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1/11/19 

Contact Federal Government Officials



1.   It is becoming clearer that Trump’s self-made border “crisis” and wall, which might have been initially to appease his base, is now also more of a distraction for the number of Congressional investigations and pending legal actions that include Trump, particularly now that Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen is scheduled to testify publicly in Congress next month. https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-michael-cohen-cummings-20190110-story.html   Let’s thank the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) for taking this on:  https://cummings.house.gov/contact/offices

2.   As expected, “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday blocked two House-passed funding bills that would reopen the federal government.” https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/424730-mcconnell-blocks-house-bills-to-reopen-government  From A Fellow Resister: McConnell’s claim that passing a clean spending bill is pointless because Trump won’t sign it, implies nothing can be done in this circumstance, but that is a lie.  Congress CAN get the government open without Trump by passing a clean spending bill. If he doesn’t sign it, the bill will become law in 10 days.  And if he vetoes it, Congress can override the veto. EVERY Democrat will vote to override the veto and if McConnell wanted to, he and his GOP cohort would override the veto.  This is the GOP's choice and that’s why it’s not pointless to send Trump the bill to get that process rolling. At this point McConnell, along with Trump, OWNS the Shutdown.  We can call Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi urge them to make this point, loud and clear.  We can also share this post and make the point on Twitter: McConnell and the GOP can easily override any veto.  Why won't they vote to ensure the bills they ALREADY PASSED once become law?  Contact Schumer:  https://www.schumer.senate.gov/contact/office-locations and contact Pelosi:  https://www.speaker.gov/contact-us/

3.   Jacinda says she has "no idea" what her family will do if the government shutdown continues past January. Her husband's last paycheck was Dec. 28 and, like many federal workers, he's unlikely to get his next one at the end of this week. He may not get the one after that, due at the end of January, either.  "Our rent is due, the electric bill is due, our cellphones are now past due," she says.  Her husband is a TSA officer in Portland, Ore., but he's not speaking publicly because the Transportation Security Administration forbids personnel to do so.
https://www.npr.org/2019/01/09/683519210/air-travelers-and-workers-may-feel-government-shutdown-effects  This is what our federal workers and their families are suffering through because trump wants A WALL.  Let’s continue to call our senators, governors, and the White House for the end of the shutdown. 

4.   Trump has nominated former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-epa-idUSKCN1P324H?). There have been concerns about Wheeler since he was first appointed as Deputy Administrator early last year, through his appointment to Acting-Administrator in July, and as he has continued efforts to de-regulate environmental, emissions, and safety standards. At the same time, a federal court has just ordered the EPA to release thousands of documents involving Wheeler and other top EPA officials' contacts with industry interest groups.   (https://wapo.st/2FnmSpqhttps://bit.ly/2H4uvDD). Let's refresh our memories about why Wheeler is the wrong choice to lead the EPA, then contact our senators to ask them to oppose this nomination.

5.   William Brangham of PBS News Hour interviews Rush Holt who is the CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and also a former congressman from New Jersey.  “There are thousands of researchers who are furloughed or working without pay at agencies like the EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Geological Survey. And there are many others who don't work directly for the government, but who are also still feeling the pinch, people like the men and women at various universities who get federal money for their research. With the shutdown, the pipeline for that money is now blocked. With all these scientists idled, many argue that some very important work, things like the regular monitoring of chemicals, to tracking of endangered species, is also not happening.”  Read the interview here to understand how this affects all of us. 
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/with-the-government-shutdown-american-scientific-progress-is-disrupted Support the scientists, let’s demand our senators to take a vote to end the shutdown.

6.   Over the holidays, and during the shutdown, the Interior Department has quietly proposed a rule which would make it more difficult to submit Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests (https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/423328-new-interior-foia-rule-could-make-it-harder-to-get-public-documents). The new rule would give agencies more power to turn down requests and will make it easier for the government to operate without transparency (https://bit.ly/2SNvM3G). The public has until January 28th to comment on the proposed rule. Let's head over to the Federal Register and leave a comment opposing this revision to Department of Interior FOIA procedural regulations: 

7.   “Nine federal departments (and some smaller agencies like NASA) are affected, at least in part, by the lapse in funding: Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, State, Transportation and the Treasury. Approximately 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed or are being required to work without pay.” That means air safety, food safety, food stamps, scientific research, coast guard, immigration courts and enforcement, federal courts, national parks, oil and gas drilling, the arts and the District of Columbia are not working or working for free for US citizens.  https://www.npr.org/2019/01/09/683642605/how-is-the-shutdown-affecting-america-let-us-count-the-ways  The #trumpshutdown is affecting all of us.  The phones in the WH and the Capital need to be ringing off the hook
  
8.   “The Trump administration plans to restaff 38 wildlife refuges during the government shutdown in order to continue to provide “opportunities, including hunting," according to an internal email obtained by The Hill. Margaret Everson, principal deputy director of the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), announced to employees Tuesday that some furloughed employees will be brought back to staff refuges, and in some instances open the visitor centers, at key refuges in order to protect jeopardized natural resources. “  https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/424563-trump-administration-to-reopen-key-wildlife-refuges-to-continue  Wow, they can open some parts of government for hunting but national park rangers and scientists, are furloughed and; native American populations aren’t getting medical care and food per their treaties with the USA.  The phones in the capital and your governor’s office should be ringing off the hook. Stop the shutdown now. 

