Read up on the positive things that happened this week ending 6/2/17 while you were all busy with covfefe. I promise there are many.

AMERICANS STANDING UP FOR PARIS CLIMATE ACCORD – Mayors, Governors, philanthropists, and major CEOs are standing with the planet, pledging to do the right thing on behalf of all Americans.

  • Bloomberg has offered $15 million to UN efforts to tackle climate change to replace US funding.
  • Several of the largest U.S. companies, including Apple, IBM, GE, Pepsico, Exxon Mobile and Ford have pledged to stick to the climate accord and continue cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The CEOs of Tesla and Disney both left the President’s advisory councils after the announcement (and consequently were also removed from the boycott).
  • The Governors of CA, WA and NY formed the United States Climate Alliance aimed at meeting the U.S. climate goals and providing a means for interested states to coordinate on climate change.
  • 187 Mayors have signed on to Climate Mayors agreement representing 52 million people.
  • A group representing 100 cities, 3 states, 100 companies and 80 Universities are preparing to submit a plan to the UN pledging to meet the US emissions targets under the Paris accord. The three states alone make up about a fifth of U.S. population and GDP, and produce about 11% of U.S. emissions.

SAVING THE PLANET – Goldwin America, a Chinese wind-turbine manufacturer began a free training program for wind farm technicians for unemployed coal miners in Montana. A Ninth Circuit panel ruled the U.S. EPA failed to follow its own rules when it approved the use of the new pesticide, nanosilver, on a short term basis unanimously siding with the NRDC.  A new first of its kind, carbon capture plant, is now sitting on top of a waste incineration facility in Switzerland sucking CO2 out of the air to sell.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM – The ACLU has sued Lexington County in SC alleging it jails poor people who can’t pay fines for minor crimes and trying to put an end to “modern-day debtors’ prison.” Cleveland fired the police officer who killed Tamir Rice.

LGBTQ PROGRESS – Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields came out during a magazine interview, making her the department’s first openly gay chief. Ireland’s ruling party, Fine Gael, elected its first openly gay leader, Leo Varadkar, who is also the son of immigrants.

CITIES AND STATES STAND UP FOR THEIR CITIZENS – The democratic Governor of Minnesota vetoed the Republican Legislature’s effort to prevent cities from setting their own stronger labor rules for things like paid time off and minimum wage hikes, which would be greater than required by the state. San Antonio has joined the lawsuit brought by Austin to challenge the constitutionality of the Texas’ anti-sanctuary-cities law.  NYC became the largest U.S. city to guarantee some scheduling rights for fast food workers, requiring restaurants to schedule their workers at least two weeks in advance or pay extra for shift changes. A bipartisan group of 30 state Attorney Generals urged Congress to reject the administration budget proposal to eliminate funding for civil legal services for low-income Americans.

DEFENDING IMMIGRANTS – IKEA launched an initiative to provide jobs for refugees by starting a line of textiles made by Syrian refugees in partnership with local non-profits. A unanimous SCOTUS ruled that an immigrant convicted of consensual sex with his under-age girlfriend was not eligible to be deported, finding that for the purposes of immigration law a minor must be under 16 for the crime to be deemed serious enough for deportation. The New Castle County NH Executive signed an executive order barring law enforcement officers from asking about citizenship status or making an arrest because of it. Continue reading

New York and New Hampshire Show Us the Way

Big victories in NY, NH and the courts. Head to the glowing orb to see them or read about the good that happened week ending 5/27/17 below.

Empowering Court Decisions: The 4th Circuit Ct of Appeals upheld the injunction blocking the second version of the travel ban in a 10-3 ruling stating the order “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.” The Supreme Court struck down two NC congressional districts ruling that the state violated the Constitution by relying too heavily on race and drawing them in a way that minimized the impact of black voters. Moving towards real gerrymandering reform one court decision at a time.

Election Wins: Democrats picked up seats in the state houses in NY and NH, winning House seats held by republicans in districts that voted overwhelming for Twittler.  Christine Pellegrino won in the NY Assembly District Nine in Long Island and Edith DesMarais won the House seat for District 6 in NH. DesMarais is the first Democrat elected to the NH House from the town of Wolfeboro since 1913.

