The students from MSD high school and #NeverAgain have kept their message at the top of media coverage, thanks in part to the insensitive and insulting rants, by the likes of politicians, media hosts, and washed-up musicians. Have you ever seen a March Madness month where important games can’t even get top billing on CNN? Taking a page from West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, are demanding the wages and benefits they deserve. To channel this activism towards the #BlueWave2018 you can check out the newly announced Sister District candidates they are supporting. The highlights this week are;
- #ShowYourTaxes A federal judge ruled that the D.C. and Maryland may proceed with a lawsuit against the twittler-in-chief alleging he has violated the emoluments clause of the constitution’s for his company receiving payments from states and foreign governments, making this the first such lawsuit clearing the initial legal hurdle of proving that the plaintiffs have legal standing to sue.
- #RightToChoose A nationwide order temporarily preventing the government from blocking access to abortion services for teens detained in immigration custody was issued by a federal judge as part of a lawsuit.
- #Vote Maryland’s legislature passed legislation (with a veto-proof majority) adopting automatic voter registration for eligible citizens when they interact with state agencies such as the Dept. of Motor Vehicle, health-care exchange or social services offices. The 11th state to do so.
- #DreamActNow A federal judge who had previously granted an injunction preventing the termination of DACA has now also denied the administration’s request to dismiss the case using strong language suggesting there is racial bias in the decision to end DACA.
- #FairWages Oklahoma approved the largest ever pay raise for teachers and staff, but the teacher’s union is standing strong and is still prepared to strike for better school funding and larger increases to bring their salaries on par with other states. Arizona is next.
🧕🏻STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS is what members of the Springfield Interfaith Sanctuary Coalition (MA) and the First Universalist Society in New York City are doing by providing sanctuary to women and their families who are in fear of deportation. Together Juntos Caravan started its travel across Texas to educate immigrants about their constitutional rights. Thirteen states have stated that they have or intend to sue to block the citizenship question on the 2020 census.
⚖️💰ECONOMIC JUSTICE comes in all shapes and sizes. Western New Mexico University voted not to increase student tuition and fees for next year. A federal court imposed a $45.4 million fine against three companies in a verdict enforcing the federal Do Not Call Registry rules after a jury found they made over a 100 million prohibited calls. Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear (D) announced he will challenge the pension legislation passed in secret in the middle of the night that results in the reduction of pensions for state public workers as a violation of the non-voidable contract. California Attorney General sued one of the largest hospitals in the state for anti-competitive practices and using its power to exclude competition and increase prices. Utah passed a law to seek to partially expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Washington state passed a law prohibiting schools from shaming students or depriving them of a regular school meal if they have an unpaid lunch account. Southern Legal Counsel is working with @FRLS on a new project to help low-income people get their driver’s license restored for unpaid court debts and fees. Kentucky activists bring their protest to the state house over pension changes.
🤸🏿👛WHEN ECONOMIC AND RACIAL/GENDER IMPROVEMENTS INTERSECT The NJ legislature passed sweeping protections to women and minorities from workplace discrimination and the Gov pledged to sign it. The bill makes it illegal for an employer to provide lower pay/benefits to workers protected by state law against discrimination, including women and minorities then they provide to white men doing significantly the same work with severe penalties for violations and rules on remedies. JPMorgan Chase announced a $1 million investment to support Black and Hispanic women-led startups in the technology. Volunteers started construction on a tiny home village for homeless women in Seattle.
👨🏿⚖️SEEKING RACIAL AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE Austin’s Police Chief labelled the man who killed multiple black people and terrorized mostly minority neighborhoods with his bombs “a domestic terrorist.” New York State passed a bill banning police officers from having sex with people in custody. Protesters in Sacramento standing up against the shooting of another unarmed black man by police blocked the entrance to the Sacramento Kings game and disrupted a city council meeting. A thousand protesters in NYC rallied for justice for Stephon Clark. The Sacramento Kings formed a partnership with Black Lives Matter and Build Black to provide support for black communities with education, workforce preparation and economic development #BuildBlackFutures. Advocates handed out joints to D.C. City Council members at a rally for marijuana legalization.