9.   The Census Bureau is closed as a result of the government shutdown, adding to the problems it faces in organizing the 2020 census—Is there enough money? Can the Bureau overcome the 2010 undercount of communities of color and other “hard-to-count” populations?  Can they hire enough workers? Is the new digital census secure?  And, of course, what about the citizenship question?  
https://www.npr.org/2019/01/10/677745758/hurdles-remain-as-the-final-countdown-begins-for-the-2020-census  Now that there is a Democratic House, we need to urge our MoCs to guarantee the accuracy and reliability of the complete population count mandated by the Constitution.

10. A coalition of House Democrats has introduced a suite of eight (8) bills to protect America’s coastal communities from offshore drilling. We can read more about them in this press release from the House Natural Resources Committee. The bills have not yet been assigned numbers so let's use the bills' names when we contact our representatives in support of them.

11.  "Wireless carriers have long collected our location details and sold that data to a universe of dodgy partners and data brokers, who in turn make little or no real effort to ensure this data is protected...Despite the often massive scale of these location data breaches, the US government’s general response to the problem has been one of apathy. When regulators have actually attempted to rein in this abuse, lobbyists have ensured those efforts are short lived." 
      https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/nepx5x/we-could-easily-stop-location-data-scandals-but-we-cower-to-lobbyists-instead We can't go on allowing our consumer privacy to be violated. It's an ongoing fight, but in the wake of some recent scandals Ron Wyden (D-OR) has decided to work on introducing a new bill to fight this. Let's take a look and give him some feedback on it, here:  https://www.wyden.senate.gov/news/press-releases/wyden-releases-discussion-draft-of-legislation-to-provide-real-protections-for-americans-privacy 

Election/Voting

1.   Democrat Jennifer Boysko won her election on Tuesday to succeed Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D) in the Virginia Senate's 33rd District seat. We can read more at Loudoun Times-Mirror. Postcards To Voters' (P2V) volunteers wrote postcards to get out the Democratic vote for this election with Campaign 140. The current open postcarding campaign is Campaign 142: Vote By Mail Enrollment in Florida (Miami-Dade County). Let's request 5 addresses for this campaign. P2V wants to reach Democratic voters in all Florida counties over the next two years. Also, let's stay tuned for special elections! If we are new volunteers, we can sign up here.

Other Actions

1.    As Pam Keith tweeted, “Dear @CNN @politico @MSNBC @washingtonpost @nytimes @thehill STOP reporting on the « likeability » of female politicos. They aren’t vying for Miss Congeniality. Write about their policy, leadership characteristics, tenacity or ideas.”  Let’s contact our favorite media and make the same request. 

2.   From Sleeping Giants: This message is brought to you by... Purdue University Global? Really? We definitely have an important email to write today. Can you help us out with this one? Contact: Dr. Betty Vandenbosch Chancellor, Purdue University Global E-mail: chancellor@purdueglobal.edu Template: Hi Dr. Vandenbosch, I've just learned that Purdue University Global is a sponsor of Tucker Carlson Tonight. I wanted to check in and see if you know the type of messages you're supporting. Carlson has used his show in the past months to argue that immigrants are making America "dirtier." He has since doubled down on these comments, distributing the same talking points used by white supremacist groups. He's now using his platform to argue that raising women's salaries is contributing to "men in decline". This doesn't square up for me. Your website says "Purdue Global was founded on the belief that every person with talent, regardless of age or circumstance, deserves the chance to develop it." If this is true, could you help me understand why you're supporting Tucker's sexist and racist rhetoric, likely with your own students' tuition money? I encourage to stop advertising with this show ASAP. Thank you, [Your Name]

3.   Color of Change has launched a new, interactive website which highlights how black women are affected by the cross-section of racism and sexism throughout their lives. BlackWomenToo offers illustrations, data, resources, and tools we can use to get involved and fight for black women. Let's check out the website and work our way through the action items.

4.   From the ACLU: “The ACLU Border Rights Center is monitoring Custom and Border Protection (CBP) officials’ interactions with asylum seekers arriving at Ports of Entry (POE) into the United States. We need volunteers to help collect information and hold CBP accountable.”  Let’s see how we can help:  https://www.aclutx.org/en/campaigns/become-port-entry-monitor

5.   Trump has been our focus, but he is just an embodiment of a host of social ills needing our attention. One example is this study  revealing increased bullying in areas that voted for Trump in 2016 (https://www.npr.org/2019/01/09/683177489/virginia-study-finds-increased-school-bullying-in-areas-that-voted-for-trump). Improving our social institutions, especially educational institutions, is a powerful way to heal what ails our country, and we can start by heeding the call from organizations like Communities In Schools (https://www.communitiesinschools.org/how-you-can-help/). Better yet, we could just contact our local school district and ask what they need.

