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2000px Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program logo.svgLogo of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. United States Department of Agriculture

It's hard to believe so many members of Congress can claim to be Christians after voting for a farm bill last week that not only takes food assistance away from 2 million people but also steals hope and opportunity from all kinds of folks struggling to improve their lives.

The farm bill, which includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- the nation's largest anti-hunger program -- passed along partisan lines by just two votes. It's a stark departure from the long bipartisan history of a program in which Democrats and Republicans -- despite differences -- came together to make sure Americans didn't go hungry.

SNAP provides meals to more than 42 million Americans, including seniors, children, low-wage workers and veterans. Most are in families living below or at the poverty level who are struggling to put food on the table while trying to keep up with the cost of rent, transportation, health care and utilities. Many are stuck in low-wage jobs where they don't earn a living wage, can't get enough hours and have no benefits. Many can't find jobs, are between jobs or are looking for better jobs.

Torture 0627wrpTorture protest in Washington DC. (Photo: Justin Norman / Flickr)


Tuesday marked the UN day in support of victims of torture, yet it likely passed unnoticed by most in the US, despite the country being decades-long signatory to the Convention Against Torture. In practice, much of the torture that has occurred in the context of the "war on terror" has been accompanied by indefinite detention, thus lengthening the time to which prisoners endure this abuse, while also preventing them from accessing any semblance of justice. But now that the threat of torture has been revived through the promotion of a known torturer -- Gina Haspel -- and as indefinite detention becomes an acceptable punishment for those we outcast as the "other" and a "threat" to our national security, there is no better time to call for an end to these deplorable practices once and for all.

SCOTUS 0627wrpThe US Supreme Court. (Photo: Davis Staedtler / Flickr) 


Corporations and the rich have been attacking the rights of working people for decades, and today's Supreme Court decision is one of the heaviest blows in that attack to date. Today, the Court overturned more than four decades of precedent by making fair share fees for public-sector workers unconstitutional, and created new obstacles to working people trying to build full and healthy lives.

The Janus v. AFSCME decision is the culmination of hundreds of millions of dollars spent by corporate billionaires to take away working people's freedom to stand together in a union. The Court's siding with Janus follows another disastrous decision for working people in the case of Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, which ruled that employers can take away workers' right to engage in collective action by having workers sign arbitration agreements. This means that if an employer steals our wages or subjects us to sexual harassment or discrimination and we want to fight back, we can be forced into a rigged system that our employer controls.

Just like the Harris v. Quinn decision that attacked home care unions, a movement built by women -- specifically Black women workers -- this Supreme Court ruling is also an attack on Black workers, and Black women in particular. Black women make up nearly 18 percent of public-sector workers. Good union jobs in the public sector have been a critical source of decent jobs for women and people of color and a bulwark against the galling disparities we experience in the private sector.


televisionsinclairSinclair Broadcasting Group is walking the propaganda talk for Trump. (Photo: LaurenMcKenzieReed)

It takes chutzpah for a broadcasting company to have its TV stations assert that Donald Trump was the savior of children separated from their parents along the Mexican border. However, it is not unexpected coming from Sinclair Broadcasting Group, an unabashedly pro-Trump media corporation that is the largest owner of local television news stations in the nation. Sinclair-controlled stations have the most impact among all television media outlets on people who rely on their local TV outlets for filtering the news.

A June 26 email from the Courage Campaign, an advocacy group in California, warns:

Sinclair Broadcasting has reached a despicable new low. The right-wing TV company forced its nearly 200 stations around the country to lie about Trump's policy of ripping kids from their parents at the border, blaming the family separation on others while saying Trump "stepped in" to stop it.

The must-run segment then calls concern over the horrifying practice "politically driven by the liberals in politics and the media."

The "must-run" segment refers to commentaries that every Sinclair station must broadcast. 




Ralph drollinger Danielle Drollinger/ Wiki Commons

Despite the public outcry over the hundreds of children snatched from their migrant parents and placed in cages, despite Democrats, and some Republicans, expressing outrage over Donald Trumps “Zero Tolerance” policy, and despite the reality that even some of his conservative evangelical comrades have expressed their dismay, Ralph Drollinger, the head of Capitol Ministries, the organization that leads Bible study for Trump administration officials and Republican lawmakers, is staying the course. 

Perhaps Drollinger, the controversial homophobic, climate change denying pastor really believes that jailing children is the Christian thing to do. Perhaps, having been just outside the A-list of Religious Right leaders, Drollinger feels this is the right time to get a little media attention. Or perhaps he doesn’t want to alienate Trump and risk lose his job. In any case, Drollinger is digging in his heels. 

As The Intercept’s Lee Fang recently reported, Drollinger is “le[ading] the charge to defend the administration...”


8183932054 7ace56d5b5 zSan Francisco and the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge. Doc Searls/Flickr

In a blow to the climate liability movement, Federal Judge William Alsup on Monday threw out a trendsetting lawsuit brought by the cities of Oakland and San Francisco against the five biggest fossil-fuel producing companies, The New York Times reported.

The two Bay Area cities were the first major U.S. cities to sue big oil over the costs of adapting to climate change, but other cities and counties around the country, including New York, Boulder and Seattle's King County, have followed their lead for a current total of 11 such lawsuits on the books.

