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Donald Trump’s Catastrophic and Devastating Anti-Labor Track Record

27. September 2023 - 19:52

Donald Trump told us in 2016 he would stand with workers. He lied. The difference now is that he has a record he can’t hide from. And that record was catastrophic for workers. Former President Trump spent four years in office weakening unions and working people while pushing tax giveaways to the wealthiest among us. He stacked the courts with judges who want to roll back our rights on the job. He made us less safe at work. He gave big corporations free rein to lower wages and make it harder for workers to stand together in a union.

Trump’s rhetoric doesn’t match reality. Workers in Michigan and around the country know when we’re being sold a bill of goods. We can’t afford another four years of Trump’s corporate agenda to take away our hard-fought gains and destroy our unions.

This week workers will be out in force on the picket lines in Michigan and across the country to support striking autoworkers. We’ll also be calling out Trump’s lies as he attempts to appeal to the very same workers he spent four years in office betraying. In the coming weeks and months, the AFL-CIO and unions across the country will work tirelessly to expose Trump’s record.

With our earliest endorsement ever in June of this year, we’re already having the critical discussions on the ground in battleground states about the issues that matter and the contrast between the presidential candidates on those issues. And given the historic popularity unions have right now, unions are more credible than any other group or even the candidates themselves as these conversations ramp up. As it appears increasingly likely that Trump will be the Republican nominee, we’ll focus even more of our efforts at the worksite and on the doors to exposing Trump’s lies and ensuring that all working people know exactly where he stands on wages, safety, health care, retirement, unions and other issues that matter most.

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, who is on the picket line with workers in Detroit today: “The idea that Donald Trump has ever, or will ever, care about working people is demonstrably false. For his entire time as president, he actively sought to roll back worker protections, wages and the right to join a union at every level. UAW members are on the picket line fighting for fair wages and against the very corporate greed that Donald Trump represents. Working people see through his transparent efforts to reinvent history. We are not buying the lies that Donald Trump is selling. We will continue to support and organize for the causes and candidates that represent our values.”

ON BACKGROUND:

ASSAULTS ON OUR UNION RIGHTS

  • Waged an assault on the economic rights of federal workers, repeatedly undermining their voice on the job:
    • Undermined our merit-based civil service system, granting managers a license to freely discriminate and retaliate against workers.
    • Restricted union representatives’ ability to advocate for their members on the job.
    • Targeted workers’ freedom to negotiate on workplace issues, including reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities, employee training, overtime, telework and flexible work schedules.
    • Revoked the Department of Education’s previously negotiated union contract and illegally imposed an anti-union directive, stripping 3,900 workers of all previously negotiated rights and protections.
    • Stripped away protections for rank-and-file workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs, prompting a 60% rise in firings in the second half of 2017 alone.
    • Repeatedly turned a blind eye to misclassifying up to 30% of workers as independent contractors.
  • Stacked the National Labor Relations Board with union-busting corporate lawyers, denying working people our right to organize through a fair process.
  • Defended “right to work” in a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Janus v. AFSCME Council 31.
  • Rescinded the Department of Labor’s “persuader rule,” which required companies to disclose anti-union legal activities.

HURTING OUR POCKETBOOKS

  • Trying to rip off tipped workers by implementing a proposal that would probably result in servers doing more nontipped work and at a lower pay rate than previously required.
  • Opposed any increase in the federal minimum wage, denying a desperately needed raise to nearly 40 million workers.
  • Derailed the Department of Labor’s overtime rule, blocking millions of workers from receiving a full paycheck.
  • Undermined the fiduciary rule, potentially costing working people more than one-quarter of our retirement savings.
  • Oversaw a rise in outsourcing, including the highest rate of outsourcing by federal contractors in a decade.
  • Threatened the future of Social Security, chipping away at working people’s retirement security through $26 billion in proposed funding cuts.

BROKEN PROMISES

  • Promised to protect jobs in the steel industry, but failed to follow through on cracking down on China’s dumping of steel into the U.S. In 2019 alone, more than 16,000 manufacturing workers in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan lost their jobs.
  • Promised to “bring back manufacturing jobs and invest $1 trillion to rebuild U.S. infrastructure in Rust Belt states like Wisconsin.” But in his four years in office, Trump failed to advance any infrastructure legislation.

CORPORATE GIVEAWAYS

  • Jammed through a massive tax giveaway for the rich, robbing working people of $1.5 trillion while encouraging corporations to outsource our jobs.
  • Overturned the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s ban on forced arbitration clauses, which had prohibited unfair contracts that force consumers to give up our right to sue.
  • Destroyed key Dodd-Frank protections, placing the financial system at greater risk, exposing homebuyers and students to predatory lending and weakening protections against racial discrimination in credit.
  • Pushed to weaken the rights of shareholders, which would prevent working people and our pension plans from holding corporations and CEOs accountable.

ANTI-WORKER TRADE DEALS

  • Struck an anti-worker trade deal with South Korea, failing to secure key labor and human rights protections.
  • Proposed a 78% cut to the International Labor Affairs Bureau, the federal agency tasked with promoting a fair global playing field for workers.
  • Proposed $400 million budget cuts that would slash the Trade Adjustment Assistance program for those who lose their jobs to imports over the next decade.

THREATS TO OUR SAFETY AND HEALTH

  • Targeted Medicare and Medicaid, proposing more than $1 trillion in funding cuts.
  • Championed “Trumpcare,” threatening to rip health coverage away from 24 million Americans.
  • Actively undermined the Affordable Care Act, increasing the number of uninsured Americans by 7 million.
  • Made workplaces more dangerous by rolling back critical federal safety regulations:
    • Cut federal workplace safety inspectors to their lowest level in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) history.
    • Repealed record-keeping rules requiring employers to keep and report accurate injury records.
    • Refused to publicly disclose fatality and injury data reported to OSHA.
    • Loosened requirements for federal contractors, overturning a rule requiring companies to disclose labor violations before being awarded a federal contract.
    • Undermined workers’ voice on the job, withdrawing a policy allowing nonunion workers to participate in safety inspections.
    • Proposed eliminating the U.S. Chemical Safety Board and cutting workplace safety research and training programs.
    • Proposed revoking key child labor protections for teenagers working in the health care industry.
    • Weakened the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s mine safety enforcement, forcing miners to work in hazardous conditions.
    • Halted new rules on styrene, combustible dust, construction noise, infectious diseases, silica and mine safety.
    • Delayed and proposed rolling back the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s chemical risk management rule, leaving workers, the public and first responders in danger.

