I am excited to bring you this week’s edition of What Went Right so let’s get right to it my favorites.
- Two Federal Judges have blocked the new travel ban, preventing it from going into effect. One of the judges wrote, a “reasonable, objective observer” would view even the new order as “issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion, in spite of its stated, religiously neutral purpose.”
- A Federal District Court permanently blocked Mississippi’s Texas-style clinic shutdown, ensuring the last abortion clinic in the state will remain open. The court refused to hear an appeal of the ban on the law, which required any physician associated with an abortion facility to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.
- Rachel Maddow teased us with a release of the first two pages of the twittler-in-chief’s 2005 Federal tax return on prime time TV in a scathing take down. We can only hope that the full read comes soon.
- The Mississippi House defeated a bill requiring state universities to fly the state flag. Why do I include this? Well the Mississippi state flag has the Confederate emblem on it and some are trying to find a way to make the schools fly it since they can’t force the full confederate flag anymore. Gov. Matt Mead in Wyoming vetoed a bill that would have allowed people to carry guns at state and local government meetings.
- In more legal wins; a Federal Judge held the U.S. Border Control in civil contempt for failing to maintain surveillance tapes in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU and others, claiming the agency detains migrants in inhumane conditions. The Arizona Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s minimum-wage law, rejecting a challenge by business groups to the Prop. 206 law. The law raises Arizona’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020 and requires employers to offer mandatory paid sick leave as of July 1.
- Alexander City, Alabama will pay $680,000 in damages for the 190 low-income people who were unconstitutionally jailed for not paying tickets in a settlement agreement with the Southern Poverty Law Center as part of a lawsuit challenging the cities operation of a modern-day debtors’ prison in which people were jailed for being too poor to pay fines. The New York City Police Dept. agreed to install a civilian watchdog on a surveillance panel as part of a settlement to strengthen oversight of the NYPD surveillance tactics as a result of a class action brought by NY’s Muslim community.
- A Charleston jury awarded a black couple $1.3 million in damages for being arrested after they accused a white state trooper of racial profiling during a traffic stop. Neither victims were permanently injured, but the jury was asked to send a message with a large award, and they did after seeing the dash-cam footage.
- In deep red Alabama, Walt Maddoxx, a democrat, won re-election as the Mayor of Tuscaloosa with 90 percent of the vote. Democratic candidate for City Council in North Phoenix Arizona, Debra Stark, won over her Republican opponent. Stark will be the first Democrat in about three decades to win that seat. Change starts at the local level.
- Dutch voters rejected hate. Prime Minister Rutte and his conservative party won over the xenophobic, far-right-wing Freedom Party. Rutte said “This is a night when the Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, has said ‘stop’ to the wrong kind of populism.” The Dutch left party, GreenLeft, also won big, increasing its seats in parliament from four to 14.
- In minor, yet entertaining news; McDonald’s calls Donald Trump ‘a disgusting excuse of a President’ with ‘tiny hands’ in a tweet. They later announced the account had been hacked, but was it really? I like to think not, and sadly Ivanka Trump has discontinued her high-end fine jewelry line because enough rich people didn’t listen to Kellyann Conway and buy her $10,000 baubles.
So keep on participating in town halls, help organize your community, make use of Emily’s List and Crowdpac.com if you want to consider running for office, and remember it takes lots of advance planning, so now is a good time to get started.
What Went Right back by popular demand for this week. I couldn’t narrow down my favorites this week, so the list is long.
1. All 100 Senators, in a rare show of unity, sent a letter to Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and the FBI urging them to assist in protecting Jewish institutions and help prosecute those who threaten them in response to a rise in anti-Semitism
2.The Supreme Court ruled that when a juror makes a clear statement indicating that they relied on racial stereotypes or animus to convict, jury secrecy rules give way to allow a review of the jury deliberations to determine if the defendant was denied a fair trial. Justice Kennedy wrote “An effort to address the most grave… racial bias is… an effort… to ensure that our legal system remains capable of coming ever closer to the promise of equal treatment under the law that is so central to a functioning democracy.
3. In a roundup up of state actions; Maryland passed an extension of a successful state program aimed at reducing per-capita energy use, reminding us that environmental protections also happen at the local and state level. The Republican Governor of Massachusetts broke with the usual Republican position and pledged to replace any lost federal Planned Parenthood funds with state funds. Two New Mexico bills that would have placed restrictions on abortions were killed by a NM House Committee. And going big out there in Texas, democratic State Rep. Jessica Farrar, filed a bill that would penalize men for “unregulated masturbatory emissions” and regulate Viagra use.
4. The fight against TrumpCare gained powerful supporters when the AARP, the American Medical Association, and the largest Health Insurance trade association, announced that they didn’t support it as drafted because of the expected decline in health insurance coverage and the potential harm it would cause to vulnerable patient populations.
5. Hawaii, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, and Oregon filed lawsuits against the revised travel ban, arguing the order will harm its Muslim population, tourism and foreign students.
6. The SPLC secured the release of Daniela Vargas, a 22-year-old DREAMER, from ICE custody after 10 days in detention after she was detained moments after speaking publicly about immigrants’ rights. Her arrest was a transparent attempt to chill free speech and intimidate immigrants who speak up. These are your donations at work.
7. Just to prove to you that Canada isn’t the only cool place to live, Iceland announced it will soon require all employers with more than 25 employees to certify they give equal pay for work of equal value. While other countries, and Minnesota, have equal-salary policies, Iceland is the first to make it mandatory for both private and public firms. If they can do it there, we can do it here.
8. Two democratic candidates in very conservative districts are raising large amounts of money in their bids to give republican candidates a run for their money. Jon Ossoff, is running for Congress in a special election in April to fill Tom Price’s seat and has raised almost 3 million. Kathryn Allen, a democrat and doctor, in Utah was so outraged by Jason Chaffetz’s infamous i-phone/healthcare comment that she decided to run against him after her exploratory steps raised over $350,000 in just days.
9. International Women’s Day brought out thousands of people in many cities across the country for demonstrations, while a call for pro-trump rallies brought out only a tiny handful of people at a few locations with headlines like “tens of people showed up”.
10. I try not to make this post controversial and would not usually consider death good news and I have no doubt I will face many unpleasant comments over this, but nevertheless I will persist on behalf of all the people who have been saved from future harm. Joseph Nicolosi, a co-founder and acting practitioner of gay conversion therapy died and will no longer be able to inflict untold suffering on those facing his extremely damaging brand of torture.
Keep those donations flowing, those protests loud, those phone calls, emails, letters and postcards rolling out, and consider running for office no matter where you live.