There was so much inspirational news going on this week, brought about by those affected by the horrific shooting in Parkland, in addition to great things in so many other areas needing change. So this week’s post covers both all the amazing things happening because of the Parkland Activists along in its own section along with everything else and packed with more good stuff than usual. I encourage you to share this weekly blog with others it might help inspire. I hope this week is worth the extra-long read. The highlights in general are;
- ANOTHER ELECTION WIN IN A DEEP RED STATE with Democrat Linda Belcher winning the special election for Kentucky’s 49th District with 68.45 percent of the vote in a district that voted for 45 by a margin of 72-23. #BlueWave2018
- DEFEATING GERRYMANDERING is possible with the new, much fairer Pennsylvania Congressional maps created and approved by the PA Supreme Court. #FairElections
- STOPPING THE DESTRUCTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT happened when a federal judge blocked a second effort by the Interior Department to roll back rules designed to limit methane releases by the oil and gas industry. #ClimateChangeIsReal
- ACTUAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM in Philadelphia (PA) with the District Attorney announcing that his office will no longer seek cash bail for most defendants accused of low-level and misdemeanor crimes. #NoMoneyBail
Some of the courageous activism on #GunReform led by, and inspired by, the students, parents, and staff survivors of the Florida school shooting includes the;
- Multiple school protests, walk-outs, and a die-in outside the White House and they were joined by Moms Demand Action rallies in Missouri and other states;
- The organization of upcoming nationwide school walkout on March 14th, #MarchForOurLives March on Washington March 24th, and Columbine Anniversary Walk-out April 20th; along with raising millions of dollars to support the March on Washington and for gun reform group Everytown for Gun Safety.
- Taking on the NRA to encourage corporate partners to cut ties with them through public shaming and organizing consumer boycotts of these companies. A running tally of 20 companies dropping the NRA so far, including the First National Bank of Omaha as the “official credit card of the NRA” along with Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo, National, Metlife, CHUBB insurance, Wyndham and the list kept growing; #NRABloodMoney
- Attacking head on in social media the conspiracy theorists and fake news trying to undermine their movement and putting the NRA on the defensive. As many have said, don’t mess with teens on social media, you can’t beat them at the game they invented;
- Summoning the strength to appear in a town hall on CNN to publicly discuss their pain and suffering and their demands for change only days after their ordeal;
- The public shaming of politicians through the widespread publication of the amount of donations politicians received from the NRA in the news, on billboards, and in advertisements and social media;
- To alleviate the intimidation created by high school’s threats of suspensions for students that protest, dozens of colleges are announcing that disciplinary action associated with meaningful, peaceful protest will not negatively impact student admissions decisions This includes Ivy league schools as well as private and public colleges such as MIT, U. Mass, Yale, and Oberlin College. The regularly updated full list of #NeverAgain Colleges can be found here and lawyers in Wisconsin offered free legal help to students facing consequences for protesting.
- The Moms Demand Action, the grassroots arm of Everytown For Gun Safety, saw a surge of 75,000 new volunteers signing up as did other nationwide gun reform groups;
- Dallas Mayor asked the NRA to move convention out of city.
ACTUAL GUN CONTROL was achieved when the Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to a California law that requires a 10-day waiting period after all gun sales, even if the person is already a registered gun owner. A U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld as constitutional a New York City law that limits how “premise licensed” handguns owners may use their weapons outside the home. The Oregon Governor said she would sign the bill just passed by the legislature banning people convicted of stalking and domestic violence or under restraining orders from buying or owning firearms and ammunition.
🏳️🌈LGBTQ PROGRESS as Buzz Feed obtained emails sent to the country’s top generals from the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff saying that the new transgender military ban announcement by 45 on twitter a few hours earlier “was unexpected” and that he intended to say he was “not consulted when asked.” Lambda Legal brought a lawsuit on behalf of a same-sex couple alleging they were denied the opportunity to foster refugee children by Catholic Charities because of their sexuality and that the charity is the only organization in their area that is authorized and federally funded to place refugee children in homes.
