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

ACA Open Enrollment is ending December 15th http://info.healthconnect.vermont.gov/Get_Started

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Thursday December 14th at 1 pm Governor’s Climate Action Commission meeting National Life building, State Offices, Montpelier Room (basement of the National Life building) 1 National Life Drive, Montpelier

 

  • Saturday December 16 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
  • Sunday December 17
    • Restoring Civil Discourse 10:30 am – 1:30 pm, UU Church, 117 West St, Rutland – Justin Classen, Rutland County Progressive Party Chair, will be talking about the need for a return to civil discourse https://www.facebook.com/events/403061610114279/
    • Nonviolence Book Club at 2 pm Northshire Bookstore Manchester – reading chapters 5-8 of Charles Eisenstein’s The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible

 

  • Monday December 18 at 6:30 pm Castleton Indivisible Postcard Party location TBA

 

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 The FCC is voting on Net Neutrality on December 14th https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/11/21/565682679/fcc-unveils-plan-to-repeal-net-neutrality-rules  h/t http://roganslist.blogspot.com/

  • Action: Call/write your friends/family in red states and ask them to contact their members of congress urging them to preserve Net Neutrality. Indivisible offers these talking points: https://www.indivisible.org/resource/dont-let-trump-destroy-internet-protect-net-neutrality/
  • Action: Share your concerns with the FCC commissioners are Ajit Pai, Chairman (Pai@fcc.gov); Mignon Clyburn (Mignon.Clyburn@fcc.gov); Michael O’Rielly (Mike.O’Rielly@fcc.gov); Brendan Carr (Brendan.Carr@fcc.gov); and Jessica Rosenworcel (Jessica.Rosenworcel@fcc.gov). They can all also be reached by phone at 1-888-225-5322, by fax at 1-866-418-0232, or by mail at Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554 (h/t http://roganslist.blogspot.com/)
  • Action: “If it hears us and wants to, Congress can stop the FCC from ending net neutrality, whatever the vote of Ajit Pai’s committee. Consumer Reports urges us to call our MoCs and urge our leaders to save the internet for us all.  It provides us with an easy link: https://action.consumerreports.org/netneutrality20171115call “ from  http://roganslist.blogspot.com/
  • Action: Apparently, “someone has been offering fake comments impersonating us and speaking out in favor of the FCC’s net neutrality move. The FCC refuses to help investigate this despite multiple requests by NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman: https://medium.com/@AGSchneiderman/an-open-letter-to-the-fcc-b867a763850a  We need to tell the FCC that the December 14 vote cannot go ahead until this situation is investigated and exposed.  Contact:  https://www.fcc.gov/about/contact” (h/t http://roganslist.blogspot.com/)
  • Action: “Here are two more ways to make our thoughts about net neutrality known: A) Call the FCC’s customer service number at 888-225-5322. Leave a message with the simply saying you oppose any effort to weaken net neutrality, and B)  Step 1: Go to com, Step 2: Click “express” (over to the right), Step 3: Tell the FCC that you support Net Neutrality” (h/t http://roganslist.blogspot.com/)
  • Action: “From The Boston Globe: “Some of the biggest Internet providers want to make sure that once the Federal Communications Commission votes to deregulate the broadband industry, states won’t be able to set up their own, new regulations. Comcast and Verizon have both asked telecom regulators to make it clear that the FCC’s new policy on Net neutrality would preempt state and local regulations that might read differently. The request marks the industry’s latest step to weaken federal rules that regulate broadband companies like legacy telephone companies.”  Let’s contact our state attorneys general to let them know that we do not agree with this federal overreach on states’ rights and that we expect them to respond to this threat with legal action against the FCC.” h/t http://roganslist.blogspot.com/ (VT AG Donovan: 802 828-3171 or Vermont Attorney General’s Office, 109 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05609-1001)

2 The federal tax legislation that passed last week will hurt many Vermonters. (For ex., see: https://www.cbpp.org/blog/house-district-map-partial-salt-repeal-kills-most-valuable-part-of-deduction#undefined) But the good news is that the fight isn’t over. The House and the Senate still have to reconcile their two bills.

3 VT Rep. Peter Welch was unfortunately not among the 58 Democrats who voted for Trump’s impeachment last week. http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/363645-the-nearly-60-dems-who-voted-for-impeachment and https://www.sevendaysvt.com/OffMessage/archives/2017/12/06/congressman-welch-votes-against-attempt-to-impeach-trump?utm_content=bufferbe55b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

4 A proposed update to Vermont’s fair and impartial policing policy will weaken protections for undocumented immigrants. https://vtdigger.org/2017/12/07/rights-groups-say-proposed-changes-weaken-police-anti-bias-policy/ This is particularly concerning in light of recently released footage shows a Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy calling in Border Patrol agents during a traffic stop, overstepping the mandate of the local police, and then one of the Border Patrol agents employing an ethnic slur. https://www.sevendaysvt.com/OffMessage/archives/2017/12/08/footage-shows-feds-using-ethnic-slur-during-traffic-stop As discussed in previous newsletters, this sort of cooperation isn’t a requirement of federal funding. According to a recent court ruling, the Trump administration can’t legally withhold funds on this basis. Furthermore, cooperation like this undermines the public safety by destroying the trust between local law enforcement and the public. It also creates a drain on local resources as local forces are used to perform duties that are under the purview of the federal government. Finally, it is not in compliance with VT AG Donovan’s guidelines. http://ago.vermont.gov/focus/news/attorney-general-donovan-and-immigration-task-force-release-guidance-for-cities-and-towns-on-immigration-enforcement.php and http://ago.vermont.gov/assets/files/Consumer/Guidance%20to%20VT%20Cities%20and%20Towns%20re%20Immigration%20Enforcement.pdf

