fresh voices from the front lines of change







Freedom For Cyntoia Brown

Brown is granted clemency after serving 15 years in prison. CNN: "Cyntoia Denise Brown, a woman serving a life sentence for killing a man who bought her for sex when she was 16 years old, has been granted clemency, the Tennessee governor's office said Monday. Brown, 30, will be released to parole supervision on August 7 after serving 15 years in prison, Gov. Bill Haslam's office said in a statement 'This decision comes after careful consideration of what is a tragic and complex case,' Haslam said. 'Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16. Yet, imposing a life sentence on a juvenile that would require her to serve at least 51 years before even being eligible for parole consideration is too harsh, especially in light of the extraordinary steps Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life. Transformation should be accompanied by hope.' Since her sentencing, Brown has spent all of her adulthood in prison -- but her advocates say she has worked to transform herself during her time behind bars. 'She is light years today, as a woman, different from the traumatized 16-year-old that she was,' Smith says. 'She's mentoring... troubled youth, working on her college degree, she is planning a nonprofit so she can help other young people.'"

Americans Feel Bite Of Trump Shutdown

As government shutdown persists, Americans feel the bite. NYT: "The impact of a partial government shutdown began to ripple across the economy as it stretched into Day 17, with mortgage applications delayed, public companies unable to get approval to raise capital and thousands of Secret Service agents expected to show up for work without pay. President Trump and congressional Democrats have made little progress in negotiations to end a shutdown that has affected about 800,000 federal workers, many of whom will miss their first paycheck this week, and who owe a combined $249 million in monthly mortgage payments.Virtually every employee with the Secret Service involved in investigations, security and the protective division, which protects Mr. Trump and dozens of other current and former government officials and their families, is required to work during the shutdown. And 6,000 of the organization’s roughly 7,000 employees will not be paid. The same is true at the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has come to a standstill with “only an extremely limited number of staff members available to respond to emergency situations,' according to a shutdown plan posted on the commission’s website."

Dems Plan To Force Government To Reopen

Congressional Democrats turn up the heat on GOP over shutdown. WaPo: "Democrats moved on two fronts Monday to goad Republicans into reopening the federal government, lining up House bills to fund shuttered agencies and preparing to block action in the Senate until the shutdown is resolved. The moves amounted to an increasingly calculated and confrontational strategy from congressional Democrats as the shutdown over President Trump’s demand for money for a wall on the Mexican border entered its third week. But Trump showed no sign of relenting, announcing a prime-time address for Tuesday night and making plans to visit the border, as his administration sought to make the case that an immigration crisis is unfolding that must be addressed with a wall. In the House, convening for its first full week under Democratic control, leaders plan to advance several individual spending bills to fund federal agencies, beginning Wednesday with legislation that would reopen the Treasury Department and the IRS. The bill covering the IRS was scheduled to come up first after reports that tax refunds could be an early casualty of the shutdown, but the White House announced Monday that the IRS would seek a way to pay refunds during the shutdown, in a break with past policy. Passage of the Treasury spending bill would be followed Thursday and Friday with House votes on bills to fund the Agriculture, Interior, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development departments, which together oversee programs including food stamps, housing vouchers, assistance to farmers and traffic safety."

Networks To Carry Trump Border Speech Live

Networks agree to carry Trump’s speech about nonexistent ‘crisis’ at U.S.-Mexico border. ThinkProgress: "Trump and his top officials have repeatedly misrepresented immigration policies and smeared immigrants in an attempt to justify the wall — including Trump’s questionable claim of a “crisis on our Southern Border,” which he has continued to repeat even though border-crossing attempts are at a historic low and have been in steady decline since 2000.

Nonetheless, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News have agreed to broadcast Trump’s speech on Tuesday night. The Trump administration’s rhetoric about a 'crisis at the border' was thrown into further doubt on Monday when NBC News reported that only six immigrants in a database of “known or suspected” terrorists have been caught trying to cross into the U.S. The White House had previously claimed that number was around 4,000. However, the president is reportedly still considering declaring a national emergency at the Mexico border so he can obtain funding for his long-desired wall without having to go through Congress."

Dangers Of Trump's Grab For Executive Powers

With a ‘national emergency,’ could Trump use the military to build the wall? PBS: "The law that governs national emergencies is the National Emergencies Act, which was passed by Congress in 1976. And under that law, the president has almost unlimited discretion to declare a national emergency. Congress chose consciously not to include a definition of national emergency, not to include any particular requirements or criteria or to require the president to make any kind of showing. So, really, all the president has to do under the act is issue a declaration that he signs saying that he thinks there's a national emergency. And at that point, he then gets access to special powers that are contained in more than 100 different laws that have been passed over several decades. Well, many of these powers are really quite narrow, quite reasonable, but some of them seem like the stuff of authoritarian regimes. So there are powers that would allow the president to shut down communications facilities and to freeze Americans' bank accounts or to deploy the military domestically. So these are some of the powers in there that the president has access to, simply with the stroke of a pen."

Seattle's Warning To NYC About Amazon

Seattle Lawmakers Warn New York About What Happens When Amazon Comes to Town. Common Dreams: "two Seattle City Council members traveled to New York City to participate in a summit on Monday that also featured labor officials, Amazon employees, and New York state representatives. In Seattle, where Amazon's current headquarters is located, "workers have been pushed out further and further from the city because they can't afford it. The result of having Amazon in town is gentrification, is people losing their family home," said Seattle City Council member Teresa Mosqueda, who joined her fellow lawmaker Lisa Herbold at the event. The meeting came days after the Seattle-based company ran an ad in New York City papers attempting to smooth over tensions over the deal by pledging 'to be your partner, to listen, learn, and work together.' In tweets reacting to the meeting, social justice group New York Communities for Change (NYCC) denounced the wealthy e-commerce giant's hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks and said the new Queens headquarters will be bad news for the local community and workers:"

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