Federal Immigration Relief: The administration extended the Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for Haitians living in the US since the 2010 earthquake and stopping their deportation for another six months, the TPS was due to expire in July. The WH appears to be retreating in the war against sanctuary cities as DOJ has narrowed the definition of “sanctuary city” and significantly limited the potential financial consequences for non-compliance.  The State Department quietly lifted restrictions on the number of refugees allowed to enter the US, nearly double the number of refugees may be able to arrive in the country by next month.

Cities and States Do the Right Thing: Tennessee became the first state to offer a free two-year college education to all residents. The Seattle City Council unanimously passed significant police reform, bolstering community oversight of the department’s disciplinary system, creating a powerful civilian inspector general and civilian supervision of internal investigations. Denver reduced the penalty to less than a year of jail for many criminal ordinances so that undocumented immigrants convicted of these violations can avoid federal rules that can put them on the radar for deportation when they are convicted of crimes carrying a penalty of a year in jail.

Taking it to the Courts: The Southern Poverty Law Center sued Mississippi over discrimination in education arguing the legally binding obligation to operate a “uniform system of free public schools” for all children placed on the state as a condition of rejoining the Union after the Civil War is not being met because of systemic racially based inadequacies.

Saving the Planet: India has cancelled plans to build nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations and has instead entered into contracts for solar electricity, now that for the first time ever solar is cheaper than coal in India.  Following in the footsteps of resistance projections on buildings in DC. Greenpeace lit up the dome of the Vatican with the message “Planet Earth First” during twittler’s visit. Continue reading

Cities and States Fight Back

While the circus is dancing around the Middle East let me recap some of the good that happened that you might have missed this week ending 5/20/17.

  1. The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a lower court decision that struck down North Carolina’s restrictive voter photo ID law, leaving in place a ruling by the Ct of Appeals which found the state legislature enacted the requirement with racially discriminatory intent.
  2. The Governor of Virginia Governor signed an executive order to combat climate change by formulating rules to reduce carbon emissions, saying the rules are meant to fill the gap left by pull back on federal environmental regulations. The Governor of NY announced the Methane Reduction Plan to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030. More than 55,000 people commented to the EPA on the potential rollback of regulations, most against them. That is civic engagement. You can still comment on stopping the revocation of National Monument designations on-line.
  3. The Austin and El Paso City Councils, along with the town of El Cenizo, are suing Texas over the new state ‘sanctuary cities’ law that allows local law enforcement to ask about someone’s immigration status during arrest or detainment and threatens to remove from office those that don’t comply with the law. Elected officials from Dallas and other cities say they are considering doing the same.