FAILURE TO GOVERN

  • Shut down the federal government for 35 days, forcing about 800,000 federal workers and more than 1 million contract workers to go more than a month without pay.
  • Proposed merging the Education and Labor departments, further attempting to increase privatization and enrich corporations at the expense of working people.
  • Pushed a 21% cut to the Department of Labor’s budget, including a 40% cut in job training and cuts to OSHA’s funding.
  • Made numerous anti-worker appointments to key offices, including Eugene Scalia as secretary of labor, a union-busting corporate lawyer, and nominating Andrew Puzder as secretary of labor, despite his career-long record of disregarding the welfare of working people.
  • William Emanuel and Marvin Kaplan to the National Labor Relations Board, allowing two professional union-busters to make critical rulings on the rights of working people, and many more.
Kategorien: Externe Ticker

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Applauds Federal Communication Commission Action to Reinstate Open Access to the Internet

27. September 2023 - 17:03

Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement applauding Chair Jessica Rosenworcel’s announcement that the Federal Communications Commission will end Trump-era attacks on net neutrality and reestablish open internet protections:

“Once again, Democrats have a majority of commissioners on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the power to undo the harm caused by the Trump administration. This new Democratic majority has already shown its commitment to democratic values with Chair Rosenworcel’s announcement that the FCC will reinstate the 2015 Open Internet Order. That 2015 order enshrined the policy of ‘net neutrality’ into law and prevented large corporate internet service providers from throttling internet speeds, favoring or blocking certain types of online content, or engaging in other types of anti-competitive behavior. The Trump-era decision to overturn those protections left online consumers at the mercy of special and corporate interests and allowed wealthy corporations to consolidate power. Net neutrality is essential to ensuring that internet companies cannot rig access to what has become a fundamental public utility with pay-to-play schemes.

“Americans deserve a free, open internet. They deserve net neutrality. I hope to see the Commission quickly move to finalize this action and correct the damage of 2017 and protect it for all our communities.”

The Congressional Progressive Caucus was one of the first voices to call for Title II reclassification and strong enforceable net neutrality protections in 2014. The passage of the 2015 Save the Net Act was the culmination of a years-long Congressional campaign spearheaded by the Progressive Caucus in solidarity with activists, organizers, innovators, small business owners, and everyday families.

Kategorien: Externe Ticker

Human-Like A.I. Is Deceptive and Dangerous

26. September 2023 - 22:55

Tech companies are developing and deploying artificial intelligence (A.I.) systems that deceptively mimic human behavior to aggressively sell their products and services, dispense dubious medical and mental health advice, and trap people in psychologically dependent, potentially toxic relationships with machines, according to a new report from Public Citizen released today. A.I. that mimics human behavior poses a wide array of unprecedented risks that require immediate action from regulators as well as new laws and regulations, the report found.

“The tech sector is recklessly rolling out A.I. systems masquerading as people that can hijack our attention, exploit our trust, and manipulate our emotions,” said Rick Claypool, a researcher for Public Citizen and author of the report. “Already Big Businesses and bad actors can’t resist using these fake humans to manipulate consumers. Lawmakers and regulators must step up and confront this threat before it’s too late.”

Deceptive anthropomorphic design elements highlighted in the report are fooling people into falsely believing A.I. systems possess consciousness, understanding, and sentience. These features range from A.I. using first-person pronouns, such as “I” and “me,” to expressions of emotion and opinion, to human-like avatars with faces, limbs, and bodies. Even worse, A.I. can be combined with emerging and frequently undisclosed technologies – such as facial and emotional recognition software – to hypercharge its manipulative and commercial capabilities.

Companies are unleashing anthropomorphic A.I. on audiences of millions or billions of users with little or no testing, oversight, and accountability – including in places no one expects them, like the drive-thru at fast food restaurants, sometimes without any disclosure to customers.

A.I. comes with potentially dangerous built-in advantages that put users at risk. These include an exaggerated sense of its trustworthiness and authoritativeness, its ability to extend user attention and engagement, its collection of sensitive personal information that can be exploited to influence the user, and psychological entangling with users by emulating emotions.

The many studies cited in the report – including marketing, technology, psychological, and legal research – show that when A.I. possesses anthropomorphic traits, it compounds all these advantages, which businesses and bad actors are already exploiting.

These design features can be removed or minimized to discourage users from conflating A.I. systems with living, breathing people. For example, an A.I. chatbot can refer to its system in the third person (“this model”) rather than the first person (“I”). Instead, tech companies are deliberately maximizing all of these features to further their business goals and boost profits.

The report concludes with policy recommendations to address the dangers and risks, including:

  1. Banning counterfeit humans in commercial transactions, both online and offline;
  2. Restricting and regulating deceptive anthropomorphizing techniques;
  3. Banning anthropomorphic A.I. from marketing to, targeting, or collecting data on kids;
  4. Banning A.I. from exploiting psychological vulnerabilities and data on users;
  5. Requiring prominent, robust, repeated reminders, disclaimers, and watermarks indicating that consumers are engaging with an A.I. A.I. systems deployed for persuasive purposes should be required to disclose their aims;
  6. Monitoring and reporting of aggregate usage information;
  7. High data security standards;
  8. Rigorous testing to meet strict safety standards;
  9. Special scrutiny and testing for all health-related A.I. systems – especially those intended for use by vulnerable populations, including children, older people, racial and ethnic minorities, psychologically vulnerable individuals, and LGBTQ+ individuals; and
  10. Severe penalties for lawbreakers, including banning them from developing and deploying A.I. systems.



Kategorien: Externe Ticker

UCS Climate Litigation Scientist on Human Right to Stable Climate in Upcoming Court Cases

26. September 2023 - 21:26

The European Court of Human Rights will hear a case tomorrow brought forward by six young people from Portugal arguing that more than 30 European countries have a legal duty to act urgently on the climate crisis. The historic case comes after a judge in Montana ruled that youth in the state have a right to a stable climate and the highest court in Hawai’i ruled similarly in March.

In a new blogpost, Dr. Delta Merner, a lead scientist at the Science Hub for Climate Litigation at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), breaks down what the right to a stable climate means, how it has been considered under the law in various jurisdictions, and why decisive action by leaders is urgently needed to mitigate climate change.

“The right to a stable climate is intricately linked to our well-being, safety, and the prosperity of future generations,” Dr. Merner writes. “A stable climate affords us a predictable environment where people can plan for the future with confidence, such as for agriculture, housing, or economic stability."

Dr. Merner points out the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to contend there is “no [federal] constitutional right to a stable climate.” Meanwhile, she notes, some countries including Ecuador and Norway have the right to a healthy environment written into their constitutions and laws.

As the human right to a healthy environment is challenged in front of courts around the world, Dr. Merner argues scientists, policymakers, and global citizens alike have an ethical responsibility to maintain a stable climate for current and future generations and the broader ecosystem.

