2018

2018

PPC Issues Watch 1

July 13, 2018

QUESTIONS REMAIN TWO WEEKS AFTER TERRORIST ATTACK BY STALKER SLAYS FIVE IN THE NEWSROOM

Two weeks have passed since the June 28 massacre of five Capital Gazette staff — the only terrorist attack that has killed journalists within their newsroom aimed at silencing it completely.

This story shouldn’t die. We must demand accountability and action from the president, including answers to the following questions, printed in the media.

  • Does the Trump administration recognize the Capital Gazette slaying as a terrorist attack?
  • Will the president change his behavior which includes hundreds of negative, name-calling, mean tweets of The New York Times, NBC, CNN and Fake News that prompted Sen. Jeff Flake to highlight those comments as reminiscent of Joseph Stalin and Sen. John McCain to criticize portraying the media as the enemy of the American people?
  • Does he believe his behavior encouraged this attack?
  • Does he regret what he has admitted is a strategy to discredit negative coverage?
  • Will he stop criticizing those who peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights, recognizing it encourages, condones, and/or motivates elements within our society whose agenda is one of hatred and discrimination?
  • What will he do to keep firearms from those who harass or abuse women, given a high percentage of mass murders are preceded by stalking, harassment, abuse or killing of a woman by the shooter?
  • What legislation does he support to reduce gun violence?

 


 

PPC Issues Watch 1

July 6, 2018

JARROD RAMOS SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO PURCHASE A GUN

Any logical system of background checks for gun purchases would have stopped the Capital Gazette Newspaper killer, Jarrod Ramos.  He had been fired from his job as a government contract employee and had conducted social media crusades against the criminal justice system, his local newspaper the Gazette, and a mental health counseling facility. He was a convicted woman harasser. He “friended” an old classmate on Facebook, telling her to go “kill herself” (NYT6/30) and then harassed her attorney. He was sentence to 18 months of supervised probation.

Even though Maryland has some of the strictest gun safety laws in the nation, Ramos passed a background check.  In addition, shotguns and rifles are not on a list of “regulated firearms” under state law. In October, Maryland will be one of 11 states that authorize “extreme risk protection orders,” also known as ERPO or Red Flag, but only certain people can file a petition.

Maryland Democratic legislators immediately vowed to tighten existing laws to address this mass shooting.  Meanwhile, our Republican-led Congress remains compliantly silent as the carnage continues. As we know, the easy accessibility of any type of deadly weapons sets us apart from the rest of the world. We need a national solution and will only get one when we change the makeup of Congress.  See our list of candidates who have been endorsed by major gun reform advocacy groups here.

–Elizabeth Spiro Clark, Chair, Committee on Public Policy and Political Action
–Shelly Livingston, Chair, Task Force to Prevent Gun Violence

 


 

PPC Issues Watch 1

June 29, 2018

SUPREME COURT VACANCY ANNOUNCEMENT: RACHEL MADDOW ALLAYS MY TORMENT

If you reacted as I did, you were paralyzed, as if you had been “hit over the head by a 2×4,” as Rachel Maddow put it. Paralysis was soon followed by despondency and anxiety.  The booze wasn’t helping. I needed resuscitation, and Rachel’s show at 9:00 pm administered CPR.  Yep, she has a fairly simple plan to stop #45’s nomination to the Supreme Court. It’s a long shot, but it provides some glimmer of hope. “If Democrats are going to do this, every single Democrat in the Senate will need to agree to not be a doormat – that shouldn’t be that hard!” she joked. “And every single Republican senator including the pro-choice ones, will have to decide if they want to go down in history as the deciding vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade and make abortion illegal in the United States.”

Here’s the video of her comments.

RESIST!  OCCUPY!  PROTEST!

–Shelly Livingston, Vice Chair, Public Policy and Political Action Committee

 

“WE’VE GOT THE PEOPLE, THEY’VE GOT THE MONEY.”

In the midst of a tumultuous week, we’d like to lift up an event of tremendous proportions.

Twenty-eight-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, outspent 18:1, defeated 10-term Rep. Joe Crowley by 12 points in the Democratic primary for a House seat in New York’s 14th District.

Surely, the buzz will continue about the implications for Democratic Congressional leadership, the 2018 Congressional elections, and for the nation in the upcoming weeks, especially as the traditional mainstream media largely ignored the campaign of the former Bernie Sanders organizer.

But for now, we’ll pass on three observations.

  • She is part of groups extremely underrepresented in Congress versus the overall population. (Congress is about -12 percent for Hispanic-Americans, -31 percent for women, and -20 percent for millennials versus the US.)
  • Her platform for equality and opportunity – Medicare for all, a nationwide $15 minimum wage, tuition-free public universities, 100 percent renewable energy — is similar to that which proved to be surprisingly resonant in 2016.
  • Everything from her campaign to her personality (and her campaign personality) is an inspiration to us all.

