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5/19/20

NATIONAL ISSUES


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CONTINUED FIRING OF INSPECTORS GENERAL:  Trump continued a spree of firing Inspectors General on Friday evening with the firing of State Department IG Steve Linick who was investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It was first thought that Linick was exploring possible misuse of staff time but on Monday the news broke that Pompeo might have pushed through a Saudi arms deal that Congress had objected to:  https://apnews.com/f51c0e82de0f10a9b7eb0dc53f1533d7  Let’s remind our MoC that their job includes oversight of the President and that allowing firing of Inspectors General at the pace that Trump has been going is a complete abdication of their duties.  Let’s also sign this from Project On Government Oversight demanding that “Congress must pass protections for Inspectors General now so a President can't just fire an IG because he feels like it.” https://pogo.quorum.us/campaign/25669/ 

TELL SENATORS TO SUPPORT IMMIGRANT JUSTICE PROVISIONS IN THE HEROES ACT: The latest coronavirus relief bill, the HEROES Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives contains a number of provisions that would help immigrants, a population that has been left out of the previous relief bills. The act would “shield unauthorized immigrants working in essential fields from deportation and make them eligible for federal stimulus funds as well as clear the way for more foreign health care workers to help fight coronavirus in the US. It would also deliver additional health care benefits to immigrants who are eligible for Medicaid and require immigration authorities to release people from immigration detention where possible.”https://www.vox.com/2020/5/15/21257361/heroes-act-coronavirus-bill-immigrants. However, it still does not help to reinstate due process for refugees stranded at the now-closed border who are trying to claim asylum. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it’s being proclaimed dead on arrival. However, the Senate will be under pressure to craft their own legislation, so let’s make sure to tell our Senators that we want to see these provisions along with due process for asylum-seekers included in their next relief bill.  

COVID RELIEF FOR FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY?  “Fossil fuel companies and coal-powered utilities in the US are set for a potential bonanza under federal government plans for a bond bailout, part of the rescue package for the coronavirus crisis.” 
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/12/us-fossil-fuel-companies-coronavirus-bailout-oil-coal-fracking-giants-bond-scheme  Let’s tell our MoCs that this is not what we had in mind for relief for companies; mom and pop companies really need this help.  Let’s also tell our senators to cosponsor the Resources for Workforce Investments, not Drilling Act (S. 3611).  We can also sign this:  https://actionnetwork.org/letters/rewind-fossil-fuel-bailouts

BLOCK EXTREMIST & UNQUALIFIED JUDGES:  “For all the extravagant projects of the Donald Trump presidency, and for all its flamboyance and bluster, his makeover of the judiciary – a quieter project that has been ratcheted forward by a network of quieter people – may prove to have the longest and most far-reaching impacts on the daily lives of Americans.”  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/28/donald-trump-judges-create-new-conservative-america-republicans  Let’s use this guide from Suit Up Maine to learn about some of these nominees and follow the call to action with our own senators and in our own circles:  https://www.suitupmaine.org/extremist-judicial-appointments/

EMERGENCY COMMUNITY SUPERVISION ACT:  Our failure to adequately protect vulnerable populations behind bars from coronavirus is costing lives. Last month, Andrea Circle Bear, a 30-year-old woman serving a 26-month sentence, died from COVID-19 in federal  custody just weeks after giving birth while on a ventilator (https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/federal-inmate-who-gave-birth-while-ventilator-dies-coronavirus-n1194946). House Democrats have included a measure to protect people like Andrea in their version of the next relief package - the Emergency Community Supervision Act (S. 3579/H.R. 6400), which mandates the release of inmates who are pregnant, have underlying health issues and are 50 or older and limits the use of pretrial detention and in-person supervised release. Let's join the ACLU in calling on Congress to make sure these provisions are part of the final version of any future coronavirus relief bill.

