Protecting Immigrant Children

This is outside the usual scope of this blog, but it is an important report on yet another failure of DHS. See: Protecting Unacommpanied Alien Children from Trafficking and Abuse.Thousands of children enter the U.S. annually unaccompanied by family or relatives.  These children are taken into custody and placed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) pending immigration procedures.”Immigrant children at a private detention facility, photo provided by ICE

On the heels of concern regarding family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border, and the ongoing effort to reunify these families, comes this Staff Report from the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: ‘Protecting Unaccompanied Alien Children from Trafficking and Other Abuses: The Role of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.’

This report addresses concerns that the HHS has not adequately performed its duties in ensuring the appropriate and safe placement of unaccompanied alien children (UACs).  The Subcommittee investigation concluded that HHS “policies and procedures are inadequate to protect the children in the agency’s care,” in particular to protect them from human trafficking and abuse.

Heat is the New Threat

From The Guardian: ‘It can’t get much hotter … can it?’ How heat became a national US problem. Heat now kills more Americans than floods, hurricanes or other natural disasters – but cities are facing it almost entirely alone

Heat already kills more Americans than floods, hurricanes or other ecological disasters. That puts sweltering cities like Phoenix – where flights were cancelled last year because it was simply too hot – under growing pressure. But heat is rapidly becoming a national problem.

Recent research suggests warming conditions are leading to suicides, as rising nighttime temperatures deprive Americans of sleep and respite from scorching days. A new study, released last week, predicts that a warming climate will drive thousands to emergency rooms for heat illness. The very hottest days experienced in the US could be a further 15F warmer this century if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t curbed.

New Report on General Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Recovery

Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Disaster Recovery. This 32 page report was prepared by several major international organizations. 

It is often assumed that all members of a population experience the impact of disasters in the same way. However, natural disasters are not neutral: They affect women, men, girls, and boys differently due to gender inequalities caused by socioeconomic conditions, cultural beliefs, and traditional practices which have repeatedly put females at a disadvantage. “Gender” refers to the socio-cultural roles, norms, and values associated with being a man or a woman. These roles, norms, and values determine how women and men prepare for, react to, and recover from disasters, and they often cause unequal distribution of power, economic opportunities, and sense of agency.

Who Bears Responsibility for CA Fires?

From Bloomberg News: Facing $17 Billion in Fire Damages, a CEO Blames Climate Change

It was California’s biggest fire yet. In late July and August, wildfires devastated an area north of San Francisco far bigger than New York City, destroying more than 100 homes and injuring 2 fire fighters. It’s just one in a rash of fast-spreading blazes that have killed at least 56 people this year and last in the Golden State.

Authorities don’t yet know the cause of some of the fires, but the region’s giant utility, PG&E Corp., see a culprit at work — climate change. The blazes in recent years, it said, are the latest example of how global warming has produced unusually hot, dry conditions that spawn more frequent and intense fires. “Climate change is no longer coming, it’s here,” Geisha Williams, chief executive officer of PG&E, said in an email. “And we are living with it every day.”

Scientists tend to agree with that assessment. But California’s biggest utility has an especially compelling reason to link the fires to the environment. State investigators have tied PG&E equipment, such as trees hitting power lines, to some of the blazes in October that in total destroyed nearly 9,000 structures and killed 44 people. It faces damage liabilities totaling as much as $17 billion, and possible financial ruin — its stock is down about 37 percent since the fires — unless Williams can convince California lawmakers that the company’s problem is, in fact, a climate change problem.

Study of Recovery Centers After H. Harvey

A Quick Response Report from the Hazards Center at Univ. of CO/Boulder.  See Gathering Places During the Short Term Recovery Following H. Harvey.

The most recent research from the Quick Response Grant Program looked at three communities on the south coast of Texas a month after Hurricane Harvey struck. They found that while there were ample opportunities to gather together and for many reasons, these locations—at least in the short term—didn’t always provide a sense of community for those who met there.



Various Articles on Wildfires

Editorial in Wash Post: We Won’t Stop CA Wildfires If We Don’t talk About Climate Change.

By way of background, the political aspects promoted by Pres. Trump: To California, The Wildfires Are Tragic. To The Trump Administration, They’re Convenient.
“The Commerce Department has ordered that water use be prioritized for firefighters — who say water isn’t the issue. The decision isn’t really about fire.”

Another political take on Trump’s Attitude toward the fires and other natural disasters: Trump’s Response To Natural Disasters Is A Window Into His Barren Soul. 

For Trump, it’s a whole lot easier to place blame than grapple with the effects of our nation’s energy and environmental policies and the reality of a warming climate. Addressing the underlying causes of wildfire would mean having an honest conversation with the public about why they are getting bigger, hotter and more destructive.

The scientific perspective, from the NYTimes; The Earth Ablaze

The widespread fires this year have magnified concerns that we are locked in a worldwide pattern of conflagration that is both persistent and catastrophic. Wildfires have been even more pervasive in 2018 in central and northern Europe than last year, including the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland and Germany. In Greece, east of Athens, some 90 people were killed. (Last year in Portugal, more than 100 people in died in wildfires, including at least 30 people who were trapped in their cars when flames engulfed a road.)