  • Action: If you haven’t already done so, sign the Petition for Fair and Impartial Policing and the Petition For a Constitutional Amendment that Justice for All and ACLU of VT are recommending to protect the rights of all Vermont residents
  • Action: Contact your local Sheriff/Chief of Police’s asking him/her to take a stand against anti-immigrant policies. To find your Sheriff/Chief of Police: http://www.usacops.com/ For Rutland City, the Chief of Police is Anthony Bossi, 52 Washington St., Rutland, Vermont 05701, Phone: (802)773-1816.  Script: I am a citizen resident of ___ and I am calling/writing to urge the Sheriff/Chief of Police to follow the Vermont Attorney General’s guidance regarding immigration enforcement. Please do not waste our resources by doing the federal government’s job unless this is called for, as per the Attorney General’s instructions. Please decline detainee requests. Also, please follow the Attorney General’s advice and don’t violate the privacy of Vermont residents by sharing information about residents with immigration officials. The enforcement of immigration law should be left to the federal government and not transferred to local law enforcement. The costs are a drain on local resources and divert funding from more effective safety and crime prevention methods. By eroding trust and cooperation between local law enforcement and immigrant communities, public safety is also undermined. (from https://www.wall-of-us.org)

5 With the announcement of resignations from Congress in connection to sexual harassment, Bernie Sanders and others have begun calling for Donald Trump to resign in light of the accusations levied against him. https://www.sevendaysvt.com/OffMessage/archives/2017/12/07/bernie-sanders-trump-should-think-about-resigning

6 Gov. Phil Scott’s solution to underfunding? Fire the people in charge of ensuring your kids’ well-being. http://digital.vpr.net/post/scott-says-state-could-avoid-property-tax-hike-reducing-school-staff#stream/0

7 A recent report shows that Burlington is warming faster than any other city in the nation. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/climate-change-warm-winters-2017-climate-central-report/ Meanwhile, Gov. Phil Scott’s staff struck references to “climate change” from an official report and Scott has announced that he’s looking forward to climate change, touting the economic opportunities that can be found in a collapsing ecosystem. http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/politics/government/2017/12/04/governors-staff-struck-climate-change-language-act-250-report/790886001/  and https://vtdigger.org/2017/12/07/scott-sees-potential-economic-boon-climate-change/

8 VT-based business Ben & Jerry’s has joined the Poor People’s Campaign for economic justice. https://www.benjerry.com/whats-new/2017/12/poor-peoples-campaign-launch

9 “Claremont officials released a joint statement today condemning vandalism in which someone defaced a sign that said “End White Supremacy” by painting a red swastika over it.” http://www.vnews.com/Claremont-NH-Officials-Respond-to-Swastika-14159950 and https://twitter.com/VNewsUV/status/938147811857756160  You may recall that this is the same town where an 8 year old boy was lynched (he fortunately survived) a few months ago. (Rutland NAACP raised a $1000 for his family in last month’s fundraiser.)

  • Action: Contact info@naacprutland.org about ordering a lawn sign reading “Hate has no home here.” Approximately 50 orders have been placed. A hundred orders are needed to actually place the order.
  • Action: More tips:
    • Learn
    • If you witness a hate crime, report it to the police, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and similar organizations, as well as the media.
    • If you learn of a hate crime in your community,
      • Contact news agencies to pressure them into covering the story
      • Contact local officials to pressure them into making sure that the police investigation is rigorous and timely
      • Share the story with friends, family, neighbors, etc. via face-to-face conversations and social media. Complete strangers DO CARE!
      • Show your support for the victim and minority populations (see the SPLC’s Community Response Guide )
    • Call people out for discriminatory remarks. Have the courage to question friends, family members, and perfect strangers when they make remarks (even “jokes”) that suggest discrimination.
    • Report use of hate speech on social media. Twitter and Facebook, for instance, provide links for reporting offensive communications are supposed to disable the accounts of users who employ hate speech.
    • Teach kids to recognize and reject discrimination. Monitor their use of media, their educational materials, and their interaction with friends. Model the behavior you want them to imitate. Encourage schools to foster diversity.

READING/LISTENING/WATCHING

Watch Rights and Democracy’s Raise the Wage town hall https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-pD3mxu9ls&t

Regarding the push to put a medical professional on the Green Mountain Care Board https://twitter.com/vtdigger/status/938385003473489920 and http://digital.vpr.net/post/medical-group-will-lobby-get-provider-health-care-board#stream/0

“Lebanon-Based Program Eyes Learning Challenges Through Health Care’s Lens” http://www.vnews.com/APD-pilot-program-coaches-students-with-learning-challenges-14055675

“What Role Do Insurance Companies Play In The Opioid Crisis?” http://digital.vpr.net/post/what-role-do-insurance-companies-play-opioid-crisis?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

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

ENVIRONMENT/SCIENCE/AGRICULTURE

Southern California is being ravaged by wildfires. http://abcnews.go.com/US/southern-california-wildfires-burn-containment-conditions-worsen/story Let’s contact our MoCs to urge them to provide relief.