PROTEST ICE’S RENEWED FAMILY SEPARATION POLICY: With calls and court orders for ICE to release children more quickly to avoid ongoing violation of the Flores Act, which mandates that children be held for no more than 20 days, ICE is now giving families in detention the option of releasing their children or staying together in detention indefinitely. Due to COVID concerns, many families are taking the option to save their children, even if it means not knowing if they will ever see them again. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/family-separation-back-migrants-u-s-mexican-border-say-advocates-n1208186. This is beyond cruel and it must be stopped. All detainees who do not pose a risk to public safety should be released immediately and children should be kept with their families. Let’s demand that our MoCs do something about this immediately.   

PUERTO RICO: Puerto Rico has been hit with several environmental disasters including devastating hurricanes and earthquakes, and have received inadequate support from the federal government. The island has been neglected, and therefore unable to recover after each crisis. Now, they have been hit with the Covid-19 pandemic, and no stimulus money until June, leaving many residents unable to provide food for their families. https://www.npr.org/2020/05/13/854734386/mam-im-still-hungry-in-puerto-rico-child-hunger-becomes-a-flashpoint  Let's get in touch with each of our MoC and tell them that our treatment of the U.S. territory and its people is abhorrent; we need them to prioritize funding and support for Puerto Rico and to work with its government officials to ensure that Puerto Ricans receive the support that they need.

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S COMMENCEMENT SPEECH:  On Saturday evening, President Obama gave a commencement address for high school seniors all across the country who are not able to participate in their high school and college graduations:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta5anRPf8rQ Earlier in the day, he gave another version of the speech to the historically black college and university (HBCU) graduates: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spIxSlUPVRc Let’s take a look if we haven’t seen them already and take a moment to thank President Obama for his stirring words: https://barackobama.com/contact/   or P.O. Box 91000, Washington, DC 20066

DEMAND THAT MCDONALD’S PROVIDE PAID SICK AND FAMILY LEAVE: ACLU People Power is instigating a campaign to demand that McDonald’s provide paid sick and family leave to their employees, so that they’re not faced with the hard choice of coming to work when they or their loved ones may be experiencing COVID symptoms. We need to tell McDonald’s that their currently policies are not only dangerous to their workers; they’re dangerous to the people they serve. Let’s call McDonald’s Now. ACLU has the phone number and a call script here. 

GHOST GUNS:  3D-printed "ghost guns" are currently going largely unregulated - they don't meet the current legal definition of a firearm, which means they're not required to have serial numbers and you can purchase them or the kits to make them without being subject to gun control laws currently on the books.  https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/14/senate-democratsghost-guns-256968  Democratic senators have introduced the Untraceable Firearms Act (S. 3743) to make sure these weapons have serial numbers and to keep them out of the hands of violent felons and domestic abusers. Let's contact our members of Congress and tell them to support the bill, and share this video from Giffords to spread the word about untraceable guns.

PROTECT THE APPARENTLY EXPENDABLE PEOPLE WHO PERFORM “ESSENTIAL” WORK:  Unbeknownst to most of us, striking sanitation workers gathered outside the New Orleans headquarters of Metro Service Group, a waste disposal company that has a $10.7 million annual contract with the city to collect trash, to demand hazard pay and protective gear during the pandemic; after they were fired, a major city vendor signed a deal to replace them with prison labor at a lesser wage:  https://www.nola.com/news/coronavirus/article_336a7742-93d3-11ea-a344-1bdefd47e647.html  We can join our voices to theirs and demand that ALL “essential” workers be protected: Metro Service Group, 504-520-8331 or 9641 Old Gentilly Rd, New Orleans, LA 70127.  Then, let’s make sure our local workers are getting what they need, too.

STAY SAFE: With many places reopening despite the fact that there is no cure for COVID, it is important to know the risks. Here’s a good, accessible piece by an immunologist with real tips on how to stay as safe as we can given the circumstances:  https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them  Let’s read and share with family and friends. 