Ocasio-Cortez is a rising Democratic star to watch and support.

–Veena Trehan, Chair, Global Women Task Force

 


 

PPC Issues Watch 1

June 22, 2018

#WhereAreTheGirls (And Their Rights)?

Many questions remain about the heart-wrenching separation of parents from their children at the Mexico-US border. From questions about our national identity asked in TIME’s July 2 cover story (“What kind of country are we?”) to the immediate and crucial #WhereAreTheGirls?, a hashtag that calls attention to the lack of girls in photos of children separated from their parents provided by the Department of Homeland Security. The hashtag has been tweeted at least 125,000 times since the April 6 imposition of “zero tolerance” has been used to justify separating children from their parents at the border. The question is all the more powerful after the administration’s dehumanizing, pre-genocidal language  against Latin Americans (“animals,” “infest,” etc.), the characterization of this policy as a negotiating tool, and continued manifest disrespect for the law, women, and people of color.

The executive order of June 30 may end this practice. Yet urgent questions remain:

  • “Where are the girls (and other children)?” The release of photos and audio by brave journalists and citizens have only amplified concerns about the 2,300 children separated from their parents. Have they been placed in cages? Were they placed in detention centers or with relatives? How do we know they not been trafficked? Which leads to …
  • Where is the oversight to ensure they are kept in safe and humane facilities with appropriate support? Is there 24/7 video that shows that they’ve been kept safe with their human rights met (to the extent they can be in a policy that has been widely described as “child abuse”)? What are the guidelines and evidence to ensure they are kept in places that, in terms of facility, staff, and emotional perspective, are protective of their human rights? Are they/should they get physical and other evaluations to ensure they were not abused? What is the evidence that there is a process to investigate and address abuses, even in the light of new revelations from an immigrant youth center in Virginia?
  • What will happen to them now? What is the process to reunite them with their parents? Where will they be? Will press be present? This process appears far too complicated and slow, given our government has been instrumental in disrupting the lives of these children.
  • Why should any of them be in facilities? What is the rationale for where they will be?
  • How on Earth could $775 have been spent on them per night if they were not in one of the nicest resorts nationwide with free food, activities, and education and support? This is stated ironically; financial concerns are far less important than the health and wellbeing of these children. Still, we will note that a number of airlines and corporate employees have spoken out against supporting these inhumane policies, placing people above profit.
  • And, finally, who will tell the complex story of foreign policy decisions, including NAFTA and US support for undemocratic, oppressive, or corrupt governments, that have contributed to the ravages of these nations and the scores of children fleeing them?

All this is unfolding while we have  happier news about world leaders and little girls: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern became the first world leader to give birth in 28 years; an affirmation we can move beyond human rights to equal opportunity for women at the highest level. But for now, we must demand answers, accountability, and an affirmation of who we are as a nation.

— PPC Task Forces on Global Women and on Social and Economic Justice

 

 

FORMER FIRST LADIES OUTRAGED BY TRUMP POLICY ON FAMILY SEPARATIONS AT BORDER

Many of the earliest voices of moral outrage about the Trump immigration family policy came from women! Specifically, the former First Ladies of America spoke clearly and forcefully against the “zero tolerance” immigration policy that is leading to migrant families being separated at the US-Mexico border. The former First Ladies, joining a chorus of criticism, called this practice “immoral,” “disgraceful,” and a “humanitarian crisis.” They are appalled by how the Trump administration has used children as pawns in this immigration policy-border situation.

President Trump, under tremendous pressure for this controversial immigration policy (ordering immigrants being taken into federal criminal custody, at which point their children are considered unaccompanied minors and taken away) caved Thursday and reversed course. Trump now calls for a program of keeping children with their parents. He presented no plans, details, or timelines on how the federal government will do this.

2,300 children are here, detained in 17 states separated from their parents. However, with the administration providing no information, questions are being asked:  Where are the toddlers? Where are the girls? So far, the “zero tolerance” policy remains!

Here are the former First Ladies’ words on this inhumane Trump policy:

Laura Bush

“I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart,” she wrote in a          Sunday Washington Post op-ed on Father’s Day. “Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso.”

Bush compared the current administration’s warehousing of immigrants in detention facilities to the internment camps in the U S during World War II. The former First Lady said, “These images are eerily reminiscent of the internment camps for U.S. citizens and non-citizens of Japanese descent during World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history.”

Michelle Obama 

Mrs. Obama seconds Laura Bush’s criticism of the child separation policy (the practice of separating immigrant children from their undocumented parents) in an op-ed she published in the Washington Post last Sunday, by writing: “Sometimes truth transcends party.”

