There was a lot to take in this week ending 11/4/17, with indictments and guilty pleas but let’s not get too distracted by this, as we have elections this week and a big tax “reform” fight on our hands. Stay focused and informed.
- TRANSGENDER MILITARY BAN STOPPED BY JUDGE – A U.S. District Judge ruled the ban on transgender service members was not likely to withstand a court challenge and issued an injunction against the implementation of the ban and directed a return to the policy that existed previously.
- WHITEFISH CONTRACT CANCELLED BY PUERTO RICO – The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority cancelled the $300 million contract awarded to Whitefish Energy, a tiny company based in Secretary Zinke’s hometown to restore power to PR.
- STATE BANS BUMP STOCKS – Massachusetts is the first state to ban bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic firearms to mimic a machine gun.
- DISABLED 10 YEAR OLD RELEASED – The ACLU announced it is suing the administration to seek obtained the release of an undocumented 10-year-old with cerebral palsy who is recovering from surgery from a federal detention facility.
- FIRST GUILTY PLEA AND TWO INDICTMENTS BY MUELLER – In case you missed it, Manafort and Gates were hit with a 12 count federal indictment for money laundering, etc., and George Papadopoulos pled guilty to lying to the FBI.
SAVING THE PLANET – The LA and Long Beach (CA) Harbor Commissions adopted The Clean Air Action Plan to provide a framework for moving the massive CA hub for freight-moving trucks, trains and ships to cleaner technologies through 2035. The Sierra Club and others sued the EPA over its decision to delay implementation of new rules on formaldehyde emissions from wood products. The Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality adopted a permanent rule that puts the allowable level of the toxic chemical dioxane in residential drinking water at 7.2 parts per billion. Exxon Mobil agreed to pay a $2.5 million civil penalty and to spend $300 million on pollution control technology at several plants along the Gulf Coast for violation of the Clean Air Act. PDC Energy settled polluting charges with the Justice Dept. and Colorado and agreed to a $2.5 million fine and $20 million to upgrade technology. New Mexico’s largest electric provider put out a request for proposals for hundreds of megawatts of power to fill a future void as the utility plans to wean itself from coal-fired generation. A U.S. District Court upheld New Mexico’s protection of 59,114 acres to save the state’s endangered jaguars under the Endangered Species Act. The Oregon Gov. directed state officials to stop an exchange of water rights that would have allowed Nestle to take state spring water to bottle and sell. Federal Agencies release a report saying scientific evidence proves humans are the main cause of climate change, contradicting the administration. The Navajo Nation Council voted against authorizing the Grand Canyon Escalade project.
MOVING FORWARD NOT BACK ON LGBTQ RIGHTS – The Ak-Chin community Tribal Court in Arizona ruled that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry under the tribal constitution and the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968. A New York Court ruled that a gay Polish couple who wed in NY, while visiting, must be allowed to file for divorce in NY even though they are still not residents, since their country of residence does not allow or recognize same sex marriages/divorces.
STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS – New York City passed legislation to protect immigrants, including prohibiting employees from using city time or property to enforce immigration laws, barring probation officers from turning over immigrants except for specified serious crimes, and created lesser charges for disorderly conduct so that people don’t face loss of immigration protections when convicted for that offenses that have a potential penalty of more than 5 days in jail. Over one hundred companies from the tech industry, including Facebook, IBM, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter, have filed a legal brief supporting a lawsuit filed by a coalition of states over the decision to end DACA.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE – A U.S. Circuit Court ruled that officers can use deadly force “but they must stop using deadly force when the suspect no longer poses a threat” and said an Orange County deputy who continued to shoot a felled suspect and then stomped his head may be sued for using excessive deadly force. A Utah nurse, whose video of her forceful arrest by an officer for refusing to draw blood from a sedated patient without a warrant was viewed widely, settled with the University of Utah and Salt Lake City for $500,000. The hospital now bars police officers from patient-care areas and the officer involved was fired from his jobs as a police officer and as a paramedic. Federal judges dismissed a lawsuit that accused Black Lives Matter and its leaders of inciting violence leading to a deadly attack on officers in Louisiana last year and approved a settlement that awards up to $1,000 to protesters subjected to Louisiana Officers using excessive force in arresting them.
MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION – A cannabis maker launched an ad campaign using space in the bottom of X-ray screening trays at TSA checkpoints saying “Cannabis is legal. Traveling with it is not. Leave it in California.” A New Jersey Appeals Court ruled the state must reconsider marijuana’s legal classification finding that NJ does not have to defer to the federal classification given that the medical benefits of pot weren’t known in 1971 when NJ adopted the federal classification.
ONE PERSON ONE VOTE SEEKING – FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS – A Washington judge upheld Seattle’s unique democracy voucher program, where residents agreed to a property tax increase to fund four $25 vouchers that they can sign over to candidates running for city council and city attorney. Common Cause is suing the Indiana alleging that they illegally purged voters from the state’s voting roll.
