Amidst the chaos and violence it is ever more important to keep our heads up and eyes on the prize, long lasting positive change, and we accomplished a lot this week ending 6/17/17, as we do every week.
DEFENDING IMMIGRANTS – Following in the footsteps of the 4th Circuit, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also struck down the revised travel ban finding that the language in the executive order itself did not make a rational case for why a travel ban was needed. The administration quietly announced that it is leaving in place Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals DACA and Jessica Colotl, one of the faces of DACA won a temporary reprieve of the revocation of her DACA status when a judge found that proper procedures were nor followed in revoking her protection.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM – Cook County IL State Attorney instituted a new policy instructing prosecutors to consider recommending no bail for those without prior violent criminal history who are charged with low-level felonies. NYC’s new Criminal Justice Reform Act was implemented this week and directs police to issue civil tickets rather than criminal one for petty offenses such as public drinking. TX enacted the Sandra Bland Act requiring jails to immediately determine whether inmates suffer from mental illness and divert those who do to a mental health facility. Louisiana passed a package of laws aimed at reducing the prison population, with shorter sentences and parole and probation periods, less fines for those unable to pay, and eligibility for public benefits, among other things. Agnes Gund sold her Roy Lichtenstein “Masterpiece” for $165 million to establish the Art for Justice Fund to support criminal justice reform and reduce mass incarceration in the US helping to move this momentum forward.
SAVING THE PLANET – A U.S. District Court ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers failed to take into account how a spill at the Dakota Access pipeline might affect “fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice” and the Army must redo parts of its environmental analysis. The EPA said they are not revoking the waiver allowing CA to set higher air quality standards then the Clean Air Act. Five state and city officials responsible for the Flint Michigan water poisoning have been charged with involuntary manslaughter for the Legionnaires deaths caused by the water, in addition to the lead contamination.
THAT PESKY EMOLUMENTS CLAUSE – The Attorney Generals of Maryland and DC filed suit accusing 45 of putting hotels and convention centers operated by their governments at a competitive disadvantage. Almost 200 Democratic members of Congress allege in a lawsuit that 45 is profiting from business dealings with foreign governments without congressional approval and they have been deprived of their right to rule on whether he can accept such benefits from foreign governments. Let’s see who wins first.
PROGRESS THIS PRIDE MONTH – Danica Roem, become the first transgender candidate to win a primary for the VA House. NY named Paul Feinman, the first openly gay judge to NY’s highest court. Oregon became the first U.S. state to allow residents to identify as neither male nor female on state driver’s licenses allowing residents to choose an “X” for non-specified, displayed on their driver’s license.
AROUND THE WORLD – Serbias president nominated Ana Brnabic, as the country’s first female and openly gay prime minister. Australia will pay $70 million to compensate almost 2,000 asylum seekers held in a detention center on a remote Pacific island who were subjected to violence, rotting food, and denied access to drinkable water, hygiene and medication.
WINNING AGAINST HUNGER – Jeffrey Lew raised $93,000 to erase the school lunch debt and eliminate school lunch shaming at public schools in Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane in WA after initially launching an online fundraiser for just the $97 owed at his child’s school. The Canyons Board of Ed. in Utah passed a new school lunch debt policy prohibiting school lunch shaming of children.
FREE SPEECH – WH announced it will nominate Jessica Rosenworcel, an ardent net neutrality supporter, to fill a slot at the FCC. Senate Republicans backed away from a proposal to restrict media access in the Capitol after it caused an angry backlash. A U.S. Ct of Appeals declined to block the FCC from easing Obama-era limits on local television ownership and preventing a wave of media consolidation.
MORE AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION- SCOTUS held that that manufacturers of low-cost bio-similars don’t need to wait an extra six months after FDA approval to launch their product, which could save people billions of dollars. Nevada passed the U.S’s strictest requirements for drug companies requiring they reveal how certain prescription drug prices are set, disclose annual list prices, profits they make and discounts they give middlemen, and provide explanations for price hikes. Memphis launched a Student Loan Reduction Program providing eligible city workers with $50 monthly contributions towards loan repayment, becoming the first major U.S. city to offer this. The U. of Michigan-Ann Arbor announced that students with a family income less than $65,000 will receive free tuition.
MORE GOOD STATE ACTIONS – Texas will no longer allow any one younger than 18 from marrying unless a judge consents and prohibit anyone under 16 from getting married at all. The NY Governor is expected to sign a bill that bans marriage for children under the age of 17 and requires 17-year-olds to get court approval after a thorough review process. Maine joins the bandwagon and requires insurers to provide 12 month of birth control at a time
BREAKING GLASS CEILINGS AND PROGRESS FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR – Katie Sowers will serve as the San Francisco 49ers’ first female assistant coach and Joy Stearns was appointed West Jordan, Utah’s first female captain of their Fire Department. Brienne Minor became the first African American woman to win an NCAA Division I singles championship.
ELECTION WINS – I pass on this information provided by a fellow resistor (edited for brevity) “I live in Collin County, Texas, one of the reddest counties in the state. Politics here have been all GOP all the time. But this time around, many liberals banded together for our local elections in McKinney, Frisco and Plano. Not only did we force run-offs for 8 seats (4 involved women candidates!) but we elected two left-leaning mayors [Mckinney Mayor George Fuller], a left-leaning McKinney City Council member [La’Shadion Anthony Shemwell], two liberal candidates [Stacey Donald and Nancy Wurzman] to our local Collins County College Board of Trustees, and a liberal city council member [Charlie Phillips]. Shemwell will be the first person of color to serve on the city council in its 170 year history! And the races we lost were very close! Lest you think that your vote doesn’t count, one of our women candidates lost her race by 3 votes. We newbies to local politics (the vast majority being women) did this! The tide is turning, friends! The work is hard but we can win. Don’t give up!” Ryshonda Harper Beechem was elected as the first African American Mayor of Pelahatchie Mississippi, a town that is 60% white.
AWESOME ACTIVISM – Thanks to boycotts and consumer pressure Marriott, Deliveroo, MasterCard, Johnson & Johnson, and others have pulled their ads from YouTube after they were shown alongside hate videos. Women dressed in red robes and white bonnets as handmaids from the “The Handmaid’s Tale” walked the halls of the Ohio Statehouse and sat in silence at a committee hearing on a bill restricting abortion. Rep. Quigley introduced the Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement (“COVFEFE Act”) to amend the Presidential Records Act to include the term “social media” as records that are preserved.
FOR YOUR AMUSEMENT – Fox news has removed its “fair and balanced” logo, no comment necessary. Smirnoff Vodka launched a “Made in America, But we’d be happy to talk about our ties to Russia under oath” ad campaign.
DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT BEFORE YOU EVEN ENTER – Notorious Sheriff Clark is withdrawing his acceptance of a position with Homeland Security and news report say the WH is backing off appointing their family wedding planner to run the multi-billion dollar NY/NJ region of HUD.
I will leave you with one note on true heroism, a gay, black, female police officer was injured protecting the life of a homophobic, racist, David Duke worshiping, white man. Now keep calling your members of congress to tell them NO to the secret Affordable Care Act repeal. Find a local issue to work on such as school lunch shaming, criminal justice reform, marriage age, or sanctuary city status. We can make our local communities more accepting and humane places to live.