Hillary Clinton

Mrs. Clinton called the situation at the border “a humanitarian crisis.” “Every parent who has ever held a child in their arms, every human being with a sense of compassion and decency, should be outraged.”

“We should be a better country than one that tears families apart, turns a blind eye to women fleeing domestic violence, and treats frightened children as a means to a political end.”

Rosalynn Carter

Mrs. Carter, in a statement released by the Carter Center, condemned the Trump administration’s approach.

“The practice and policy today of removing children from their parents’ care at our border with Mexico is disgraceful and a shame to our country.”

 

 

GUN REFORM IS THE TOP ISSUE AMONG LGBTQ VOTERS IN 2018

As the second anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub massacre was remembered this week, it seems this horrific shooting is driving voting expectations on the issue of gun reform among LGBTQ voters. About 50% of those polled in a survey by Whitman Insight Strategies and Buzzfeed News indicated that the shooting influenced their views on needed gun legislation.  In addition, more than any other issue, gun reform was named as their top priority, with 71% saying that a candidate’s position on guns would impact their vote.  The most popular-backed measures are:  universal background checks, banning sales to those convicted of hate crimes, and a ban on high-capacity magazines.  Read more here.

— Shelly Livingston, Acting Chair, Task Force to Prevent Gun Violence

 


 

PPC Issues Watch 1

June 15, 2018

COMMENTARY: TRUMP INTENDS DICTATORSHIP AND THE END OF LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC NORMS

Trump’s actions to tear down America’s alliances reached new heights when he cancelled his signature to the G-7 communiqué issued on June 9. Not only did he insult this coalition of democracies, which once was proudly led by America, but also he was particularly insulting to the prime minister of our main ally, Canada. This dismissal of our longtime allies came just as Trump made nice to North Korea’s Kim Jong Un – a dictator who has killed his close relatives, puts large numbers of his citizens in concentration camps, and can call out the military to kill anyone at any time or on a whim.

What does this tell us about Trump, and what should be our response to him? Is Trump’s behavior to fulfill campaign promises, and, if so, what do we learn from his electorate’s reaction? Are these actions from a desire to accrue dictatorial powers?

Trump has indeed explicitly renounced human rights and democracy as factors in his foreign policy and supported the practice of torture. He also insists he is above the law, able to pardon himself. Trump clearly prefers not to deal with the leader of a democracy like Justin Trudeau, by Trump’s definition “weak.” Trump does not want to deal with European societies who have chosen not to militarize their societies, instead mistakenly castigating them for their small average tariff of 3%. Instead, he has chosen to consort with fellow dictators Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, China’s President for life.

America will have no chance of returning to its norms and values and democratic institutions if Trump isn’t curbed soon. We must take back the Senate and the House of Representatives to effectuate these curbs and prevent his reelection – if he is still in office in 2020. Hopefully not.

Elizabeth Spiro Clark, Chair, Committee on Public Policy and Political Action

 

THE OCEAN IS RISING AND SO ARE WE: THE JUNE 9, 2018, MARCH FOR THE OCEAN

On a hot Saturday morning, a wave of blue formed on the Washington Monument grounds in the shadow of Mz. Blue, a life size inflatable blue whale.  Promptly at noon, the blue wave—a large throng of us mostly in blue shirts—poured out onto the surrounding streets, up and around the White House, and back to the monument grounds.  Included in the blue wave were E&E Task Force members Jean Stewart, Arlene and Tom Gross, and Anne Montgomery.  On the march we met a mermaid, a merman, a six-foot tall Nemo, and a very cool shark in sunglasses. There was also a woman in a dress and parasol all made entirely of single-use plastic. Later, we heard inspiring speakers like Philippe Cousteau, Jr., grandson of Jacques Cousteau, and Michael Fishbach of the Great Whale Conservancy, who brought Mz. Blue to energize the march.

All of this was to advocate publicly and strongly for the health and future of the oceans and the creatures that live in them.  Earth’s oceans are foundational for all life on this planet.  We are demonstrating the damages to the oceans caused by climate change, and by the flood of plastic waste now pouring into the sea, and ultimately back into our own drinking water in the form of microparticles.  We demonstrate in the hopes that our voices will ignite a nationwide movement to save our precious ocean resources.

–Jean Stewart, Chair, Earth and Environment Task Force

 


 

 

PPC Issues Watch 1

May 25, 2018

BLOCKING PRUITT’S EFFORTS TO HIDE THE TRUTH

A front-page article in the May 21 issue of the Washington Post announced a win for clean water in a battle with the EPA’s effort to relax regulations on storage of toxic coal ash. Coal ash contains concentrated heavy metals such as mercury and lead as by-products of coal burning power plants. It turns out, according to the Post, that the EPA based its attempt to ease containment regulations not on scientific research, but a four-page document from an industry trade group, the Edison Electric Institute. This, and other problems with the technical data, was discovered by environmental activists.

