Recent Must Reads: A Weekly Roundup

For three years, from 2012-2014, I took pilgrimages to Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota. My primary objective was to spot wolves, which I finally did in 2014, but I was mesmerized by the open highways, the Big Sky, the rugged, snow capped High Rockies. Visiting Deadwood, SD the first week in June 2014, I was surprised by the lack of open stores and “amusements.” In conversation with a merchant, I learned about the horrific early winter storm that ravaged ranches and devastated forests in October 2013. According to a Guernica article included in this week’s roundup, from the Black Hills to the Badlands, cattle died in unspeakable ways. More than forty thousand animals died as a result of the severe storm that dumped an unusual amount of snow on the area so early in the season. It would take many months for the area to recover and many ranchers were forced out of business as a result of huge cattle losses.

This past weekend, Hurricane Harvey entered Houston and south Texas with a fury of rain and wind that stalled over the area, causing flooding beyond most expectations. This week I’ve chosen articles that view the hurricane through a few different lenses. One of them is Climate Change and Global Warming. An article from The New York Times focuses on increased air and water temperatures as a reason why the hurricane remained over Houston and surrounding areas for so long. The writer offers examples of human choices that have impacted weather conditions to this extreme.

On my first trip to The Badlands in 2012, I’d been warned that the temperatures would be blistering. I was told to be prepared with plenty of water and sunscreen. The day I arrived, the wind was so strong, it battered my rental car back and forth across the yellow dividing line of Route 44 from Rapid City to Interior, South Dakota. All day the sky hung low in expansive purple, green and black bruised clouds. I never saw the sun. I hadn’t brought enough clothes to keep myself warm. On my 2014 trip, I landed in Billings, MT only to discover that there were no rental cars available due to a massive hail storm that severely damaged vehicles. Neither of these circumstances proves anything, except a pattern of bizarre and unexpected weather conditions that, when put together within the context of a larger narrative, indicate conditions outside the norm. Now is the time to take action, to do what we can as a species to minimize out footprint in every way possible. Take a look at the articles that discuss our climate changes.

Other stories this week discuss ICE ‘s plan to destroy records regarding rapes and other atrocities; the riding cost of victims’ out of pocket rape recovery; the Mayor of Houston promising to personally defend any illegal immigrant who is arrested while seeking hurricane shelter; and the current military freeze on Trump’s Transgender ban.

My lead story this week comes from an article published in Indian Country Today. The piece chronicles deaths and disappearances of several Indigenous Women, including Savanna Greywind, who was recently murdered, allegedly by a neighbor couple, who forcibly removed Greywind’s premature fetus from her womb. Please don’t miss this story; it offers a deeper understanding of genocide in the Native Community.

So, for these stories and more, Please Read On! Your comments are always welcome!

1. If you want to destroy a people, you target the women. We are the root, the heart, and the backbone. We are Mother. We birth mighty red nations. That’s why colonial governments forcibly sterilized thousands of Native women for decades.
“Savanna Greywind Murder: Violence Against Native Women Perpetuates Genocide”/ by Ruth Hopkins/ Indian Country Today/ August 29, 2017


2. This is not the first subtle rebuke by the Secretary of Defense of his commander in chief. Mattis was recorded during a private moment speaking to troops during what appears to be his trip to Jordan, Turkey, and Ukraine last week. “You just hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other and showing it,” Mattis said. It was an unscripted and revealing moment that Slate’s Fred Kaplan writes shows Mattis “all but acknowledging to the servicemen and women he oversees that the country they serve is broken and that the commander in chief, whose lawful orders they have sworn to obey, has helped break it.”
“Mattis Freezes Trump’s Transgender Ban Pending Further Review by People Other Than the President”/ by Elliot Hannon/ Slate/ August 29, 2017


3. “In cases of sexual assault and death, for example, NARA states that these records ‘do not document significant actions of Federal officials,’” the ACLU wrote. “It’s hard to believe that the actions of a federal official are not significant in the death or sexual assault of an individual who is in federal immigration custody.”
“ ICE Wants To Destroy Records that Show Abuses and Deaths of Immigrants in Custody”/ by Charlie May/ Salon/ August 29, 2017


4. Pine Ridge has one of the lowest life expectancies in the Western Hemisphere. For men, it hovers around fifty years old. The surrounding region doesn’t fare much better. When looking for something to blame, you might point to the astronomically high rates of alcoholism or the depression brought on by systemic poverty, but Jennifer thinks at least some of it is environmental, and that it has something to do with mining. She believes that contaminated water from poorly contained mines throughout western South Dakota has seeped into aquifers and surface water sources, and that it’s making people sick.
“By the Horns”/ by Pippa Biddle/ Guernica/ August 28, 2017


