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5/12/20

NATIONAL ISSUES


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(includes contact info and links to social media)

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NEXT COVID RELIEF BILL IN THE WORKS: ”Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Democrats are charging ahead this week with the next round of emergency coronavirus relief — another massive, multitrillion-dollar package designed to buttress the economy against the devastating pandemic.” https://thehill.com/homenews/house/497166-the-8-key-provisions-expected-in-democrats-next-covid-19-bill  We know that Trump and the GOP do not feel any more help is needed, but most states, businesses, and citizens do.  Let’s contact our MoCs to let them know that we support this new help. So many people are hurting.    

COVID IN THE WHITE HOUSE:  There have been more diagnoses of COVID within the White House.  Despite warnings and recommendations Trump and Pence have purposefully not worn masks no matter where they were. https://apnews.com/79b5a52979f32de0056e36e6065802b4  and 
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/11/mike-pence-quarantine-coronavirus-white-house  Late yesterday afternoon, however, the White House did an about face and is now requiring the staff to wear masks.  Trump is not expected to comply. We know this is too late to be helpful.  https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/11/white-house-instructs-staff-wear-masks-249204   Let’s contact our MoC to ask how we are going to get out of this nightmare with a black hole of leadership and a disregard for science.

TELL THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO ISSUE A HATE CRIMES CHARGE AGAINST AHMAUD ABERYS’ KILLERS AND INVESTIGATE THE COVERUP:  Events have moved rapidly in the  days since the country was shocked by the videotaped murder of African American jogger Ahmaud Arbery by two white men and the miscarriage of justice following it. The two killers have been arrested and denied bail. Georgia Attorney General Carr has asked the DOJ to investigate the case and the way local law enforcement officials and prosecutors mishandled it, and appointed, a fourth prosecutor, African American Joyette M. Holmes of Cobb County, to oversee the case. Now the Justice Department is considering its options, including whether to charge this as a hate crime https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/doj-consider-possible-federal-hate-crime-charges-ahmaud-arbery-shooting-n1204531  Georgia is one of four states in this country that don't have a hate crime law.  We can call the Department of Justice and our Representatives and demand that a hate crimes charge be issued in this case and that a full federal investigation into misconduct in all areas of this case be held.

COVID RISK:  As we see some states opening, we see that their numbers are not particularly good.  https://www.endcoronavirus.org/states  While some state governments are providing trustworthy information and data, many are not.  Erin Bromage, an Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, whose specialty is Infection and Immunology shares with us how to know and avoid the risks with this disease.  Let’s read it here:  https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them

BARR DISGRACED:  “Nearly 2,000 former Justice Department and FBI officials on Monday signed an open letter strongly critical of Attorney General William Barr's decision to abandon the prosecution of Michael Flynn, calling the action "extraordinarily rare, if not unprecedented."”  https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/justice-department/2-000-former-doj-fbi-officials-call-barr-resign-over-n1204601  Let’s contact the Justice Department asking for Barr’s resignation and let’s also contact our MoCs asking for his impeachment.  Let’s also sign this:  https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/impeach-remove-attorney-general-barr/

5-YEAR-OLD DETAINEE: Every Last One has had a lot of success getting kids like 5-year-old Aliana out of detention, but it's not easy, and public pressure is often the thing that moves the needle the most. That and money, of course. Lots of it.  But truly, when the government knows that thousands of people are following a detained child’s story it helps get them released. Every second counts for this kiddo. Let’s all sign here:  https://www.everylastone.org/aliana and follow them on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/EveryLastOne1  (h/t Chop Wood Carry Water)

TRAINING AND JOBS AVAILABLE FOR COVID-19 CONTACT TRACERS: “To halt the spread of covid-19 as states reopen, we need a network of contact tracers — people who are trained to track and notify possibly infected individuals and map their exposures to others.  “Contact tracers are … part detective, part therapist and part social worker,” said one epidemiologist. Many contact tracers will be needed. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/contact-tracing-jobs-covid/  To address the need, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health designed an online course. Here's how you can take it and help fight the spread.” Here is the course link: https://www.coursera.org/learn/covid-19-contact-tracing?edocomorp=covid-19-contact-tracing

HELP THE NAVAJO NATION RESPOND TO COVID OUTBREAKS: The Navajo Nation has more incidences of COVID per capita than any state in the U.S. https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/497091-navajo-nation-has-more-coronavirus-cases-per-capita-than-any-us-state. This is due to a chronic housing shortage, lack of running water and a greater percentage of the population with health conditions. https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-health/2020/04/23/coronavirus-pandemic-how-donate-navajo-nation-covid-19-news/3013122001/. The Navajo Nation Covid Relief Fund  is accepting monetary and non-monetary donations. Let’s check them out and think about how we can help. 