“To honor the legal, ethical, and moral obligations we hold, we must act decisively to mitigate climate change, transform our energy and economic systems for a sustainable future, and ensure that the right to a stable climate is upheld for all,” she writes.

Dr. Merner is available for comment on the Portuguese youth case, climate and source attribution science, international climate negotiations, and other topics related to climate litigation and fossil fuel industry accountability.

Kategorien: Externe Ticker

Patriotic Millionaires Applaud President Biden for Joining UAW Picket Line

26. September 2023 - 20:07

Today, in a historic first for a sitting US president, President Biden will join striking members of the United Auto Workers union on the picket line in Wayne County, Michigan.

In response, Morris Pearl, the Chair of the Patriotic Millionaires and a former managing director at BlackRock, Inc., released the following statement:

"The historic significance of President Biden’s decision to join striking workers on the picket line cannot be understated. Biden’s walk in Michigan with the UAW will be his biggest demonstration yet of his support for union workers. He is also setting an important precedent for future presidents: instead of taking on the role of mediator – and falling victim to both-sides-ism in the process – Biden is standing unequivocally with workers who have been denied a share in the prosperity of the Big Three automakers.

Biden’s fight on behalf of workers must not end here. To ensure his support is more than symbolic, he must use this historic moment to ensure that workers in all industries share in growing prosperity with their employers. While this is an important step, there remains significant work to do. We look forward to seeing which tangible steps President Biden takes to further support American workers."
Kategorien: Externe Ticker

Landmark Antitrust Case Against Amazon Represents Crucial Moment Against Big Tech Monopolies

26. September 2023 - 20:05

Today the Federal Trade Commission and 17 state attorneys general announced a landmark antitrust lawsuit against Amazon focused on the tech giant's monopolistic practices in the online marketplaces for consumers and small businesses.

In response to the announcement, Demand Progress Communications Director Maria Langholz issued the following statement:

"The lawsuit announced today by the FTC and 17 state attorneys general against Amazon is long overdue. Amazon has been shamelessly engaging in exclusionary and unfair tactics to trap third-party sellers in its own marketplaces, gouge them with predatory fees, and punish them for trying to offer lower prices to consumers. These monopolistic practices are enabling Amazon to strengthen its grip over ecommerce and enrich itself at everyone else's expense. We applaud the FTC for bringing this case to crack down on Amazon's abuses of its monopoly power.

"This marks a historic step in challenging Amazon's abuse of its market dominance and its anti-consumer, anti-worker, anti-small business practices. This lawsuit should further be a catalyst for a broader conversation about the need to break up Amazon as the best and most effective remedy.

"Again and again we have seen monopolistic corporations treat monetary fines for breaking the law like a rounding error and court-ordered prohibitions against their unlawful business practices as mere suggestions. As the world's largest online retailer with monopolistic hooks growing into related sectors, unfortunately Amazon is now just as famously becoming a model for companies on tricking consumers, treating workers unfairly, exploiting small businesses, and forcing out rivals with impunity."

Kategorien: Externe Ticker

FCC Chair Announces Proceeding to Restore Net Neutrality

26. September 2023 - 19:00

Today, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Jessica Rosenworcel announced that the agency will begin proceedings to restore Net Neutrality. In a speech at the National Press Club, Chair Rosenworcel said she will formally introduce a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” at the agency’s Open Meeting on October 19, 2023. The rulemaking will restore the FCC’s authority under Title II of the Communications Act to oversee broadband providers and enforce the open-internet protections. The Open Internet Order was repealed during the Trump Administration in the face of widespread public opposition – including comments filed during the proceedings opposing the controversial reversal by the agency.

Statement of Michael Copps, Former FCC Commissioner and Common Cause Special Adviser

“To allow a handful of monopoly-aspiring gate-keepers to control access to the internet is a direct threat to our democracy. Anyone hoping to be a full participant in our society must have access to an open internet that serves the people’s needs. So much of our lives now takes place online that without an internet serving the public interest, we are short-changing ourselves and our country. Congratulations to FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel for her courageous leadership to bring net neutrality back.”

Statement of Ishan Mehta, Common Cause Media and Democracy Program Director

“The Internet has fundamentally changed how people are civically engaged and is critical to participating in society today. It is the primary communications platform, a virtual public square and has been a powerful organizing tool, allowing social justice movements to gain momentum and widespread support. We look forward to the reinstatement net neutrality protections, and the control of the Internet returning to the American people instead of Internet providers.

The repeal of Net Neutrality during the Trump Administration left access to broadband unregulated and consumers unprotected. As a result we saw broadband providers throttle popular video streaming services, degrade video quality forcing customers to pay higher prices for improved quality, offer service plans that favor their own services over competitors, and make hollow, voluntary, and unenforceable promises not to disconnect their customers during the pandemic.

Today’s announcement is victory for every American household after a difficult period under the yoke of unchecked broadband providers.

Kategorien: Externe Ticker

FCC Chair to Start Process of Restoring the FCC’s Authority to Protect the Open Internet and Safeguard Internet Users

26. September 2023 - 18:57

On Tuesday, Federal Communications Commission Chair Jessica Rosenworcel is expected to announce plans to begin an agency proceeding to restore the FCC’s authority under Title II of the Communications Act to oversee broadband providers and enforce the open-internet protections that were stripped away during the Trump administration.

In a speech at the National Press Club, Rosenworcel will reportedly state her intention to introduce a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” during the agency’s October 19 Open Meeting. The agency has a full complement of commissioners following the swearing in of Anna Gomez on Monday, and the 3-2 Democratic majority it needs to begin the proceeding.

Since the Trump-era FCC repealed the agency’s Open Internet Order in 2017, people from across the country and the political spectrum have called on the agency to reinstate its authority over broadband access. In 2019, a federal court said the Trump-FCC repeal was “unhinged from the realities of modern broadband service” and violated the commission’s duty to protect public safety. Roseworcel’s Tuesday announcement will fulfill earlier commitments she had made to protect Net Neutrality and assert the agency’s authority to prevent broadband providers from engaging in practices that harm online users

Millions of people wrote the FCC in 2017 urging Trump’s FCC Chair Ajit Pai to abandon his plan to gut the Net Neutrality rules established during the Obama administration. But Pai ignored the public consensus and stripped away these basic safeguards. Public polling in 2022 shows majorities of Democratic, Republican and Independent voters reject the Trump administration repeal and support reinstating the FCC’s authority. In recent years, the phone and cable companies that provide broadband access for most have routinely ranked at the bottom of customer-service satisfaction indices.

Free Press Co-CEO Jessica J. González said:

“We applaud FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel for getting right to work on protecting broadband consumers now that we have a full FCC. Reinstating the agency’s Title II authority is a top priority because it will allow the FCC to ensure that all Americans — no matter their location or their demographics — have affordable, reliable and safe internet connections free from discrimination, blocking or other ISP manipulation.

