There are 92 days until the midterm elections. America has been held hostage now for 553 days.
It seems like a lifetime since decency and honesty were the norm at the White House and in the executive branch and it is not an exaggeration to say that in three months our 237 year experiment in self-governance will be on the line. These elections are the last remaining obstacle to Trump’s consolidation of power. He and his party do not intend to lose their grip on this country. Outnumbered, but controlling two thirds of the state houses, Republicans have done everything possible to limit the electorate. In Georgia alone, between 2013 and 2017, 850,000 voters were removed from the rolls for not voting in two election cycles. That is nearly 12% of the eligible voters in the state. The Supreme Court upheld a similar approach in Ohio in a recent 5-4 ruling. Across the country, our response must be to register as many people as possible in the time remaining. The deadline in New Mexico is October 9th. If you need to get certified to register new voters, please let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org), and we’ll set up a training with the County Clerk, Linda Padilla. Some of us did this before the primary. It took less than an hour and was well worth the time.
On the docket at regulations.gov is the 2020 Census Federal Register Notice. For the next two days the Census Bureau will continue to take comments on their proposed approach to the census. The Constitution is clear. Everyone is to be counted. However, as you know, the Administration appears be trying to rig the response in ways that would have dramatic long-term consequences. This will be the first census to use the internet but Trump’s budget cuts forced the bureau to cancel critical field tests in 2017 and 2018. In another effort to save money, there will be 200,000 fewer people hired as enumerators. They will carry tablets rather than paper forms and this new reliance on computer technology raises fears about cyber security in the wake of hacking and interference by foreign governments in our elections. The biggest bomb planted in the census, though, is the question about citizenship. From all reports, this is a deliberate attempt to discourage recent immigrants and their families from responding. The Commerce Department, which runs the census, claimed the Department of Justice asked for the question to obtain minority voter information. Then it turned out Wilbur Ross of Commerce contacted Justice earlier in order to concoct that cover story. I swear, this is the most corrupt bunch I have seen in government in my 65 years. Please take a minute to put your comments on the record.
In July of 2016, the Ninth Circuit Court decided the Navy’s use of a specialized low-frequency sonar for long-range tracking of submarines violated laws protecting marine mammals. Powerful active sonar can severely injure whales and other species and has been linked to mass-strandings and beachings.
The Navy used the systems for only 51.6 hours in 2015. They are proposing 496 hours, a ten-fold increase, with some restrictions near shorelines and in the Arctic. The oceans are increasingly noisy with military sonar, at 180 dB, certainly the most destructive. You may recall that 90 dB leads to hearing loss in humans and each 10 additional decibels is twice as loud. Comments close in a week and there was only a single one as of tonight. We need to speak for our fellow creatures who cannot. The link is here.
Finally, the Army Corps of Engineers is wading into the controversy over how to define the waters subject to the Clean Water Act. They would like to repeal the 2015 rule that included smaller tributaries, intermittent streams, ponds and wetlands and give only navigable rivers and lakes protection. It was clearly the purpose of the Clean Water Act to protect water quality regardless of the location or the size of the water source and this is an end-run intended to allow the despoiling of countless environments. The comments close on August 13th. Follow this link.
Thanks again for everything you do to protect our world and its inhabitants, both human and non-human