🌎SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT Environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the EPA challenging the decision to allow certain major industrial plants to turn off some pollution controls. McDonald’s UK announced that some of its British locations will switch to biodegradable paper straws and they will only be offered to customers upon request. The UK has moved forward an proposal to require a returnable deposit on disposable drinks containers. A U.S. District judge dismissed Exxon’s lawsuit in which they claim New York and Massachusetts were pursuing bad faith investigations into allegation that they misled investors and the public about its knowledge of climate change. More than a dozen protesters who disrupted a pipeline construction in Massachusetts were found not guilty for their acts by a judge who accepted their defense that it was a “legal necessity” to act to stop climate change.
🕬 GUN CONTROL REFORM AND ACTIVISM CONTINUES IN FULL SWING New York passed legislation that strips all firearms from New Yorkers convicted of domestic violence. The Chicago Cubs wore MSD High School shirts before their opening day game. Fox News host Laura Ingraham is taking a vacation as advertisers flee her show, including big names like; Liberty Mutual, Office Depot, Jenny Craig, Johnson & Johnson, Hulu, Nestle, Expedia, Wayfair, Trip Advisor, Nutrish, and Principal (IBM is the only big name left) after she mocked a MSD student over his college admissions and he called on his twitter followers to demand a boycott of her advertisers. A group of 40 high school students in Wisconsin began a 50 mile march scale across the state to the hometown of Speaker Ryan to demand gun control and Moms Demand Action filled the Louisiana legislature with their lobbying.
🏳️🌈LGBTQ PROGRESS Close to 3,000 people showed up for Starkville’s (MS) first LGBTQ Pride parade. The Clark County School District voted to draft a gender policy in the first step in implementing rules to protect transgender students. Washington enacted a law banning gay conversion therapy on minors and the Mayor of Milwaukee said he intends to sign a similar bill passed by the city council. Groups continue to sue to move LGBTQ rights forward, like the ACLU and Lambda Legal who sued Ohio over its birth certificate policy that denies transgender individuals the ability to change the gender on their birth certificate to reflect their current identity.
🤰🏽WOMEN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE After being sued by Baltimore, the national Healthy Teen Network, and King County (WA) for being arbitrary and capricious, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reversed its decision to terminate funding for a federal grant program to prevent teen pregnancy. An anonymous donor promised $9 million for the construction of two new Planned Parenthood centers in Texas.
🗳️VOTING RIGHTS VICTORIES FOR FLORIDA, WISCONSIN, and MARYLAND. In a win for the 1.5 million people are not allowed to vote in Florida due to past felony convictions, a federal judge ordered the state clemency board to revise its current procedures and come up with a fair process that doesn’t take took long or create unfair advantages for potential voters to earn back the right to vote, after it struck down the state’s current voting rights restoration process last month. A federal Judge ruled Broward County (FL) is adequately maintaining its voter records, rejecting one of the many cases brought by the conservative American Civil Rights Union (not to be confused with the ACLU) in their crusade to purge voter rolls, and called their expert witness and evidence “misleading” and “inaccurate.” After another judge denied the Wisconsin Gov. appeal of a State Supreme Court order to hold two special elections as required by state law for vacant state legislator seats the governor announced the special elections would be held on June 12th. Maryland Legislators voted to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November to allow voters will decide whether to permit residents to register and vote at their polling places on Election Day.