DAVID VS GOLIATH – Texas has charged more than 100 gas stations with price gouging during the hurricane. Drivers brought a class action suit against Lyft alleging they were misclassified as independent contractors and that Lyft unlawfully placed the cost of doing business to its drivers and took commissions on taxes the collected.
EDUCATION AND HEALTH CARE FOR ALL – Although we don’t yet have the renewal of the Child Health Insurance Plan in place after it expired recently, the House and Senate have passed legislation to renew it and are arguing over how to fund it. I believe at least talking about it as a step in the right direction. The Dallas County Community College and Commit announced the Dallas County Promise, a joint initiative where they will pay for every senior at local high schools to go a local community college for free regardless of grades or income, and provide for students to continue tuition-free at UNT-Dallas. Tesla has used its solar panels and batteries to restore reliable electricity at San Juan’s Hospital del Niño.
WOMEN’S RIGHTS – Planned Parenthood sued Missouri to stop the latest abortion regulation which require a complication plan for women who have trouble after taking the abortion pill. A new law in Dubai provides 90 days of maternity leave and breastfeeding breaks for up to a year for female officers. It is now illegal in New York City for employers to ask prospective employees for their salary histories, ending the part of a systematic cycle that keeps women and people of color from earning equal pay.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH – The group Save Southern Heritage Florida dropped its defamation suit against two Democratic Party activists, citing a recent court ruling which will make their case impossible to win.
BREAKING GLASS CEILINGS BIG AND SMALL – The Crown Point (Il) Police Department hired its first female officer to serve on the force in 30 years. Haskel (OK) and Mountainburg’s (AK) Police Dept.’s hired their first female officers. Tonya Boyd became the first African-American woman in the New York City (NY) Fire Dept. to achieve the rank of deputy chief. Andria Bender (TX) was sworn in as the first female Grimes County district attorney. Breanna Holbert was elected president of the National Future Farmers of America Organization, the first African American woman to lead it. A partnership between Women Helping Women Fund and others resulted in the first all-female Construction Trade training course. The University of New Mexico selected Garnett Stokes as its first woman president. LEGO debuted the new 231 piece idea set called “Women of NASA.” Democrat Lucy Steyer, at 17 years old is the first female candidate running for a statewide office in Kansas this year, with a bid for secretary of state.
BECAUSE MONUMENTS, NAMES, AND HATE SPEECH MATTER – Philadelphia (PA) decided to relocate the statue of Frank Rizzo, a controversial former mayor and police chief considered by many to be racist, from a public plaza. After having to cancel a planned event in Phoenix after 62 venues denied requests to host the event, Milo Yiannopoulos has also been dropped from his op-ed deal with the Daily Caller after just one column.
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST – The nominee for Chief Scientist for the Dept. of Agriculture, Sam Clovis, withdrew his name because he may be implicated in the Russian investigation. Two republicans from TX announced they are leaving Congress at the end of their terms, Reps. Jeb Hensarling and Lamar Smith. Current tally of Congressional incumbents not seeking re-election in 2018, 19 (R) and 10 (D).
FYI – The person who once famously said “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more” signed legislation to create a commission to plan celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the birth of this amazing man. I don’t like violence but it think my readers may find it interesting to know that Rand Paul was attacked at his home in Kentucky. The twittler-in-chief’s Twitter account was deactivated for 11 minutes by a Twitter employee on their last day. Whomever this was, I believe there are many people who are willing to help pay their upcoming legal bills to show their gratitude for those historical 11 minutes of silence. The Maryland Attorney General is investigating Jared Kushner’s real estate business in Baltimore. And Ivanka had a half empty room when she gave a talk in Japan on women’s empowerment in Tokyo.
AWESOME ACTIVISM – The #MeToo moment that exploded is now giving rise to a wave of people who have been victims of sexual harassment and assault the courage to go public, standing up to abusers, and a culture of silence with hundreds talking about experiences with institutions and individuals from Hollywood to Congress, and everything in between. Miss Peru contestants used the competition to highlight the plight of women, by citing different facts concerning female violence in their country instead of their required body measurements when introducing themselves. Hundreds protested Right-wing provocateur Mike Cernovich when he gave a speech at Columbia University. Newsweek’s Snakes on a plane cover calling 45 corrupt is a must see. Thanks to public pressure, U.S. Bank has ended its credit relationship with Enbridge Inc., the Canadian company seeking to expand oil transportation through Minnesota. After facing hundreds of protestors blaring Beyonce and MLK speeches in Shelbyville, Tennessee, and more preparing to face them in Murfreesboro neo-nazi groups called off the second planned march and rally. A majority of players for the Houston Texans knelt during the national anthem in response to comments made by the team’s owner.
This week’s blog is in a new format, with key highlights at top for those who don’t have time between all their campaigning and resisting to absorb all the good. Let me know your thoughts on this version in the comments. Yay or Nay?