fresh voices from the front lines of change








Leigh Friedman

The ‘Secret Sauce’ For Southern Organizing

Hometown Action is the youngest and scrappiest member of the People’s Action national grassroots network. Barely two years old, this Alabama grassroots group was on the front page of newspapers around the world when they helped lead protests against the state’s restrictive anti-abortion laws last month. I traveled to Montgomery to meet with two founding members of Hometown Action: Justin Vest, the group’s Executive Director, and KC Vick, Director of Culture & Power Building, You don’t have to spend much time with Justin and KC to see passion for their home state runs deep. In our in-depth interview, KC and Justin shared insights with me about Hometown Action’s “secret sauce” is for building power to win in the Deep South, what outsiders get wrong about the region, and how their approach to organizing, which builds consciousness and relationships through deep conversations, makes a difference and creates impact.

Mexico Tariffs Loom As Border Arrests Surge

Trump says no deal with Mexico is reached as border arrests surge. NYT: "The United States on Wednesday barreled closer to imposing tariffs on all Mexican imports as high-stakes negotiations at the White House failed to immediately resolve President Trump’s demand that Mexico prevent a surge of Central American migrants from flowing across the southwestern border. Mr. Trump declared Wednesday evening on Twitter that 'not nearly enough' progress had been made and warned that 'if no agreement is reached, Tariffs at the 5% level will begin on Monday, with monthly increases as per schedule.' New figures released Wednesday showed that illegal border crossings have risen to a seven-year high, underscoring the roots of the president’s rage. But political resistance to Mr. Trump’s tariff threat has also intensified, with skeptical Republican senators asking to hear directly from the president before he takes an action that could shake the economies of both countries."

HHS Cuts Services For Detained Minors

HHS cuts funds for detained unaccompanied minors' education, recreation. Axios: "The Office of Refugee Resettlement began canceling funding for recreational programs, English classes and "legal aid for unaccompanied minors staying in federal migrant shelters" across the U.S. last week, according to an email sent to an HHS official and obtained by the Washington Post. This funding cut could 'run afoul of a federal court settlement and state licensing requirements that mandate education and recreation for minors in federal custody,' the Post reports. 'I think it'll be subject to legal challenges, subject to pushback ... but the animated legal strategy is to push the boundaries of what they can do,' immigration lawyer and advocate R. Andrew Free tells Axios."

Opioid Maker Admits Bribing Doctors

Opioid maker Insys admits to bribing doctors. NPR: "Insys Therapeutics, an opioid manufacturer, has agreed to pay $225 million to settle the federal government's criminal and civil investigations into the company's marketing practices. As part of the settlement, Insys Therapeutics admitted to bribing doctors to prescribe their opioid painkiller. Last month, a federal jury in Boston found five top Insys Therapeutics executives guilty of racketeering conspiracy for these same practices. Now, the federal government is holding the company accountable. In the agreement, the drug maker admitted to orchestrating a nationwide scheme in which they set up a sham "speaker program." Participating doctors were not paid to give speeches, but to write prescriptions of Insys Therapeutics' fentanyl-based medication, Subsys. Often the painkiller was prescribed to patients who did not need it."

Pelosi Tells Dems Trump Belongs 'In Prison'

Pelosi tells Dems she wants to see Trump ‘in prison’. Politico: "Speaker Nancy Pelosi told senior Democrats that she’d like to see President Donald Trump 'in prison' as she clashed with House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler in a meeting on Tuesday night over whether to launch impeachment proceedings. Pelosi met with Nadler (D-N.Y.) and several other top Democrats who are aggressively pursuing investigations against the president, according to multiple sources. Nadler and other committee leaders have been embroiled in a behind-the-scenes turf battle for weeks over ownership of the Democrats’ sprawling investigation into Trump. Nadler pressed Pelosi to allow his committee to launch an impeachment inquiry against Trump — the second such request he’s made in recent weeks only to be rebuffed by the California Democrat and other senior leaders. Pelosi stood firm, reiterating that she isn’t open to the idea of impeaching Trump at this time. 'I don’t want to see him impeached, I want to see him in prison,' Pelosi said, according to multiple Democratic sources familiar with the meeting. Instead of impeachment, Pelosi still prefers to see Trump defeated at the ballot box and then prosecuted for his alleged crimes, according to the sources."

DNC Opts Against Climate Change Debate

DNC opts against climate change debate, Inslee says. Politico: "Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Wednesday the Democratic National Committee informed him it will not dedicate one of its presidential primary debates to the issue of climate change. The decision comes despite a furious push from progressive and environmental advocates for a climate change debate, as well as strong support across the Democratic ideological spectrum. At least half a dozen Democratic candidates, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and former Obama cabinet official Julián Castro, have backed the idea. Inslee, who led the push among presidential candidates and has made climate change the centerpiece of his campaign, called the decision 'deeply disappointing' and out of step with Democratic primary voters. He also said the organization threatened not to invite him to future debates if he participated in any other climate change debate. 'The DNC is silencing the voices of Democratic activists, many of our progressive partner organizations, and nearly half of the Democratic presidential field who want to debate the existential crisis of our time,' Inslee said in a statement. 'The climate crisis merits a full discussion of our plans, not a short exchange of talking points.'"

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