SUPPORT THE RIGHT OF THE SIOUX TRIBE TO PROTECT THEIR RESERVATION AGAINST COVID: South Dakota is one of the few states with no stay-at-home restrictions and their governor is insisting that the Sioux Tribe take down checkpoints that prevent travelers from COVID hotspots from entering the reservation. https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/world-us-canada-52615311. The Tribe is insisting that these actions are necessary to protect the people on the reservation, where there is limited access to health care. Let’s contact South Dakota Governor, Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) and tell her that we support the rights of the Sioux to make decisions about their own land. Let’s also tweet messages of support to the Chairman of the Sioux Tribe, Harold Frazer (@CRSTChairman). 

#JUSTICE FOR AHMAUD:  While the suspects have finally been arrested in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, most feel it is because the video was somehow released, and the world saw what happened in late February.  When the local officials did not make the arrest, the state stepped in. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/05/07/ahmaud-arbery-video-shooting-arrests-justice-mcmichael/3086891001/  Let’s join in with Color of Change in asking for the removal from office the “two DAs who recused themselves District Attorney Jackie Johnson and District Attorney George Barnhill further perpetuated the mismanagement of Ahmaud's case.”  We can sign here:  https://act.colorofchange.org/sign/demand-justice-ahmaud

NO FILLING SUPREME COURT VACANCIES IN AN ELECTION YEAR: In 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to conduct hearings for Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee, claiming that the people should have their say in an election year. Now, however, McConnell has shown the true extent of his hypocracy by pledging to fill any Supreme Court vacancy that might arise in 2020. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/08/republicans-ready-supreme-court-vacancy-243574. Let’s ask our Senators to pledge to consistency and make sure that once again the people weigh in on who should be on the Supreme Court by waiting until after the election. 

COVID AND THE DIGITAL DIVIDE: many K-12 and university students, as well as other vulnerable populations, are being left out in the cold under stay at home orders, unable to access technology and internet connectivity. “The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that the technology we need to stay connected is a right, not a privilege.” Let’s make sure our local government is doing something about it. If not, then this petition to the City of Philadelphia can give us an idea of what questions we should be asking:  https://phillytechjustice.org/

NOT TOO LATE FOR A MOTHER’S DAY BAIL-OUT:  COVID-19 continues to spread unchecked to folks behind bars - 192 out of 195 women in a Louisiana prison dormitory were found to have contracted the disease (https://www.marketwatch.com/story/louisana-prison-unit-has-192-of-195-inmates-test-positive-for-covid-19-2020-05-05). You can't socially distance in prison or jail, so let's do what we can to help get folks who don't need to be incarcerated out and safe. National Bail Out is raising money to get Black mothers and caregivers out of jail by Mother's Day - we can contribute to their efforts here.

ENVIRONMENTAL RULES DECIMATED DURING PANDEMIC:  The coronavirus pandemic has provided a handy distraction from the wholesale destruction of environmental regulation undertaken by federal agencies, with Trump’s approval; some of these are enumerated in The Guardian: “agencies have eased fuel-efficiency standards for new cars; frozen rules for soot air pollution; proposed to drop review requirements for liquefied natural gas terminals; continued to lease public property to oil and gas companies; sought to speed up permitting for offshore fish farms; and advanced a proposal on mercury pollution from power plants that could make it easier for the government to conclude regulations are too costly to justify their benefits. The government has also relaxed reporting rules for polluters during the pandemic”: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/10/trump-environmental-blitzkrieg-coronavirus The EPA has, moreover, proposed only weak limits on airplane pollution and tried to create a relief package for oil and gas corporations.  The NY Times has listed 98 such changes t0 environmental regulation:  https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/climate/trump-environment-rollbacks.html Trump is in a hurry because the Congressional Review Act makes it easier to rescind such rollbacks if they are issued late in an election year.  Let’s make sure the White House and our MoCs know that we are NOT distracted and, especially as covid-19 sweeps the country, depend on a clean environment where we can breathe, drink, and eat without fear.

HORRIFYING DRUG PRICES:  Where they could find data, a study published in the Journal of Virus Eradication compared the prices globally of possible covid-19 treatments now in clinical trial: http://viruseradication.com/journal-details/Minimum_costs_to_manufacture_new_treatments_for_COVID-19/  The study calculates what a generic version of these drugs might cost in different places; for example, a course of hepatitis C drug, Sofosvbuvir, which costs about $5 to produce, sells currently in the US for $18,610: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/11/soaring-drug-prices-could-bar-access-to-future-coronavirus-treatments The comparative costs revealed by this study are obscene.  We must make it clear to our MoCs and to the FDA that we will not tolerate only the rich in the US having access to potentially life-saving drugs.

