Suggestions/additions welcome. Don’t see your issue, event or organization? Send it to me.

ACA Open Enrollment will end December 15th http://info.healthconnect.vermont.gov/Get_Started

The tax bill isn’t generating enough calls to Congress!   https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/04/trump-gop-tax-bill-democrats-244529 See action item 1 to see what you can do.

“With backing from the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) among others, twenty-eight state legislatures (including Wisconsin, as of this week) have called for what is called an “Article V convention.”  Provided for by the US Constitution, such a convention, required if 34 state legislatures petition, could rewrite or propose new constitutional amendments. Article V has never been used; there are no settled rules or procedures to govern an Article V convention and it cannot be limited in scope; it is unclear how delegates to such a convention would be chosen. While some see Article V as a way to get rid of Citizens United by amendment, anything and everything would be up for grabs at a convention.  Common Cause warns “that the legal ambiguity around Article V, the financial power of special and corporate interests in the post-Citizens United era, could combine in a convention with today’s already hyper-partisan political environment to pose a major threat to our constitutional system and government”: http://www.commoncause.org/issues/more-democracy-reforms/constitutional-convention/  With petitions from only six more states needed to force a convention, we need to alert all of our state legislators that an Article V convention in the current political climate carries an unacceptable risk and we oppose it.” From http://roganslist.blogspot.com/ Contact your friends and family in red states to ask them to oppose an Article V convention.

UPCOMING EVENTS

 

  • Thursday Nov 16 at 7 pm DACA/Dreamers Panel at Jeffords Auditorium, Castleton University. Curious about Dreamers and undocumented immigrants? Join us for a free discussion about the history and future of immigration policy in the United States. With Faisal Gill, Chair, Vermont Democratic Party; Eloisa Romero, UVM Student and DACA Recipient; and Dr. Scott Wong, Professor of History, Williams College. Sponsored by Women and Gender Studies Castleton University. Limited Seating for this FREE Event. Please RSVP hastevenson9@gmail.com or https://www.facebook.com/events/152539548820887/

 

 

  • Saturday Nov 18
    • TD Bank Rutland protests 10am-noon – We’re on the corner, at the apex of the streets – if you’re looking directly at the stand-alone booth or at the side of the building you may not see us
    • Vermont Physicians for a National Health Program 3-5 pm at Good Neighbor Clinic, 70 North Main Street, White River Junction. “The meeting will highlight a presentation on the health reform legislation Bernie Sanders submitted to the Senate on September 13, the Medicare for All Act of 2017, as well as other chapter initiatives.”

 

  • Wednesday November 29 Castleton Indivisible at 6:30 pm

 

  • Tuesday December 5 Rutland NAACP at 7 pm at Leahy Center, Rutland Regional Medical Center

 

SUCCESSES/GOOD NEWS

 

VERMONT-RELATED ITEMS (Commonly used contacts can be found here: https://mindsworth.blog/2017/07/14/vermont-important-contacts/; A list of Vermont-based activism/political groups can be found here: https://vtactivist.org/organizations/)

1 “Nonpartisan @ITEPtweets says GOP tax plan would raise taxes on 17,000 working VTers by nearly $1k. Middle class needs relief, not tax hikes.” https://twitter.com/PeterWelch/status/927991661879275524 Other troubling details about the new wealthcare bill from http://roganslist.blogspot.com:

  • “Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) quizzed a tax expert on this corporate exceptionalism: “Will a teacher in my district who buys pens, pencils and paper for his students be able to deduct these costs from his tax returns under this plan?” He will not. “Will a corporation that buys pens, pencils and papers for its workers be able to deduct those costs from its tax returns?” It will.  “Will a firefighter in my district be able to deduct the state and local sales taxes that she pays from her tax return?” She will not.  Will a corporation be able to deduct sales taxes on business purchases?” It will. “If a worker in my district had to move because his employer was forcing him to relocate . . . can he deduct his moving expenses under this plan?” He cannot.  “Can a corporation under this plan deduct outsourcing expenses incurred in relocating a U.S. business outside the United States?” It can. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/corporations-arent-people-under-the-republican-tax-plan-theyre-better/2017/11/06/3447b790-c344-11e7-aae0-cb18a8c29c65_story.html?utm_term=.558c1e42e382.
  • “Another thing the tax bill will do is eliminates tax credit for electric vehicles…Read more at TechCrunch….
  • “In this tax bill, churches can endorse candidates and maintain tax-exempt status….Read more at The Hill.
  • “”The GOP tax plan is filled with petty cruelties aimed at the vulnerable and the middle class. Here’s a list“ The list includes: A) Education assistance slashed. B) Teachers lose their deduction for classroom supplies C) No more deduction for medical expenses D) repeals the adoption tax credit, which allows families to offset up to $13,570 in taxes for every child adopted out of foster care. E) attack on renewable energy by ending the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric cars and more.”
  • “”The tax reform bill released by Congress last week would treat tuition waivers for graduate students as taxable income, increasing their tax liability. Taxing students on a full year’s tuition—money they never see—would make graduate school unaffordable to many, including graduate students in the humanities. This would seriously deplete future generations of scholars and leaders.” For more information on this provision in the bill, and a link to contact our MoCs about opposing it, see here: http://www.nhalliance.org/taxing_graduate_student_tuition_waivers
  • The bill eliminates “the Adoption Tax Credit designed to help defray some of the cost involved in many adoptions, especially adoptions of children coming out of foster care. Even the right is not happy with this provision….http://thehill.com/policy/finance/358684-conservatives-hit-gop-tax-bill-for-nixing-adoption-credit
    • Action: Contact your friends and family in red states and ask them to contact their members of Congress (MoC) to protest this wealthcare plan. And check out these resourcers for more suggestions https://www.indivisible.org/resources/tax-budget/

