I choose to reflect this week on that went right for the resistance and not on tax reform. Let’s remember that there are many significant differences between the House and Senate bills that they still have to come to an agreement on so it is not a done deal yet. Meanwhile, we continue to fight on and see many good things still happening. So cheer up and read on. The highlights for this week are;
- SOME COMMON SENSE ON GUN CONTROL – The Supreme Court rejected two important gun control appeals, thereby leaving in place the lower court rulings upholding a Maryland law that bans the sale of a range of semiautomatic weapons and large-capacity magazines and Florida’s ban on open-carry firearms.
- FIRST 45 ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL PLEADS GUILTY – Former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with Russia’s ambassador and disclosed that he is cooperating with the special counsel’s office.
- EEOC GETS WIN ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION CASE – Scott Medical Health Center in Pittsburgh, will pay a former employee to settle the first sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit ever filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission where they allege the center refused to protect the employee from harassment.
- CALIFORNIA PROTECTS FARM WORKERS – The California Supreme Court upheld a law that allows California to impose labor contracts through binding arbitration for farm workers whose unions and employers cannot agree on a contract, helping maintain the power of farm worker unions by ensuring contracts that guarantee pay, hours and other terms that could otherwise be decided by employers.
- FEDERAL COURT PROVIDES IMMIGRANTS BAIL RIGHTS – The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled judges cannot deny bail to immigrants in criminal cases solely because they are living in the country unlawfully and could be deported before trial.
- MANDATORY SEXUAL HARASSMENT TRAINING WHERE IT MATTERS – The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution requiring all members and employees of the House to complete sexual harassment training every year.
CARING FOR THE PEOPLE – South Dakota approved a change of rules to allow fathers to take sick leave after the birth of a child (How progressive of them). The Virginia Beach City Council has agreed in theory to approve a plan for providing three weeks of paid leave for new moms and two weeks for non-birthing parents and have instructed the staff to draft the plan.
SAVING THE PLANET – The Sierra Club filed an appeal asking the Supreme Court of Virginia to require the State Corporation Commission to review a deal for shipping capacity on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The Ohio Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Rover Pipeline LLC of Texas, alleging the pollution of Ohio waters while they built a natural gas pipeline across the state. North Dakota developed rules limiting the use of the controversial herbicide dicamba, which are more restrictive than the EPA’s. Southern California regulators adopted rules requiring oil refineries install air quality monitors at their fence lines and pay for pollution monitoring systems in surrounding communities by 2020. The EPA settled cases with the United States GSA and a Wal-Mart subsidiary that will provide $300,000 in air filtration equipment to impacted schools and will require Wal-Mart Transportation to update diesel particulate filters on its truck fleet. The EPA also announced settled with a sand and gravel company who will pay $120,000 and reduce hazardous air pollution emissions. Solarize MDI, announced that they have doubled Maine’s Mount Desert Island’s solar power generation through installation of fifty new solar projects, creating over 640 kilowatts of power and expect the island to be energy independent by 2030 at the current rate of expansion.
LGBTQ PROGRESS – Mattel posted a photo of the iconic Barbie doll wearing a “Love Wins” t-shirt alongside the new doll of fashion blogger Aimee Song on Instagram. Lexington (KY) says it will keep its rainbow-colored crosswalks at a prominent intersection and challenge the federal highway officials request that it be removed. Portland Public School officials in Maine enacted a new comprehensive slate of policies to provide transgender students with more protections while at school, including using a student’s preferred name and personal pronouns, and allowing use of bathrooms consistent with their gender identity, and so much more. The New York City Council voted to ban “gay conversion therapy” and now it is awaiting the mayor’s signature. A Vermont court found the unmarried same sex partner who helped raise an adopted child with her partner had parental rights.
FEDERAL AGENCIES STILL DOING THEIR JOB – The Federal Trade Commission was busy recently, announcing a number of big settlements and court wins; including a federal court temporarily halting a Georgia-based debt collection business for allegedly tricking people into paying for debts they actually did not owe and settling an illegal robocall scheme with Francisco Salvat and the companies he owns, banning them from telemarketing and imposing a $155,000 penalty. Car dealership, Winner Ford of Cherry Hill, NJ, will pay $150,000 to settle a federal pay discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. EEOC for allegedly paying its Chinese technicians $3 less per hour than technicians at the same location who weren’t Chinese.
DAVID VS. GOLIATH – Washington State sued Uber alleging it broke state law when it failed to notify drivers that their personal information was accessed as part of a major data breach. California’s Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Ashford University, a for-profit education chain alleging it engaged in unlawful marketing, sales and debt collection practices. The makers of Marlboro, Camel and Newport cigarettes started running court ordered ads where they admit they knowingly designed cigarettes to keep people addicted to nicotine.