  4. We have not one, but two resignations to celebrate… NH State Robert Fisher resigned after his years of sexist and misogynistic online forum posts on Reddit was made public. Jason Chaffetz announced he is resigning from Congress at the end of June. Don’t let the door hit your broken foot on the way out. Now help Kathryn Allen get elected to his seat. And yet another nominee has withdrawn, Goldman Sachs exec Jim Donovan pulled out of serving as Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary saying he needs to spend time with family. Amazing how many male politicians are leaving feeling the need to focus on their family these days.
  5. Lots of great local election results. Richard Jackson, was elected with sixty-three percent of the vote as the first African-American City Council member in Gautier, Florida. Monica Rodriguez was elected as the second woman on the 15 member Los Angeles City Council. Three women were sworn in to the Amarillo City Council, making the five person board now majority female for the first time, and new Councilmember Freda Powell will also be its first African-American councilwoman. Lula Palmer, on her third try, was elected the first African-American woman Mayor of Sardis Mississippi Proof that we should never give up.  In primary results Philly DA candidate Larry Krasner won after campaigning on the most progressive agenda of all the candidates, promising to end “mass incarceration”, to never to ask for cash bail for nonviolent offenders or pursue the death penalty. Joshua Cole, is the first African-American to win the Democratic nomination for the Virginia House of Delegates 28th District. Matt Shorraw defeated the democratic, trump-supporting incumbent Mayor in the primary for Mayor of Monessen. There are no Republicans on the ballot in November. Now let’s help make sure they win in the general election.
  6. The ACLU has been busy with lawsuits at the local level. ACLU Mississippi brought a class-action lawsuit against the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, claiming they routinely use excessive force and a variety of unconstitutional tactics to target black people. The ACLU of Texas and Florida filed lawsuits against Houston and Pensacola’s recent restrictions on panhandling in public, arguing they limit free speech and violate other constitutional protections.
  7. The S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission won a $70,000 settlement against Carolina Creek Christian Camps in Alabama for demoting a woman when she informed them she was pregnant.  Philadelphia has filed a federal lawsuit against Wells Fargo alleging discriminatory lending practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act saying the bank had a longstanding practice of intentionally steering minority borrowers into ‘discriminatory’ mortgage loans.
  8. I am happy to report yet another ban on gay conversion therapy. Nevada became the eighth state to ban the practice on children, joining California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Vermont and New York.
  9. An artist projected images of “Pay Bribe Here”, the emoluments clause, on The Trump Hotel in DC and then of Jeff Sessions in KKK garb on the DOJ building and other images on the FBI building. As creative, as those who spelled out human enormous “resist” on a California Trump golf course last week. And creative folks from the TV show Mom, creator Chuck Lorre and Allison Janney are donating $250,000 to Planned Parenthood in lieu of launching the typical expensive publicity campaign to win an Emmy.
  10. In amazing women news, Warte Abubakir, at 26 years old became the first female to pilot a Boeing 737 jet in Iraq, flying for Iraq Airways.

