Even though I do not at this time condone or advocate violence, I am proud of how our counterparts in Europe have come out in droves to stand up for human rights and this planet in so many creative and powerful ways during the G20 summit. And even while we here in the US are deep into the lazy days of summer so much good happened this week ending 7/8/17.
STOPPING PRUITT AND THE DESTRUCTION OF THE EPA – A federal appeals court ruled the EPA cannot suspend rules to restrict methane emissions from new oil and gas wells finding that the agency’s decision was “unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious and it did not have authority under the Clean Air Act to do so. Attorneys Generals for NY, MY, VT, WA, MA, and DC filed a motion to join in a federal appeals case challenging the EPA’s decision not to ban the dangerous pesticide chlorpyrifos. AND SAVING THE PLANET – France announced that it would aim to end the sale of gasoline and diesel cars by 2040, a day after Volvo said it would phase out the internal combustion engine. France will also stop issuing new oil and gas exploration permits this year, and stop using coal to produce electricity by 2022. California announced they will convene The Global Climate Action Summit to host the world’s climate leaders in 2018 with representatives from government, business, investors, and activist leaders. The United Church of Christ approved a resolution on climate change denouncing US plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord and urging the church to take action.
STATES DOING THE RIGHT THING- Attorney generals from 18 states and DC filed suit against the U.S. Dept. of Education challenging their decision to freeze rules for erasing the federal student loan debt of those who cheated by colleges that acted fraudulently. Arizona’s new sick leave law went into effect, providing 40 hours a year of sick time, which can also be used for seeking help with domestic violence and sexual assault, and applies to temporary and part-time staff too. Washington enacted paid family medical leave into law, with the most generous of benefit of all 4 state that currently provide it, covering at least three months of leave and up to 90% of pay for low-wage workers, for pregnancy, adoption and other serious medical issues. As of now, not one state has agreed to fully comply with the voter commission request, some are still considering it, a few have agreed to turn over what is already considered public information, but none have agreed to turn over private information.
DEFENDING IMMIGRANTS – A federal court held that undocumented immigrant children detained by federal authorities are entitled to hearings to determine if they should remain confined and requires authorities abide by a 1997 settlement establishing a policy for the treatment of minors in immigration custody.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE ISSUES – Florida’s updated “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law was held unconstitutional by a judge who ruled that lawmakers overstepped their authority in modifying the law to force prosecutors to disprove a defendant’s self-defense claim at a pre-trial hearing. New court rules took effect in Mississippi requiring judges to consider releasing people who can’t afford bail, using non-financial conditions to ensure people show up for court, and appointing lawyers for people who can’t afford them at their initial court appearance. Municipal courts across Missouri have new operating standards which require they have a judge available at all times and cannot charge illegal fines/fees after a findings by the Dept. of Justice that the courts operated in large part to fund city operations.
HOLDING ON TO OUR RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH, FREE PRESS, AND SOME GUN CONTROL – A federal court held there is a constitutional right to film on-duty police officers in public. As of now, half of all the states are now covered by rulings protecting the videotaping of law enforcement. The U.S. Supreme declined to hear a challenge to a California law that limits the carrying of concealed guns, leaving the law in place.
HEALTH CARE FOR ALL – A voter-introduced ballot initiative to require the state to expand Medicaid under the ACA has been approved to move to the ballot box. The Ohio House failed to rally enough Republican votes to override the Republican Governor’s veto of a law that required him to limit enrollment in Medicaid.
PROTECTING WOMEN’S HEALTH – The Oregon legislature passed a bill making abortion free for all, which the governor is expected to sign, which provides free abortions for residents and non-resident, requires insurers to cover abortions without a co-pay, and pays for abortions for anyone not covered by insurance. The Welsh and Scottish governments will offer free abortions to Northern Irish women, where it is still illegal.
PROGRESS FOR WOMEN AND PEOPLE OF COLOR –Benedict College has named Roslyn Clark Artis its first woman president. Pam Wagner was appointed the first female police chief for the Ironton, OH Police Dept. Raphael Bostic was appointed the president of the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank, and is the first black and first openly gay president of a regional Federal Reserve Bank.
G20 NEWS – 1,000 “Zombies” descended on Hamburg in protest. FLOTUS was not allowed to leave her hotel to go to the spouses party because of large protests and rioting (boo hoo), but at least she had a room, unlike her husband whose staff were too dumb to remember to book him one. My favorite video of the week is Poland’s first lady appearing to snub 45’s offer of a handshake.
YOUR DONATIONS TO THE ACLU AT WORK – So many cases are brought by the ACLU. They sued Miami-Dade County alleging constitutional violations for detaining people without a warrant in efforts to comply with ICE policies after Miami held a US citizen in jail an additional night without charges because an immigration officer had made a “detainer request”. They are trying to stop NH from complying with the voter data request since the NH SOS Gardner sits on the commission and intends to send some of the requested information. They are challenging the Albuquerque Police Department for refusing to release information about cellphone spying technology called StingRay.
ELECTION WINS – Democrat Kevin Kiley was elected to the Fairfield, CT Board of Selectmen. Dieng, a democrat, and West African-born community organizer, won a seat on the Burlington VT city council. For the first time in Buffalo, WV history, the town has an all-female Town Council. Kandie Smith was elected the first African-American women interim mayor by the Greenville SC City Council.
LOVE IS LOVE – A gay man in China won a first ever lawsuit against a mental hospital over making him undergo forced conversion therapy with the court ordering the hospital to made a public apology and pay him compensation. Two public universities in Kansas are expanding gender-inclusive on-campus housing options.
FOR YOUR AMUSEMENT – Hobby Lobby, every ones favorite right-wing, anti-choice, repressive Christian company, agreed to forfeit thousands of artifacts illegal stolen from Iraq and pay a $3 million fine for the black-market purchase of antiquities after civil action by the Justice Department. Another Fox Executive, Sports National President Jamie Horowitz, was fired due to sexual misconduct. Bannon ally, Tera Dahl, deputy chief of staff at the NSC and a former columnist for Breitbart, has been reassigned from the NSC. ‘Terrorism’ misspelled on bench at Indiana war memorial (underfunded education system hard at work).
AWESOME ACTIVISM – Greenpeace hung a massive ‘resist, defend’ banner at Trump Tower in Chicago and they projected the words “No Trump, Yes Paris” onto a building in Warsaw, Poland as the G20 began. The disability rights group ADAPT organized a 24 hour sit-in at Senator Gardner’s Denver office for healthcare resulting in the arrest of mostly wheelchair using advocates. Republicans asked for ACA horror stories on Facebook and instead got a flurry of moving stories from people who benefited from the ACA.
Don’t forget to keep those calls to congress to save the Affordable Care Act, be seen and heard at events your member of congress holds while they are home. And passing on a request from an activist group. From July 7-15 please participate in a media blackout of anything Trump related, no clicking on stories, tweeting, posting of memes, etc. unless it has to do with an actual policy or substantive matter. Don’t give him or the media the attention they seek for non-productive issues. It may even make you feel better.