February 17, 2021
Action Alert Digest
D.C. Mayor Declares DC Gun Violence a Public Health Crisis in New Order
Gun violence in D.C. is a public health crisis, Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared, and she’s forming an emergency operations center to combat it. “This is a level of violence that we haven’t seen in more than a decade,” Bowser said. “And the homicide trends are disturbing.” The new order creates a first-of-its-kind gun violence prevention center to coordinate government resources to support communities most impacted by gun violence. MORE
When Health Care Professionals Replace Police Officers, No One Gets Arrested
A new program in Denver that puts troubled nonviolent people in the hands of health care workers instead of police officers has proven successful in its first six months. Since last summer, a mental health clinician and a paramedic have traveled around the city handling low-level incidents, like trespassing and mental health episodes. Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen says it frees up officers to do their jobs: fight crime. MORE
Military Officials Were Unaware of Potential Danger to Pence's “Nuclear Football” During Capitol Riot
Military officials overseeing the authorization process to launch nuclear weapons were unaware on January 6 that then-Vice President Mike Pence's military aide carrying the "nuclear football" was potentially in danger as rioters got close during the violent Capitol insurrection, according to a defense official. The vice president is always accompanied by a backup of the "football," which contains the equipment to carry out orders to launch a nuclear strike. MORE
There is no reason for the US to rush to build new ICBMs. In the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Frank N. von Hippel lays out the arguments against them on the basis of their cost, their vulnerability, and the contribution of their launch-on-warning posture to the danger of accidental nuclear war. MORE
Homeland Security Officials Scrap Trump-Era Deal That Could Have Stalled Biden's Immigration Policies
The Department of Homeland Security has moved to scrap a contract signed at the tail end of the Trump administration that could have allowed a union of deportation officers to stall the implementation of immigration policy changes. The agreement, signed the day before President Biden's inauguration, gave Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation officers the ability to "indefinitely delay" the implementation of agency policies. MORE
Biden Administration Unveils New Asylum System
The Biden administration plans to phase in a new asylum process to handle the backlog of asylum seekers who have been forced to wait in Mexico for their U.S. hearings. Biden officials said they are working with international organizations and the Mexican government, but details of the new system have yet to be established. MORE
The Border Patrol’s Culture of Racism Impacts Every Facet of the Agency Today
The U.S. Border Patrol has been rooted in institutional racism since its founding in 1924. Many of the first Border Patrol agents came from organizations known for racial violence and brutality, such as the Ku Klux Klan and the Texas Rangers. According to a new report by The American Immigration Council, these groups brought with them a culture of a racist “brotherhood” into the new agency. MORE
TAKE ACTION: Tell President Biden We Need Pollution-Free Cars by 2035
Transportation is the industry contributing the most to greenhouse gas pollution in the U.S. Moving to 100% electric cars, trucks, buses will take firm commitments and landmark policies. The Sierra Club urges us to send President Biden a personalized message to support a bold plan requiring manufacturers to produce pollution-free cars, trucks, and buses to improve air quality and cut climate pollution. TAKE ACTION
A Glimpse of America’s Future: Climate Change Means Trouble for Power Grids
Electric grids can be engineered to handle a wide range of severe conditions, like the devastating winter storms that plunged large parts of the central and southern United States this week into an energy crisis. But as climate change accelerates, many grids will face extreme weather events that go far beyond the historical conditions those systems were designed for. MORE
Energy Giant Shell Says Its Oil Production has Peaked
Royal Dutch Shell last week made the boldest statement among its peers about the waning of the oil age, saying that its oil production had reached a high in 2019 and was now likely to gradually decline. Shell’s “total oil production peaked in 2019,” the company said in a statement, and added that it expected a gradual decline of oil production of around 1 to 2 percent annually in coming years. MORE
TAKE ACTION: End Child Labor in the Chocolate Industry
After nearly 20 years of big chocolate companies promising to end child labor in cocoa, children are still illegally working to produce the cocoa that ends up in chocolate bars. Chocolate is a $100 billion per year industry, but most cocoa farmers live on less than $1 per day. Green America invites us to call on the world’s ten biggest chocolate companies, including Hershey, Godiva, Mars, and Nestle, to finally put an end to child labor in cocoa.  TAKE ACTION
75 People Arrested During Super Bowl Week in Human Trafficking Operation
More than 70 people were arrested during an investigation aimed at combating sexual exploitation in the Tampa Bay area during the Super Bowl week. The operation also resulted in the recovery of six people believed to be victims of human trafficking. Throughout the course of the investigation dubbed "Operation Game Over," the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office arrested a total of 75 people accused of seeking to either buy or sell sex. MORE
Virginia Murder Suspect Faced More Than a Dozen Domestic Violence Charges Over the Last Year
A family is dealing with the brutal tragedy of their loved one being murdered -- a horror that they believe is a result of a failed legal system. 42-year-old Michael Thurston, Sr. is accused of killing his estranged wife, and her family points out that he had racked up more than two dozen domestic violence charges in a year -- yet was somehow still a free man at the time of the murder. MORE
NY Mets Fire Coach Ryan Ellis Three Years After Three Women's Accounts of Sexual Harassment
In the wake of the Mets' firing of general manager Jared Porter last month, the baseball club also quietly dismissed hitting performance coordinator Ryan Ellis after three women had previously described sexual harassment by him. The three women, who worked for or had previously been employed by the Mets, spoke with the club's employee relations manager, in 2018 to report Ellis's behavior. MORE
TAKE ACTION: Halt All Water Shutoffs During the Pandemic 
With more than 20 million Americans having contracted the coronavirus, and now over 400,000 deaths, it’s clear that people can’t wait for safe water. President Biden has the authority to act immediately by instructing the CDC to use its public health authority to stop all water shutoffs for the full duration of the COVID-19 national emergency. Food and Water Watch invites us to tell President Biden to take executive action by issuing a national moratorium on water shutoffs. TAKE ACTION
Over Two Million Children in Yemen At Risk of Acute Malnutrition
More than 2 million Yemeni children under the age of 5 are expected to endure acute malnutrition in 2021, four United Nations agencies said last week, urging stakeholders to end the yearslong conflict that has brought the Arab world’s poorest country to the brink of famine. The report warned that nearly 400,000 of the 2.3 million kids are at risk of death due to severe acute malnutrition this year, a significant increase from last year’s estimates. MORE
Ramiro Ibarra is scheduled to be executed by the state of Texas on March 4 for the murder of Maria De La Paz Zuniga. Please hold Ramiro, Maria, their families, and the people of Texas in prayer. TAKE ACTION