Another attempt to relax regulations, this time on fuel-efficiency rules for cars and certain types of trucks, has been temporarily halted by the Office of Management and Budget due to insufficient scientific research and a lack of information on economic impacts.

The latest attempt of Pruitt and his cronies to keep the public in the dark is the “summit” held by EPA on May 22. This was to discuss limits on the potentially toxic industrial chemicals polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFASs, in drinking water. The summit was forced by Democratic members of Congress disclosing a January meeting between the EPA and the American Chemistry Council to delay publication of a HHS study on the dangers to human health of PFAS levels in drinking water. Several journalists from CNN, the AP, and E&E News were ejected from the meeting. And prior to the summit. many community groups from areas contaminated by PFASs were excluded

Right-wing House Republicans came to the rescue unintentionally by defeating the Farm Bill last week. The chemical industry had quietly inserted provisions in the Bill prohibiting states and localities from enacting any further limitations on pesticides than in federal regulations.

All of the above shows the need for constant vigilance and close scrutiny of Pruitt and his industry apologists for every attempt to roll back regulations protecting our food, water, air, and overall health.

–Jean Stewart, Chair, Earth and Environment Task Force

 

WHERE US HOUSE MEMBERS STAND ON “MARCH FOR OUR LIVES” GUN POLICY AGENDA

A recent Washington Post survey of US House members regarding their stand on common sense gun proposals put forth by Parkland student activists revealed the following:

Only 12% of Republicans (29 out of 237) responded, and most of those who did came out strongly against the proposals. Happily, most of the Democratic delegation did respond and almost all affirmed their support

Click HERE to see entire list of these responses.

 

HANDY GUIDE TO CONGRESSIONAL NRA SUPPORT

Click HERE to learn if your House Representative or Senators receive NRA support. DC residents, please share widely with friends and relatives who DO enjoy democratic representation.

 

#45 QUOTE THAT NEEDS TO BE REPEATED OVER AND OVER AGAIN

As the White House occupant and his co-conspirators in Congress continue to drive the media narratives in a campaign to discredit democratic institutions, remember and share this quote widely:

CBS “60 Minutes” Correspondent Lesley Stahl just revealed a candid off-camera statement by the candidate and now White House occupant in 2016, where he flat out admits the attacks on media are indeed intended to discredit them. When she pressed him as to why he was doing this, he replied:

“You know why I do it?  I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.”

Not that we didn’t already know what he was up to, but what took Lesley so long to share with us these words from the monster’s own mouth?

–Shelly Livingston, Vice Chair, Public Policy and Political Action Committee while vacationing in Puglia, Italy 

 


 

PPC Issues Watch 1

May 18, 2018

SAVE OUR SEAS

The WNDC is a partner organization of the March for the Ocean (M4O) on June 9, World Ocean Day. This support reflects the strong stands we have taken for protecting the environment and for resistance to the Administration’s denial of climate change and elimination of reasonable regulations protecting our earth.  Members and friends concerned for our oceans—their health, cleanliness, and the life within them—have a great opportunity to be part of the resistance by joining us on June 9. By participating in this March we can show our support for saving our seas, and for opposing the flood of pollution, especially plastic, pouring into the bays and oceans around us. The M4O slogan is “The ocean is rising, and so are we!”

The event will begin at 11:00am on the Washington Monument grounds near Constitution and 17th Streets (nearest Metro: Smithsonian, Mall exit). There will be music from 11:30am, and at noon the March begins: up 17th Street, around the White House, and back to the stage. Marchers will be accompanied by a life-sized inflatable blue whale!

Marchers are encouraged to wear blue, comfortable shoes, and a shade hat, and bring a canteen of water. Do NOT bring plastic!  M4O will be a plastic-free march!

After the March, from 1:30 to 3:00pm, there will be a program featuring such ocean heroes as Dr. Sylvia Earle, Philippe Cousteau, Paul Watson, Carl Safina, and Danni Washington.

Sister marches will be taking place on the same day across the country.  This is our opportunity “to say NO to offshore oil drilling and spilling; YES to corporate accountability for plastic pollution; NO to plastic and other forms of ocean pollution; YES to protecting our coastal communities; and YES to a healthy ocean and clean water for all.” (Quoted from the website).

Sign up and get more information at www.marchfortheocean.org.

–Jean Stewart,
Chair, Earth and Environment Task Force

 

WHO LIVES, WHO DIES, WHO DECIDES, WHO PAYS?