 

2 Previous newsletters have discussed Act 54 (H.308), the legislation that required an update to Vermont’s fair and impartial policing policy. Unfortunately, the policy that’s being proposed “was developed without stakeholder input and severely compromises the tenets of transparency and accountability. It also departs from previously agreed language limiting local law enforcement’s role in immigration enforcement.” We need fair and impartial policing in Vermont because we incarcerate a higher proportion of African American men than any other state in the country, data from the Burlington Police Department “shows that police are more likely to point a gun at a non-white person than a white person,” and Vermont’s policy of racially profiling people who “look” like undocumented immigrants is resulting in the payment of huge settlements (our tax dollars) out to individuals who’ve had their constitutional rights violated. (from Join the Fight for Fair and Impartial Policing distributed by the Racial Justice Reform Coalition)

  • Action:: Sign a petition to the Criminal Justice Training Council urging approval of the Fair and Impartial Policing Policy requested by the community https://racialjusticereformomnibusbillvt.wordpress.com/
  • Action: Take “a picture of yourself with a sign that says ‘The Fair and Impartial Policing Policy protects us all. #DontGutTheFIP’ and post on social media”
  • Action: “Write a letter to the editor to bring more awareness to how members of your local community could be impacted if the FIPP doesn’t contain the protections we’re asking for. Contact Migrant Justice Organizer Will Lambek at will@migrantjustice.net for tips on how to put together a strong letter.”
  • Action: “Organize a community meeting or accountability session with local officials….If you’d like to help assemble or join a team in your area, contact ACLU organizer Nico Amador at namador@acluvt.org, and we can help you prepare.”

3 It’s not too early to get ready for Town Meeting Day! Vermont 350 is mobilizing Vermont to add resolutions to stop the addition of new fossil fuel projects and to commit to 100% renewable energy for all, without leaving anyone behind. “We demand the government retrain and rehire workers, make clean energy jobs accessible to everyone, and ensure that communities who have had to bear the brunt of climate change and dirty fossil fuel projects are given economic opportunities and the resources they need to recover from climate impacts. As we prioritize those most impacted, we will work to hold accountable those who have profited off climate change — both in judicial courts and the court of public opinion.” https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ctYq1VfsbYrGX61ZQrQ0h2E13s_ixKlBU0bBacWBdCA/edit

4 “Let’s Grow Kids is a statewide campaign about the need for more high-quality, affordable child care in Vermont to better support our children, families, communities and economy. More than 70% of Vermont children under age 6 have all of their parents in the labor force, meaning they’re likely to need care. Yet nearly half of those infants and toddlers don’t have access to any regulated care, and nearly 80% don’t have access to high-quality programs.” http://www.letsgrowkids.org/

5 “Vermont’s forests are being fragmented by rural sprawl. The breaking up of large parcels of land into smaller and smaller parcels is a significant economic and conservation problem in Vermont. Our forests provide billions in revenue to the state, but as they become more fragmented, they lose their ability to maintain water quality, provide recreational opportunities, provide habitat for wildlife, and support our rural working landscape.” http://vnrc.org/programs/forests-wildlife/forest-and-habitat-fragmentation-campaign/h-233/

6 The PFOA contamination in Bennington and the surrounding events show that Vermont needs stronger laws related to the management of toxic substances. http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/2017/09/08/state-vermont-asking-court-approve-settlement-reached-company-over-contamination-some-private-water/645831001/ The Toxic Action Center https://toxicsaction.org/ is recommending that the passage of S.103, legislation that would create a working group to prevent the exposure of Vermont residents to toxic chemicals, improve the regulation of toxic chemicals that are currently unregulated and improve communication about these issues with Vermont residents. http://legislature.vermont.gov/assets/Documents/2018/WorkGroups/House%20Ways%20and%20Means/Bills/S.103/W~Michael%20O’Grady~S.103%20-%20Section%20by%20Section%20Recommendation%20of%20Amendment%20by%20House%20Natural%20Resources,%20Fish%20and%20Wildlife~5-1-2017.pdf

7 “A mostly white audience jeered as a group of black Saint Michael’s College basketball players took a knee Saturday [Nov. 4] for the national anthem before an exhibition game with the University of Vermont…. Not everyone in the crowd at UVM’s Patrick Gym was critical, video footage from the scene shows. Some audience members clapped as the players kneeled, and yelled out in support of their right to protest. St. Michael’s basketball coach Josh Meyer, who is white, took a knee, as did at least two other members of the coaching staff.…. The negative crowd reaction “really pained” a black UVM basketball player, who tweeted about the incident after the game.” https://www.sevendaysvt.com/OffMessage/archives/2017/11/08/saint-michaels-basketball-players-take-a-knee-before-uvm-game The president of Saint Michael’s has apologized to individuals who may have been offended by the protest, while acknowledging that the protest was not intended to give offense and that it is protected speech. https://www.smcvt.edu/on-campus/offices-and-services/presidents-office.aspx