STOPPING HATE – Lucian Wintrich, a reporter for the right-wing Gateway Pundit was arrested at the University of Connecticut while there to give a “It’s OK to be white” speech, and facing a crowd of about 100 who greeted him with chants of “Go home Nazi.” The University of Maryland announced it will hire a hate bias response coordinator and issue new policies for addressing hate bias incidents. The Minnesota woman and her daughter who live-streamed the aftermath of boyfriend Philando Castile’s fatal shooting by police, will receive $800,000 from the two cities involved for her claims arising out of the incident. This is in addition to the compensation paid to Mr. Castile’s family. Money doesn’t make the pain go away but hopefully it helps. University of Michigan students staged a week long protest including class walk-out and demonstrations tests over a campus visit from white supremacist Richard Spencer.
STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS – The student Union at Dalhousie University in Canada, is making ‘emergency hijab kits’ available to Muslim students if faced with harassed on campus by having their head scarves pulled off or getting spat upon. A U.S. citizen, who was unlawfully detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement won a $20,000 settlement against the agency. Farmers Branch (TX) city council voted to repeal the resolution that made English the official language of the city.
COMBATING SEXUAL HARASSMENT – In Cairo, Egypt, a private transit company hired the city’s first female bus driver to operate a bus on the female-only bus service established to combat sexual harassment on the public transit system. De Pere City Council (WI) added victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking to its nondiscrimination ordinances. French President Emmanuel Macron announced he will introduce legislation to make “gender-based insults” illegal in France.
BREAKING BARRIERS AND GLASS CEILINGS – The Governor of Minnesota appointed the state’s first judge of Hmong descent. The Sacramento Police Department promoted its first black woman to the rank of sergeant. Hebrew College selected its first woman rabbi president. The Maryland State and D.C. AFL-CIO has elected its first woman president. Saginaw promoted its first black officer to the rank of lieutenant. Southern Utah University appointed Debbie Corum the first woman Director of Athletics, making her the first woman Division I AD in the state’s history. Britain appointed its first woman to serve at its permanent secretary to the United Nations.
ELECTION WINS – Preet Didbal was elected as the mayor of Yuba City in California, becoming the first Sikh woman to hold the position. Democrat Ray Wannamaker Sabalis won the seat for District 6 representative on the Orangeburg County Council (SC). Weeks after the election, official tallies now show Jasmine Santana has been elected the first Hispanic woman elected to Cleveland City Council (OH).
PROTECTING OUR VOTING RIGHTS – A federal judge granted the Democratic National Committee’s request to depose Sean Spicer on whether he violated a 35-year-old consent decree barring the RNC from engaging in ballot security or voter suppression efforts. Montana’s secretary of state reversed himself and said after investigating he hasn’t seen any evidence showing election fraud in recent elections.
BECAUSE NAMES AND MONUMENTS MATTER – Sandra Edwards Champ, Marion County’s first elected female county judge and first African-American judge, had a street named in her honor. Two new elementary schools in Kalispell and Missoula, Montana, will be named after Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress. Louisiana State University is renaming Raphael Semmes Road, a Confederate Army Admiral, which runs in front of the Union, to Veterans Drive. A stretch of Interstate 85 in Durham, N.C., was just named for the trailblazing black historian John H. Franklin.
ANOTHER, AND ANOTHER, AND ANOTHER, ONE BITES THE DUST – The deputy to the White House’s senior ethics official (oxymorons aside) resigned after ten months (a lifetime in twittler-in-chief years) and the senior official in charge of reorganizing the State Department resigned after three months on the job. Rep. Joe Barton announced he won’t seek re-election after public revelations of his sexual communications with women.
JUST PLAIN GOOD AND ENTERTAINING NEWS – Politico reported that staffers for the Senate GOP campaign arm broke into the House GOP campaign database and stole information on donors. Anthony Scaramucci resigned from a Board of Advisors at Tufts University’s after threatening a lawsuit against one of the school’s students and its newspaper for an op-ed piece. The Special Counsel’s office is investigating Kellyanne Conway for possible violations of the law for her comments about democrat Doug Jones. CNN is boycotting the White House Christmas party for the media this year. Not a single white male was nominated for a Grammy. A U.S. District Judge ordered 23 Trump businesses to retain records after they receive subpoenas from the attorneys generals as part of a lawsuit accusing 45 of profiting from his office. Not only did Project Veritas get caught trying to peddle fake news to the Washington Post, they are now being investigated for lying on required state charity registration documents.
AMAZING ACTIVISM – Not only was 45’S motorcade greeted in New York City by a large group of protesters chanting “lock him up” but they even got a lot of press coverage for it. A flower delivery service erected a giant 8 foot high “Wall of Love” outside the Capitol made up of a 1,000 bouquets at the Capitol Reflecting Pool to represents. Dozens of criminal defense attorneys staged a walkout at a New York City courthouse to protest ongoing courthouse arrests by ICE officers. Protesters from groups including Housing Works, The Center for Popular Democracy and Rise and Resist were arrested in the Senate office building protesting the GOP tax scam.