Alsup, of the Federal District Court in San Francisco, stemmed the tide of the movement with his decision, ruling that the courts were not the appropriate place to decide issues relating to climate change.

"The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case," Alsup wrote in his opinion, according to The New York Times.

Alsup acknowledged the scientific consensus surrounding human-caused climate change and agreed that it posed a significant risk to the planet, but did not think it was ultimately fair to hold the defendants―Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, BP and Royal Dutch Shell―responsible for supplying a global demand for energy that had transformed the modern world.


8283138407 89ca65a832 zThe NRA will get its way with foreign gun sales. (Photo: Edward Kimmel)

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is a behemoth of campaign giving, almost all to Republicans. According to a February Los Angeles Times article, in the last election, its campaign arm contributed millions of dollars to Donald Trump, who considers the NRA members as representatives of a key contributor constituency. As the Times reported, "The 2016 election marked a high point in electoral spending by the NRA and its affiliate, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, with donations totaling $54 million. Much of that was devoted to the presidential campaign." According to the Times, some $30 million of that amount went to assist Trump in defeating Hillary Clinton in the electoral college. Furthermore, the NRA's campaign expenditures have been increasing over the years.

It's the NRA's campaign spending that almost certainly poses the biggest roadblock to legislation that would stem the tide of gun violence in America. From 2010 through 2018 thus far, the organization donated $111 million to political campaigns of federal candidates.

Then there is the NRA Institute for Legislative Action's lobbying expenses, which the Los Angeles Times details:

The NRA's annual lobbying expenditures come to millions of dollars a year: Gun rights advocacy groups, of which the NRA is the kingpin, spent more than $135 million on lobbying in 1998-2017, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Gun manufacturers spent an additional $21 million. Those figures swamped the spending of gun control advocacy groups, which mustered only about $19 million in that period.

The gun lobby is strengthened by its affiliation with the right-wing libertarian lobby. In 2014, for example, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action received a $4.9-million donation from what was then known as the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, which is affiliated with the Koch brothers. The president of Freedom Partners at the time was Marc Short, who is currently President Trump's director of legislative affairs — in other words, his chief lobbyist on Capitol Hill.

These are just a few of the examples of how Trump is joined at the hip with the NRA, and to paraphrase an expression, he's giving away the gun store. 


Spill 0625wrpOil spill. (Photo: Gloson Teh / Flickr)


A train derailment spilled 230,000 gallons of crude oil into an already-flooded Iowa river Friday, endangering downstream drinking water, the Des Moines Register reported Sunday.

Thirty-two cars of a Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) train derailed, 14 of which leaked crude oil into the Rock River in Doon, Iowa. The cause of the derailment is unknown, but officials including Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds attributed it to heavy rain Wednesday and Thursday which led to flooding.

To aid recovery from extreme weather and its consequences, including the derailment, Reynolds issued a proclamation of disaster emergency Saturday for Lyon County, where the train derailed, as well as Plymouth, Sioux and Woodbury counties.

(Photo: Will Munger)(Photo: Will Munger)


The current map of drought conditions across the Colorado Plateau shows a sea of deep, bright red. According to the US drought monitor, the Four Corners region is in exceptional drought. As fires burn up the San Juan National Forest and rivers that quench the region's thirst near record lows, it's hard to not fall into complete despair at early signs of climate chaos. However, alongside heat waves and low water flows, a rising movement for climate justice invites hope.

The Colorado Plateau, the high desert of the American Southwest, has long been an energy sacrifice zone. More than 90 percent of the public lands in the Greater Chaco region of northwest New Mexico have been leased to oil and gas. The last uranium mill in the country rises a couple miles north of the Ute Mountain Ute White Mesa community. Coal mining on Black Mesa continues to deplete and contaminate precious water resources for the Diné and Hopi people. The region exists at the frontlines of extreme extraction. The people of the Colorado Plateau remain far from idle, though. The rising movement for a just transition away from fossil fuels builds off decades and centuries of resistance while responding to new challenges climate change poses. In May, we witnessed a constellation of interconnected movements while supporting actions sprouting across the Colorado Plateau.

Friday, 22 June 2018 08:00

What Do Those People Want? Progress!

Corners 0622wrpWhere is the Democratic Party? (Photo: nikki / Flickr)


Where is the Democratic Party? The Party of the People is stuck in the status quo—- the still reigning, old-line hierarchy of the Democratic party is unwilling to just be dedicated to well, to the democratic interests of its own political base. People know from real-life experience that the economy has been rigged against them for the benefit of the uber-rich and the political system has been totally corrupted by the bipartisan pay-to-play ethic that protects the status quo from interference by us commoners. While Republicans are a wholly-owned corporate subsidiary, unabashedly dedicated the narrow interests of the moneyed elites, the Dems' congressional elders, key party officials, entrenched consultants and corporate funders continue to push bland, business-as-usual candidates running on a pusillanimous policy agenda of vague "reforms" that don't actually change anything. Then the party establishment wonders why such people stray or stay home in November!

What do those people want?

Progress! Meaning a national commitment to advance the economic, political and social circumstances of the American majority of workday families and poor people. Yes, that requires major change, and that will definitely make powerful enemies among wealthy elites plotting to impose Koch-style plutocratic rule over our society. Nonetheless, most voters want BIG populist changes in government policy that will lift up average Americans and hold down corporate greed and abuse.

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