HARVARD ETHICS CENTER PUBLISHES GUIDE TO SAFE REOPENING: As states and cities feel increased pressure to reopen, there is a pressing need to do so safely and not trigger a massive second wave of Coronvirus in our communities. To aid and advise these reopenings, Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, has released a new report, “Pandemic Resilience: Getting it Done.” We can click here to find detailed guidance on the levels of testing and tracing needed to reopen different communities across the US, based on disease levels in distinct locales., then ask our state and local communities to apply these guidelines to keep us safe. https://www.pandemictesting.org/  We can also check out their earlier report on the same site, the  “Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience,” which calls for massively scaled up programs of testing, tracing and supported isolation (TTSI) as a means to safely re-open the U.S. economy after COVID-19 closures.

USE WHO APPS TO PREVENT, CONTROL AND MANAGE COVID-19:  The world Health Organization (WHO) has launched 2 different COVID-19 smartphone apps for healthcare workers and the general public. The WHO Academy app provides health workers with information on COVID-19 resources and guidance developed by the WHO as well as training and virtual workshops to support efforts to care for COVID-19 patients safely and effectively. A survey of healthcare workers found that many felt that they lacked sufficient information about infection prevention and control measures (including the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and case management. The WHO Info app is designed to provide updated and accurate COVID-19 information to the general public as well as details on WHO efforts to combat COVID-19. We can learn more about these apps here, then download them on for Apple or Android devices. We can also share this info with healthcare workers and friends on social media:  https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/13-05-2020-launch-of-the-who-academy-and-the-who-info-mobile-applications

POSTCARDING OPPORTUNITIES:  From one of our own:  As always, I hope these make speaking your truths a bit easier. Please use/share/distribute as you see fit:  https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hcJ3MxkpewKbggHSS_P5jSim7AZyxB0MvnnumC9jKEA/edit

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

COVID AS AN ELECTION ISSUE:  “Americans should oust President Trump from the White House and elect a leader who will support – rather than undermine – public health experts who are battling the COVID-19 pandemic, British medical journal The Lancet says in a newly published editorial.”  https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/05/15/856733300/replace-trump-and-bolster-the-cdc-a-leading-medical-journal-urges  Let’s digest this info from this prestigious source and add it to our rationale for support the Democratic candidate. 

FLORIDA VOTING RIGHTS RESTORATION:  When Florida passed a ballot initiative restoring the vote for formerly incarcerated people in 2018, it was considered the biggest victory for voting rights in decades. But Governor Ron DeSantis and Republican legislators have undermined it by insisting that folks pay all court-related fines, fees and restitution before they can have their rights back - and then failing to set up the system they promised to allow them to do it or to get relief if they can't afford it.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-florida-felons-must-pay-court-debts-before-they-can-vote-but-with-no-system-to-do-so-many-have-found-it-impossible/2020/05/13/08ed05be-906f-11ea-9e23-6914ee410a5f_story.html If we're in Florida, let's contact Governor DeSantis and our legislators and demand they do what they promised and set up a system so folks can determine what they owe and where it can be paid or get relief from these obligations. And all of us can donate to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition's fund to help returning citizens who can't afford it pay their fees and fines here.

GA SENATE RACE:  It's looking more and more like both Senate seats in Georgia are in play in November. After polling suggested that Senator David Perdue would be in a close fight with the Democratic frontrunner, the Cook Political Report changed their race rating from Likely Republican to Lean Republican (https://secure.actblue.com/entity/fundraisers/56180). Investing in Georgia could help us flip the Senate and win the White House. Let's contribute to ActBlue's Georgia Senate Democratic nominee fund.

PA:  VOTE BY MAIL:  Pennsylvania’s primary is on June 2, due to COVID-10.  “Mail-in ballot applications will be accepted through Tuesday, May 26, 2020. If a voter has already applied for an absentee or mail-in ballot, they do NOT need to reapply.”  Let’s make sure we get our mail-in ballot and vote:  https://www.votespa.com/Voting-in-PA/Pages/Mail-and-Absentee-Ballot.aspx

VOTE BY MAIL IN FLORIDA: Organizing Together 2020:  https://organizing2020.com/ needs volunteers to call Floridians and get them signed up to vote by mail. The phone-calling takes place May 30. Let’s sign up to make calls:  https://www.mobilize.us/florida2020/event/272361/

OREGON PRIMARY TUESDAY:  Oregon is the only state with a primary remaining on Tuesday, May 19 after other states postponed theirs.  As of last week, turnout via mail voting was on track to reach the same high levels as 2016. (Source: The Oregonian). We can review the races and candidates at Ballotpedia.