You have to be in it to win it, so this week the SPLC sued Mississippi challenging its lifetime voting ban and the unfair legislative process for restoring citizens’ voting rights. The NAACP announced it will file a lawsuit against the Census Bureau alleging the bureau’s intent to use untested digital technology for the count will result in a massive under count of communities of color. Equally American sued to have residents of the U.S. territory of American Samoa be recognized as full U.S. citizens without having to go through the difficult naturalization process. Common Cause filed federal complaints alleging Cambridge Analytica violated the prohibition on foreign nationals performing certain election-related activities. The ACLU is suing to stop New Hampshire from rejecting absentee ballots if they have doubts about the signature, without telling the voter. A partnership of HeadCount, Voto Latino, Hip Hop Caucus and others registered more than 4,800 voters during the March for Our Lives nationwide.
👩#MeToo FOR CHEERLEADERS, STRIPPERS, FLIGHT ATTENDANTS AND MORE A cheerleader with the New Orleans Saints filed a complaint with the EEOC alleging the team has two sets of rules, one for the all women cheerleaders, that contains a long list of prohibitions requiring them to fend off the male players, along with other biased rules, but no rules placing the onus on male players to not chase after the women. Female flight attendants for Cathay Pacific won their battle to be allowed to wear pants as well as skirts. A federal judge ruled that strippers at a club in Philadelphia were owed almost 5 million in damages in a class action suit finding they were improperly classified as independent contractors rather than employees. The California Legislature announced they will automatically release information about substantiated sexual harassment investigations without freedom of information requests..
📰FREE SPEECH A federal judge permanently prohibited an Iowa city from sueing or threatening to sue an Iowa man for making statements on a website that criticizes his town, including that it smelled like “rancid dog food” and ordered employee training, damages, legal fees and an apology. A prominent law firm is offering to represent any White House employee how was forced to sign an illegal non-disclosure agreement.
👩🎓BREAKING BARRIERS United Nations Secretary-General appointed Rosemary DiCarlo as the first woman to be their political affairs chief. Oklahoma City University named its first woman president and Bates Technical College selected its first female chief executive. Deridder (LA) elected Misty Clanton their first woman mayor. Fort Lauderdale selected its first female Fire Chief, Dona Ana County (NM) appointed its first woman undersheriff, and South Carolina “Trooper of the Year: Highway Patrol is a woman for the first time. American Truck Dealers elected it first chairwoman. The Iowa group 50-50 by 2020 reported that data shows 98 women in Iowa expect to have their names on the ballot for the primary, a 44 percent increase from the 2016 primary.
💓PREVENTING HATE FROM SPREADING Charlottesville (NC) and the racist neo- Confederate group League of the South reached a deal barring their directors, officers, members or agents from holding future militia like protests in the city. A hospital fired a nurse who allegedly wrote on her Facebook page that the unarmed black man shot and killed by Sacramento police “deserved it for being stupid.” In South African, a woman was sentenced to two years in jail for “crimen injuria” after being caught on camera shouting racial slurs at a black police officer who was helping her.
🙂FOR YOUR INFORMATION A crowdfunding campaign to cover legal costs for Andrew McCabe, has raised almost half a million dollars. An arbitrator in Panama denied the Trump business request to be put back in control of the hotel in Panama where they physically ousted and barred new legal cases over the matter. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he was not naming a special counsel to investigate allegations of surveillance abuse within the Dept of Justice. Two more leading attorneys have rejected an offer to represent the alleged colluder-in-chief. One amazing resistor used an unexpected opportunity to be photographed with Senator Cruz without him aware that she was wearing a sign that says “Texas Deserves Better Than Ted,” which went viral.
🧟ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST If you were thinking that we were going to have a week without a firing you should probably stop self medicating (even if it helps you get through this nightmare). The next player ousted in Survivor White House Edition is Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, replaced by the terminate-by-tweet-in-chief’s personal physician. Rep Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) announced he won’t seek reelection. A notorious hatemongers, white supremacist, and neo-Nazi, James Paul Wickstrom died.
I would love to hear from readers if I am covering all the topics you are interested in? Or covering too many topics? I know I frequently have typos and such, but the timing of the blog that I do in my free time in between work and activism makes it hard to have a regular schedule to allow for a second set of eyes, but I promise to keep trying.