We can do great things at the local and state level, we can stand up and block federal changes, if we stay focused, energized, and committed to the long haul. Don’t give up.  Stop and smell the flowers on your way to your next protest.

An Early Mother’s Day Reminder of the Things That Went Right This Week Ending 5/13/17

Let’s not be distracted by the smoke and mirrors and instead take a deep breath and a moment to consider the good that was drowned out this week ending 5/13/17.

  1. We are making progress on the Russia-Trump investigation. The republican led Senate Intelligence Committee  subpoenaed documents from Michael Flynn’s associates after declining to give Flynn immunity. A financial intelligence unit in the Treasury Department has agreed to turn over financial records related to twittler and associates at the Committee’s request. This week a third republican signed onto democratic legislation to create an independent commission to investigate Russian election interference. And who can forget that Sally Yates testified calm, cool, and collected, at the Senate hearing that the WH was told Flynn was compromised by the Russians.
  2. The FBI raided the Annapolis office of Strategic Campaign Group, a Republican fundraising and campaign consulting firm representing Republican candidates around the country. Can’t wait to hear all about it when criminal charges follow.
  3. The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking information the WH is using as the basis for its voter fraud claims and the new executive order establishing a “Presidential Commission on Election Integrity.” The WH was ordered by a federal judge to disclose a memo drafted under the guidance of Rudy Giuliani that the Arab American Civil Rights League argues served as an outline requested by the WH to make the travel ban look like it wasn’t aimed at Muslims.
  4. Three republicans joined the democrats in the Senate to block a resolution to repeal an Obama-era rule restricting methane emissions from drilling operations on public lands. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s had archived EPA data posted on the city’s website saying “while this information may not be readily available on the agency’s webpage right now, here in Chicago we know climate change is real and we will continue to take action to fight it” and is promising to add more. A federal judge ruled the EPA should not have approved a particularly toxic strain of pesticides called neonicotinoids that have killed hundreds of thousands of bees. Tillerson signed the Fairbanks Declaration, which states the foreign leaders signing it “recognize that activities taking place outside the Arctic region, including activities occurring in Arctic states, are the main contributors to climate change effects and pollution in the Arctic, and underlining the need for action at all levels”, paralleling the Paris Climate Agreement. I hope he remembers to tell his boss he did this. Even the jewelry company Tiffany & Co is trying to save the planet. They said on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and in an ad in the New York Times “Dear President Trump. We’re still in for bold climate action. Please keep the U.S. in the Paris Climate Agreement. The disaster of climate change is too real, and the threat to our planet and to our children is too great.”
  5. The Jesuits are returning more than 500 acres in South Dakota to the Rosebud Sioux, given to them in the 1880s for use as churches and cemeteries by the U.S. government. The Jesuits said “It’s now time to give back to the tribe all of those pieces of land that rightly belongs to them”.
  6. Democratic Rep. Maloney held a town hall in republican Rep. Faso’s district since Faso refused to meet with his own constituents. Maloney told the crowd of over 300 that he was on hand to “adopt” the 19th district and “If at any time [Faso] wants to come here and do his job, well I will pack up and I will leave.” More Democrat led town halls in republican districts without them are being planned. And speaking of town halls, the Town Hall Project that will locate your local town hall for you, including “empty chair” ones where the community holds them even when their rep chooses not to. Arizona, NY, NC and Texas have some this month, check them out.
  7. Connecticut joined a number of other states and passed a ban on gay conversion therapy. Oregon decided the Elliott State Forest, will stay in public ownership, bringing an end to Oregon’s years-long flirtation with divesting the land. Maryland’s Public Service Commission approved subsidies to support two large scale wind farms, making them viable projects. The wind farms are expected to prevent emissions of hundreds of thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide and create 5,000 jobs.
  8. In more strong women good news, Connie Schroeder a civil engineer, defeated a 27-year veteran Council Member to become Bastrop, Texas’ first female Mayor. I previously reported that Jeanette Vizguerra, an Immigrant seeking refuge in a church to avoid deportation was named a TIME magazine 100 most influential people in the US, and now ICE has granted her a stay of deportation through March 2019. She can now leave the church without fear and resume her life.
  9. Like France, South Korea is also rejecting conservatives. Moon Jae-in, an opposition leader won the presidential election, ending a decade of conservative rule.
  10. Resistance inspires creativity, like the dude who posed for a photo with Speaker Ryan at a pancake breakfast while wearing a “Repeal and go f*ck yourself” shirt and posted it on Instagram. You can see it here. And the Rational Dress Society who are recycling and repurposing Ivanka Trump clothing into cool items.

Check out the new page on the blog with resources for resisting and bringing about change.  It isn’t too late to comment on EPA rule rollbacks or protecting national monuments as over 150,000 of you did to the FCC to protect net neutrality.  Keep on calling and fighting, and don’t forget to vote in your local elections.

France Shows Us the Tides Are Turning. All is not hopeless.

I think a lot of us can use something to cheer us up and motivate us to continue on. So let me start with the breaking news today that the Far Right Has Lost the French Presidential Election. Now on to the roundup of what went right this past week ending 5/6/17.

