by Kevin Mercado

Refugee Resettlement

Bana al-Abed: From a Syrian War Zone to New York City
October 6, 2017
Bana al-Abed and her mother, Fatemah had been tweeting daily about life under siege as airstrikes loomed in Aleppo while the Syrian government wrestled the city from rebel forces. “Less than a year later, their lives are no longer dictated by airstrikes and uncertainty, thanks in part to the international attention on the young girl and her Twitter account.” Bana, now settled in Turkey, and her mother have now written a book that chronicles their experience. She recently visited New York and spoke to children in Harlem.

U.S. Turning its Back on Refugee Leadership, Says Utah’s Gandhi Peace Prize Winner
October 10, 2017
With Trump deciding to cut back the number of refugees allowed into the country, Director of Refugee Resettlement for Catholic Community Services of Utah, Aden Batar shows his concern. The Gandhi Peace Prize recipient fled Somalia in 1990 with his wife and two children and resettled in Utah. He fears that countries with huge refugee camps will start to send people back to their respective home country and in harm’s way. “The U.N. hoped to resettle 1.2 million last year, but only about 200,000 found new homes, Batar noted. That leaves people stranded in camps under poor living conditions or in war-torn zones with little food or water.”

Australia’s New Offer to Refugees: A Different Detention Center
October 10, 2017
“Refugees in one of Australia’s offshore detention centers who hope to be resettled in the United States have been offered another kind of resettlement — to a different offshore detention center.” Now that Washington has approved the first group of refugees for resettlement, the Australian government is now working toward relocating the refugees from Manus Island facility in Papua New Guinea. The Manus center will close by October 31.

Supreme Court Dismisses Appeal of Case on Expired Travel Ban
October 10
The Supreme Court has recently dismissed an appeal in one of the cases surrounding/ challenging Trump’s efforts to limit travel into the country, “calling an earlier version of the ban moot because it has expired.” The travel ban has since been replaced with broader restrictions and a second case remains before the court, likely to have the same or similar outcome. “If it does, a politically charged clash between presidential power and claims of religious discrimination that could have produced a blockbuster decision will instead end with a whimper.”

Military Spending

Seven Flights for $800,000: Mnuchin’s Travel on Military Jets
October 5, 2017
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has flown on military aircrafts seven times since March at a steep cost of $800,000, which includes a $15,000 round-trip flight to New York just to meet with Trump at his residence of Trump Tower, all according to the Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General. “Mr. Mnuchin has made nine requests for military aircraft since assuming his position earlier this year.” And, a request to use a military plane to Europe for a honeymoon with his wife was withdrawn. “The investigation follows a series of controversies over the lavish travel of several members of President Trump’s cabinet.”

Here’s Where Your Tax Dollars for ‘Defense’ Are Really Going
October 10, 2017
“Hawks on Capitol Hill and in the US military routinely justify increases in the Defense Department’s already munificent budget by arguing that yet more money is needed to ‘support the troops.’” This article goes on to say that there is no straightforward answer as to where the people’s tax dollars are going. “It goes directly to private corporations and much of it is then wasted on useless overhead, fat executive salaries, and startling (yet commonplace) cost overruns on weapons systems and other military hardware.” In the fiscal year 2016, the Pentagon issued $304 billion in contract awards to corporations – nearly half the departments $600 billion-plus budget for the year. The article continues to include a breakdown of how the tax money is spent.