  • Action: Contact the presidents of Saint Michael’s College and UVM to express your support for the students and staff exercising their first amendment right to protest the lack of accountability in the murder of blacks by law enforcement.
    • Saint Michael’s College: 802-654-2000 or John J. Neuhauser, Office of the President, Saint Michael’s College, One Winooski Park, Colchester, Vermont, 05439
    • UVM: Tom Sullivan, Office of the President, University of Vermont, 85 South Prospect Street, 344-353 Waterman Building, Burlington, VT 05405, or (802) 656-3186 or Sullivan@uvm.edu

8 The Vermont “Office of Professional Regulation is reviewing if building trade contractors be licensed & regulated” https://twitter.com/VermontSOS/status/927922574046134272 Currently, “there are no statewide building standards for single-family homes and no real recourse for unhappy customers. He says to be effective, towns can’t just add building codes. They need oversight, too, with routine inspections to ensure codes are followed.” http://www.wcax.com/content/news/No-Standards-455655513.html

9 “Vermonters housed in Pennsylvania’s state-run prison system are being denied confidential phone calls with their attorneys at the defender general’s office and are being discouraged – and sometimes outright prevented – from meeting with those attorneys during visits to the Pennsylvania prison.” http://digital.vpr.net/post/vermont-state-investigators-face-problematic-resistance-pennsylvania-prison-officials#stream

  • Action: Contact Gov. Phil Scott to demand that steps be taken to ensure the rights of Vermonters are respected, even if while they’re incarcerated in other states: 802 828-3333 or http://governor.vermont.gov/contact-us/message

VERMONT-RELATED READING/LISTENING

Check out this Rutland Herald interview with the TD Bank protesters https://www.rutlandherald.com/articles/talking-pictures-rod-monroe-heather-stevenson/ and https://www.facebook.com/rutlandherald/videos/10154898802096479/?hc_ref=ARQ62AAH4ORh3xYmvyvNBlcwM2yDqcHxOxxpDpMvzgLkeHCQVgMIFI4A8M7uxnsQ3cw&fref=gs&dti=254573014978297&hc_location=group

Seventh Generation, Ben & Jerry’s, small business owners, environmentalists and community leaders have developed the Essex plan, a carbon pricing plan that is fair and equitable for Vermonters. Let’s check out their plan https://www.seventhgeneration.com/sites/default/files/the_essex_plan_for_ean_-_final_-_11.06.171.pdf_copy.pdf

Vermont lawmakers were “told Thursday to expect a $45 million dollar budget gap in the next fiscal year. That’s the difference between anticipated money coming into the state and spending.” http://www.wcax.com/content/news/Vermont-lawmakers-learn-about-45M-budget-gap-456461203.html

Trump supporters in New Hampshire still stand by him http://www.vnews.com/One-year-in-Trump-voters-happy-with-his-performance-13495198

Elise Greaves of Vermont’s Rights and Democracy on the Women’s Convention in Detroit: http://www.radvt.org/womensconvention

Even with improvements, there are problems with the (lack of) treatment provided to drug addicts in Vermont’s prison system https://www.sevendaysvt.com/OffMessage/archives/2017/11/09/few-vermont-inmates-receive-heralded-new-addiction-treatment?utm_content=bufferc8d48&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Cartoonist artist-in-residence at Cornish CCS in New Hampshire is penning a novel on immigration: https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/cartoonist-ali-fitzgerald-explores-immigration-in-new-novel/Content?oid=9959284

Listen: About the effect of climate change on Vermont utilities http://digital.vpr.net/post/how-climate-change-transforming-vermonts-utilities?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter#stream/0

 

NATIONWIDE ISSUES taken verbatim or nearly verbatim from http://roganslist.blogspot.com (for which I’m a contributer). Commonly used contacts can be found here: https://mindsworth.blog/2017/07/14/vermont-important-contacts/

ENVIRONMENT/SCIENCE/AGRICULTURE

10 “The U.S. will no longer participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global initiative that requires member nations to disclose their revenues from oil, gas and mining assets…Under the agreement, the U.S. was required to reveal all the revenue it received from oil, gas and mining companies, and required those companies to publicly disclose the payments they make to the U.S. and other governments….Democrats and nonprofits ripped the move as a sign that the Trump administration was choosing big business over transparency.” http://thehill.com/policy/international/358560-us-backs-out-of-global-oil-anti-corruption-effort Let’s Gregory Gould, director of the U.S. Office of Natural Resources Revenue, that we object to the decision to withdraw from EITI: (202) 513-0600 or Director Gregory Gould, Office of Natural Resources Revenue, 1849 C Street NW, Mail Stop 5134, Washington DC 20240.

11 “314 Action, a nationwide pro-science non-profit with nearly a quarter of a million members wants to shine a light on Scientific wrongdoing within the Trump Administration. We’re calling on U.S. Government scientists to blow the whistle on malfeasance, science being silenced, or other evidence of this administration’s war on science through the Scientific Integrity Whistleblower Project (SpeakOutForScience.org), a secure and anonymous method for U.S. Government scientists and others to speak out and fight back…This initiative gives scientists and others with evidence of censorship the means to relay information to our team of pro bono attorneys without revealing their identities. If we or someone we know needs an secure method to report government-silencing of science, let’s contact SpeakOutForScience.org.