10 It was only 12 months ago that Dow Chemical was facing double-barrel trouble regarding its brain-damaging, endangered species-killing pesticide, chlorpyrifos. So compelling was the evidence that the highly toxic organophosphate caused permanent brain damage and learning disabilities in children, that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in November 2016 that it would be banning use of the pesticide on crops.Already, earlier in the year, the EPA had announced that in working with scientists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries services it had found that chlorpyrifos killed or harmed 97 percent of the nation’s 1,800 protected plants and animals. Then came the Trump regime. Within days of being appointed, EPA chief Scott Pruitt announced he was reversing the planned ban on chlorpyrifos. But what about the damning research on the pesticide’s widespread harm to protected species? How do you just make it disappear? If you’re Dow, and you just donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural fund, no worries. You simply ask the Pruitt-led pro-industry EPA to ignore the legally required biological evaluations that revealed the widespread off-target killing tendencies of one of your most popular products. A draft bill pushed by Dow that’s now floating around the halls of Congress would forbid the EPA from even assessing the harms pesticides pose to endangered species unless the maker of the pesticide requests those assessments. Now, in the make-believe world of the Trump administration, Dow is working hard to convince the members of Congress to simply look the other way and pretend the risks don’t exist. Let’s read the full article at The Hill.  We need to contact all of our MoC’s to let them know that we a) support the continued assessment of all pesticides with or without the makers’ request. b) we want the ban on nerve-damaging chloropyrifos pesticides put back in place.

11 The Minnesota’s Economic Rights (MINER) Act, H.R. 3905, passed 216-204 last week, with nearly all Republicans in support and nearly all Democrats opposed. The Obama administration’s decision, made the day before former President Obama left office, blocked mining for two years in an area of the forest near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, in an effort to protect those waters from potential mine waste output. The bill would also require the Forest Service to renew two-decades-old mining leases for sulfide ore in the forest that had gone unused before Obama declined to renew them in 2016. “This bill undermines bedrock environmental and public land management laws in order to create a perpetual lease for a foreign-owned, toxic mine,” said Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.). We can read the story at The Hill.  If our Senator is a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, let’s call them to tell them to protect Minnesota’s boundary waters by opposing H.R. 3905.  If our Senators are not on the committee, let’s send emails and postcards of opposition to the MINER Act, H. R. 3905.

12 An Ohio State professor is taking a stand against the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, after he banned scientists who receive EPA funding from serving on any of the agency’s 22 advisory boards. Despite receiving an email Nov. 3 implying her resignation, Robyn Wilson, an associate professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources, has refused to give up her EPA funding and her membership on the Science Advisory Board, a position she began in 2015 during the Obama administration. Wilson is defying Pruitt’s new policy because she doesn’t believe it’s legal to stop a member from serving on the board if they receive funding. We can read more at The Lantern.  Let’s thank Robyn Wilson for taking a stand.  Robyn Wilson, The Ohio State University, School of Environment and Natural Resources, 210 Kottman Hall, 2021 Coffey Rd, Columbus OH 43210. Everglades National Park in Florida remains the most endangered natural world heritage site in the United States, a new report says. According to a World Heritage Outlook released last month by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the outlook for the Everglades is “critical” and is the only site of 11 sites assessed in the United States to be designated as such.  “Natural resources protected by Everglades National Park provide key ecosystem services to the regional human population including water storage and recharging of the aquifer, buffering against the impacts of tropical storms and hurricanes, as well as economic benefits associated with tourism, including recreational fishing, and the commercial fishing industry,” the report says. Let’s read more at The Weather Channel.  The Everglades for the Next Generation Act, House bill HR2691/Senate bill S1234, amends the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 to provide for expedited project implementation relating to the comprehensive Everglades restoration plan.   House bill HR2691 is currently with the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.  Senate bill S1234 is currently with the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.  Let’s check the members of both committees for our own MoC’s. If they are members, let’s tell them we support the Everglades for the Next Generation Act and want to see them keep moving it through committee. Let’s work together to restore the Everglades.

13 The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a far-right, corporate-funded political group, which is, according to their website, “dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism.” ALEC has consistently pushed back against environmental protections and legislation, and even caused Google to stop funding the organization because of ALEC’s consistent climate change denial  http://bit.ly/2nwX2Ie Senators Warren and Whitehouse have written a great op-ed in the Washington Post, explaining how ALEC works, and calling out UPS and Pfizer for funding such a dangerous organization http://wapo.st/2jlRw6T While UPS has publicly acknowledged the dangers of carbon emissions, and committed to reducing carbon pollution within the company, their support for ALEC runs completely contrary to this stance. Let’s contact UPS and let them know that they cannot claim to care for the environment, yet use their money to support a political group that works to end environmental protections. We can reach UPS via Twitter @UPS, via mail: UPS World Headquarters 55 Glenlake Parkway NE Atlanta, GA 30328, the corporate office by phone: 404-828-6000 or CEO David Abney via e-mail:  dabney@ups.com

14 Patagonia, an American outdoor clothing and gear retailer, slammed Trump after he announced plans to shrink the size of two national monuments. The California-based company on Monday modified its homepage to initially display a black screen with the message “The President Stole Your Land” to rally the public into joining its cause which, according to some local media reports, includes a possible legal action against Trump. We can read more at CNBC.  If we are giving or getting outdoor clothing and gear this season, let’s consider purchasing from Patagonia to show our support for their environmental positions. Let’s join Patagonia in their efforts to save our national treasures:  http://www.patagonia.com/protect-public-lands.html  Next, let’s thank Patagonia:  259 W Santa Clara St., Ventura, CA 93001 or (805) 643-8616

15 “President Donald Trump and his allies in Congress are trying to pass a budget with extreme cuts to our environmental agencies, putting our air, water and health in danger.  Join us in sharing your story about why a healthy environment is critical for the well-being of you and your family. “Let’s share our stories:  https://ourenvironment.org/

16 Renewable Energy Impact: Renewable energy trade groups are concerned that the tax bill could have devastating consequences for wind and solar energy.  They have written a letter to the Senate with their concerns. Let’s read more at EcoWatch.  We can also join the trade groups by calling our Senators to ask, “that the BEAT program be amended to exempt the production and investment tax credits from the calculation of the base erosion tax, just as the research and development tax credit is exempted from the provision in the current draft.”

