Muslim, African, and Arab Americans, and people around the world Wednesday celebrated President Joe Biden’s rescinding of the racist Trump-era travel ban that mostly targeted immigrants and visitors from Muslim countries.
The lifting of the so-called Muslim ban was one of numerous executive actions taken by Biden shortly after his inauguration and fufills a campaign promise he made to end the prohibition on “day one” of his administration.
During the course of Trump’s presidency, more than 41,000 visa requests were denied (pdf) under the ban, which ripped families apart, prevented people from the proscribed countries from getting healthcare and education in the U.S., and deprived the United States of doctors, nurses, and other medical workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
There was a great sense of joy and relief at the ban’s demise. The NO BAN Act Coalition, a broad alliance of 81 national and local civil rights, faith, and community groups fighting for anti-discrimination legislation that is now included in Biden’s U.S. Citizenship Act, issued a statement bidding “goodbye to the Muslim and African ban.”
The statement continued:
Almost four years ago, one of President [Donald] Trump’s first acts in office was to ban Muslims from the United States. Three years later, he expanded the ban to include several African countries. Today, it’s fitting that one of Biden’s first acts is to rescind the Muslim and African Ban. This is a momentous occasion for the millions of Americans who were separated by the ban and those who stood up against this injustice at airports nationwide.
Thank you, President Biden for staying true to your promise to repeal this bigoted policy immediately. The Muslim and African Ban was never about national security, it was always rooted in bigotry and called into question what values America stands for. However, just ending the ban through an executive order won’t stop this from happening again. That’s why we applaud the historic inclusion of the NO BAN Act in the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021.
Zahra Billoo, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-San Francisco Bay Area, told Religion News Service that Biden’s order would “correct the course” of the lives disrupted by Trump.
“Tens of thousands of impacted individuals will now have the chance to be with their families during cherished and challenging times,” said Billoo. “While we know our work is far from over, today we celebrate the heroic efforts undertaken by so many over the last several years in our effort to repeal the Muslim and African bans.”
Some of the most poignant reaction to the end of the ban came from people directly affected by it. Ramez Alghazzouli, a Syrian immigrant who had been separated from his wife for a year due to the policy, told Religion News Service it felt like a boulder had been removed from his chest. But he also said the travel prohibition irreparably damaged his family.
“The ban itself will be reversed but no one can reverse our feelings and emotions and the time we lost while being separated from each other,” said Alghazzouli. “It’ll still be part of our life and history. The Muslim ban is the nuke that we survived but we are still suffering from its collateral damage.”
There was no shortage of suggestions on what Biden could do help heal the harm caused by travel ban, from ending Trump-era “extreme vetting” of Muslims and others entering the U.S., to increasing the number of refugees allowed into the country, to ending U.S. wars that have killed at least hundreds of thousands of Muslim men, women, and children since 2001.
Republished from CommonDreams.org under Creative Commons
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.