A Muddy Road to Recovery after Hurricane Harvey

IMG_30681My sister’s family and their horses weathered the storm. See one pictured above on the day sunshine returned. It is a hopeful scene, which belies a whole lot of hurt still happening in Houston.

There are not a lot of words to help what happened in and near Houston. But our donations could do a lot to help people recover. If you are looking to target your donation dollars locally for immediate and long-term recovery, then I recommend the  YMCA’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.

Also, here are some other recommendations passed to me by a friend:

The Texas Workers Relief Fund. A union-relief effort by the Texas AFL-CIO, donations are tax-deductible. The state fed has been closely coordinating with the Houston and Corpus-area central labor councils to provide material aid.

RNRN Disaster Relief Fund. Our ally the National Nurses United organizes medical relief for major disasters through this fund.

Texas DSA. DSA chapters (also allies) have been organizing both volunteers and those in need at a grassroots level. Sign up here to offer help (or ask for it) or donate directly to Houston DSA.

Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group Fund. If you want to donate directly for relief in the Coastal Bend towns hit directly by the hurricane.

Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Houston’s mayor has set up this fund to assist with victims of Houston’s ongoing and increasingly dangerous flooding. Donations are tax-deductible.

The extreme enforcement policies of SB4 and ICE have put immigrant workers in increased harm’s way through the crisis. Immigrant and refugee groups such as RAICES in San Antonio are moving to get aid directly to immigrant families. Jumping in now is just the beginning.




Selling off the North Pole. The Ghost of Christmas Past (or Future?)

You might think from the headline that I am about to write about how Russia is racing to own the Arctic, and how Rex Tillerson is chummy with Russia (Tillerson is currently testifying in confirmation hearings to be Secretary of State), or even how Trump denies climate change and has chosen cabinet picks, Scott Pruitt and Rick Perry, who are also climate deniers

Alas no. At dinner my kids wanted to know if internet hype was true about Trump’s press conference yesterday….Did Trump try to pass off a mound of blank papers as evidence that he has been hard at work in distancing himself from his businesses?  So of course we visited Snopes.com who neither denies nor confirms the allegation, listing it as “unproven”.

But here is the funny thing…there was another Snopes article about a 1950’s TV series Trackdown (S1, E30) with a snake oil salesman named Trump (WATCH THE CLIP) who tried to convince the town to “build a wall” to protect itself, saying “I alone can help” and warning how “a big lie can turn people into kids”, easy to manipulate. Wow.

And this reminded me that during Christmas, there was a random TV movie, Twice Upon a Christmas (2001) airing about how Santa’s wicked daughter was slyly selling off pieces of the North Pole and plotting to sell the land to, you got it, Donald Trump, who planned to score with a new casino and hotel. Naturally this was killing off the Christmas Spirit and the good daughter had to fight to bring the Christmas Spirit back again.

So even if people don’t read professional newspapers, they watch movies, right? Granted this was a bad movie, but we’ve got plenty of classics like A Christmas Carol (the George C. Scott version is my favorite) and It’s a Wonderful Life to remind us that extremely wealthy people can be greedy, mean, and power hungry. Don’t put them in charge of your policies and freedoms!

But back to the North Pole, because this all ties together…Trump’s parlor trick with the files (a confidence man maneuver) reminds us that he has too much in common with the snake oil salesman from the the 1950’s TV show. Also, his law firm (coincidence or not) serves to remind us that Trump is too cozy with Russia and big oil interests. Trump’s lawyer who spoke at his press conference comes from a law firm whose Russian office was named as Russia’s top law firm last year, not surprisingly specializing in energy and banking. Trump is doubling down on fossil fuels (not modern alternative energy).

At this point, Trump already put a damper on the Christmas Spirit of 2016. How long before his policies destroy the environment, kill our crops, and cause economic disaster and human suffering. I want policy-makers who are concerned with Christmas Future.