones, all of America …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Trump Administration Puts on Hold an Obama-Era Desegregation Effort

By Alana Semuels

The zip code where a child grows up can have a huge effect on that kid’s entire life. Children who grow up in low-poverty areas make more money than people who grow up in high-poverty areas, according to work by a team of researchers led by Raj Chetty, a Stanford economist. They’re also more likely to go to college and less likely to be single parents. To state the obvious, many poor families don’t have the resources to move to “high-opportunity neighborhoods.” Such areas, which boast better schools, parks, and jobs, are generally quite expensive. And, beyond financial constraints, low-income families often find it difficult to move to neighborhoods far away from family, friends, churches, and schools.

Through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Obama administration undertook a number of programs that sought to help families move from low to high-opportunity neighborhoods. Part of the idea was that doing so would actually get people off government assistance, Julian Castro, the secretary of HUD during the final years of the Obama administration, told me. If they move to better neighborhoods, families can access better educational opportunities and jobs, make more money, and stop needing public help. “You need to help empower families by ensuring that they have the tools they need to succeed,” he said.

But the Trump administration recently suspended a key Obama policy that would have, on October 1, begun helping low-income people move. The program, called Small Area Fair Market Rents, would have increased the amount of money the government would pay for voucher-holders to rent homes in high-opportunity areas, and lowered the amount they would receive in low-opportunity areas. The program, which would have gone into effect in 23 metropolitan areas, would theoretically not have cost HUD any more money, something that seemingly would …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Trump Doesn’t Have the Authority to Attack North Korea Without Congress

By Garrett Epps

“[The North Korean] regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior,” President Donald Trump said Tuesday morning. “All options are on the table.”

One option that should not be on the table is a “preventive” American military strike against North Korea without United Nations approval, public debate, and a congressional authorization.

If a foreign enemy attacks the U.S. or one of its allies first, or is preparing to do so imminently, the president can order an immediate retaliatory response. But if there’s no such initial attack, the commander in chief cannot decide for himself to take the nation to war. That decision is for Congress. The requirement is not a formality, and it’s not outdated. It’s a central requirement of our system, and for good reason.

Presidents have long chafed against limits on their military power, and each administration has sought ways around them. Evading Congress was dangerous when Barack Obama did it; it remains dangerous now that Donald Trump has pushed even farther than Obama. Under neither president did Congress act effectively to restrict the president’s authority. The world may soon reap the whirlwind that a broken political system has sown.

Georgetown law professor Martin Lederman (a former executive branch lawyer and a top authority on war powers) pointed out three weeks ago that an unapproved attack on North Korea would violate not only the U.S. Constitution but also U.S. law as set forth in a binding treaty and the fundamental charter of international law.

Begin with the Constitution. The framers and ratifiers rejected the British King’s “prerogative” to go to war (as recently as 2004, a Parliamentary report indicated that the government of Britain still has the …read more

Via:: The Atlantic