🌎SAVING THE PLANET is helped by Denton (TX) approving plans to install enough solar and wind sources to power the city by 2020, which will make it the biggest U.S. city to run on renewable energy. A U.S. District Judge ordered construction to stop on the Bayou Bridge (LA) oil pipeline because of environmental concerns. Consumers Energy in Michigan announced it will phase out electricity production from coal over the next 20 years and intends to generate 40 percent of its power from renewable sources. Tennessee Technological University disavowed a study on trucks the EPA cites in justifying weaker pollution rules because experts within the university have questioned the methodology and accuracy of the work. Dyno Nobel Inc. faces a maximum fine of $500,000 and up to five years probation after pleading guilty to failing to notify authorities of the release of ammonia from a plant in Washington.
🌲WORKING AROUND THE WORLD TO SAVE THE PLANET Poland announced a new program to increase thermal insulation in homes and subsidize the cost of switching homes from coal to more eco-friendly furnaces. In a novel form of environmental protection, Seychelles is negotiating an agreement to create marine parks covering fifteen percent of the country in exchange for debt relief owed by the governments of UK, France, Belgium and Italy, which was bought by the non-profit The Nature Conservancy. A global reforestation project, Trump Forest, aiming to offset 45’s anti-climate policies has reached pledges to plant one million trees.
🧕STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice sued the administration on behalf of Immigrants from Haiti and El Salvador for the decision to end the Temporary Protective Status alleging racial discrimination. The ACLU has sued to stop the unlawful, indefinite detention of immigrant teenagers, when immigration judges and the government’s own care providers have concluded they should be released. Many rallies held this week in support of Dreamers and immigration reform. Chicago (IL) told federal officials it is complying with a request for documents related to its “sanctuary city” status by sending the Chicago Police Department’s general orders and its immigrant welcoming ordinance.
⚖️ECONOMIC JUSTICE The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a ruling that a California Insurance company must reduce its homeowner insurance rates by 5.4 percent as part of the limits on insurance rates in the state’s Proposition 103. The maker of defective airbags in 34 million vehicles settled with 44 states and D.C. agreeing to a $650 million payout for the deaths, injuries and damages. A bill prohibiting school officials from stigmatizing students who can’t afford school meals is making progress as it passed in the Virginia General Assembly and has passed a Senate committee and headed to a full senate vote. Teachers in West Virginia staged a two-day walkout forcing the closing of schools in every county to demand better pay and benefits and the community got behind them to help feed children while schools were closed.
🏛️SEEKING ETHICS IN GOVERNMENT as the House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy (R) demanded records and an accounting of all flights taken by EPA head Pruitt over the last year and whether the ticket was coach, business or first class. Jon Cordova, a top official at the Dept of Health and Human Services was placed on leave while the agency investigates social media postings in which he pushed unfounded smears on social media.
👮CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM as the Supreme Court ruled that defendants who plead guilty retain the right to challenge their convictions on the basis that the crime the government charged is unconstitutional. The California Attorney General announced he would not appeal a decision finding that state court judges must examine ability to pay when setting bail unless there is clear and convincing evidence that the person poses a risk to public safety. The ACLU of Wisconsin sued the Milwaukee police dept. alleging it’s the over stop-and-frisk program is racially biased. A federal judge ruled that employees of the private military contractor conspired to commit, and aid and abet, torture and other crimes in Iraqi and can be sued for such violations.
⚕️WOMEN’S HEALTH CARE CAN CONTINUE AND EXPAND as New Jersey’s Gov. Phil Murphy’s first signed legislation restores $7.5 million in grants for health clinics and Planned Parenthood that were stripped from the state’s budget since 2010 and makes contraceptives available to women on Medicaid. A Department of Health and Human Services official said that Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers will not be barred from applying for funding under a federal family planning grant program.