“When the Trump FCC ditched its Title II authority, it walked out on its job of overseeing the most important communications infrastructure of our era. Without Title II the agency lacks a clear ability to protect the public against abuses by large, monopoly-minded broadband access providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon. Without Title II, broadband users are left vulnerable to discrimination, content throttling, dwindling competition, extortionate and monopolistic prices, billing fraud and other shady behavior. Internet users are taking notice that their access providers are acting without any public accountability — and, as popular polling shows, are eager to return the watchdog to safeguard the public interest.

“One thing we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is that broadband is essential infrastructure — it enables us to access education, employment, healthcare and more. And yet, the U.S. regulatory agency charged with oversight of this utility lacks the authority it needs to be on the lookout for internet users and ensure that the network is fully deployed and resilient to climate change and other disasters.

“As this proceeding gets under way, we will hear all manner of lies from the lobbyists and lawyers representing big phone and cable companies. They'll say that Title II’s common-carriage standard is a heavy-handed regulation that will undermine investment in new broadband deployment; in reality, capital expenditures by these companies increased under Net Neutrality rules, and declined after the Dec. 2017 Trump FCC repeal. They'll say open-internet protections are a solution in search of a problem; in reality, there's an extensive history of the sorts of industry abuses that Title II oversight would keep in check.

“They'll say anything and everything to avoid being held accountable. But broadband providers and their spin doctors are deeply out of touch with people across the political spectrum, who are fed up with high prices and unreliable services. These people demand a referee on the field to call fouls and issue penalties when broadband companies are being unfair.

“We look forward to helping the FCC fix Trump-era mistakes and return these basic protections to the people who use the internet every day. With Title II back in place internet users will be able to log on knowing that their broadband provider won't violate their online rights without being held to account.”

Kategorien: Externe Ticker

The Mayors Max Do Their Duty

26. September 2023 - 4:27


Another week in a teetering America: Fascists on the rise, threats and shutdowns hover, democratic governance imperiled by crooks, clowns, nihilists. But with all politics local, we take heart from the unincorporated California mountain town of Idyllwild where a determinedly non-partisan Mayor Max lll conveys unconditional love, does as many good deeds as possible, vows "We don’t do anything divisive, ever," and pledges on his food bowl to "faithfully execute my duties." He's a dog, but still. GOP, take note.

Deemed an "alpine paradise" and "a nature-lovers' oasis," the small, peaceful, "census-designated" Idyllwild-Pine Cove, population 3,000-ish, is nestled high in the San Jacinto mountains surrounded by old-growth pine, fragrant cedar and the 14,000-acre Mount San Jacinto State Park, with miles of hiking trails. A quirky, artsy, walkable town that's "kept its 'small town' atmosphere," it offers locally-owned shops, restaurants, cafes, breweries, gem shops, vintage record stores etc amidst a wilderness area of rock-climbing, bird-watching and scenic outlooks.

Idyllwild remained blissfully free of human politicians until 2012, when its local Animal Rescue Friends (ARF) decided to sponsor the town's first-ever, four-legged mayoral election in 2012 as a fundraising project. Pet-owners nominated 14 dogs and two cats, and residents were "encouraged to buy the election" with a $1 donation per vote; they happily raised $31,000 - all went to benefit ARF - with two-thirds coming from supporters for Mayor Max l, a sweet, calm Golden Retriever who carried what his hard-campaigning chief of staff and owner Phyllis Mueller calls "a special divinity."

In 1979, Mueller and her husband Glenn Warren, both "passionate humanitarians," founded a successful marketing agency in hopes of making a fortune they could donate to those in need. In 1984, when they got their first Golden - and after an incident involving his testicles we won't go into - she felt she'd found "the perfect vessel (to) achieve world peace." Several dogs later, they moved to Idyllwild just as ARF announced its mayoral election, news that "shot me right in the heart." Max' win was pre-ordained: "He looked his townspeople deep in the eyes...He'd funnel his love into you."

Thus began the reign of the first of three wildly popular, deeply democratic, politically independent Mayor Maxes, with a fleet of mayor-mobiles," a Facebook page, a store and many videos.Their platform has been consistent: daily downtown visitation hours; trips to schools, hospitals, hospices, nursing homes to "help those in need know they are loved (and) perfect in my eyes;" fruitful fundraising events: "More people go because they want to see the mayors"; meeting and listening to the needs of citizens (with Mueller's help); sniffing out and cleaning up litter, including the dog kind.

Seeking to render the Maxes role models "for all canines, felines and humines," Mueller maintained hat and tie closets for them all with up to 3,000 ties; they often ate them at first. Max l was so popular residents successfully petitioned ARF to extend his one-year term until 2014, but sadly he served just nine months before dying of cancer in office. His successor Max ll, or Maximus Mighty-Dog Mueller II, was sworn in shortly after and went on to serve as "beloved dog of the people for nine years. He and deputy mayors Mikey and Mitzi, all related to Max 1, were often called "the Mayor and the spares."

Max ll served through COVID, with Mueller arranging masked visits outside their home; at times, cars lined up the length of her driveway waiting their turn. She's also documented sundry Max adventures: Learning to shake, "doing zoomies around the house," a coveted "macaroni and cheese run," the bachelor party where, "I did get pretty frisky (and) chew on a few people, but I (was) gentle," the grand plan to make a custom fragrance line of "the extraordinary smell of wet dog," Mitzi and Mikey happily reporting, "We all have burger breath from dinner at the Dairy Queen, also ice cream. We are living the dream!"

Max ll died unexpectedly in July 2022 after emergency surgery as Mueller held him in her arms; deeply spiritual, she whispered in his ear asking him to come see them at home, and says he did. Overcome with grief, she considered retiring the mayoralty, but began to sense its impact after getting thousands of letters from mourning fans: "No finer politician have I ever had the pleasure to know...May he bark in peace...The one public official we could trust has died." "He had a wonderful life - he loved going to work," she says. "I know his love for people and the love they felt for him endures."

Last fall in Utah, after a nationwide search, the couple knew they'd found "their next humble leader" when he began chewing on Warren's pants; they brought Mayor Max lll, "a hedonist with a penchant for hamburgers," home with his sister Meadow, now Vice Mayor. More exploits followed: A trial run to see if they could be reunited "without me trying to make babies with my sister - I gave them their answer in less than seven seconds," a gift card for "our long awaited scrambled eggs and blueberry pancakes with blueberry compote" from an IHOP that was out of it: "We survived this incident because we are Golden Retrievers and we will eat anything."