12 “Nestlé, Mars and Hershey have been accused of breaking pledges to stop using “conflict palm oil” from deforested Indonesian jungles. The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) says consumers have been “deceived” by promises from the brands to clean up their supply chains which were subsequently delayed, revised or watered down. Laurel Sutherlin, a spokesman for the group, told the Guardian: “For too many years, Nestlé, Mars and Hershey have cherry-picked their [palm oil] targets and then moved the goalposts when they don’t achieve them. There’s just no further room for error to prevent the extinction of tigers, orangutans and elephants.”  Let’s read the full story at The Guardian.  Let’s contact these big candy manufacturers to let them know we care about orangutan habitat and want them to achieve the palm oil targets to which they have committed. 1) Nestlé  – Nestle USA website contact form. 2) Mars – Mars website contact form. 3) Hershey – Hershey website contact form.  We can also talk with our wallets by choosing not to buy these companies’ products while they are destroying wildlife habitat.

13 “Balloons and wildlife don’t mix: Please don’t release your balloons” the US Fish and Wildlife Service requests in this article. “…once they [balloons] get loose, balloons can pose a threat to many animals.  Birds, turtles and other animals commonly mistake balloons for food, which can harm or even kill them. In addition, many animals can become entangled in balloon strings, which can strangle them or hurt their feet and hands.” Let’s be environmentally conscious and find ways to celebrate that don’t involve balloon releases. Let’s encourage our friends and family to join us in this commitment.

14 One of four satellites used to monitor the Arctic’s shrinking ice cap broke down a few days ago. The three remaining ones are on their last legs, “operating long past their shelf lives,” and now drifting out of their orbits. Unfortunately, no new satellites can be launched at least 2023, and “None of the current satellites will still be in operation then.” https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/nov/05/donald-trump-accused-blocking-satellite-climate-change-research Let’s contact our MoC urging them to support legislation to fund a new satellite to monitor the Arctic’s shrinking ice cap.

15 It’s being reported that U.S. Bank has ended its relationship with Enbridge Inc. http://bit.ly/2j2B7a1 Let’s send U.S. Bank a quick “thank you” for withdrawing financing for a company that so clearly does not care about the environment or people’s health  https://www.usbank.com/emailus.html

16 Despite the climate change denials of Energy Secretary Rick Perry and the EPA’s Scott Pruitt, Trump didn’t dare censor the Climate Science Special Report, part of the National Climate Assessment, released on Friday by 13 US federal agencies charged with examining the evidence of climate change, its causes and its effects: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/11/03/climate/document-Climate-Science-Special-Report-2017.html   The report concludes that evidence of global warming is stronger than ever and that more than 90% of it has been caused by humans: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/03/climate-change-report-us-government-contradicts-trump  The U.S. cannot fully withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement until 2020, but we should use the occasion of this report to urge Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson–(202) 647-6575–to reverse the threatened withdrawal.  We might remind them that now that Nicaragua has signed the Paris agreement, only the U.S. and Syria remain unwilling to meet the requirements of the Paris accords.

DOMESTIC TERRORISM

17 Nominee for Dept of Defense – Health Affairs Dr. Dean Winslow said during a hearing that he thinks it’s “insane” that civilians can buy assault rifles in the United States. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) interjected, telling Winslow, “I don’t think that’s in your area of responsibility or expertise.” Read the full story at The Hill.  Let’s send emails and postcards of support for Dr. Winslow for DoD – Health Affairs to our Senators.

18 Twitter has “verified” the account of Jason Kessler (@TheMadDimension), the white supremacist responsible for organizing the march on Charlottesville in August that led to the death of Heather Heyer.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/10/04/jason-kessler-charlottesville-protest-organizer-indicted-for-perjury/ According to Twitter, verification is worth having because it “lets people know that an account of public interest is authentic…An account may be verified if it is determined to be an account of public interest.”  https://support.twitter.com/articles/119135 Twitter argues that verification doesn’t mean endorsement https://twitter.com/TwitterSupport/status/928654369771356162 But that’s not good enough. By verifying white supremacists, Twitter is helping white supremacists organize, helping to connect potential followers to leadership. Let’s tell Twitter that we object to them helping white supremacists spread their message by sending a tweet to @TwitterSupport

19 The Sutherland Springs church shooter, Devin Kelley, was court martialed in 2012 for assaulting his wife and stepson. “The domestic violence convictions were serious enough that, according to an air force spokesperson, he should have been prohibited from buying or owning firearms.” But the record wasn’t entered into the national background check system.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/nov/06/texas-shooting-suspect-devin-kelley-domestic-abuse-background-check  Let’s contact the Inspector General of the Air Force(http://www.af.mil/Contact-Us/, choose Air Force Public Inquiries) and the Inspector General of the Department of Defense (Office of Inspector General, United States Department of Defense, 4800 Mark Center Drive, Alexandria, VA 22350-1500) to urge them to follow up on their promise to “conduct a complete review of the Kelley case, as well as a comprehensive review of air force records to determine whether other cases had been reported correctly.”

20 An alarming number of the recent mass shootings have been carried out by men with histories of domestic assault. A person convicted of domestic abuse cannot legally buy a firearm. But thanks to a loophole, this legislation doesn’t apply unless the perpetrator is married to the victim, has been living with the victim, or had a child with the victim. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/06/us/politics/domestic-abuse-guns-texas-air-force.html Senator Klobuchar (D-MN) “has introduced legislation that would close that loophole, and would also prevent stalkers from having guns.” Let’s see if our senators are cosponsors of S1539, Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act of 2017: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1539/cosponsors  and if not, let’s ask them to get on board. A companion bill is also in the House, H.R. 2670 so let’s do the same with our reps.

