What a scary week in the Mideast. The epicenter of the world’s energy resources and the land-bridge between Asia and Africa is spinning out of control as the danger of a shooting war between the US and Russia grows daily.
A US F-18 warplane shot down a Syrian Air Force SU-22 ground attack aircraft over eastern Syria. This was a grave, reckless provocation clearly authorized by Washington. Russia, Syria’s ally, threatened to begin targeting its supposedly deadly S-300 missiles against US warplanes over Syria.
As people mobilize nationwide under the #ProtectOurCare banner in a collective bid to defeat the Republican Party's plan to strip healthcare coverage from millions in order to give the nation's wealthiest a massive tax break, Sen. Bernie Sanders was helping lead the charge over the weekend as he joined MoveOn.org and others on a rapid-response bus tour designed to galvanize opposition in key states.
Republican legislators in Kansas did the unthinkable this month: They voted to raise income taxes, ending a painful five-year experiment with an extreme anti-tax agenda introduced by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.
Outrage at President Trump’s behavior and policies is already leading to speculation over whether he will manage to complete his term of office. Speculation over how he might fall is a favorite after-dinner topic. Impeachment, criminal conviction, removal by the Cabinet, resignation, secret coup by deep state intelligence officers — all figure in the guessing game. As Trump intensifies his embrace of foreign tyrants and domestic plutocrats, these guesses take on an aspect of hope. For the growing number of Americans who abhor Trump, the prospect of being rid of him is thrilling.
Five months into the Trump regime, we've reached the tipping point. It may take more than a year to play out, but the presidency of Donald Trump is coming to an end. Meantime, congressional Republicans—acknowledging the Administration is running out of runway—have decided to ram through as much toxic legislation as they can while Trump is in the White House.
I’ve been in New Orleans since May 1. I came to visit my mother, who died on May 4, five months shy of her 95th birthday and was buried on May 10. That means I’ve been here through much of this latest round of public cavil over the city’s decision to remove the four most conspicuous monuments to the Confederate insurrection, 1861-1865.
See posts below for more information.
Until that happens and the bill passes, we need to continue to make clear our demands for protection for our immigrant friends, neighbors, and family members. Our broken and severely outdated immigration system criminalizes immigrant communities that contribute greatly to the great state of California, and to our country as a whole. This harsh, punitive system allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to separate, detain, and deport hard working people—and local and state resources are devoted to helping ICE do just that.That's not who we are. We need to stop ICE and their abusive attacks on our immigrant communities and give sanctuary to the millions of immigrants who call this country home. Please call your Assemblyperson and tell them to support SB 54, the California Values Act. With enough of us working together, we can continue leading for the country and provide sanctuary in California to protect our immigrant communities.
The problems with our broken immigration system aren't going away, and they aren't going to get better unless we take collective action to fix them. We know that ICE has made us less safe, not more so. Creating terror and fear across our state is contrary to law enforcement values. We can begin to restore trust with law enforcement, but it's going to take this clear step by the Assembly to pass the California Values Act.Call your representative in the California Assembly and tell them to support SB 54, the California Values Act and protect our immigrant communities from Trump's dangerous, anti-family policies.Thank you for taking action with us today.
Advocates of the single-payer healthcare proposal which has been steadily advancing through the California legislature were voicing outrage and disappointment on Saturday after Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a Democrat, announced he was pulling the bill from further consideration this year.
Three years ago, on the 20th anniversary of NAFTA’s passage, North American labor, environmental groups, human rights organizations, and other citizen watchdogs—united to call out the terrible impact of this trade agreement on working people and our communities. As attention returns to NAFTA, now that President Trump has notified Congress officially of his intention to renegotiate, we caution against any belief that his administration will seek a deal benefitting people and the planet. NAFTA benefits corporations and those who have an interest in the free flow of capital, rather than improving the lives of workers, our communities, or the environment. Past attempts to appease concerns from labor and environmentalists have not been meaningful. .
We see the consequences of this failed treaty vividly: Across the continent, workers and families have been hit hard, as evidenced by persistent unemployment, wage stagnation, and record wealth and income inequality. There continues to be a decline in good-paying, union manufacturing jobs, as well as a loss of high-paying jobs in smaller businesses. In those pockets where manufacturing has expanded, the jobs created have been mostly low wage with little attention to worker health and safety. In Mexico, the jobs that have emerged have been at such low rates of pay that poverty rates have risen—not fallen—since 1994. Mexico has experienced a loss of jobs in agriculture, where heavily-subsidized US corn, sugar, and other commodities led to the collapse of the Mexican farm economy. Since the implementation of NAFTA, workers in the three countries have suffered, while wealthy investors and big corporations have seen their profits balloon.
Communities of North America continue to suffer under NAFTA as corporations continue to exploit our shared environment for profit and pollute our land, air, and water as governments are unable or unwilling to force corporations to clean up hazardous mistakes created by negligence. This is evident from the St. Lawrence River in Québec, which is threatened by fracking from Lone Pine Resources, to the Midwestern plains, where oil leaks from the TransCanada-owned Keystone Pipeline, to the hills of Guadalcázar, where residents pray they have seen the last child born with birth defects from the toxic waste MetalClad has refused to clean up. Corporate profits continue to grow while the health of our communities and environment suffers.