A couple of weeks ago, about 1,000 people celebrated Max' and Meadow's first birthday with free food, music and (dog) ties, large and small. Guests of honor included Storm, "mother of the mayors," their brother Hawkins from Maine, and their cousins Mitzi and Mikey, who offered "to chew and shred something you have. We are happy to go to work on it right away!" Each mayor, says Mueller, carries the joyful spirit of his predecessor; each "loves unconditionally." “With the mayors, I want to remind people that there is good in the world," she says. "These dogs here, they are living angels."

Living angels are, of course, pretty hard to find elsewhere in today's increasingly totalitarian, potentially violent American politics. The multi-indicted etc former guy, eager for power just to pardon himself and wreak vengeance on his enemies, just went "full fascist" charging US media, notably Comcast, "should be investigated for Country-Threatening Treason" (pot/kettle); meanwhile, his party of sycophants rails against voting, democracy, governance itself, which they can't seem to do. See the "cannibal circus" of a squabbling House "indistinguishable from a motorcycle gang after the 15th beer run of the day."

Amidst the chaos wrought by "a wrecking-ball caucus," a hapless, flailing "Speaker-in-name-only" Kevin McCarthy - one pundit: "Can he tie his shoes?" - desperately weaves, dodges, deflects, projects. Lately, he's been trying to steer away from a staggeringly pointless, needless shutdown to ramp up an embellished "border crisis the President continues to ignore." "They continue to fail," he charged. "We're watching the Biden Administration destroy our nation." Meanwhile, in his FAQ's, Mayor Max lll says he hasn't ruled out a bid for President. But he's still young, and jumping on tables.. Maybe start with House Speaker?

Dogs gonna dog: Deputy Mayors Mitzi and Mikey play hide and seek.Facebook photo

Kategorien: Externe Ticker

“A Trainwreck”: MAGA House Kicks Off Insurrection Deflection Hearings

25. September 2023 - 22:05

This Thursday the House Oversight Committee begins its impeachment hearings investigating President Biden. In response, Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president of Public Citizen, issued the following statement.

“The GOP-led House is a trainwreck. Instead of focusing on resolving the budget to avoid a catastrophic government shutdown, MAGA House leaders are holding baseless impeachment hearings against President Biden to deflect attention from the ongoing major legal efforts to hold Trump and his cronies accountable for their criminal efforts to subvert the 2020 election and stop the peaceful transfer of power.

“We expect the hearings to be a rehash of the lack of evidence found connecting Hunter Biden to the President. And no matter what theatrics the MAGA circus presents during the ‘impeachment hearings,’ the truth is, there is no avoiding the real story – the multiple upcoming trials of those indicted in the attacks on our democracy.”

Kategorien: Externe Ticker

CODEPINK Condemns Terrorist Attack on Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C.

25. September 2023 - 20:58

Last night, the Cuban Embassy in Washington D.C. was attacked with two molotov cocktails thrown at the building. This is the second time in the past three years that there have been violent attacks against the Cuban Embassy. CODEPINK calls on the U.S. government to immediately investigate this attack as an act of terrorism. We also call on the U.S. government to take Cuba off its state sponsors of terror list. We must put an end to the aggression towards Cuba and work towards normalizing relations with our island neighbor.

“Could it be more ironic? A country being accused of terrorism by the U.S. once again suffers a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. It’s time to stop the senseless aggression against this small island nation of 11 million and normalize relations,” said CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin.

The United States continues to falsely label Cuba a state sponsor of terror, despite the fact that Cuba does not engage in any terrorist activity. This act of violence against the embassy comes on the heels of a series of impactful meetings by Cuban President Diaz Canel at the United Nations, as well as successful meetings with Cuban Americans, businesspeople, and U.S. artists and activists.

Tonight, CODEPINK, along with other allies, will be out in front of the Cuban Embassy to show love and solidarity to the people of Cuba in the face of this act of hate and aggression, and to demand justice for this attack and to call for an end to the blockade on Cuba.

“The attacks against the Embassy of Cuba last night are the product of intolerance and hatred rooted in false accusations of terrorism suffered by the Cuban people. It’s time to get Cuba off the list and promote peace and understanding among our peoples.” said Michelle Ellner, CODEPINK’s Latin America Team organizer.

The event will take place at 5:00pm at the Cuban Embassy, located at 2630 16th Street NW, Washington D.C. We urge all those who stand for peace and justice to join us in solidarity with the Cuban people.

For more information regarding the event, please contact Medea Benjanmin at medea@codepink.org

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50+ High Schools Launch Green New Deal for Schools Campaign

25. September 2023 - 19:19

Today, in response to attacks from the Right on the American education system, as well as slow federal action on the climate crisis, the Sunrise Movement launched its Green New Deal for Schools Campaign in over 50 high schools across America.

“The Green New Deal for Schools will transform public schools in America to face the climate crisis and ensure all students receive safe and high-quality education – no matter their zip code or the color of their skin,” said Adah Crandall, 17, one of the leaders of the campaign. “Our generation is on the front lines of this fight and it's time for our school districts to take real action.”

Student organizers are launching Green New Deal for Schools campaigns in every corner of the country – from Pennsylvania to Michigan to Arizona – demanding that school districts face the climate crisis, listen to their students, and deliver on Green New Deal for Schools demands listed below. They are calling on school boards and superintendents to pass district-wide policies, while building the power and momentum for eventual federal legislation that transforms our school system to stop the climate crisis.

“For too long, students have been left out of the decision making spaces within our schools,” said Shiva Rajbhandari, Sunrise Movement organizer and Idaho’s youngest elected school board member. “Students are the most important constituents of our school boards and they deserve to call the shots for their own education. Public schools belong to us, and we know we deserve better.”

This comes as Republican extremists across the country are imposing their agenda on students in public schools. In Texas, education officials plan to rewrite climate science textbooks. There has been a years-long fight in Idaho on teaching climate change education in schools. Extremists are imposing book bans on students. Meanwhile, students across the country are facing the brunt of the climate crisis and struggling to learn amid heat waves and other climate disasters hitting their schools.

“The Republican Party knows that they don’t have the youth vote,” said Aster Chau, a student and Green New Deal for Schools Organizer at the Academy at Palumbo in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “They’ve spent the last few years antagonizing students and teachers — eroding trust in public education — in order to distract from all of the problems they’ve created in our society. Today, we say no more — these are our schools and our futures.”

As 2024 approaches, young voters will be one of the most important voting blocs, as they were in 2020 and 2022. Consistently, they rank clean air and water as one of their top issues.