  1. The Supreme Court ruled that under federal housing law cities can sue banks for discriminatory lending practices that hurt low-income neighborhood, holding that “cities can be an “aggrieved person” who can sue over the impact of housing discrimination on the city’s finances. SCOTUS also rejected an appeal on religious freedom grounds to a California law banning gay conversion therapy, leaving the law intact.
  2. In more good legal news, a federal court reinstated a Kentucky couple’s case for damages against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who refused to give them a marriage license. The court ruled that Kentucky changing marriage licenses in 2016 did not eliminate the harm Davis may have done to their constitutional right to marry in 2015. A gay couple won a landmark legal ruling that paves the way for same-sex marriage in Bermuda when the Bermuda Supreme Court found that the Human Rights Act took primacy in Bermuda and protected their right to marry.
  3. A Federal Appeals court denied to rehear a case upholding rules on net neutrality that that forbid internet providers from blocking or slowing internet traffic. Activists at Fight for the Future raised $25,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to purchase full-size billboards on heavily traveled roads in the home states of four Republicans who lead the passage of the bill allowing the sale of browser history. The billboards will show how much Blackburn, Heller, Rutherford, and Flake took from the telecom industry. In un-legal news, the ACLU reversed course and said it won’t file a lawsuit challenging the executive order on religious political exemptions because the “signing was an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome.”  After careful review the ACLU determined that the assertion that the Executive Order would “‘totally destroy’ the Johnson Amendment has proven to be a textbook case of ‘fake news’”
  4. As part of the effort to follow the WH order to reduce regulations, the EPA is collecting public comments by phone, online, and in writing, about which clean water regs should be targeted and so far 6,000 comments have been published and they are dominated by those staunchly opposed to the regulatory rollback. You have until May 15th to post your comments. You don’t need to be an expert. Do it here.
  5. I’m going to call the budget deal a win, while some may disagree for a variety of reasons, it does not include money for a wall, increases federal spending on medical research, green energy programs, saves PBS and the arts, and other areas the WH pegged for reductions. While it does include $1.5 billion for border security, the money is for technology and infrastructure repairs, not more detention facilities or deportation officers. The legislation is also free of policy riders intended to restrict abortion access or loosen financial regulations, it prevents the DOJ from using any funds to prevent implementation of state medical marijuana laws, or serve other Republican priorities.
  6. The Boston Red Sox permanently banned a fan from attending for making racial slurs against the Kenyan singing the National Anthem, after his comment was reported to them by another white fan. Trayvon Martin’s parents will accept a posthumous bachelor of science degree in aeronautical science conferred on him by Florida Memorial University “in honor of the steps he took during his young life toward becoming a pilot” before he was killed. In other University good news, Butler College in Pence’s home state is now offering a course entitled “Trumpism and US Democracy” The course describes 45 as perpetuator of “sexism, white supremacy, xenophobia, nationalism, nativism and imperialism” and explains that students will discuss and possibly engage in strategies for resistance. Since I don’t know of any resistors who were actually paid for protesting, contrary to republican claims, I guess college credit will have to do.
  7. The CEO of KeraVada, a black hair care product company, removed his hair products from an Asian owned Beauty Supply company after learning the company mistreated black women at the store. An international group defiantly opposed to the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on women priests, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, ordained its first woman Catholic priest in the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte NC.
  8. The major television networks, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and CNN have all refused to run twittler’s 100 days of accomplishment propaganda ad. CNN said “the advertiser must remove the false graphic that the mainstream media is ‘fake news”. As the mainstream media is not fake news, and therefore the ad is false and per policy will be accepted only if that graphic is deleted.”
  9. The second nominee for Army Secretary, Mark Green, withdrew his nomination after weeks of withering criticism over his past extremist statements against LGBTQ and Muslims communities. The first nominee withdrew because of financial entanglements. Another Republican Congressperson has announced they will not run for re-election in 2018. The decision by Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen not to run gives Democrats a chance to pick up a seat in the 2018, as her district went for Clinton in 2016.
  10. New Yorkers gave 45 an appropriate welcome home by coming out in thousands to boo him and unfurl anti-trump banners. He was so afraid of the protestors that he ran away to his home in NJ rather than stay in NYC.

Feel free to comment on anything I missed. The fight to save the Affordable Care Act is not over.  It is more important now more than ever to write, call, fax, text, tweet, email, and show up at your Senator’s office or town hall meeting to demand they vote against repealing the ACA.

Space Aliens rule! as the resistance continues on.

Samantha Bee entertained us last night at the Not the WH Correspondent’s dinner about the last 100 days, now let me remind you of what went right just this past week (4/29/17)