21 Tuesday was a great night for progressives on a host of issues, including gun control. Eight of the nine candidates endorsed by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence won their November elections, in what should be a reminder to our elected officials that the NRA does not speak for the overwhelming majority of Americans. Let’s keep up the momentum. Senator Chris Murphy has once again introduced legislation to close the gun show loophole and require background checks for all firearms sales (https://ctmirror.org/2017/10/25/murphy-introduces-background-check-gun-bill-in-long-haul-strategy/). Let’s contact our reps and let them know we support the Background Check Expansion Act, (S. 2009) and we’d like them to do the same.

22 While congress works on getting their act together to pass bump stock legislation, Slide Fire, whose president invented Slide Fire bump stocks, has announced that it will resume sales of this dangerous firearm accessory http://n.pr/2zoLiKd The company is currently being sued in a class action lawsuit by the Brady Center on behalf of the Las Vegas victims http://cnnmon.ie/2yWnY54 We can contact Slide Fire via Twitter to let them know how we feel about them manufacturing and selling such a dangerous device @SlideFireSol, or by phone: 325-945-3800, or mail: Slide Fire PO Box 143 Moran, TX 76464. Let’s also make sure that our MoC are supporting the Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act (H.R. 3947/S.1916) to prohibit sales or ownership of bump stocks.

23 As we endure tragedy after tragedy as a result of gun violence, congressional Republicans are actively working to undermine common sense gun safety laws across the country. They’re pushing forward a “concealed carry reciprocity” bill that would stop states from setting their own standards on who can carry concealed weapons https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/democratic-state-prosecutors-unite-against-concealed-carry-gun-law This bill is the NRA’s top legislative priority, and our elected officials need to know it’s a priority for us, too. Let’s contact our reps and tell them we want them to oppose H.R. 38.  Let’s remind them that the 2nd Amendment includes the words “well regulated”.

HEALTHCARE

24 Trump and some Republican U.S. representatives are trying to sneak a repeal of Obamacare’s individual insurance mandate into the current House tax bill, but Ways & Means Committee chairperson Kevin Brady has so far been reluctant to add it. Brady, who is on record supporting a repeal of the individual mandate, cited recent failed Obamacare repeal efforts in the Senate as a reason for his reluctance (https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/03/tax-reform-plan-obamacare-repeal-244508). He fears that a tax bill including a repeal might not get 50 Senate votes, so let’s encourage Senators Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, and John McCain to publicly oppose any stealth healthcare policy measures in a bill that is properly about tax policy.

25 The Trump/Pence administration is anti-birth control as we have seen.  Generation Progress has given us a tool to share our stories of our use of birth control that they will share with Congress:  http://action.genprogress.org/action/hands-my-birth-control

26 On page 93 of the 429-page tax plan is a provision to allow a fetus to be named as a beneficiary of 529 college saving account. The Act would expand 529 college savings plans in two big ways: first, by allowing an unborn child (or “fetus”) to be a beneficiary; second, by allowing funds to be used for private education at the K-12 level, rather than just for post-secondary education. Giving a fetus legal status in the tax code would be an extraordinary and unprecedented move. Let’s read more at Brookings then let’s tell our MoC’s that we object to the language in the tax plan that attempts to define fetal personhood.

27 Here’s an update from the LA Times: “The University of Notre Dame, in an abrupt reversal, says it will continue to allow its employees access to contraception under their insurance policies. Only a week ago, the university said it would cancel all birth control coverage for students and employees next year. That includes contraception provided to those recipients for free, under government auspices and at government expense.   We reported on Nov. 1 that the South Bend, Ind., university had become the first and most important employer to take advantage publicly of [this] administration’s Oct. 6 rollback of contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The act requires insurance plans to provide contraceptive services without charging a deduction or co-pay. ..The university left unclear how it would manage contraceptive access for students covered by its insurance policy, which was set to be removed on Aug. 15.”  Our calls and emails of objection likely contributed to the change of heart. Let’s thank Notre Dame for letting employees have an option for a plan with birth control coverage. Let’s ask that they give their students the same consideration. We can use the contact form on their webpage.

28 Women’s health specialists have criticized the Trump administration’s new rule making it more difficult for women to access birth control, and activists are identifying it as a major challenge to reproductive rights http://religionnews.com/2017/10/11/critics-trumps-religious-exemption-on-birth-control-ignores-science/ Fortunately, this rule is up for public comment until December 5th. Let’s follow the advice of Center for Reproductive Rights president Nancy Northrup and file our objections, letting the Trump administration know why we think birth control should be easily available and affordable at this link: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=IRS-2017-0016-0002.

29 “Joshua James Frey is clear: “Without medical marijuana I would be dead.” “This Marine Corps veteran is a two-time Purple Heart awardee. He is among the former warfighters, led by the American Legion, who are on the frontlines of the fight for a sensible, federal medical marijuana policy. They are pushing a reluctant Uncle Sam to catch up with overwhelming public opinion that favors allowing cannabis for medical use. During his two years at Walter Reed, “I was given just about every chemical cocktail you can imagine. When people look at that cocktail they want to know two things. One, why am I still alive and two, why isn’t somebody in prison, because it was that dangerous.” Many veterans, some using medical cannabis from other sources, have asked VA doctors such as Katherine Mitchell in Phoenix about it. “I was not officially allowed to discuss the subject,” she said. “Whether the establishment wants to recognize it or not,” Mitchell added, “because marijuana use has moved into the mainstream, health-care providers have an ethical obligation to help our patients understand the potential positive and negative impacts marijuana could have on their health.” Instead, she and other VA medical professionals must act like medical marijuana doesn’t exist.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/11/06/veterans-tell-of-medical-marijuana-use-in-defiance-of-backward-federal-policy/?utm_term=.e5b33c32ec46 Marijuana is legal in 29 states and DC. Let’s join our veterans and ask our Reps to allow Veteran Hospitals and doctors to allow Medical marijuana use in those states where legal use is allowed to help our Vets.