Cruelty and Discrimination are not Acceptable Concepts of Governance for America

Sanctimonious Conservatives are stripping health care dollars from “those people” (AKA less fortunate American children and adults ) in tragic acts of cruelty called Rescission and Block Granting of Medicaid. Subsequent to ridiculous tax cuts for multinational corporations and the 10 percent, Republicans are discovering a several trillion dollar national deficit. “Oh my, let’s do rescission” they say. “Rescission” is double talk for “take back” of federal and state monies required to provide health care from our fellow Americans deemed “unworthy” or “mere animals.” The current Republican president and his lapdog legislators at national and state levels perceive financial sabotage of health care for less fortunate fellow citizens will slip by.

In addition to rescission, the classic theft of federal monies to care for less fortunate fellow citizens is Block Granting of Medicaid. Such is the Graham Cassidy Bill which encourages individual states to “experiment” with dispersal of Medicaid monies. Unfortunately history shows us spending such money on actual medical care is eliminated in favor of funding for building golf courses or stadiums etc.

The “unworthy” include disabled citizens (including some veterans), single pregnant women and single mothers as well as handicapped persons and elderly persons in need of nursing home care. “Those people” also include 70 million (or 1:5) children from day of birth to 21 years of age. The crux of the justification to steal Medicaid, and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children {food assistance}) is that “those people” are substandard human beings. “Those people” include darker skinned Americans, disabled persons, working poor and non-English speaking citizens

So again we must contact our #45 and national and state legislators to reject Graham Cassidy, and all rescissions. Phone calls are best.

White House: 202 456 1111, Congress: 202 225 3121 or 844 241 1141

Cruelty and discrimination are not acceptable concepts of governance.

–Karen Pataky, Chair, Health Policy Task Force

 

THINGS WE DON’T NEED: THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS AND NEWLY ESTABLISHED COMMISSIONS

In early April, the Trump administration established a federal commission led by Secretary Betsy DeVos to look at “ideas” on how to prevent more school shootings.

Preliminary reports suggest this commission might only rubber stamp current proposals that are already endorsed by the administration, such as raising the minimum age required to buy a gun, increasing mental health access, and repeal of regulations concerning racial disparity in school discipline that were adopted by the Obama administration.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) believes the Obama administration’s “Rethink School Discipline”has led to “chaos” in the schools. He points out this guidance in 2014 has “discouraged schools from referring students to local law enforcement.” Critics, however, are concerned that emphasis on protecting schools from gun-wielding individuals should not be considered in conjunction with daily matters such as school discipline. The two issues, school discipline and gun control should not be conflated. They are concerned about students’ civil rights and point out that in the US, school suspensions from preschool through high school disproportionately impact students of color and students with disabilities.

–Dianna E. Washington, Ph.D.,
Chair, Education and Children’s Issues Task Force

VIRGINIA TEENS SUCCESSFULLY LOBBY FOR MENTAL HEALTH INSTRUCTION IN HIGH SCHOOL

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed into law a requirement that high school students in grades nine and ten in the Commonwealth receive instruction in mental health. What format this will take is still being determined. In Albemarle County, there will be a seminar to help students deal with the many issues they may confront during this time in their lives.

This mandate is the outgrowth of lobbying efforts by several Virginia teens who were concerned about what they had observed among their peers–increased pressures, anxiety and stress, depression, bullying, and substance abuse. The CDC confirms these students’ concerns and reports that about 20% of adolescents aged 13-18 suffer from a mental disorder. In addition, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, “50% of the students who receive mental health services get them at school.”

This bill was sponsored in the Virginia State Senate by Senator R. Creigh Deeds, whose son had attacked him and, subsequently, committed suicide.

–Dianna E. Washington, Ph.D.,
Chair, Education and Children’s Issues Task Force

 


 

PPC Issues Watch 1

May 11, 2018

STAFF PURGE AT HUD GETS PERSONAL

A little noticed article last week in the Washington Post exposed the nefarious tactics being used at the Department of Housing and Urban Development to purge competent staffers at the behest of private industry. One of those affected is my sorority sister and good friend Pamela Danner, who was Administrator, Office of Manufactured Housing Programs. Her sin? Upholding HUD’s mission to ensure that low-income Americans have access to safe and affordable housing options.  Her other sin was being a staff holdover from President Obama’s administration, but I digress.

Yep, seems that certain private industry groups weren’t happy with those pesky safety regulations “hampering” their business, and they wanted her out; so, reassigned she was, and her assistant was terminated. Mark Weiss, President of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, called the action “amazingly ill-considered, offensive and arguably scandalous,” further adding that it directly conflicts with #45’s own pledge to “drain the swamp” in the nation’s capital.

