Today is Citizenship Day. Across the country, thousands of new citizens are swearing allegiance to this country and this dream. Last Tuesday, I saw 875 new citizens sworn in at the St. Paul River Center. They came from 91 countries, but now they are part of one country. More new citizens were sworn in on Thursday in Moorhead, and even more across the country during the past week and today. They all swore to “support and defend the constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
The Wizard of Oz came to Duluth last Wednesday and it wasn’t a pretty sight. Hiding behind a curtain of presidential power, he pulled all the usual levers and set his supporters roaring “Build that wall!” and “USA!”
Like the Wizard of Oz, Donald Trump is a small man with a big voice and loud lies. Lots of lies. Continue reading
“If you can remember the 1960s, you weren’t really there.”*
The old quote has some truth in it, but if you want to remember the 1960s (which really ran over into the 1970s), Dianna Hunter has a book for you. She will be at the East Side Freedom Library on June 19 to read from her memoir, Wild Mares: My Lesbian Back-to-the-Land Life. Continue reading
My recycling is staying right in Minnesota.
CORRECTION 6//19/18 – Eureka has not shipped to China since 2013.
After a friend pointed me to a New York Times article saying that recycling is going into landfills, because China has closed the door on U.S. garbage imports, I double-checked. Yes—Minneapolis and St. Paul recycling still stays mostly in Minnesota. Eureka Recycling, our non-profit recycling provider, does not ship our paper, plastic, or anything else to China, and has not done so since 2013.
“About 80% of our materials are sold to markets in MN, 90% in the upper Midwest, 100% in North America,” reports Lynn Hoffman, co-president of Eureka. She adds that they are still impacted by China’s import ban, because flooding of U.S. recycling markets has driven prices down.
According to the NYT article, roughly one-third of the 66 million tons of material recycled in the United States each year is shipped overseas. China was the largest importer of U.S. recyclables, and accepted about half of the entire world’s exports of recyclables. Last year, China announced that it would no longer be “the world’s garbage dump,” and it stopped importing almost all recyclables on January 1, 2018.
“We have been outsourcing impacts of our consumption in our trash,” says Hoffman, and the change could be a good thing for the recycling industry. She hopes for investments in U.S. recycling infrastructure to “create good quality material with high value.” The change, she says, could be a good thing for the industry.
On the other hand, there’s a danger that recycling imports will simply shift to other countries, such as India, where standards and regulations are lower. That would perpetuate the problem of dumping our garbage on other people
“We’re not opposed to shipping overseas on principle,” Hoffman says. The problem is that, “in those markets, it can be harder to track your material and know what’s happening to it. Transparency is a big deal for us, and that leads us to markets that are closer to home.”
She says the global shake-up could be an opportunity to rebuild in a way that’s great for recycling, and great for our communities. Investment in recycling infrastructure doesn’t come cheap, but, she says, “It’s always less expensive than trash,” especially if you consider the hidden costs of landfilling to human health, water, and cleaning up spills.
Want to know more about where your recycling goes? Check these out:
CORRECTION 6//19/18 – Eureka has not shipped to China since 2013. The article originally said Eureka had never shipped to China, but Eureka has informed me that it did ship some materials to China prior to 2013. Lynn Hoffman clarified in an email:
“We’re not fundamentally opposed to sending material to China or any other export market – as this is a global commodity industry. We have prioritized local markets as much as possible over the years because it results in more environmental benefit (less transportation) and more local economic benefit.”
“They’re not people, these are animals,” Trump says. He says they are pouring into the country, committing vicious, brutal crimes, terrorizing Long Island.
The New York Daily News reported that even his own administration members don’t back his claims:
“Carla Provost, the acting chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, noted during Senate testimony last summer how seldom gang members are caught among the unaccompanied minors crossing the border from Mexico.
“Of the 250,000 children apprehended between 2011 and summer 2017, 159 had or were suspected of having gang affiliations.
“Of those, only 56 were suspected of affiliation or confirmed to be members of MS-13, Provost said.”
“On Feb. 20, a young woman named Mirian arrived at the Texas border carrying her 18-month-old son. They had fled their home in Honduras through a cloud of tear gas, she told border agents, and needed protection from the political violence there.
“She had hoped she and her son would find refuge together. Instead, the agents ordered her to place her son in the back seat of a government vehicle, she said later in a sworn declaration to a federal court. They both cried as the boy was driven away.”
This New York Times report sounds like something out of Law and Order or some other ripped-from-the-headlines almost-true crime show. Unlike a television show, there’s no happy ending and the forces of the law look like the villains, not the heroes. Continue reading
On April 26, the New York Times reported:
“A top official with the Department of Health and Human Services told members of Congress on Thursday that the agency had lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children it placed with sponsors in the United States, raising concerns they could end up in the hands of human traffickers or be used as laborers by people posing as relatives.”
These children were “unaccompanied minors” who arrived at the border on their own and were placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and then placed with sponsors. Most were from Central America, and were fleeing violence from gangs and drug cartels. Most of the 7,635 unaccompanied minors placed by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) arrived before 2017. Continue reading
Immigration horror stories: Children ripped from their parents’ arms. Anguished mothers and fathers. Missing children. Children kicked, punched, called “dogs” by Customs and Border Protection officials. A teenager spending a year and a half in custody because he gave the finger to a classmate.
Makes you want to scream: Make it stop! Make it all stop! Continue reading
On May 22, the ACLU released a report documenting horrendous abuse and neglect of unaccompanied immigrant children detained by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The ACLU produced the report together with the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School. Examples of abuses reported by the ACLU include allegations that CBP officials:
- Punched a child’s head three times
- Kicked a child in the ribs
- Used a stun gun on a boy, causing him to fall to the ground, shaking, with his eyes rolling back in his head
- Ran over a 17-year-old with a patrol vehicle and then punched him several times
- Verbally abused detained children, calling them dogs and “other ugly things”
- Denied detained children permission to stand or move freely for days and threatened children who stood up with transfer to solitary confinement in a small, freezing room
- Denied a pregnant minor medical attention when she reported pain, which preceded a stillbirth
- Subjected a 16-year-old girl to a search in which they “forcefully spread her legs and touched her private parts so hard that she screamed”
- Left a 4-pound premature baby and her minor mother in an overcrowded and dirty cell full of sick people, against medical advice
- Threw out a child’s birth certificate and threatened him with sexual abuse by an adult male detainee.
With the Somali economy in shambles because of civil war, many people living there depend on assistance from family members in the United States to pay for food, medicine, and other basic necessities. Somalia has little banking infrastructure. Years ago, the U.S. government forbade U.S. banks from sending money to informal banking systems in Somalia. That left Somali-Americans with no way to send money to relatives desperate for help—except by sending cash.
Last week, Fox News strung together anonymous sources and rumors to libel the Somali community in Minnesota. Minnesota Public Radio reported that one named sources, who also testified at a quickly-called legislative hearing, has a serious past history of making false and defamatory statements. He has been sued for his false statements in the past, and has apologized in writing, acknowledging the falsehoods. Continue reading