fresh voices from the front lines of change








Carrie McBane

Big Pharma Holds My Life In Its Hands

My name is Carrie McBane, and I live in Sylva, North Carolina. I have Type 2 diabetes, so my life depends on daily access to drugs I can’t afford out of pocket, and I don’t have healthcare coverage. Every day I wake up, I am reminded that my life, and all aspects of it, are contingent upon whether giant, powerful, pharmaceutical companies will allow me access to the drugs my life depends on. Big pharma holds the power of life and death over millions of Americans like me. A year ago, I started to experience a variety of physical ailments – to the extent that it felt like all of my organs were shutting down at once. After multiple visits to specialists and the emergency room that I had to pay out of pocket, I learned that I have diabetes. Now I have to take three medications to survive, only one of which I can afford. When you’re sick, and you don’t want to be sick, you’re often in denial. One thing that cannot be denied any longer is that the healthcare system in this country is broken. No one’s life should hang in the balance because they can’t afford preventative care, a doctor’s visit, the right medication, or because their file gets lost. Health care is a human right, and should be available to every one of us.

NY To Approve Ambitious Climate Plan

New York to approve one of the world’s most ambitious climate plans. NYT: "New York lawmakers have agreed to pass a sweeping climate plan that calls for the state to all but eliminate its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, envisioning an era when gas-guzzling cars, oil-burning heaters and furnaces would be phased out, and all of the state’s electricity would come from carbon-free sources. Under an agreement reached this week between legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act would require the state to slash its planet-warming pollution 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, and offset the remaining 15 percent, possibly through measures to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If the state manages to hit those targets, it would effectively create a so-called net-zero economy, the ultimate goal of environmentalists and others seeking to slow the pace of global warming. The bill’s passage would be the culmination of several years of activism by groups like New York Renews, a coalition of nearly 200 organizations, which repeatedly rallied in Albany and pushed policymakers to act."

Judge Opens New Challenge To Census Citizenship Poll

New evidence alleging political motivation behind citizenship question 'raises a substantial issue'. CNN: "In a blow to the Trump administration, a federal trial judge said Wednesday that he believes new evidence presented in a challenge to the 2020 census citizenship question 'raises a substantial issue.' The decision could lead to reopening one of three federal trials into the citizenship question and lead to further examinations of Republican redistricting consultant Thomas Hofeller's role in developing the question. Earlier this month, the ACLU and a team of lawyers at Arnold & Porter said that they had obtained a trove of documents from Hofeller, a deceased Republican redistricting expert who, they allege, played a significant role in the decision to add the question. Hofeller wrote a study in 2015 concluding that using 'citizen voting age' population as the redistricting population base would be 'advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites' The administration has always denied political motivation, saying instead that the Justice Department had determined that the question was necessary to better comply with federal voting rights law. Judge George Hazel of the US District Court in Maryland disagreed with the government's arguments that Hofeller's files were "not material and it would not produce a new outcome." His order allows the groups suing the government -- alleging the question was developed with discriminatory intent and amounted to an illegal conspiracy -- to ask an appeals court to remand the case to his lower court."

2020 Budget Talks Break With No Deal

Budget talks at impasse as spending cuts, debt ceiling threaten economy. Politico: "Congressional leaders and the Trump administration left a critical meeting on Wednesday still with no budget agreement, deadlocked over how much to raise domestic spending to avoid a fiscal calamity. Given the lack of progress, administration officials are pitching a short-term agreement to avoid breaching the debt ceiling and blunt budget cuts from the sequester in the fall. It’s uncertain whether Democrats will agree. Does Trump realize how good of a deal Mnuchin is offering the Democrats right now? A yearlong budget deal coupled with a yearlong debt-limit package sidesteps the $100 billion in budget cuts Democrats so desperately want to avoid. It once again punts on TRUMP’S border wall. This seems like a too-good-to-be-true deal for Dems, given the complications in cutting a deal with the White House. Of course, Democrats have no incentive to accept this deal now, but come September, if it’s on the table, it might look pretty darn good with deadlines looming."

NY Eliminates 'Gay Panic' Defense

‘Gay Panic’ defenses are banned in N.Y. murder case. NYT: "Since as early as the 1960s, defense lawyers have introduced the idea that people accused of murdering lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people had acted in a state of temporary insanity caused and justified by their victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The legal strategy, known as the “gay panic” or 'transgender panic' defenses, was not always effective, and as attitudes toward L.G.B.T. people shifted, it was used less often. But it has still been deployed in recent years by lawyers hoping to win a jury’s sympathy, lessen a defendant’s charges or shorten a sentence. On Wednesday, New York became the seventh State Legislature to approve a ban on such defenses. The measure’s passage came amid a growing national push to bar the defenses, which gay and transgender rights activists say codify discriminatory attitudes into the legal system."

HUD Hires Lawyer Who Left CFPB After Racist Comments

HUD hires former official at center of racial scandal. Politico: "The Department of Housing and Urban Development has hired Eric Blankenstein, the former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau official whose racially charged blog posts sparked an uproar last year. Blankenstein has been hired by HUD’s Office of General Counsel as a senior counsel working on Ginnie Mae matters, making $166,500 a year, according to people familiar with the matter. Democrats and civil rights activists demanded that the CFPB fire Blankenstein after the Washington Post reported in September that he had questioned the veracity of hate crimes and whether the N-word is racist, in blog posts he wrote 14 years earlier. The then-acting CFPB director, Mick Mulvaney, referred the matter to the agency’s inspector general. Mulvaney had appointed Blankenstein to be the policy associate director for the Supervision, Enforcement and Fair Lending, a post he left last month. Blankenstein will report to HUD’s principal deputy general counsel starting Monday, the people said."

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