The Green New Deal for Schools campaigns are demanding:

  1. SAFE AND CLEAN BUILDINGS: School buildings, buses, and other school infrastructure must be updated to run on 100% clean energy, be climate resilient, and ensure safe, non-toxic learning environments.
  2. FREE & HEALTHY LUNCH: Schools must provide locally sourced and sustainably grown lunch to all students for free, to make sure no student goes through the school day hungry.
  3. PATHWAYS TO GREEN JOBS: Schools must offer opportunities to connect students with meaningful and good paying union jobs combatting the climate crisis.
  4. CLIMATE DISASTER PLANS: When climate disaster strikes, school administrations must have plans to help students recover and use buildings as designated relief zones for the whole community.
  5. CLIMATE CURRICULUM: Students must be taught a comprehensive climate justice curriculum - developed by scientists, educators, and students, not lobbyists and politicians - that helps them understand our history and prepares them to face the climate crisis.

This comes after Sunrise Movement held a multi-week summer camp to train hundreds of high schoolers from across the country on how to run campaigns in their schools, plan protests, and grow their organizing skills. It also comes on the heels of Sunrise’s historic win for an American Climate Corps, building youth momentum across the country.

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Clarence Thomas Must Recuse From Koch-Backed CFPB SCOTUS Case

25. September 2023 - 17:05

A new ProPublica investigation has found that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas secretly attended donor summits of the Koch Network, the right-wing advocacy organization funded by billionaire Charles Koch. These revelations come as Thomas is slated to participate in October 3rd oral arguments for Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. Community Financial Services Association of America, a lawsuit filed by predatory payday lenders seeking to strike down the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) independent funding mechanism. Americans For Prosperity Foundation, a Koch-funded advocacy group that has spent years lobbying to gut the Dodd-Frank law that created the CFPB, has filed an amicus brief in the case urging the Supreme Court to side with the payday lending lobby. The Koch business empire includes holdings in major financial and lending companies regulated by the CFPB.

In response to these bombshell revelations, Revolving Door Project Senior Researcher Vishal Shankar issued the following statement:

“Clarence Thomas’ close ties to the Koch Network – which has spent billions trying to make it easier for corporate predators to rip off everyday Americans and face zero accountability – are grounds for his immediate recusal from the CFPB case. He cannot be trusted to rule impartially on matters that would financially benefit his billionaire benefactors, and by extension himself. His repeated abuse of his office for personal gain is a national disgrace.”

Thomas’ ties to the Koch Network constitute the latest ethics scandal surrounding the Supreme Court and this pivotal case:

  • Thomas has received lavish undisclosed gifts from billionaire property developer Harlan Crow, whose real estate empire has bankrolled the National Multifamily Housing Council – a landlord lobbying group that has opposed CFPB regulation of the tenant screening industry.
  • Indicted “coup memo” author John Eastman – a former Thomas law clerk who corresponded with Thomas’ wife Ginni ahead of the January 6th attack on the Capitol – has also filed an amicus brief in CFPB v. CFSA supporting the payday lender plaintiffs.
  • Justice Samuel Alito – who is also slated to participate in CFPB v. CFSA oral arguments – went on a luxury vacation with hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, whose investment management firm holds at least $90 million in financial companies overseen by the CFPB.

In response to these Supreme Court ethics scandals, Revolving Door Project Executive Director Jeff Hauser issued the following statement:

“While the artificial `Community Financial Services Association of America’ is the named litigant opposite the CFPB, all observers understand that the stakes in this litigation are shared by every investor in the types of companies that profit from unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices. Just because Koch and others have used a shell organization to back this lawsuit doesn’t mean that their ties to Justices are any less relevant. All Justices personally close to proprietors of shady financial services firms should recuse themselves, full stop. And if any Justices persist in hearing this case despite being self-evidently biased, the case for rebalancing the Supreme Court to create an ethical majority will become even stronger.”

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Advocates Demand Stronger Pipeline Safety Rules

25. September 2023 - 16:48

Dozens of organizations sent a letter to Senate and House leaders today outlining key pipeline safety measures they say must be part of the pending reauthorization of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) – including several provisions dealing with the potential threats posed by carbon dioxide pipelines.

The letter – signed by Food & Water Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Oil Change International, Indigenous Environmental Network and others – calls on lawmakers to close carbon dioxide regulatory loopholes, ensure that new regulations apply to existing infrastructure, and prohibit the blending of hydrogen in existing gas lines.

The letter cites the 2020 carbon pipeline rupture in Satartia, Mississippi as the “proverbial canary in the coal mine” that should prompt immediate changes – especially since pipeline companies are rushing forward with plans to build hundreds of miles of new pipelines. Without adequate safety regulations, the letter warns that a similar rupture in more densely communities “could easily spiral into a mass casualty event.”

The letter makes several recommendations regarding carbon dioxide pipelines – everything from requiring plume dispersion modeling and the use of odorants to establishing regulations that would set maximum contaminant levels.

“Motivated by billions in government subsidies, pipeline companies are now pushing to build massive new carbon dioxide projects. But without adequate rules in place to protect public health and safety, we are putting countless communities at risk,” said Food & Water Watch Policy Director Jim Walsh. “This industry pipe dream will quickly become a nightmare for communities that live with the threat of leaks or explosions that would send plumes of suffocating CO2 for miles. Lawmakers must ensure that new pipeline safety rules account for the unique threats posed by carbon transport and hydrogen blending.”

“Communities across the country are facing an onslaught of new pipeline proposals. Unlike the old oil and gas pipelines, CO2 and hydrogen pipelines pose unique and extraordinary hazards to public health and the environment but are vastly under-regulated. PHMSA must be authorized and given a strong mandate to guarantee public safety rather than follow its old formula of guaranteeing the profitability of the fossil fuel industry,” said Carolyn Raffensperger, executive director of the Science and Environmental Health Network. “The federal government intends to throw hundreds of billions of dollars at the carbon capture and storage industry to build as much as 96,000 miles of dangerous carbon pipelines that would snake through communities all over the U.S,” said Paul Blackburn, an attorney with the Bold Alliance, a Midwestern landowner protection group. “The least the feds can do is update their outdated safety regulations to protect the people threatened by these potentially deadly pipelines.”

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Stand Up America Renews Calls for Passage of Supreme Court Ethics Legislation Amid Newest ProPublica Investigation

22. September 2023 - 18:10

Christina Harvey, Executive Director for Stand Up America, issued the following statement after a ProPublica investigation revealed Clarence Thomas secretly participated in Koch Network donor events:

“There are few things in today’s world more predictable than yet another Supreme Court ethics violation. With Propublica’s latest report on Justice Thomas’s inappropriate relationship with ultra-conservative MAGA donors, it begs the question: when will enough be enough?

“Justice Thomas has proven that he will not stop accepting joyrides, lavish vacations, and other benefits from those with an interest in the Supreme Court’s decisions, unless Congress acts. While it’s not clear exactly what happened at the Koch Network events – mostly because they were never disclosed – it is clear that Justice Thomas once again took a private jet to rub shoulders with mega-donors and conservative political operators who have business before the Court.