Correction:  PROTECTION FOR ESSENTIAL WORKERS: Essential workers are on the frontlines of this pandemic, with many working in high-risk conditions without appropriate equipment, safety standards, or job protections. These workers put their lives on the line every day, and we must do all we can to protect their health and financial security. Fortunately,  Senator Elizabeth Warren has a plan to ensure our workers get what they need: 1) Truly  universal paid sick leave and family and medical leave, health and safety protections, including personal protective equipment (PPE) provided by employers at no cost to workers, 2) Protections for collective bargaining agreements &  whistleblowers with safety concerns, and healthcare security to ensure all essential workers get the care they need during this crisis, regardless of their immigration status.3) Robust funding to help struggling child care providers during this pandemic and reliable, safe, healthy, and high-quality child care for essential workers.  https://www.businessinsider.com/elizabeth-warren-plan-essential-workers-coronavirus-higher-wages-sick-leave-2020-4  When we click this link, we can get key talking points and be connected to our Representatives to demand the House pass protection for essential workers:  https://elizabethwarren.com/action/essential-workers/call-for-bor

KIDS AND GLOBAL AWARENESS:  For those of us with children in grades 6-12 we can have them take part in this wonderful program regardless where we live. This challenge is designed to make children aware of global issues and what they can do.  "EmpowerAndHelp Global Challenge is a project that allows children to make a difference in this world with guidance from a team of volunteers and experts. This challenge will promote compassion, leadership, awareness and creativity. It is open to all students in grades 6-12."  There is a $12.99 registration fee.  We can sign up here:  https://empowerandhelp.com/empowerandhelp-global-awareness-challenge-2020/about-global-awareness-challenge/

FREE ONLINE THERAPY FOR FRONTLINE HEALTH PROVIDERS: Project Parachute is a group providing free online therapy for frontline healthcare workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. They have matched almost 200 frontliners with licensed, experienced, volunteer therapists around the country and, with over 600 therapists ready to help, they are able to serve many more. If we are frontline healthcare workers, or if we know people who are, we can find out more and signup for free online therapy here. We can also spread the word though social media to aid healthcare workers affected by this crisis.  https://project-parachute.org/

POSTCARDING OPPORTUNITIES:  From one of our own:  Here are this week's postcarding write-ups. As always, please use them, share them, distribute them. These times are overwhelming, but speaking out (even just a little) is much more empowering than remaining silent.  We can use this link to the write-ups: 

ELECTION/VOTING

REMINDER:   Let’s make sure to regularly check our voter registration status. States are purging voters routinely--we don't want to get caught off guard. Take 1 minute and check right now: I Will Vote  Then, let’s check how to vote by mail in our state. Many rules have changed due to the pandemic and we may be able to vote with a mailed ballot. We can find our state's latest voting rules here: How to Vote By Mail in Every State

CA: SPECIAL ELECTION TODAY:  Christy Smith, the Democratic candidate is in a tough spot.  We need to keep this seat in the House, the CA-25. https://www.npr.org/2020/05/10/852735326/democrats-fear-losing-u-s-house-special-election-in-southern-california  We in this California district have the chance to send a message to the country – we do not want the GOP leading us.  Vote today. Mail your ballot today:  https://www.ca25specialelection.com/

NE: PRIMARY TODAY:  Nebraska is holding the nation’s first in-person election in more than a month. We can read more at Time. Many Nebraskans have decided to vote by mail. The NE secretary of state’s office says that over 321,000 mail-in ballots have already been returned, which surpasses the total voting in the 2016 presidential primary. (More at NET Nebraska/PBSIf we are Nebraska voters who have not yet voted, let's make a plan to vote as safely as we can.

VOTE BY MAIL FLORIDA. Postcards to Voters' volunteers continue to write to Florida registered Democrats to encourage them to enroll in Vote By Mail. The campaign continues with Brevard County (Melbourne area) on the Southeast coast. Let's request 5 addresses today to help with this effort. #MailTheVoteFL

P2V ELECTION WATCH: Postcards to Voters' (P2V) volunteers will be watching returns for two May 12 special elections for which they wrote: 1) CACampaign 198: Christy Smith for Congress;  2) WICampaign 199: Tricia Zunker for Congress. Let's see who the voters in these districts chose to represent them.

STATE/LOCAL

CA: VOTE BY MAIL! "California Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday signed an executive order to ensure every registered voter in the state is automatically mailed a ballot for the November presidential election. The executive order does not replace in-person voting, Newsom said during a press conference." Let's read more at CBS News. We can send thank you's to Gov. Newsome at the contact information from his website:  https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov40mail/.