NAFTA enables the unrestricted flow of capital causing misery for working people, including: the forced migration of people looking for jobs; increased rates of homelessness; mental health problems associated with dislocation; higher rates of diabetes and other ailments linked to cheap high fructose corn syrup; and rising violence, particularly against women. NAFTA devastated the Mexican economy, particularly agriculture and family farms by allowing US corporations to dump cheap corn and other staples into Mexico. It is a key reason why millions upon millions of Mexican workers have been forced to migrate north to the US looking for better work.
President Trump says he wants to renegotiate this “bad deal,” but his vague plans are anchored in building a wall for workers and tearing down walls for capital. He makes a xenophobic argument for renegotiation, and we reject its racist and nationalistic orientation. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue have stated that the rejected and discredited Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) would be the starting point for a renegotiated NAFTA. Unionists and environmentalists rejected TPP for good reasons and to have that as the administration’s starting point is very troubling.
The Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism in NAFTA infringes on sovereignty and citizens’ rights to self-governance by allowing corporations to sue governments who restrain profit-making opportunities. This would have been made more powerful under TPP. TPP would have weakened US health and safety standards, including those that ensure safe pharmaceuticals and food. TPP attacked net neutrality and a free and open Internet. NAFTA was negotiated in the early 1990’s and the internet was not included in the original NAFTA. We expect this to be a major target of the administration’s renegotiation.
We reject the corporate-led vision for a renegotiation of NAFTA and call for a new set of trade policies that prioritize workers common interests and relies on international solidarity as its cornerstone. Any renegotiation of NAFTA must be oriented around the improvement of workers’ lives and protection of the environment focused on those regions of the continent where conditions are the most desperate.
We call for the end of the ISDS protections NAFTA offers to corporations to exploit working people and the environment. As we said three years ago, 20 years after the passage of NAFTA, any new treaty must “strengthen governments’ ability to protect social, environmental and labor rights, particularly for migrants.”
We demand, as required by the UN International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions 87 and 98, an end to laws that allow employers to prevent workers from choosing their own unions or from exercising their rights to assemble, organize, and represent workers without any employer interference. This includes an end to attacks in the U.S against unions seeking to negotiate union security clauses with employers.
We demand government investment to create good-paying jobs in our communities, to build affordable housing, accessible public transportation, and green energy production, with quality food, education, and healthcare for all, and with improved access to clean air and water, public parks, and green recreation spaces. All trade negotiations must be opened to civil society participation, which includes prior publication of the texts and the construction of mechanisms for information sharing, social participation and deliberation, while avoiding the imposition of any “fast track”. A renegotiated NAFTA treaty must include effective mechanisms to protect human, labor, and environmental rights with meaningful sanctions and enforcement provisions to assure the supremacy of human rights over corporate privilege.
We support the “Political Declaration of the Encounter of the Social Organizations of Canada, United States, and Mexico” which came out of meetings held in Mexico City on May 26 and 27, 2017. We unite in international solidarity with these goals in mind and are prepared to fight back against any and all attempts to divide or devalue our work, our communities, and our environment.
Reposted from our friends at Portside.
In the fall of 2002, I spent nearly two weeks backpacking in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah. Fifteen years later, that experience continues to have a lasting impact on me.
Planned Parenthood is under attack like never before. After weeks of secret negotiations behind closed doors, Senator Mitch McConnell and his exclusively-male health care working group just released a disastrous piece of legislation that would “defund” Planned Parenthood—putting the 2.4 million people who rely on Planned Parenthood for essential health services at risk.
The US health care system is complicated, for sure. But in some essential and profoundly consequential ways, it’s not complicated at all.
A few related truths about health care in the US:
The US health care system is (and has long been) wildly inefficient, inequitable and ineffective. The depth of its dysfunction is quite shocking (more on this below). The Affordable Care Act (ACA) made the US health care system better. The Republicans’ repeal and the ACA would make dramatically worse.
OK, let’s not be fair and balanced. Let’s be honest. And let’s not allow ourselves to start thinking of these last six months as anything like “normal.”
Eventually, Trump is likely to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump’s repeated statements about the Russia “hoax” — along with his apparent attempts to influence the FBI’s investigation — warrant a close look at the process by which he could do so. Equally important are the limited ways to stop him.
Bad enough that the Republican Senate bill would repeal much of the Affordable Care Act.
Even worse, it unravels the Medicaid Act of 1965 – which, even before Obamacare, provided health insurance to millions of poor households and elderly.
It’s done with a sleight-of-hand intended to elude not only the public but also the Congressional Budget Office.
Here’s how the Senate Republican bill does it. The bill sets a per-person cap on Medicaid spending in each state. That cap looks innocent enough because it rises every year with inflation.
What’s all the shootin’ for?
— George Michael Cohan, The Tavern
Climate activist Ken Ward, the "valve turner" who was arrested and prosecuted for closing the emergency valve on an oil sands pipeline, and who argued in front the jury with considerable success that the urgency of climate change compelled him to act, was sentenced Friday in Skagit County Superior Court in Washington State. His sentence of two days in jail has already been fulfilled.
Despite the constant barrage of racist, sexist, and xenophobic remarks from Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, even his detractors managed to hear--through all that hate speech--his promise to "drain the swamp." Trump tied the noose of Goldman Sachs around Ted Cruz’s neck during the primary and never let anybody forget about Hillary Clinton’s paid speeches to big banks during the general election.