“The legitimacy of the Supreme Court is at stake. Scandal after scandal have shown Supreme Court justices can no longer be trusted to regulate their peers and their own behavior. It’s past time for Congress to step up and pass legislation to create a code of ethics for the highest court in the land.”
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AFSCME’s Saunders: ‘UAW workers are striking for all working people’

22. September 2023 - 18:08

AFSCME President Lee Saunders released the following statement after the United Auto Workers (UAW) announced plans to expand their strike:

“UAW workers are striking for all working people. For decades, insatiable corporate greed has driven billionaires to take and take and take from hardworking Americans. It’s never enough for them, and we’re sick of it. Going back to the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike, when AFSCME and Dr. King marched with workers for fair pay and justice, we know that strikes can change the world for the better. That is why we stand with UAW in this fight, and we will continue to be by their side until they get the dignity and respect they are owed.”
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Amnesty International USA welcomes Venezuela TPS Announcement and calls for Biden to take action for Cameroon and other countries

21. September 2023 - 22:21

Amnesty International USA welcomes the Biden Administration’s announcement to extend and redesignate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for over 470,000 Venezuelans currently in the United States. Over 7 million Venezuelans have fled Venezuela due to the complex humanitarian emergency and widespread human rights violations being committed in the country. This announcement is a critical recognition of the protection needs of Venezuelans, to ensure they have the ability to work and build lives in the United States without fear of deportation.

The Biden Administration’s move is an important victory for the Venezuelan community as well as organizers and state and local officials who have been welcoming high numbers of Venezuelans into their communities. Around the country, people are mobilizing to welcome asylum seekers with dignity, but they can’t do it alone. TPS for Venezuela is a critical relief that will ease the pressure on local cities to provide for a new population of Venezuelans seeking safety and security, but were left without the ability to work and build lives for themselves.

While we celebrate these important protections for Venezuelans, the Biden Administration must act to extend protections for nationals from other countries, including Cameroon and Central American countries who are facing conditions warranting protection. In particular, Cameroon is dealing with three concurrent crises in the country, marked by political instability, multiple armed conflicts, and unrest. The humanitarian and human rights situation in Cameroon has only worsened since it was initially designated for TPS. The current designation for Cameroon will expire on December 7th of this year, and the Administration must act by October 8th to extend and redesignate TPS for Cameroon.

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Chairman Sanders Statement on HELP Committee Bipartisan Passage of Historic Primary Care and Workforce Legislation

21. September 2023 - 20:36

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, on Thursday issued the following statement after the committee passed the Bipartisan Primary Care and Health Workforce Act:

“Everyone in America understands that our health care system is broken and getting worse. Despite spending twice as much per capita as any other nation, millions of Americans are unable to access the primary care and dental care they desperately need and we have a massive shortage of doctors, nurses, dentists and mental health professionals.

“With today’s passage of bipartisan legislation in the Senate HELP Committee, we are beginning to address that crisis. I’m pleased this legislation passed with a strong bipartisan 14-7 vote.

“I especially want to thank Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) for his hard work on this legislation. Together, we will work with Senate leadership in the coming weeks to move this bill forward and ensure that millions more Americans can get the health care they deserve.”

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Save Us From Christian the Hugging, Soul-Damaging Lion and Other Evils

21. September 2023 - 18:33


The race to the unschooled, fearful, fascist bottom lurches on in the right's war on learning, with bigots fighting to keep out of innocent hands pernicious books like The Hobbit, Madame Bovary, Arthur's Birthday (don't ask) and, now, the story of two guys who raised a lion in London and returned him to the wild - a lovely bonding-of-animals-and-humans story that cranks have banned because the men sit with the lion on their paisley couch so they must be (gasp) gay. You must be (holy fuck) kidding.

The awful "new chapter to an old book" that is morality gatekeepers' terror of anything about the human condition they might not have known - or even (horrors) disagree with - has moved from Holden Caulfield's profanity or John Steinbeck's "class hatred" to today's boogeymen - race, sex, gender, panic over an imaginary "Marxism." Some things haven't changed: Carnality remains suspect, with Puritans queasily howling about "porn" and "trash" while librarians, libertarians and other defenders of freedom of thought insist it's all good if nobody gets hurt. But its enemies are far more organized, with right-wing groups like Focus On the Family and Moms For Liberty part of a new wave of book despots - so far this year, in a record surge - who are "loud and legion, with deep pocketed backers." Thanks to them, and the rise of bullies, theocrats and mountebanks like Messrs. Abbott and DeSantis, states are passing ever more regressive laws giving ever more power to cranks and lone wolves fulminating about "indoctrination" and "vulgar material." One analysis of book challenges across the U.S. finds most were filed by just 11 people; in one Florida county, a single crackpot filed 94% of complaints.

Earlier this year, the nonprofit PEN America published a list of books banned or restricted across the country; states, media and other advocacy groups have also compiled lists. They all raise the vital question: How small, mean, dumb or scared do you have to be to view these books, many of them award-winning, as a threat? To wit: Adventures of A Kid Magician, Paradise Lost, Eleanor Roosevelt: Fighter for Justice, A Room With a View, Home For the Holidays, Anne of Avonlea, Secrets of Isaac Newton, Americanah, Brave New World, The Hobbit, The Battle Against Polio, The Handmaid's Tale, Amanda Gorman's The Hill We Climb, What on Earth is a Pangolin? The analyses for the challenges, often chicken-scrawled, are surreal. Little Rock Nine: "Profanity." The Kite Runner: "Inappropriate content." Michelangelo: "Obscenity." Cuban Kids: "Indoctrination." A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, about a lonely bunny who lives with Mike Pence: "Gender identity content.” Countries in the News: Cuba: “Cuba is a communist country." How To Be an Anti-Racist: "Have hate messages." Or, overall, "This is not normal literature." Like that's a thing.

For most thinkers, readers, and fans of the First Amendment, libraries are what one Arkansas librarian calls "the last great bastion of democracy." "Censorship, far more than books about systemic racism, threatens the health of the nation," she argues. "A democracy without dissent is not a democracy." Parents evidently agree; polls show them largely opposed to book bans, following the maxim of another librarian who concedes of his home turf, "There's something for everybody to get pissed about." The simple solution: "Parents can monitor what their children check out. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Nobody’s putting a gun to your head and making you read ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’" But that's far too sensible for today's Arkansas, 48th in education, under Sarah Huckabee Sanders. She's quickly moved to subjugate the masses with a Don’t Say Gay law, an executive order banning the teaching of “divisive concepts” like racism, and a demand schools turn over material for AP African-American Studies - with dangerous themes of "intersection" and "resilience" - that "may not comply with Arkansas law, which does not permit teaching that would indoctrinate students with ideologies."