5. There have been fears that undocumented people fleeing the path of the storm —which has left at least eight people dead and thousands without a place to live—would face an impossible dilemma: Flee their homes, and risk arrest and detention from immigration enforcement officials, or refuse to evacuate and face injury or death. In the hours before the storm hit, the Department of Homeland Security announced it would maintain immigration checkpoints along Texas’ highways, saying “Border Patrol checkpoints will not be closed unless there is a danger to the safety of the traveling public and our agents.”
“Houston Mayor Vows to Personally Defend Undocumented People from Deportation During Harvey”/ by Rafi Schwartz/ Splinter/ August 28, 2017


6. “People of color and people in low-income areas that are most prone to flooding, are often the least equipped to prepare for the storm to get to higher ground or withstand those impacts,” Kelly said. “This is part of the legacy of historic inequities and discriminatory housing and other policies that have pushed low-income people and communities of color to low-lying areas that are highly vulnerable to flooding and are sources of pollution and landfills that make conditions particularly hazardous.”
“Why Many Texans Couldn’t Leave During the Hurricane”/ by Casey Quinlan/ Think Progress/ August 28, 2017


7. Walmart, which had raised her hourly wage from $9 to $10, paid her about $1,000 every month. She had recently asked her landlord if that would affect her housing subsidy, but she still didn’t know the answer to that question, or many others. Under the Ticket to Work program, her disability benefits would terminate if she made more than $1,170 per month — “substantial gainful activity” — following the completion of both a nine-month trial work period and a consecutive 36-month period, and who knew if she’d ever make that much at Walmart. Even if she did, or found another job, would it be worth sacrificing the certainty of a government benefit for the uncertainty of the labor force? Where would she find the confidence for that, when she couldn’t even talk to her son’s teachers in person?
“I Am a Hard Worker”/ by Terrence McCoy/ Washington Post/ August 27, 2017


8. In a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers analyzed the insurance policies of 1,355 female rape survivors between the ages of 16 and 61. They found that nearly all of them paid healthcare costs — an average of about $950 — for crimes committed against them. The study found that while insurance typically covers 86% of the $6,737 average cost of rape, including for items like a rape kit — an involved exam that collects forensic evidence for a tailored treatment program or to support court proceedings should you wish to prosecute — survivors are generally left to cover the remaining amount out of pocket. Between antibiotics, sleep aids, anti-anxiety medications, emergency contraceptives, and other related treatments, the study showed some survivors accrued up to $8,900 in charges in the first month alone.
“Hospitals Are Charging Sexual Assault Survivors With Exorbitant Hospital Fees”/ by Marissa Miller/ Teen Vogue/ August 29, 2017


9. “The last time he got arrested in Maryland,” Ella said, “they pulled him over ’cause they said he had too many air fresheners hanging from his front mirror.”
“Teaching White Students Showed Me The Difference Between Power and Privilege”/ by Kiese Laymon/ BuzzFeed/ August 28, 2017


10. White people, know this: It is easy to “choose love” when your way of life isn’t being threatened. And when you retreat to this simplistic reasoning, you place the blame on people of color for trying to dismantle a system that hates us. White women can love everyone because “everyone” theoretically loves them back; this is not true for people of color (POC). And if a POC says they don’t love white people? They could lose their lives. There is a difference between empathy for others and using “love” as a way to shirk your responsibility to say something when faced with the opportunity to stand up for what you allegedly believe in.
“White People — We Can’t Dismantle Trump And Racism Without You”/ by Sa’iyda Shabazz/ The Establishment/ August 30, 2017


11. So whether we were talking about workplace sexism, campus sexual assault, abortion rights, or trigger warnings, I took a detached stance toward white-male opposition. I was writing for other educated, feminist-leaning city dwellers, of course. But in the event an anti-PC dude clicked over from another part of the site, I wanted him to see that gender equality was a cool and low-cost project. Yes, we disagree about X issue. But X is abstract for you, and it’s concrete for women. So why not just trust us on Y policy/solution? Especially since Y is no skin off your nose.
“What I Got Wrong About Misogyny”/ by Kat Stoeffel/ The Cut/ August 24, 2017


12. “The heaviest rainfall events have become heavier and more frequent, and the amount of rain falling on the heaviest rain days has also increased,” as the National Climate Assessment, a federal report, found. “The mechanism driving these changes,” the report explained, is hotter air stemming from “human-caused warming.”
“Harvey, The Storm that Humans Helped Cause”/ by David Leonhardt/ New York Times/ August 29, 2017


Joyce Hayden left her university teaching job two years ago in order to pursue her own artistic work. An assemblage artist, painter, and writer, Joyce is currently in the process of acquiring an agent to represent her memoir, The Out of Body Girl, which describes her 8 year relationship with a charismatic gambler and the dangerous road that eventually led to her freedom. Her chapbook of poems, Lost Handprint, is forthcoming from Dandelion Review. A freelance editor and writing coach, Joyce’s writing services and a selection of her artwork can be found at her website Joyce is available for commission art work, including celebration shrines for loved ones and pets.

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