17 Donald Trump today announced he will shrink both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups will sue to prevent this misuse of the Antiquities Act, but his allies in Congress are trying to undercut them and strengthen Trump’s attack on our public lands with bills like H.R. 3990, which will rewrite the law to allow Trump to get away with reducing the boundaries of national monuments (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/trump-poised-to-shrink-two-national-monuments/). Let’s contact our members of Congress and tell them we want to safeguard our national monuments, and we want them to oppose any effort to make it easier for Trump to abandon them.

18 The United States has a serious problem with food waste. This waste reverberates through landfills, wasted revenue, methane emissions, and loss of nutrition: http://on.nrdc.org/1NVyyzW While we are currently global leaders in food waste (http://theatln.tc/2r5WVQA ), Congress does have legislation in both the House and Senate which would work to put a stop to this. Let’s give our Member(s) of Congress a call and ask that they cosponsor and support the Food Recovery Act (H.R. 3444/S.1680). We can also use Sierra Rise’s action page to send a message or tweet to our Member(s) of Congress http://bit.ly/2j9NNZR

VETERANS AFFAIRS

19 “Four days after Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin held a big Washington event to tout the Trump administration’s promise to house all homeless vets, the agency did an about-face, telling advocates it was pulling resources from a major housing program.” https://www.politico.com/story/2017/12/06/homeless-veterans-benefits-trump-207781 Let’s tell our MoCs to put pressure on VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin to continue funding housing for veterans, and let’s contact Shulkin himself and tell him the same: US Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave, Washington, DC 20420 or https://www.va.gov/landing2_contact.htm or via Twitter:  @SecShulkin

DOMESTIC SECURITY

20 To fight the threat of white supremacist groups and other violent domestic extremists, thirteen US Senators are co-sponsoring Senator Dick Durbin’s Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2017 (S. 2148). The act would “enhance the federal government’s efforts to prevent domestic terrorism by requiring federal law enforcement agencies to regularly assess those threats and provide training and resources to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement in addressing these threats.” https://www.durbin.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/durbin-introduces-domestic-terrorism-prevention-act  If our senators aren’t on this list, let’s contact them and tell them we want them to co-sponsor this bill.

21 The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (H.R. 38) passed the House. While it is essential to contact our senators, and ask for them to oppose this bill as it heads to the Senate, it is also important to hold our representatives in the House accountable for their votes. Let’s check to see how our reps voted http://bit.ly/2BShBlF Then, let’s give them a call and either thank them for opposing the bill, or admonish them for voting in favor of it. Let’s tell them that elections are not far away, and we will remember their actions when it’s our turn to vote.  We can also join Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America:  https://momsdemandaction.org/

22 “Breitbart chairman and former White House counselor Steve Bannon is returning to SirusXM’s Patriot channel, the satellite radio network announced Tuesday.” http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/the-wrap/article/Steve-Bannon-Returns-to-Sirius-XM-as-Breitbart-12406976.php Let’s register our complaints with Sirius (Twitter: @SXM_Help or https://www.siriusxm.com/contactus) and if we decide to cancel our subscription (call1-866-635-5020) let’s make sure they know it’s because we don’t support their decision to provide a platform for hate.

23 We all remember the Pulse nightclub tragedy in Orlando last June when 49 people were killed while enjoying themselves.  The hero of that day, Officer Omar Delgado, who was credited with saving lives, is being dismissed from his job at the end of the month due to his on-going PTSD which he has suffered from since the event.  This is six months short of the time he would have been vested in his job and to qualify for a pension.  http://abcnews.go.com/US/pulse-nightclub-hero-dismissed-police-department/story?id=51613661  Let’s write and ask that this decision be reconsidered:  Eatonville Police Department, 11 People Street A, Maitland, FL 32751 orhttp://www.townofeatonville.org/police_contact/   Let’s also contact the Eatonville Town Council:  http://www.townofeatonville.org/council/   We can also contribute to a GoFund me effort on Delgado’s behalf:  https://www.gofundme.com/2gv6zp8c

24 For those of us who are teachers, let’s check out UNESCO’s teacher guide on Prevention of Violent Extremism through education:   http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002446/244676e.pdf and see how we can incorporate this advice in our classrooms.

HEALTHCARE

25 The GOP is already making plans to make up for the $1.5 trillion deficit their tax plan creates by cutting “entitlements” – also known as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid:  http://thehill.com/homenews/house/363642-ryan-pledges-entitlement-reform-in-2018 This is quite directly about taking money from lower, middle, and upper-middle class Americans to line the pockets of the richest people. The House bill and the Senate bill are not yet reconciled so there is still time to let our GOP Member(s) of Congress know that we see their true intentions very clearly.