Arkansas has yet to reach the censorship big time, but they're trying. Safe Library Books for Kids is busy pushing the narrative that books about racism lead to pedophilia and revolution - bad book alerts! - and right-wingers have embraced it. On And Tango Makes Three, about two male penguins who raise a family: "Phrases like 'they woke up together' is propaganda to normalize sexually deviant behavior." On What's Happening to Me?, a puberty guide: "WE MUST STAND AGAINST THE EVIL FORCES THAT TRY TO DESTROY OUR YOUTH!" Teachers have been charged with hanging the Pride flag and other "divisive materials" in classrooms, which are "indoctrination violations." And commenters thank Sanders for "standing up" for them: They cheer "Bravo, Sarah!," note "There is an awful lot of Marxist hate in schools" and "CRT stands for Create Racial Tension," warn Merrick Garland is buying the porn and CRT was devised by 1923 German communists, urge classroom cams to monitor the filth, make conspiring to teach it a crime, get officials to do searches and "Shut down the communist training camps known as public schools." Go. Hate. Fear.

Still, Texas and Florida are way ahead of them, fighting it out in a repulsive, moronic "culture-war pissing contest." For now, Greg Abbott's Texas leads the totalitarian pack with 438 book bans, a mere fraction of the nearly 2,350 titles they tried to restrict; Florida follows with 386 bans. Texas sages have banned Neil Gaiman's American Gods ("obscene"), MLK: Journey Of A King (anti-white), The Fellowship of the Ring (blasphemous), Texas State Poet Laureate Guadalupe Mendez' Why I Am Like Tequila (alcohol in title), Sendak's In the Night Kitchen (nude kid), etc. They've even cracked down on "symbols of personal ideologies" - aka a poster of multi-colored children holding hands - after a child was "traumatized" by it to avoid further "situations like that." This week, an 8th-grade teacher was fired for teaching a graphic novel of Anne Frank's Diary, deemed inappropriate for its "sexual content"; the district wrote parents the reading "will cease and your student’s teacher will communicate her apologies to you and your students soon." You'd think Anne wondering about her body would be less germane than the genocidal fact of her being shipped to Auschwitz to be slaughtered, but maybe that's just us.

Florida's numbers are lower, but their despotism and denial is so vast they reject the word "banned": “Florida does not ban books." Still, hundreds of titles have vanished from shelves so fast "it would make Goebbels blush," and many kids will be reading "excerpts" of Romeo and Juliet, minus the racy stuff. In July, Clay County banned Arthur's Birthday, in which the bespectacled 3rd-grade aardvark plans a party the same day as monkey classmate Muffy; Arthur resolves the issue by planning a joint gathering, Francine the monkey suggests they play spin-the-bottle, and his friends gift him a bottle reading "Francine's Spin The Bottle Game." No one is seen playing the game, which didn't stop crackpot head of No Left Turn in Education Bruce Friedman - who's compared public schools to "Pol Pot’s Cambodia" and in 2022 compiled a list of over 3,600 maybe-nasty titles off the Internet - from railing "SPIN THE BOTTLE NOT OKAY FOR K-5 KIDS" and "PROTECT CHILDREN." The result, if no ban: "Damaged souls." He also warned, if they don't adhere to "what a clean library looks like," he'd "run over them like a dead body." Foolishly, we thought Arthur's Birthday set the demented bar as low as it could go.

Then Manatee County banned Christian, the Hugging Lion, the "joyful tale of a different kind of family" wherein Australians John Rendall and Ace Bourke raise and love a lion cub in 1970s London, set him free in Kenya, and savor a rapturous, improbable, viral reunion when they visit. There's videos, two documentaries, two Animal Planet shows, praise from conservationists, TV appearances, the memoir A Lion Called Christian - buying him at Harrod's, seeking a flat with garden "for our dog," setting up "his own kingdom" in their shop basement, seeing him grow from 35 to 185 pounds, releasing him, the tearful moment they return and Christian leaps into their arms. Now there's a "seriously adorable" kids' book by psychiatrist Justin Richardson and playwright Peter Parnell; they wrote "And Tango Makes Three" and are suing, among others, over its ban. Christian happily curls on their sofa, chases his toys, gives "clumsy" hugs: "Christian became a very well-behaved little cub. Most of the time. After all, he was still a lion." Then freedom - "Something must be done" - and reunion: "Their old friend took a long look...he remembered them!" The men are deemed "friends"; Rendall became a twice-married, lifelong conservationist with two kids, Bourke is one of Australia’s leading art curators. But zealots fretted - they "seem" gay - and banished them. Now DeSantis is campaigning to “Make America Florida." Not on your fascist life.

"Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak because a baby can't chew it." - often misattributed to Mark Twain, in fact Robert A. Heinlein

Christian, Bourke and Rendall happily reunite in Kenya..Screenshot from video of their return

Christian the Lion: Original Viral Video www.youtube.com

Nuns take gleeful selfie in front of (banned) Michelangelo's DavidTwitter, or X, photo

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Progressives Win American Climate Corps Victory After Pressuring Biden for Years

20. September 2023 - 21:19

In response to President Joe Biden releasing plans to finally create an American Climate Corps, Alexandra Rojas, Executive Director of Justice Democrats, released the following statement:

“For years, alongside allies like the Sunrise Movement, we have called on the Democratic Party to provide more than just lip service to the existential climate crisis facing our planet. Now, because of our movement and leaders like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, a Civilian Climate Corps will recruit and train thousands of young people to defend our communities from climate disaster and revitalize our economy. Today, we have demonstrated what the power of our collective action can accomplish at the highest seats of power. ”

Since 2021, Justice Democrats along with other allies in the climate movement, have called on Congress to enact a Civilian Climate Corps as a necessary step in protecting our planet, transforming our economy, and making the Green New Deal a reality. During the negotiations around the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Justice Democrats’ sister organization, Organize For Justice, launched a digital ad advocating for the passage of the Civilian Climate Corps. Earlier this week, Justice Democrats joined over 50 organizations in calling on President Biden to utilize his Presidential authority to create a Civilian Climate Corps.

“Though this investment is not nearly at the scale that we called for or needs to be—a $132 billion Civilian Climate Corps that would train and recruit 1.5 million Americans in public service jobs—this is an important step towards employing a new generation of workers dedicated to combating the climate crisis, defending our communities from disaster, and rebuilding our economy,” said Rojas. “Now, President Biden must make this work matter by divesting our reliance on fossil fuels, ending federal subsidies to Big Oil and Gas, reversing the approval of the Willow oil project, and investing in the communities that have been most harmed by environmental racism. Otherwise, we are just continuing to kick the can down the road.”

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