🗳️VOTING RIGHTS for those served by a Texas Vocational Rehabilitation program after the agency was threatened with a lawsuit by the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities for failing to comply with state law. The Texas Workforce Commission will implement voter registration services to people Sometimes you get what you want by saying pretty please with a lawsuit on top. The League of United Latin American Citizens, filed four federal lawsuits in Texas, South Carolina, California, and Massachusetts challenging the winner-take-all method that these states use to allocate their Electoral College votes. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a lawsuit against Georgia Secretary for unlawful racial gerrymander of the Atlanta metro area of the Georgia House of Representatives districts. A U.S. District Court ruled a Kern County redistricting plan violated the voting rights of Latino’s. Electoral Justice Project created #WakandaTheVote campaign to register voters at Black Panther screenings.
📜SEX AND FREE SPEECH WINS OUT as a federal judge dismissed coal mogul Bob Murray defamation lawsuit against John Oliver and HBO for a segment Oliver did about him in a show. A US. Appeals Court ruled that sex is a constitutional right such that the state cannot fire an employee for private sexual conduct.
💓STOPPING HARMFUL EXPRESSIONS OF HATE WAS HELPED when a Durham County judge dismissed criminal charges against 2 defendants and found a third not guilty in the case against them for toppling a confederate monument in Durham (NC). Shortly after the District Attorney dropped charges against the remaining 5 defendants. Hundreds of UNC-Chapel Hill students appeared to counter protest at an impromptu rally when word spread that a white nationalist rally was headed to campus.
👩🎓BREAKING BARRIERS The oldest U.S. college a cappella group, the Whiffenpoofs at Yale, accepted their first woman. After 325 years the College of William & Mary selected its first female president. West Valley City (UT) selected their first ever female police chief in the state. Metro-North Railroad (NY) named its first female president. Tiffany Haddish will be the first Black woman host of the MTV Movie and TV Awards. Saudi Arabia for the first time allowed a woman to perform on stage alongside men and are now allowing women to start businesses without permission from male guardians. They are just leaping forward into the 1800’s. The Black Panther movie is breaking all kinds of box office records, in addition to giving us more strong, black and female superheroes to cheer for. More than double the number of women are running for Congress in 2018 than in 2016.
⛼ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST almost every week so for this week we have U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) deciding he won’t run for re-election and Reed Cordish, the head of the administration’s Office of American Innovation is resigning after a little more than a year in the position as is Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke.
🇷🇺RUSSIA INVESTIGATION IS SHOWING RESULTS and it was a busy week for Mueller. Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer working with Gates, was charged with, and pled guilty to, lying to investigators about when he talked with Gates and Ukrainians. Mueller then brought an additional 32 count indictment against Manafort and Gates. Shortly after, Gates pled guilty to two criminal charges and agreed to cooperate with the investigation. Following the Gates guilty plea, Mueller filed another round of charges against Manafort alleging he secretly recruited and funded a group of European politicians to lobby on behalf of Ukraine.
😏FOR YOUR INFORMATION The Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida agreed to pay out $5.45 million to settle claims by former members that it wrongfully refused to refund their deposits when they wanted to resign after the club lost at trial. Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) was indicted by a grand jury on a felony invasion of privacy charge for allegedly threatening to distribute a nude photo of a woman he had an affair with if she exposed the relationship. The Co-founder of KIPP, one of the country’s largest charter school chains, was dismissed after an investigation found credible a claim that he had sexually abused a student. A convicted sex offender was discovered to be the face of the Trump.Dating site that allowed those looking to cheat on their spouses but not gay people.
🕫CREATIVE ACTIVISM is alive and well. A group of Dallas judges got together and formed ‘Pipeline to Possibilities,’ steering youth away from so-called ‘school-to-prison pipeline.’ Tom Steyer announced one million dollars to a voter registration drive for high school students. Indivisible Ventura has a new app to make your activism even easier. Twitter purges Russian trolls and the right gets angry when their fake followers disappear.