26 The House and Senate GOP tax bills also include numerous provisions on health care, oil and gas drilling and other issues that aren’t strictly related to cutting taxes or reforming the tax code. These include: 1) Repeal of the ACA healthcare mandate. Senate Republicans inserted a measure in their tax bill that would eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that most Americans have health insurance or pay a penalty.  Scrapping the mandate would have a huge impact on health care. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that 13 million people could lose their health insurance by 2027, and it could also increase premiums and spur insurers to offer cheaper, less effective plans. 2) Arctic drilling. The Senate tax bill would open part of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, to oil and gas exploration. Drilling in this pristine environment has long been opposed by environmentalists. 3) Redefines when life begins. The Senate tax bill includes a provision that explicitly allows parents to use tax-free college savings plans, known as 529s, for a “child in utero.” According to the measure, “an unborn child means a child in utero.” People can already use the college savings accounts for children they do not yet have. Including the language is a victory for the pro-life movement. It has angered critics who say Republicans are using the tax bill to protect the views of abortion opponents.   4) Allows churches to endorse candidates. The GOP tax plan would also repeal the Johnson Amendment, which bans non-profit groups from engaging in political activism.  Opponents say this crosses the line between church and state.  Let’s read more at PBS News Hour.  Let’s use these talking points in some of our tax scam opposition calls to our MoC’s.  We can use this link to NARAL to make a call to Paul Ryan to tell him “NO!” or we can dial 1-844-818-1258 directly to be connected to his office. Let’s fight to get these items out of the bill that the GOP seems determined to pass.

ECONOMIC JUSTICE

27 We should be much more concerned with why the United Nations is investigating extreme poverty in America and be working on eliminating that issue.  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/01/un-extreme-poverty-america-special-rapporteur  Let’s ask our MoCs why there is so much poverty and what they and Congress are going to do about it.

28 The Senate Banking Committee is working on legislation to deregulate big banks and chip away at Dodd-Frank’s consumer protections:  http://politi.co/2mTvjBe https://bloom.bg/2zFw7N1 By including some relief for smaller banks, the legislation has gained the support of nine Senate Democrats, as well:  https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/2155/cosponsors If we have Democratic senators who cosponsored the bill, let’s contact them and ask them to withdraw their support; we do not need to rollback regulations for big banks. For the rest of us, let’s contact our senators and ask them to oppose Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155).

29 There’s little hope of this Republican-controlled Congress passing the minimum wage hike we need, but support is continuing to grow for raising the wage across the country. 15 states will see their minimum wage climb on January 1st (http://www.newsweek.com/what-minimum-wage-these-states-are-raising-it-2018-724430).  Let’s make sure as our reps turn their minds towards next year’s elections that they know that they are ignoring the will of the people. We can check if our senators and representatives are co-sponsoring the Raise the Wage Act (H.R. 15 and S.1242) , and contact them to thank them if they are and encourage them to do so if they aren’t.

30 Stop the confiscation of tips from restaurant workers! The Department of Labor is taking public comment on a proposed rule, championed by the National Restaurant Association, that would permit restaurant owners (including restaurants owned by giant corporations) to keep the tips of its servers. The rule will apply to employers that pay their employees federal minimum wage and do not deduct tip amounts from wages. The DOL says that new rule will allow restaurants to pool tips and share them with cooks and other back-of-the-house staff, but there is in fact nothing in the rule that will ensure tip-sharing, and nothing that stops restaurants from taking the tips and doing whatever they want with them.  http://www.newsweek.com/trump-wants-you-tip-restaurant-owners-not-servers-740792  Advocates for restaurant workers oppose the rule. The public comment period ends January 4, 2018. Let’s visit https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/12/05/2017-25802/tip-regulations-under-the-fair-labor-standards-act-flsa and tell Labor Secretary Alex Acosta that we oppose the rule, and when we tip our server, we want our server to keep the tip.

31 When the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created its goal was to what its name implied:  protect consumers in financial matters and has returned nearly $12 billion to 29 million people wronged by financial institutions.  But, once again, Trump has named someone, Mick Mulvaney, who is trying to undo the good.  In fact, Mulvaney is already pulling back on some cases in progress.  https://www.bna.com/mulvaney-puts-early-n73014472800/  Let’s remind our MoCs to safeguard this bureau that is designed to protect us and not allow corporations to bilk us.

32 Trump campaigned on keeping jobs in America, but since his election, the top 100 federal contractors have shipped “a record 10,269 American jobs abroad,” according to a report from Good Jobs Nation, “an organization that advocates for contract workers.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-29/federal-contractors-under-trump-are-offshoring-at-a-speedy-clip Let’s ask our Member(s) of Congress what they’re doing to create (and keep) jobs here in America.

33 Impact on moving jobs overseas.  The tax bills now before Congress would fundamentally change the way that foreign profits of US multinationals are taxed, from a worldwide to a territorial approach. But the design of the new approach would encourage the offshoring of US jobs and factories. Let’s read this article at Brookings to understand more. If keeping and growing American jobs is one of our priorities, let’s be sure to mention this issue in our tax plan calls to our MoCs.

RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA

34 In July, Trump warned that he wouldn’t be happy if Mueller looked into his personal banking records. Now that Mueller has subpoenaed Trump’s records from Deutsche Bank, Trump has all the more reason to try to fire Mueller. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-05/deutsche-bank-is-said-to-have-received-subpoena-on-client-trump and https://nypost.com/2017/07/19/trump-warns-mueller-not-to-probe-into-his-finances/ Let’s contact our Member(s) of Congress to ask them to proactively protect Mueller’s investigation and then make plans for demonstrating should Mueller be dismissed (https://act.moveon.org/event/mueller-firing-rapid-response-events/search/).

