2018

2018

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