In spite of the continuing chants at his campaign-style rallies to “drain the swamp,” it’s never been more clogged and now – mostly “under the radar”– #45’s swamp overflows with mucky special interest creatures.

“A Once Obscure Office at HUD is the Subject of Unusually Intense Lobbying Effort”

–Shelly Livingston, Vice Chair, Committee on Public Policy and Political Action

 

WHERE ARE THE WOMEN LEADING FACEBOOK’S PRODUCTION TEAMS? 

It’s been more than a year since Facebook  fed us ads from Russians attempting to influence our election, two months since Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress, and just days since Facebook announced its largest reorganization to date. Over two billion people use the application every month. Serious issues with Facebook have been raised, including foreigners influencing election outcomes, people spreading rumors and vitriol to fuel genocide and hate crimes, and advertising to minors who process information differently.

This week Facebook announced a major reorganization of its product teams. Among 15 top individuals, there is only one woman — responsible for “integrity” among other things (cue jokes) — and no women of color. As noted feminist journalist Soraya Chemaly wrote, “Facebook can’t claim to be trying. We can’t talk about risks to society represented by social media without talking about this insane lack of inclusion.”

–Veena Trehan, Chair, PPC Global Women Task Force

 

STOP INDEFINITE DETENTION OF AMERICANS AND CONNECT THE DOTS 

It is clear that our bloated military budget – about the size of those of the next seven countries combined — poses a risk for individual Americans. This budget – along with the recent tax cuts – threatens to balloon the deficit, and directly and indirectly shred our social safety net. At a time of the “gig economy” with rapid growth of independent contractors, workers need all the more security with their health, retirement, and finances.

The ability to freely criticize US militarism and military policy may well be vital not only to end harmful interventions overseas – percentagewise, the US War on Iraq resulted in the equivalent of 12 million Americans dead and 36 million displaced, and fueled other regional conflicts – but also to our ability to care for our citizens.

Yet the proposed Authorization for Military Force would allow for indefinite detention of US citizens without criminal charges. “A president may conceivably claim that a US citizen who writes, speaks out or demonstrates against US military action is a ‘co-belligerent’ and lock him or her up indefinitely without charge,” writes Marjorie Cohn in Truthout. The old AUMF was interpreted broadly. It provided for “all necessary and appropriate force” against those responsible for the 911 attacks, but was used to justify at least 37 operations in 14 countries, many unrelated to the World Trade Center attacks.

–Veena Trehan, Chair, PPC Social and Economic Justice Task Force

 

 


 

PPC Issues Watch 1

May 4, 2018

SNIPPETS ON GUN SAFETY

CSGV Endorses First 2018 Congressional Candidates!

The following are 2018 candidates thus far who the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence believes will “use their respective experience and knowledge to find solutions to our nation’s gun violence epidemic.”

  • Jennifer Wexton (VA-10th) Read endorsement here
  • Shira Goodman (PA-4th) Read endorsement here
  • Lucy McBath (GA-6th) Read endorsement here

Senators Call on Banks to Take Stand Against Gun Violence

Seems some in Congress are now following the lead of the American Federation of Teachers, who last month called on corporations to take more social responsibility regarding gun safety. (Issues Watch reported on the new AFT report in the April 20th Friday Roundup. Read that article here.)

On May 1, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), along with 11 other US Senators, wrote letters to the following financial institutions, urging them to adopt gun safety policies:

  • Wells Fargo
  • Morgan Stanley
  • TD Securities
  • JP Morgan
  • Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group
  • US Bancorp
  • Cowen & Co.,
  • BB&T
  • Regions Financial
  • BNP Paribas
  • PNC Financial Services Group

Just Released to Coincide with the NRA Convention this Week:  Brady Campaign Report on NRA Extremism

As the NRA kicked off its annual convention yesterday (May 3) in Dallas, Texas, headlined by #45 and his Vice President, who will both speak Friday, the Brady Campaign released a report that’s not exactly complimentary of this front group for the country’s gun manufacturers.  Entitled “The Real NRA Annual Report:  Fear &Fanaticism in a Year Like No Other,” it takes a look at NRA actions regarding extremism, opposition to gun safety legislation, and the newly-revealed Russian connections.

–Shelly Livingston, Acting Chair, Task Force to Prevent Gun Violence

 


PPC Issues Watch 1

April 27, 2018

PRUITT ATTACK ON CLEAN WATER

EPA is proposing to change the stringent 2015 regulation governing coal ash storage. Coal ash is the residue left from burning coal. Coal-fired power plants typically mix coal ash with water and store the slurry in holding ponds. Coal ash contains concentrated toxins such as arsenic, lead, mercury, and other heavy metals. When the storage ponds leak or fail, this poisonous sludge enters groundwater and nearby streams and rivers that often provide our drinking water. There have been two catastrophic releases of coal ash slurry, one in Tennessee in 2008 and one in North Carolina in 2014, as well as many smaller spills and leaks, leading to the enactment of strict safety requirements in the 2015 regulation.