HAWAII DEM PRES PRIMARY FRIDAY: The Democratic Party announced on March 20, 2020, that it would hold its primary election entirely by mail in response to the coronavirus pandemic. (Source: Ballotpedia) If we are Hawaii voters, let's be sure to return our ballots by Friday, May 22. 

SUPPORT A TRUE BLUE DEM IN GA:  Postcards to Voters has just launched Campaign 200: Rhonda Taylor for Georgia State House, District 91. Incumbent Democrat Vernon Jones endorsed Donald Trump last month, then resigned, then retracted his resignation. (We can read more at The Hill.) This is a Democratic district; the winner of the primary will represent the district. Let's request 5 addresses to #ElectRhonda

ORGANIZING A LOCAL VOTER REGISTRATION POSTCARD CAMPAIGN: There are six basic steps to organizing a local postcard voter registration campaign: (1) deciding whom to target (for example, those in our municipality who will be 18 by Election Day); (2) getting a voter list and determining how many people to send postcards to; (3) ordering postcards and stamps; (4) recruiting volunteers; (5) writing up a script and instructions; (6) distributing materials to volunteers and following up with them. Often the sticking point is getting a voter list. The National Conference of State Legislatures has information on access to voter lists in all 50 states. Let’s see what our state requires and launch our own postcard voter registration drive in our own communities:  https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/access-to-and-use-of-voter-registration-lists.aspx

STATE/LOCAL

ALL: GUIDANCE FOR OPENING UP AMERICA AGAIN FRAMEWORK—The Trump administration tried to bury this, but the Associated Press got ahold of it and made it public. This is the CDC’s guidance for opening up America during the pandemic. Let’s send it to the decision-makers in our communities, at the town and city level all the way up to our Governors: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6889330-Guidance-for-Opening-Up-America-Again-Framework.html

ALL: HOSPITALS REFUSE TO DISCLOSE INFECTIONS AMONG WORKERS:  From cafeteria staff to doctors and nurses, hospital workers around the country report failures by management to notify them when they have been exposed to co-workers or patients known to be infected with COVID-19; while some medical centers trace the contacts of every infected patient and worker, alert them, and offer guidance, but others, by policy, do not contact workers who have been unknowingly exposed: https://khn.org/news/hospital-workers-complain-of-minimal-disclosure-after-covid-exposures/  We need to join the Health Professionals and Allied Employees and the SEIU by insisting that our local hospitals inform their workers if they (or by extension, their families--and us all) are at risk.

SD: INDIGENOUS RIGHTS: Governor Kristi Noem is continuing to fight against Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Sioux Tribe leaders (https://cnn.it/2LCKTuD). Meanwhile, the Oglala Sioux Tribe ordered a temporary lockdown after two residents tested positive for Covid-19. Let's contact the governor and tell her that instead of focusing on checkpoints, she should be giving Lakota people the support they need to be prepared for Covid-19; we want her work with Lakota leaders to provide more test kits, PPE, hospital beds, and anything else that tribal leaders deem necessary: 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

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

'Something we've never seen before': Scientists still trying to understand baffling, unpredictable coronavirus - https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2020/05/18/coronavirus-symptoms-lung-damage-why-covid-19-virus-is-so-contagious/5206229002/

Ousted whistleblower warns US is heading toward “darkest winter in modern history” - https://www.vox.com/2020/5/14/21258727/rick-bright-whistleblower-darkest-winter-modern-history

Coronavirus takes more than Native Americans' lives. Killing our elderly erases our culture - https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/coronavirus-takes-more-native-americans-lives-killing-our-elderly-erases-ncna1189761


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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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