35 Trump tweeted that the FBI was in tatters and its reputation was the worst in history. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-tax-amt/house-senate-republicans-face-challenge-over-corporate-amt-tax-idUSKBN1DZ01P   We know this is deflection and to make himself look less guilty, but we know better.  Let’s thank the tireless workers at the FBI for their work to keep us all safe:  https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us (use any location)

TRUMP APPOINTMENTS

36 While we’ve managed to win a number of legislative victories over Trump’s agenda, there is one area where the reactionary right has quietly made a great deal of progress: getting the Senate to confirm extremist judges. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley is pushing for votes on a set of TEN nominees for lifetime appointments in a committee meeting tomorrow. These include a number of judges hand-picked by the hyper-conservative Federalist Society, like Don Willett (http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/28/politics/fifth-circuit-nominees-willett/index.html). Let’s contact our senators and let them know that we are paying attention and we want them to do everything they can to stop Trump’s judicial nominees. And for those of us represented by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, let’s tell them we want them to stop the rush to judgment and give the people enough time to get a full sense of just how outrageous these picks are. (We can find talking points on four key nominees from People for the American Way here.)

SEX/GENDER-BASED DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT

37 From Postcards from Kate:  Activist Tarana Burke started #MeToo in 2006. Read this wonderful profile (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2017/10/19/the-woman-behind-me-too-knew-the-power-of-the-phrase-when-she-created-it-10-years-ago/?utm_term=.cb76347f07d3) and then send her a Thank You.  Tarana Burke, Director of Programs, Girls for Gender Equity, 25 Chapel St., Brooklyn, NY 11201

38 A bipartisan group of house members announced legislation (H.R. 4494) that would end the practice of using taxpayer money to settle claims of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.  Republican Reps. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) were joined by Democratic Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) Jim Cooper (D-TN) and Kathleen Rice (D-NY). Along with ending the use of taxpayer dollars to settle claims of sexual harassment, the legislation would require the disclosure of all settlements going back to 1995.  The bill would allow victims who received settlements to make information public if they had filed a nondisclosure agreement and would prohibit the use of nondisclosure agreements as a condition to initiate any claim. Let’s read more at RollCall. Let’s tell our own representatives that we support DeSantis’ bill HR4494 and don’t want our tax money used to settle sexual harassment claims.

39 Part of fighting back against a culture that fosters sexual harassment and abuse, is relying on allies to call out misbehavior when they see it. John Oliver did exactly this during the Tribeca Film Festival, against Dustin Hoffman, who has a long history of sexual misconduct http://wapo.st/2ARsZk9 http://bit.ly/2AdwMsq Oliver did more than simply call out the behavior, he called Hoffman out for inadequate responses and Oliver was clear in his support of believing victims. Let’s give John Oliver a huge thank you and a shout out for his considerable support, and for being a true ally. We can send a tweet to @iamjohnoliver or on Facebook     https://www.facebook.com/iamjohnoliver/

40 Conservative policymakers love to tout the stimulating effect that increasing profit has on innovation, which is the key driver of our increasingly technology-based economy. They tried to sell their latest tax cut scam this way, but now there’s ground-breaking research that shows their premise to be false, finding instead that “if women, minorities, and children from low- and middle-income families invented at the same rate as white men from high-income (top 20%) families, there would 4 times as many inventors in America as there are today.” (https://www.vox.com/2017/12/4/16706352/innovation-inequality-race-gender). When we call our MoCs to condemn the tax cut scam, we should mention this as yet another reason it’s a bad idea. Research also discovered that educational experiences and opportunities were critical, especially during childhood, so let’s also give Betsy DeVos an earful (perhaps at her education/community foundation, 616-643-4700) about leveling the educational playing field for ALL of our children, for the good of our economy and our country.

VOTING/ELECTIONS

41 Looking towards the 2018 elections, Crooked Media and Swing Left are joining together to launch the Crooked 7 Fund: a fund which will be used to help unseat seven of the most vulnerable seats in California. In these districts, constituents voted for Hillary Clinton, yet their representatives have voted almost strictly in line with Trump. For those of us with the means, we can donate to the fund here: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/crookedseven We can also learn more about Swing Left’s District Funds and select specific districts to donate towards here: https://swingleft.org/district-funds

42The Republican National Committee spent only three weeks distancing themselves from Roy Moore and now are right back at his side: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/04/roy-moore-republican-national-committee Let’s let them know that we have not forgotten his accusers and that they can no longer refer to their family values: on Twitter @GOP or via phone 202-863-8500

43 Fill out the Chamber of Commerce contact form and tell them you will avoid visiting AL if Moore is elected. https://alabamachambers.org/contact-us/ #boycottalabama

44 Philadelphia resident Phillip Garcia, editor-at-large of The Rumpus and a Temple University Ph.D. candidate, tweeted Friday that the city had informed them of being elected as an election judge to serve on a board for Ward 21, Division 10 of the city. “They say that one vote doesn’t matter, but I literally wrote in my own name and won an election because I guess no-one else ran/voted for this position,” Garcia tweeted Friday. Let’s read more at The Hill. Let’s be inspired by this “every vote counts” story. If we are considering running against a previously uncontested GOP candidate in a local election, perhaps 2018 is our year. Let’s at least make sure that every open seat has a Democratic candidate running.