MA, NY, DE, CT, NJ, RI, PA: RACIAL DISPARITIES/COVID-19: Many states are lacking transparency and information that is crucial to properly address inequity as we fight Covid-19 (https://53eig.ht/3fEXJX6). Faith in Action has published a letter to the northeast coalition of governors, calling out racial disparities and lack of sufficient racial demographic data in each of the states. Let's read through the letter, then join Faith in Action in asking our northeast state governors to coordinate a regional response through data, criminal justice, door-to-door testing, contact tracing in the most at-risk communities, no-cost treatment and testing for residents, cash and food assistance, a moratorium on evictions, and universal vote-by-mail.

MO: MISSOURI WANTS TO BRING BACK PARTISAN GERRYMANDERING:  Republican legislators in Missouri are trying to gut a 2018 referendum approved by 62% of the state’s voters that put a non-partisan demographer in charge of drawing electoral districts, made partisan fairness his or her top priority, and was designed to prevent excessive gerrymandering; MO Republicans want a new referendum that would undo all these protections and would, furthermore, draw the new district lines based not on total population, as has always been the case, but only on those eligible to vote--a standard that would disadvantage cities (more likely to include non-citizens in their populations), advantage white rural areas, and satisfy a long-standing Republican aim.  Those of us in Missouri should tell our state legislators what we think of this Republican ploy, and the rest of us should tell Gov. Michael Parson: P.O. Box 720. Jefferson City, MO 65102 or (573) 751-3222 or Fax: (573) 751-1495.

SD: INDIGENOUS RIGHTS: Governor Kristi Noem sent a letter to Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Sioux Tribe officials on Friday, warning them to remove Covid-19 checkpoints within 48 hours, or face legal action (https://bit.ly/2SVejZ1). A bipartisan group of South Dakota legislators have sent a letter to the Governor, arguing for tribal jurisdiction over its own lands, and against Noem's threats. Let's join the Indigenous People's Movement, Lakota leaders, and South Dakota legislators in calling on Governor Noem to stand down and respect Lakota sovereignty: Mailing Address: Office of the Governor, 500 East Capitol Avenue, Pierre, S.D. 57501, Phone Number: (605) 773-3212, Fax Number: (605) 773-4711, or Email here.

RALLIES/GATHERINGS/TRAININGS/GROUP ACTIONS/TWEETSTORMS

LEARN TO FIGHT ONLINE DISINFORMATION: One of the best ways we can combat the spread of disinformation online is by telling our personal stories in these online spaces and communities. Join Democratic National Training Committee on May 12 from 2-3 PDT for this virtual training and they’ll give us some best practices and explain how we can best do this work! We can find out more and sign up here:  https://events.democrats.org/event/272013

LEARN HOW TO SPOT CONSPIRACY THEORIES:  On Thursday, May 14 at 12 noon MDT, we can join Vanessa Otero of AdFontes Media and the creator of the Media Bias Chart, to learn more about recognizing conspiracy theories.  We need to register here for the Zoom event:  https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIqduisrDwjHNMUE9EnFaQ4FYOvgLcCACoK 

ACLU SMART JUSTICE CAMPAIGN WEBINAR:  The ACLU Smart Justice campaign has decided to host a digital day of action titled “Uniting for Pretrial Reform” in May. It will be online, and it will be throughout the day on May 27th. Some of the sessions include a Q&A with ACLU staff, a tele-townhall with multiple legislators (on the topic of pretrial reform), a storytelling panel in the afternoon, and throughout the day there will be multiples ways to engage our elected officials.  Here’s a registration link to sign up! https://zoom.us/webinar/register/1415859446055/WN_Wb92iZkTRGmkTJlHepNcIg  We want to make sure that people feel their voices can be heard even during this new normal phase we currently we find ourselves in and that we advocate for the most vulnerable of us.  

MASS POOR PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY & MORAL MARCH ON WASHINGTON: “The Mass Poor People’s Assembly & Moral March on Washington is going digital! On June 20th, we will hold the largest digital and social media gathering of poor and low-wealth people, moral and religious leaders, advocates, and people of conscience in this nation’s history. A global pandemic is exposing even more the already existing crisis of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism. On June 20, the 140 million poor and low-wealth people across this nation will be heard!”  We can sign up here:  https://actionnetwork.org/forms/rsvp-for-june-20-2020-mass-poor-peoples-assembly-moral-march-on-washington

READING/WATCHING/LISTENING



AP FACT CHECK: Trump is not credible on virus death tolls - https://apnews.com/837fa9a762a1fe5b0b7e629d8191a3e0

US blocks vote on UN's bid for global ceasefire over reference to WHO - https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/08/un-ceasefire-resolution-us-blocks-who

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We can stay up to date on Congress by checking out their schedules. a) The House publishes a weekly schedule at The Weekly Leader (published and dated Friday) as well as daily schedules at The Daily Leader. b) The Senate updates their schedule daily at the Senate Floor Schedule







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