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VA Chief Fired For Opposing Privatization

Shulkin: Privatizing the V.A. Will Hurt Veterans. NYT: “The department has become entangled in a brutal power struggle, with some political appointees choosing to promote their agendas instead of what’s best for veterans. These individuals, who seek to privatize veteran health care as an alternative to government-run V.A. care, unfortunately fail to engage in realistic plans regarding who will care for the more than 9 million veterans who rely on the department for life-sustaining care. The private sector, already struggling to provide adequate access to care in many communities, is ill-prepared to handle the number and complexity of patients that would come from closing or downsizing V.A. hospitals and clinics, particularly when it involves the mental health needs of people scarred by the horrors of war. Working with community providers to adequately ensure that veterans’ needs are met is a good practice. But privatization leading to the dismantling of the department’s extensive health care system is a terrible idea.”

Carson’s HUD Throttles Fair Housing Support

Under Carson, HUD scales back fair housing enforcement. NYT: “The Trump administration is attempting to scale back federal efforts to enforce fair housing laws, freezing enforcement actions against local governments and businesses, including Facebook, while sidelining officials who have aggressively pursued civil rights cases. The policy shift, detailed in interviews with 20 current and former Department of Housing and Urban Development officials and in internal agency emails, is meant to roll back the Obama administration’s attempts to reverse decades of racial, ethnic and income segregation in federally subsidized housing and development projects. The move coincides with the decision this month by Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, to strike the words ‘inclusive’ and ‘free from discrimination’ from HUD’s mission statement.”

Boston Judge Clears Climate Activists

Boston judge affirms necessity of civil disobedience. Common Dreams: “Climate activists are cheering after a district judge in Boston on Tuesday ruled that 13 fossil fuel pipeline protesters were not responsible for any infraction because of the necessity of their actions… The charges the defendants faced stemmed from actions they took in 2016 to block Spectra Energy’s fracked gas West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline. While they had spent a year and a half preparing a climate necessity defense to present to a jury trail, prosecutors prevented that from happening last week when they reduced the criminal charges to civil infractions. “By reducing the charges,” the Climate Disobedience Center argues, ‘the prosecutor has avoided what could have been a groundbreaking legal case.’ Judge Mary Ann Driscoll, did, however, allow each of the defendants to explain to the court why they were motivated to take part in their actions to stop the Massachusetts pipeline. After that, according to a lawyer for the defendants, she said they were not responsible by reason of necessity.”

Progressives Win Big In Primaries

How the Bernie wing won the Democratic primaries. Politico: “ith his primary election victory last week, Illinois Congressman Dan Lipinski—a Blue Dog and cultural conservative—won the first major 2018 battle between the Democratic Party’s establishment and progressive wings. But don’t be confused about what it means. The war is already over, and the establishment lost. Even though only two states have actually voted so far this primary election season—Texas, a red-state redoubt, and Illinois, a blue-state stronghold—the battle for supremacy this primary season is all but complete. In state after state, the left is proving to be the animating force in Democratic primaries, producing a surge of candidates who are forcefully driving the party toward a more liberal orientation on nearly every issue. These candidates are running on an agenda that moves the party beyond its recent comfort zone and toward single-payer health care, stricter gun control, a $15 minimum wage, more expansive LGBT rights and greater protections for immigrants.”

Denver Dems Endorse Economic Goals

How the Denver DSA convinced local Democrats to endorse socialism in its platform. The Intercept: “In a remarkable display of grassroots power, the Denver chapter of Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA, successfully convinced the Denver Democratic Party to endorse a key tenet of democratic socialism in their party platform. The party’s official platform now includes the following plank: ‘We believe the economy should be democratically owned and controlled in order to serve the needs of the many, not to make profits for the few.’ The construction used here is similar to ‘for the many not the few,’ the slogan used by the U.K.’s Labour Party. That party is currently run by Jeremy Corbyn, a committed socialist, who borrowed the phrase from neoliberal politician Tony Blair, who first used it during election campaigns in the 1990s.”

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