6.   Nikki Howard and Jaqi Wright are sisters who live in Maryland and have been furloughed from their jobs with the federal government because of the shutdown. https://wjla.com/news/local/furloughed-sisters-cheesecake-business-government-shutdown To help make ends meet, although not a long-term solution, they have started a cheesecake bakery business: The Furlough Cheesecake. Let’s read more about them at their website, https://thefurloughcheesecake.com/ , and let’s consider making a donation or purchasing a cheesecake—they take mail orders all over the country!

7.   This report reminds us of the hardship to familes affected by the government shutdown: https://www.channel3000.com/news/wisconsin-food-banks-prep-for-high-demand-as-shutdown-looms-1/971652841  Let’s remember to donate to our local food pantries.

8.   “The National Park Service is losing $400,000 per day from entrance fee revenue every day the government is closed. We are on day 19 which means the NPS has lost $7,600,000. Parks use this money for planned maintenance and repair projects, visitor services, habitat rehabilitation, law enforcement, and other needs.”  Follow the Alt US National Park Service FB page here and spread the word about how the shutdown is hurting our National Parks and Rangers:  https://www.facebook.com/AltUSNationalParkService/

9.   LA schoolteachers will go on strike on Monday, Jan. 14, absent a last-minute settlement (which no one predicts).  We can support this latest struggle for the future of public education in the US by contacting School Superintendent Adam Beutner  at LA Unified School District, 333 South Beaudry Ave., LA 90017 or 213-241-1000  or we can sign a petition here: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/tell-lausd-stop-starving-la-schools  It is critical that the LA school authorities know that the we are all watching to see whether he will stop starving the public schools while encouraging efforts at privatization. Beyond that, we are asked to wear red on Monday, the 14th, and post photos online using #RedForEd #UTLAStrong #WeAreLA so L.A. teachers can see our support, and to contribute to the LA Teacher/Parent Strike Solidarity Fund: https://www.aros-wearela.com

10. For those us interested in the setbacks in climate and environmental science at the government level, “This page lists federal actions targeting climate and other (non-climate) environmental science fields. The listed actions are also included in the table on the SST home page, along with actions taken by state and local governments.”  See more here:  http://columbiaclimatelaw.com/resources/silencing-science-tracker/federal-actions/ Let’ use this information in our interactions with others.

State Actions

1.    CA:  350.org informs us that three companies are proposing to drill over 750 new oil wells in the northern part of Santa Barbara County! The draft Enviromental Impact Report (EIR) for one of these companies - Aera - was released in December and is open for public comment. Now is the time for us act! There are two ways we can submit a comment:  A) Submit our own via email. We’ll  find more information about the draft EIR, the project, and how to write a public comment here: http://350sb.org/public-comment/, and B)  Join them to deliver a public comment in person. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeQ60KCDMvh-ibCroQijP2kCeQT1dKxSx0Oe17pP4DnBYP6SA/viewform
We can find out more at 
http://350sb.org/public-comment/

2.   FL: State Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) has filed legislation, Florida SB146, to permanently ban fracking in Florida. We can read more at Space Coast Daily. Stewart expects support for this bill from new Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Let's contact Gov. DeSantis to let him know he has our support on this bill. Let's also encourage our Florida state senators to join us on this issue.

3.   VA:  Virginia is one step closer to becoming the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.  Earlier this week, the bill passed out of committee and now needs to be voted on by the state senate and house.  https://www.delmarvanow.com/story/news/local/virginia/2019/01/10/virginia-vote-moves-equal-rights-amendment-closer-ratification/2534584002/  Let’s check out VA Ratify ERA and their Facebook page for how to get involved:  https://www.facebook.com/VAratifyERA/

Marches/events/webinars/Tweetstorms to attend/organize

1.    As stories of the recent harrowing California Wildfires fade from the public eye, many survivors are still in need, seeking to recover, to rebuild their homes and their lives.  We can help them by joining Action Together Network’s Twitterstorm to raise awareness of their plight, share information about resources and suggest further actions to take.  The storm takes place this Sunday, January 13, from 8-9pm EST. To join in, we can click here for more information and access to prewritten tweets we can send out with just a few clicks: https://www.facebook.com/events/2230916840510426/

2.   The Indigenous Peoples March will be held on Friday, January 18, in Washington, D.C.  We can find more information here:  https://indigenouspeoplesmovement.com/

3.   Another Women’s March is coming up.  Whether we align ourselves with March On, or Women’s March Alliance, or WoMen for All, or with no group at all, we have an opportunity to make history and march once again on Saturday, January 19, 2019.  Let’s check with our favorite organization or local group and find out how we can help.

Reading/Watching



2.   Searching for a Substantive Response to Trump’s Hateful Speech - https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/searching-for-a-substantive-response-to-trumps-hateful-speech






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