In the name of saving money and of “flexibility,” the EPA wants to pass off much of its responsibility and clout for enforcing coal ash safety to state officials, and in the case of minor leaks or spills, to owners or operators of these facilities. Under the proposal, state officials would not be required to use professional engineers to certify compliance. There are hundreds of holding ponds across the US, many of them still unlined and/or secured by earthen dams. The Tennessee disaster was triggered by the collapse of an earthen dam after an unusually heavy rainfall. Pruitt denies the reality of climate change, but new weather patterns bringing heavy rains and flash floods are an increasing reality. These bring further risks of toxic slurry entering our water supplies. The Flint, Michigan, water scandal shows that state officials cannot be trusted to protect us from poisons contaminating our water supplies.

 

CONSCIENCE PROTECTION” FOR DOCTORS AND NURSES OR LEGALIZED BIGOTRY?

The federal government’s Department of Health and Human Services has a new Division of “Conscience and Religious Freedom.” The public relations selling point is to protect health care providers from being coerced into assisting with abortions or birth control methods that offend their religious or ethical sensibilities in hospital settings that serve the general public.

But does that mean we can again allow a woman who is hemorrhaging to die because medical personnel suspect she might have had an abortion?

Unfortunately, recent history also shows a cruel tradition of American hospitals refusing to care for patients who are uninsured, or Black, or whose immigration status is unclear. The early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic are filled with true stories of hospitals refusing to care for even critically ill patients merely suspected of being gay. And will it also be legal to refuse care to Muslims? Who else will be allowed to suffer or die because they are deemed unworthy fellow Americans?

Is this the America we want for ourselves and our children?   Or is it budding Fascism?

 

SNIPPETS ON GUN SAFETY
Concealed Carry of Firearms:  Facts vs. Fiction

The prospects for passage of meaningful gun safety legislation look grim in the current Congress; however, we must remain extra vigilant for a dangerous piece of legislation that would mandate that guns be allowed across state lines. Known as the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act” (CCR), this bill would allow those states with the most stringent requirement to be subverted by those with the most lenient regulations. A quote in a 2015 report by Everytown for Gun Safety bears repeating: “Some states do thorough criminal background checks on applicants, while other states have such ineffective permitting systems that they inadvertently issue permits to felons.”

A report released last year by Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, Bloomberg American Health Initiative, entitled “Concealed Carry of Firearms: Fact vs. Fiction” is a “must read.”

Guess Who’s Headlining the annual NRA Convention next week? 

Give up?  Answer is here.

 


PPC Issues Watch 1

April 20, 2018

SOME GOOD NEWS ON THE EDUCATION FRONT

  • Betsy DeVos’ plan to cut the Department of Education’s budget by $3.6 billion met with opposition from lawmakers. Instead, Congress increased the budget by $3.9 billion. In addition, lawmakers did not support her funding for school choice programs.
  • Civil rights groups met with Secretary DeVos in early April to review a roll back in Obama-era guidelines regarding school discipline policies that may adversely impact Black students. Critics argue that decreasing these protections continues to undermine students’ civil rights and impinges on enforcement of Title VI.
  • In the area of education, the Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill approving funding for additional school resource/security officers in Maryland schools. Funding was also approved ($30 million down payment), to encourage the top 25% of graduating seniors to pursue a career in teaching. In addition, this bill included increased funding in pre-K education.
  • The Maryland State Education Association, a 74,000 member teacher’s union, has endorsed Ben Jealous as Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland. They cite his strong views and his vision on matters pertaining to public school education.

–Dianna E. Washington, Ph.D.
Chair, Education and Children’s Task Force

 

PRESSURE BUILDS ON INVESTMENT FIRMS TO CONFRONT THE “RISK EXPOSURE” OF GUN MANUFACTURING INVESTMENTS

At a briefing April 18 organized by the WNDC Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention, staff from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence maintained that there has been a “cultural shift” regarding the NRA.

Take, for example, the growing number of congressional members who now boast of their “F” rating from the organization. Just two days ago on Twitter, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) displayed what he wrote on the questionnaire he received from the NRA. “Dear NRA, why haven’t you answered my letter asking you to clarify your links to the Kremlin? Also, please give me an “F” rating.  Thanks, Ted”. In addition, and probably helped by the persistence of Parkland High School student activists with their #BoycottVanguard and #BoycottBlackRock campaigns, the public is demanding more social responsibility from corporations and investment managers around the issue of gun safety.