30 As one response to the opioid crisis, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has filed the Pharmaceutical Regulation Conflict of Interest Act. This legislation is intended to “slow the revolving door between the pharmaceutical industry and federal agencies.” http://www.wisconsingazette.com/views/u-s-sen-tammy-baldwin-introduces-legislation-to-slow-revolving/article_3f47fc5c-bffe-11e7-9253-6308c2b8595a.html Let’s remember: from 2006 to 2015, the makers of OxyContin, Vicodin, and fentanyl spent $880 million on congressional campaign contributions and lobbying. This lobbying resulted in the crippling of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to crack down on drug distribution companies that were selling opioids to unscrupulous doctors and pharmacies. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/investigations/dea-drug-industry-congress/?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-low_deanarrative-hed%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&tid=a_inl&utm_term=.da19581c5395 . Let’s tell our MoCs we want to see this bill become law.

31 The US Department of Veterans Affairs “has found enough evidence to link 14 health conditions, including various cancers, to Agent Orange, which the US military sprayed by the millions of gallons in Vietnam.” Yet the VA has been dragging its feet on whether it will expand the list of diseases for which it will provide Agent Orange benefits to veterans. https://www.propublica.org/article/va-delays-key-agent-orange-decisions Let’s tell our MoCs to put pressure on VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin to expand Agent Orange benefits, and let’s contact Shulkin himself and tell him the same: US Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave, Washington, DC 20420 or call the VA Benefits line at 1-800-827-1000 or use this VA complaint form:  https://www.va.gov/oig/apps/info/HotlineGeneralContactForm.aspx?cc=s

RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA

32 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has deemed any bills seeking to protect Special Counsel Mueller as “unnecessary” http://politi.co/2yuNO4E He further states “I don’t hear much pressure to pass anything.” Let’s change this by make a few calls. We can contact Sen. McConnell (202) 224-2541, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Grassley ((202) 224-3744) and Ranking Member Feinstein ((202) 224-3841) to let them know we want them to pass the Special Counsel Independence Protection Act (S. 1735)

33 “Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said on Sunday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions needs to return to the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer questions about alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia after recent revelations suggest that Sessions’ previous statements were false.”  http://thehill.com/homenews/sunday-talk-shows/358834-graham-sessions-needs-to-tell-us-everything-he-knows-about-russia  Let’s urge our MoC to call for Sessions to return to Congress to testify, and let’s send our gratitude to Senator Graham (202-224-5972).

GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION

34 Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is increasingly caught up in a web of lies about his financial disclosures: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danalexander/2017/11/07/the-case-of-wilbur-ross-phantom-2-billion/#1ed633177515 and http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/358923-wilbur-ross-evil-to-say-i-didnt-disclose-russian-linked-investments Let’s let Secretary Ross know that we expect honesty from Cabinet members and that it is time for him to resign: https://www.commerce.gov/page/contact-us

PUERTO RICO

35 Officials in Puerto Rico have “acknowledged for the first time that 472 more people died this September compared with the same month last year.” But they insist that the official death toll from Hurricane Maria is just 55. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/08/us/puerto-rico-deaths-fema.html We can’t let officials cover up the death toll of their mismanagement. Let’s spread the truth on social media, and press our MoC to conduct an inquiry into mechanisms employed to measure the true impact of this administration’s ineffectual response to the hurricane.  Let’s tell them to help get all our citizens electricity again, too.

COURT-RELATED ISSUES

36 The Senate Judiciary Committee approved another disastrous group of Trump’s judicial nominees last week, including extremist conservatives Greg Katsas and Brett Talley (https://www.courthousenews.com/gop-senators-push-divisive-judicial-nominees-toward-confirmation/). In addition to their reactionary, Federalist Society views, Talley has been found to be unqualified by the American Bar Association. Let’s contact our senators and tell them we want them to oppose giving lifetime appointments to turn-back-the-clock conservatives and people simply too inexperienced to be federal judges.

37 It has been a rough few days in the land of the Department of Justice. Sessions is going after the lawyers who advocated for Jane Doe in Texas: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/11/03/justice_department_declares_war_on_aclu_attorneys_who_oppose_trump.html and Trump has called directly on the Department of Justice to go after his opponents in the Democratic party: http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/358752-sally-yates-on-trump-calling-for-justice-dept-to-investigate-clinton The LA Times has a good op-ed about this latter issue: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-trump-justice-20171104-story.html Let’s be in touch with DOJ to say that we expect them to live up to their department name by neither targeting lawyers who go against them nor being directed by Trump: https://www.justice.gov/contact-us

SEX/GENDER-BASED DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT

38 Last week the Senate passed a measure that institutes mandatory sexual harassment training for senators and aides.  https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/09/congress-sexual-harassment-training-senators-aides-244762 Let’s call to thank our senators for taking this stance, then contact our representatives to tell them that we want this to pass on their side, too.