45 It’s all about turnout! A Stanford study shows voters turnout when they get message like this: A) Make a Plan: When will you go? How will you get there? What will you be doing beforehand? B) Turnouts will be high! (motivates infrequent voters)  C) Be a Voter, rather than Go, Vote!  (A Voter is who you are, Voting can be a task competing with lots of other ones).  More about the study here:  https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/research-backed-ways-get-out-vote  Let’s all help with keeping voting in all elections part of our messages.

IMMIGRATION

46 It can be hard to keep track of all the moving parts amidst the swirl but issues for DACA recipients are bound up in the Congressional budget battle: http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/363237-immigration-in-spotlight-as-budget-battle-intensifies Let’s let our Member(s) of Congress know that we expect a clean DREAM Act to protect these 800,000 young Americans.

47 Democrats have refused some suggestions for bundled bills from Republicans, because they are pushing for a Clean Dream Act: a bill protecting Dreamers that does not use them as bargaining chips for other measures to harm immigrant communities. https://www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Clean-Dream-Act-1pg-2017.pdf While they may not agree with Democrats on how the legislation should look, there were nevertheless 34 House Republicans who sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan yesterday saying that “We must pass legislation that protects DACA recipients from deportation and gives them the opportunity to apply for a more secured status in our country as soon as possible…Reaching across the aisle to protect DACA recipients before the holidays is the right thing to do.” https://rodneydavis.house.gov/uploadedfiles/20171205110110668.pdf  We couldn’t agree more. Why don’t we call our friends/family in red states and ask them to contact their Members of Congress?

48 Have our Member(s) of Congress taken the Dreamer Pledge, vowing to only vote for the spending bill if it has a clean DREAM Act? We need to make it clear to our Member(s) of Congress that voting for the spending bill, without the DREAM Act, is a vote to deport MoC. It’s that simple. Let’s check the list of Dream Killers, and if our Member(s) of Congress is on there, let’s give them a call and urge them to take the Dreamer Pledge and become a Dream Hero https://www.dreamerpledge.org/dream-killers-1/

49 While Trump’s Muslim ban goes through the courts, a lesser-known provision, in which every traveler must be deemed “a positively contributing member of society” and “make contributions to the national interest,” is starting to take shape. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) has created the Extreme Vetting Initiative which would monitor activity and automatically flag people to be deported or denied a visa based on broad criteria and algorithms. These kinds of algorithms have been found to have racial biases in the past http://bit.ly/2idz9Ad http://bit.ly/2iTc4B9 However, in order for the Initiative to be implemented, ICE needs to award the contract to a company willing and capable; likely IBM, Deloitte, LexisNexis, or Booz Allen Hamilton, as they have expressed interest and attended ICE’s informational session on the Extreme Vetting Initiative in July:

http://reut.rs/2ib7qzV Let’s check out the Brennan Center’s resource page for the Extreme Vetting Initiative to gain a better understanding of what we’re up against http://bit.ly/2j5mLlE Then, let’s contact IBM and tell them to reject ICE’s contract, as it runs contrary to IBM’s previously vocal support of immigrants. We can contact CEO Ginni Rometty via the IBM webpage:    https://www.ibm.com/scripts/contact/contact/zz/en/ginni/ Or we can tweet @IBM (specifically, we can call out their tweet on IBM’s commitment to global inclusion:  https://twitter.com/IBM/status/937247057764585472 ). We can also sign the letter from Color of Change and other action organizations: http://bit.ly/2ibDcNg

MILITARY/DEFENSE/INTERNATIONAL AID/FOREIGN POLICY

50 Some feel that Trump did not fully understand the implications of moving our embassy to Jerusalem:    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/06/wednesday-briefing-trumps-jerusalem-decision-dangerous   Violence has already broken out following Trump’s announcement on Wednesday: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-42265337 Let’s contact our Member(s) of Congress to urge them to continue seeking a two-state solution in Israel.

51 The ACLU is looking into the case of an American citizen who has been held in Iraq without access to a lawyer for more than two months on the suspicion that he has fought with the Islamic State. https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-11-30/judge-orders-us-to-disclose-details-of-american-held-in-iraq and https://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/detention/trump-administration-just-admitted-secretly-detained-american-has?redirect=blog/trump-administration-just-admitted-secretly-detained-american-has-asked-lawyer-it-wont-give-him Let’s register our concern with our Member(s) of Congress and the White House (https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact) about denying US citizens their basic legal rights.

52 The ethnic cleansing taking place in Burma against the Rohingya people has its roots in longstanding discrimination that spans decades http://theatln.tc/2fPtnE5 Violence against the Rohingya is escalating, however, which the Human Rights Watch cites in its report on sexual violence against Rohingya women and girls http://bit.ly/2iIXY7MThe United States must pass legislation to help protect the Rohingya people; the Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act (S.2060) and the BURMA Act (H.R. 4223) have been introduced with bipartisan support. Let’s call our Member(s) of Congress and ask that they cosponsor and support this legislation, and pass it as quickly as possible to get the Rohingya people the help they so desperately need.