  1. The Mayor of New Orleans had a public statue honoring racism in New Orleans removed. The statue honored members of a white supremacist paramilitary group who fought against the city’s racially integrated police force in 1874. The mayor said, “We will no longer allow the Confederacy to literally be put on a pedestal in the heart of our city” after a federal court granted permission for four such statues to be removed
  2. The Governor of Indiana signed a religious liberties bill which symbolically and primarily codifies case law to protect student religious liberties in schools allowing; schools to teach survey courses on world religions, student to pray in school and express their views on God in schoolwork and to wear clothing or jewelry with religious symbols, religious student groups to use school facilities, and prohibits discriminated against students based on their religion.
  3. In a dramatic response to a power-grab by Republicans in the NC legislature, Republican Judge J. Douglas McCullough resigned 36 days prior to his mandatory retirement age to purposely circumvent efforts by republicans to strip power from the Democratic governor. His resignation allowed the Governor to appoint Arrowroot (who is openly gay) to the Court of Appeals, just hours before the republicans were going to restrict the Governor’s power by overriding the Governor’s veto of a law that reduced the number of judges on the panel.  Sorry if I made your head spin on that explanation.
  4. A coalition of progressive citizens in Morgantown West Virginia, inspired by the Indivisible Guide, took control of the seven member city council in their deep red state, in an election that brought a large turnout.  Each of the seven seats was contested in the council race unlike the 2015 election that had just three contested seats. Repeat after me, change begins from the ground up.
  5. S. District Judge William Orrick of California temporarily blocked the executive order defunding “sanctuary cities”, finding that San Francisco and Santa Clara could prove that it violates the Constitution because the president doesn’t have the power to withhold federal money. As other judges have done in the past, Orrick found that the government’s arguments in support of the order directly contradicted WH public statements, trump tweets, and Spicer and Sessions comments at press conferences. A federal judge ordered ExxonMobil to pay nearly $20 million plus attorney’s fees for spewing millions of pounds of air pollution higher than allowed by law from its Houston-area industrial facilities as a result of a lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club and Environment Texas.
  6. A white principal of a predominantly black elementary school in Florida was forced out when it became pubic that she told her staff to put white students in the same classrooms, separate from the black students. This school district is also currently under investigation for racial discrimination.  I don’t think this will help their case. Wyoming residents banded together to support the LGBTQ community by wearing tutus to bars and other places after Senator Enzi made insensitive comments about tutu wearing gay man at a high school.
  7. Showing yet again how boycotts work, the restaurant Koi, located in the Trump Hotel Soho in New York City is closing because business has been down significantly since Election Day. Staffers said that former clientele told them they don’t want to patronize anything with “Trump” in the name. NRA members should have boycotted this year’s annual convention when the Secret Service banned their guns at Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center during the by keynote speech by 45.  Why would the Secret Service think anyone with an AK47 at an NRA gathering posed a threat to 45? and why did NRA members stand for this unreasonable gun ban?
  8. 45 continues to back down on some of his racist and ridiculous ideas, and this week that included removing his demand for funding his border wall as part of a temporary budget bill. Those calls to congress and the angry crowds at congressional town halls have members of congress too scared to give him what he wants, keep up the good work.
  9. Astronaut Peggy Whitson not only broke the record for oldest woman in space, but she just broke the U.S. record for most time in space at 355 days, Whitson is also the first woman to command the space station twice and the only woman to have led NASA’s astronaut corps. Female Scientist Rock! And so did the amazing number of people who believe in science who turned out for the March against Climate Change all over the world.
  10. The Fair Labor Association, an industry monitoring group, found two dozen violations of international labor standards during an audit of the factory owned by the company that produces Ivanka Trump branded clothing.

I continue to be amazed at the ingenuity this election has inspired. We have text alerts for daily actions that directly connect you to the right legislator, government office, or even a random trump property, at the click of a button, the ability to fax and mail letters for free to elected official through a few simple text messages, apps to message your representative and keep track of congressional voting, an online national resistance calendar, an app variation of a drinking game that will allow you to automatically donate to worthy causes every time the twittler-in-chief texts (with a maximum cap or you would go broke), and winner for most creative this week is the immigrants’ rights activists who have organized a campaign to overwhelm the new ICE hotline for crime victims of aliens 1-855-48-VOICE with complaints of crimes committed by space aliens. Which one will you use this week?

Shout out to my local peeps, Trump coming to NYC May 4th, be a part of the protests that day to let him know what New Yorker’s think of him, let’s make the Women’s March look like a warm up.

Be A Part of Making Things Right

Need to do something other than march, donate, call, and text? Want to make a difference in the resistance from the comfort of your own home? Want to be the reason that we have change happening at the local level to report on in future editions of What Went Right. Then here is your chance.

Run for Something needs volunteers to do some super easy research to connect potential candidates to offices they can run for and it takes less than an hour of your free time. I did it and it is simple and informative. Sign up here and spread the word to your family and friends.