In this connection, the American Federation of Teachers just released a special edition report titled “Gun Manufacturing and Investment Risks,” which “creates a watch list of investment managers who invest millions of dollars in companies that make assault weapons which have been used to attack public school students and staff.” The report highlights the successes the AFT has had in persuading several top investment firms such as Fidelity and Vanguard to join other Wall Street firms who either have or are currently “engaging in a dialogue with gun manufacturers and retailers regarding the risks posed by firearms.” Unfortunately, there is still work to be done.  Its attempts, for example, to engage Wells Fargo, a company that provides home mortgages to teachers, has so far not been constructive.

Read the entire report here.

–Shelly Livingston
Acting Chair, Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention


WNDC Statement

March 23, 2018

RESOLUTION EXPRESSING SOLIDARITY WITH THE PARKLAND STUDENTS AND THEIR #NeverAgain MOVEMENT

WHEREAS:  On February 14, 2018, 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, were innocently slaughtered by yet another shooter with a military-style assault rifle; and

WHEREAS: This mass shooting represents the second deadliest shooting at a U.S. public school after Sandy Hook and the 10th deadliest shooting in over a decade involving the use of military-style assault weapons; and

WHEREAS: About 51.7 million children attend public elementary and secondary schools* and since Columbine, approximately 200 public school students have been shot to death while school was in session**; and

WHEREAS: It is an unacceptable and avoidable national tragedy to lose an average of over 35,000 lives annually to gun violence***; and

WHEREAS:  In the aftermath of this horrific massacre, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School began an effective activist movement, including the creation of the #NeverAgain movement to advocate for stronger gun policies; and organization of a nationwide protest on March 24: “The March For Our Lives”; and

WHEREAS: Due to the persistence of these students, we are already seeing unparalleled consumer activism, resulting in the retreat of corporate support of the gun industry, as well as witnessing a renewed energy of the gun violence prevention movement.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: So that there can be no question as to where we stand on the slaughter of our youth and the student survivors’ simple demand to feel safe from gun violence, the Woman’s National Democratic Club hereby lends its full support to the student organizers of the “March For Our Lives” on March 24, 2018; and

THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: We at WNDC vow to work arduously at the federal and state levels after March 24 to ensure that our children will be able to attend school without fear that each day could be their last and that all U.S. citizens can enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, free of gun violence.

Resolution passed by the WNDC Board of Governors, March 21, 2018

*National Center for Educational Statistics, 2017
**David Ropeik article, Washington Post, March 11, 2018
***Everytown Research

 


 

WNDC Statement

February 5, 2018

DEMOCRATS STAND UP FOR THE AMERICAN UNION AND ITS VALUES

The State of the Union speech by President Trump was, regrettably, all too predictable.  It was as full of lies, obfuscations, and embellishments as expected and the smug delivery was at its annoying best. But the most shocking aspect of that night was the press coverage.

The official Democratic response from Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass), who spoke from the Regional Vocational Technical High School in Fall River, Massachusetts, got a couple of paragraphs in one story on an inside page of The New York Times. Otherwise, the entire press coverage was a long symphony and variations on the word “Trump.” The Times even managed to misreport Kennedy’s speech as “A Bilingual Salvo.” It is true there were a couple of sentences in Spanish but the headline writer seemed to want to convey the idea of Democrats as immigrant lovers. As if inclusion and respect for different ethnic groups is somehow un-American.

Let us stand back and give Rep. Kennedy some well-deserved space for what was a deeply moving speech. A tribute to the values of the Democratic Party, his inspiring words bear repeating.

“This administration isn’t just targeting the laws that protect us – they are targeting the very idea that we are all worthy of protection. … They are turning American life into a zero-sum game. Where, in order for one to win, another must lose….

We are bombarded with one false choice after another: …

So here is the answer Democrats offer tonight: we choose both. We fight for both. Because the strongest, richest, greatest nation in the world shouldn’t leave any one behind.

–We choose a better deal for all who call this country home.

–We choose the living wage, paid leave and affordable childcare your family needs to survive.

–We choose pensions that are solvent, trade pacts that are fair, roads and bridges that won’t rust away, and good education you can afford.

–We choose a health care system that offers mercy, whether you suffer from cancer or depression or addiction.

–We choose an economy strong enough to boast record stock prices and brave enough to admit that top CEOs making 300 times the average worker is not right….

Bullies may land a punch. They might leave a mark. But they have never, not once, in the history of our United States, managed to match the strength and spirit of a people united in defense of their future….
Out of many. One.”

Rep. Joe Kennedy, Fall River, Mass.

–WNDC Committee on Public Policy and Political Action