53 Rumors suggest that Trump is considering replacing Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State with Mike Pompeo, and appointing Rep. Tom Cotton (R, AR) as a replacement for Pompeo as Director of the CIA. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/30/us/politics/state-department-tillerson-pompeo-trump.htmlAmnesty International has expressed concern about this proposal, citing Pompeo and Cotton’s record of expressing support for “torture and indefinite detention.” https://www.amnestyusa.org/press-releases/pompeo-and-cotton-must-disavow-torture-and-other-rights-abuses-as-nominees-for-state-and-c-i-a/ Let’s contact Trump to express our concern with the promotion of proponents of torture and indefinite detention: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

JOURNALISM

54 We should celebrate and cherish the freedom of press and speech we still enjoy in the US, and here’s a great way to do it. Why not reach out to a writer or journalist in another country who has been imprisoned for expressing points of view regarded as controversial by their government? “This December, PEN America is collecting messages of solidarity to be delivered to a writer of your choosing by mail, email, or through our extensive network of contacts. This annual PEN America tradition has for decades brought hope to writers at risk, many of whom keep and share the notes they receive long after they’ve been released, or the threat is over.” We can find out more here: https://pen.org/you-are-not-alone-2017/

MISCELLANEOUS

55 During this month of December with all the holiday festivities let’s work extra hard on being kind.  Action for Happiness has provided us with a Kindness Calendar:  http://www.actionforhappiness.org/  Let’s try to do these each day this month.

56 From ACLU’s People Power:  We’re asking small business owners across the country to demonstrate their support for the principle that customers should be treated equally by putting up an #opentoall poster in their window. But we need your help to spread the word. Let’s check it out here:  https://peoplepower.org/opentoall/

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

  • “Earlier this week, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin and HUD Secretary Ben Carson announced they were cutting a $460 million program designed to reduce veteran homelessness.” Let’s Sign VoteVets petition calling on Secretary Shulkin ”to protect the HUD-VASH program that help homeless and dangerously at-risk veterans find homes and the support they need.”  http://action.votevets.org/page/s/hud-vash
  • Let’s join Credo Action and sign their petition to Congress asking our MoCs to “investigate sexual assault allegations against federal officials, starting with Trump“ https://act.credoaction.com/sign/Sexual_Misconduct_Commission
  • Let’s sign our name to this Petition to Senate Democrats: “Do not collaborate with Donald Trump and Trump Republicans to deregulate big banks. We need to finish the job of Wall Street reform and end a dangerous and rigged system that puts our economy at risk, not roll back the reforms already in place.”  https://act.credoaction.com/sign/warren_sanders_dodd_frank
  • It’s been over two months since Republicans let funding expire for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and community health centers, even though there is bipartisan support to renew the program. Nine million children covered by CHIP and 25 million adults who use community health centers will be left without coverage.  There is a 5-year- extension bipartisan CHIP bill still sitting in the Senate Finance Committee.  Debbie Stabenow has introduced similar legislation to cover community health centers.  Let’s join Sen. Stabenow in asking  Congress to please pass this important, life-saving legislation now: https://stabenow.bsd.net/page/s/add-your-name-fund-chip-and-community-health-centers-now-
  • “Killing net neutrality would mean that your internet provider could dictate the speed of websites, charge higher fees to access certain parts of the internet, and prioritize their services over their competitors’…Until we take back Congress and put net neutrality into law, the free and open internet as we know it is in jeopardy. Tell Trump’s FCC to keep their hands off our internet!” Let’s sign this petition to protect net neutrality:  https://www.pactionpac.com/net_neutrality/kim
  • “The Trump administration is once again proposing devastating cuts to essential Great Lakes funding — and the cuts in the 2018 budget are even more devastating than were proposed for 2017.” Let’s tell Congress NO:  https://www.protectthelakes.com/
  • The DREAMers’ time is running short. We need a clean Dream Act.  Let’s tell Congress and Trump to get working on it!  https://www.thepetitionsite.com/490/127/325/support-daca-deferred-action-for-childhood-arrivals/
  • There is increasing evidence that Red Fawn Fallis, who was arrested during the tragedy at Standing Rock and who is still jailed without a court date, was set up. Let’s join in this petition to have charges against her dropped:  https://www.change.org/p/david-d-hagler-drop-the-charges-against-standing-rock-political-prisoner-red-fawn-fallis
  • Credo Action has a petition to Congress for them to create an independent bipartisan commission to investigate sexual harassment and assault by federal officials, including Donald Trump. Let’s sign: https://act.credoaction.com/sign/Sexual_Misconduct_Commission

ORGANIZATIONS TO SUPPORT recommended by http://roganslist.blogspot.com

HIAS has given us eight ways to help refugees during the eight nights of Hanukkah:  https://www.hias.org/hanukkah2017  Even if this is not our holiday, we can still partake in the activity.

Five-year-old Ryland Ward, who was injured in the Sutherland Springs, TX church shooting which killed his mother and two sisters, is still in the hospital.  His grandmother, is requesting Christmas cards for him with $1 in it so they can fill his room with joy & buy him a Go-Kart http://denver.cbslocal.com/2017/12/07/church-shooting-christmas-cards/   Cards can be sent to:  Ryland Ward, P.O. Box 174, Sutherland Springs, Texas, 78161  There is also a GoFundMe account set up for the family:  https://www.gofundme.com/yqv5x-hospital-bills-for-my-cousins-son

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

With 219,000 women now incarcerated in the United States, the Prison Policy Initiative and ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice have released a report that offers a deeper understanding of the fastest-growing segment of the incarcerated population: women. The report, Women’s Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017, provides important perspective on how incarcerated women fit into the nation’s larger incarceration crisis, and critical insights into drivers of women’s incarceration. The publication comes at a critical time, as policymakers and reform advocates across the country seek solutions to reduce the nation’s jail and prison population.

From Brookings.edu “The Real Costs of a Barrier between the United States and Mexico.”  Brookings goes into detail on 1) Price Tag 2) Smuggling 3) Crime 4) US Economy and 5) Communities and Environment, and shows the flaws in the administration’s arguments for a wall.