39 A high school drama group in Camus, WA is performing “The Laramie Project- the story of Matthew Shepard, a homosexual student from the University of Wyoming, who was brutally murdered in 1998.  [Earlier this week], a few protesters gathered in front of Camas High School to protest the current production of “The Laramie Project” by the school’s drama department. Some students interacted with the protestors, and security was called to the scene.  Hate groups have been reawakened. Violence and harassment have never gone away, but there has been an increase in violence targeted at minorities and LGBTQ people.  Opposition to prejudice should not be a political issue. Opposition to those who would commit violence should not be a political issue. We desperately need to start listening to one another.” https://lacamasmagazine.com/2017/11/protestors-provoke-camas-high-students.html. If we live in nearby in Portland, OR or in Camas, WA, we can support these students, our next generation of VOTERS, by attending this play this Friday at 7 pm, and Saturday at 2 and 7 pm. If we can’t attend, we can send cards of support to director Sean Kelly and his drama students at Camas High School, 26900 SE 15th St, Camas, WA 98607 and school superintendent, Jeff Snell, Camas School District, 841 NE 22nd Ave.,  Camas, WA 98607

IMMIGRATION

40 United We Dream’s We Are Here to Stay immigrant youth organization held nationwide walkouts last week to support a clean DREAM Act http://weareheretostay.org/walkouts/ To help support the cause and push for a clean DREAM Act to protect DREAMers across the U.S., the organization is asking that we tweet at House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. We can follow the twitter links on the action page, which will take us to a scripted tweet: http://weareheretostay.org/#action

41 In response to the threat of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) being revoked for thousands of individuals in the United States, Representative Nydia Velazquez has introduced H.R. 4253: American Promise Act of 2017 http://bit.ly/2A7tQsR http://wapo.st/2zzCT9D This legislation would ensure that individuals with TPS could remain in the United States, and pursue a path to citizenship. Let’s give our reps a call and make sure that they cosponsor and support this bill. Let’s contact Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, and ask that she renew TPS protections. Dept. of Homeland Security Comment Line:  202-282-8495 Mailing address: The Honorable Elaine C. Duke, Secretary of Homeland Security Washington, D.C.  20528 We can also contact our MoC and ask that they put pressure on DHS to renew TPS, and/or propose legislation which would permanently protect immigrants who are currently granted Temporary Protected Status. For a simple explainer, we can also check out this video from United We Dream and the TPS Alliance: https://www.facebook.com/UnitedWeDream/videos/1968658456792583/

42 Trump and the Senate GOP have stated that they will not be including the DREAM act or any other safeguards for DACA recipients in the year-end spending bill http://bit.ly/2lIeh8L Congress only has a few months left to protect DREAMers before they reach the March deadline, at which point deportations may begin. We’ve seen with CHIP funding that we cannot count on Congress to pass legislation on its own merits before deadlines. Rather, we need to create an incentive for this bipartisan legislation to be passed. With this in mind, the folks at Indivisible have created the DREAMer Pledge: ” If Congress hasn’t passed the DREAM Act by Dec. 8th—when funding for the government expires—then they will insist on it being a part of the December spending bill. The pledge is that they will commit to voting against the Dec. “continuing resolution” unless it contains a clean DREAM Act.” If our MoC support the DREAM Act (S. 1615/H.R. 3440), let’s encourage them to band together and take the DREAMer Pledge. If our MoC has not yet sponsored the DREAM Act, let’s ask that they support its clean passage. Indivisible Guide has call scripts and talking points available: http://bit.ly/2yAJEYY We can also check out the current cosponsors of the Senate bill http://bit.ly/2gEgfkF and House bill: http://bit.ly/2iz74mt Note: Sanders and Leahy are NOT yet listed as co-sponsors! Welch is a co-sponsor. AFTER CALLING THEM, CALL YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY IN RED STATES ASKING THEM TO CONTACT THEIR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS!!!

VOTING/ELECTIONS

43 Let’s sign the card sending congratulations to the 30+ Emily’s List women who won their elections this week:  https://secure.emilyslist.org/page/s/20171108_email_Congrats

44 On Tuesday, Democrats made huge gains in the Virginia House of Delegates, taking it from a 66-34 Republican majority to a 50-50 tie. We now have a chance to hold an outright majority based on the results of recounts (https://wtop.com/virginia/2017/11/control-of-va-house-in-doubt-after-dem-wave-likely-headed-for-recounts/). Recounts in Virginia can be expensive, as campaigns can be held responsible for all costs incurred by the state along with extra attorney fees and staff needs. We can help by contributing to the Virginia PAC Run Everywhere, which is raising money to directly support candidates who will need help in recounts, at this link: https://www.crowdpac.com/campaigns/287304/virginias-state-house-hangs-in-the-balance-support-the-recount-fund

45 Now that the November elections are over, it’s time to focus on the December 12, Alabama Senate race where Doug Jones, who prosecuted the KKK, faces racist, homophobic, anti-Muslim Roy Moore, whose views are so extreme that even Trump campaigned for his opponent on the primary. The race is close, turnout is vital, so Postcards to Voters needs our help to Get out the vote.  All we need to do is to write 5 postcards a week to Alabama Democratic voters,  letting them know how important electing Doug Jones is. PTV, now on its 32nd campaign, has plenty of ideas, help and encouragement to make this a fun, friendly process. For addresses, text HELLO to (484) ASK-ABBY which is (484) 275-2229.  Remember, Abby the Address Bot will also email you the same instructions and addresses as a courtesy.  If you do not have a smartphone or prefer not to text, email: Postcards@TonyTheDemocrat.org  We can also learn more about Doug, volunteer and/or donate here:  https://dougjonesforsenate.com/  Let’s help turn Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat blue!

MILITARY/DEFENSE/INTERNATIONAL AID

46 Senator Bob Corker has announced that a hearing will be held next week on the authority of the president and congress to use nuclear force http://bit.ly/2jcpSMe Let’s keep our eyes on this, and in the meantime, call our MoC to ensure that they support the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 (H.R. 669/S. 200).

47 Since late August, the military in Myanmar has driven more than 600,000 of the Rohingya people out of the country, and refugees report that thousands more are still trying to leave. The response from the Trump administration has been muted at best (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-rohingya/rohingya-row-to-bangladesh-as-myanmars-suu-kyi-runs-summit-gauntlet-idUSKBN1D918L). It’s time for the U.S. to take more concrete action against these atrocities. Let’s contact our reps and urge them to support the Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act of 2017, which would authorize desperately needed humanitarian assistance for refugees and impose sanctions on Burmese military officials who are playing key roles in the persecution of the Rohingya.

MISCELLANEOUS

48 NBC has announced that advertisers are threatening to pull their ads if the network continues to cover NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality. NBC has noticed a drop-off in ratings, perhaps in response to Trump’s call for people to boycott the NFL while these protests continued. http://www.businessinsider.com/brands-say-theyll-pull-ads-from-nfl-if-nbc-keeps-covering-protests-2017-11 and https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/24/us/politics/trump-calls-for-boycott-if-nfl-doesnt-crack-down-on-anthem-protests.html Let’s not let Trump dictate who we’re going to boycott, and let’s tell NBC that we support their coverage of protests: Twitter: @nbc and email: nbcsportshelp@nbcuni.com

49 Remember that great woman on her bicycle, who showed Trump exactly what we all think of him with a defiant one-finger salute? She has been brusquely fired from her job as a result: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/she-flipped-off-president-trump–and-got-fired-from-her-government-contracting-job/2017/11/06/4cf1af9a-c2da-11e7-84bc-5e285c7f4512_story.html?utm_term=.a67548c5953a  While she appears entirely undaunted (when asked if she had any regrets, she replied that she’d do it again!), those of us on Twitter might want to send a thank-you (@julibriskman) to show her and the world our support for her spontaneous and trenchant exercise of her 1st Amendment rights. Also, we could drop a note to her former employer (http://www.akima.com, use their comment form there) wishing them luck in court if, as Ms. Briskman is currently discussing with the ACLU, a lawsuit arises

50 StoryCorps “Great Thanksgiving Listen was developed for high school students to interview an elder and contribute their voices to the Library of Congress, but anyone with a smartphone and an interest in storytelling can participate. We actively encourage people of all ages to download the free StoryCorps App. Use it to create your own unique oral history with an elder or loved one in your life.”  Let’s see how we can participate:  https://storycorps.org/participate/the-great-thanksgiving-listen/

PETITIONS/SURVEYS/ETC taken verbatim or nearly verbatim from http://roganslist.blogspot.com

READING/LISTENING/VIEWING  recommended by http://roganslist.blogspot.com

Vanessa Otero has come out with the third edition of her media bias chart.  We can find it here in a blog entry that describes it:  http://www.allgeneralizationsarefalse.com/the-chart-version-3-0-what-exactly-are-we-reading/  Let’s print this out and use it to make sure we are sharing quality, credible information sources.

The National Resources Defense Council’s article “The Stone Cold Truth About Our Warming Planet” tells us about the new federal report reveals just how uninhabitable the earth would become if we don’t act on climate now. The most definitive overview yet of the current hazards and mounting harm of the central environmental challenge of our time, the US government’s Climate Science Special Report documents a world in grave peril.  Let’s read the article and, if we can, the special report itself so we can talk knowledgeably about the dangers our planet faces.

Some good news about innovations that might help us in the fight against climate change https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/08/seven-megatrends-that-could-beat-global-warming-climate-change

In the wake of the Texas church shooting, religious institutions may be wondering what they can do to help reassure their members and affirm safety. The Council on American-Islamic Relations is offering hard copies and pdf’s of their “Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety” booklet. The safety guide is applicable to all faith-based institutions and includes multiple steps which can be taken to increase safety. We can check out the pdf version http://bit.ly/2haazQb or sign up to receive a copy here: http://www.cair.com/mosque-safety-guide.html

Teen Vogue steps up once again with this article “5 Reasons You Need to Vote.”  Let’s read this article geared toward young people and relevant to us all.  If we are giving holiday gifts this year, subscriptions to Teen Vogue might be just right for some of our gift recipients.  Annual subscriptions are $10. Teen Vogue has just gone all digital. We can read more about Teen Vogue at BBC News.

Every movement for social and racial justice needs the arts to give us strength and uplift our spirits. This song was written by a Sister and member of National Women & Allies in Tennessee who showed up at the recent white supremacist rally there to fight against their hate. Sitting in her car, this song came to her. I keep singing it. She dedicated it to Congressman John Lewis. PLEASE HELP THIS GO VIRAL. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lh2aCbYih2U Share everywhere.