fresh voices from the front lines of change








Susan Holmberg, Bill Lilliston

We Must Tame Big Ag To Tame Climate Change

"Carbon farming" — building soil vitality to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere — is essential for reducing the agricultural industry’s greenhouse gas emissions. But this practice alone is not enough. If we want farmers to adapt successfully to climate change and help solve the crisis, we must understand the economic powers that block family farms from making a fair living and investing in climate-friendly farming methods. Many family farmers are currently losing money, farm debt is rising to levels last seen in the 1980s, and farmland ownership trends reflect a steady march toward consolidation. Among farmers who have survived, many are contractually bound to agricultural monopolies, particularly poultry and pig producers, that have enormous power to set terms and prices. They have effectively become contract workers with increasingly less control over their growing practices and their income. As farmers age out — or are priced out — both Wall Street and international investors are buying up farm acreage seeking short-term returns, not making long-term commitments to rural communities, reducing water pollution, or soil health. Democratic candidates have clearly thought much more about our climate crisis since the last presidential election. But our response to climate change should not be separated from those who work the land, and the soil.

Migrant Dies In U.S. Custody

El Salvador man dies in U.S. border custody. CBS:
"A 43-year-old El Salvadoran man who crossed into the U.S. with his daughter collapsed at a border station and later died at a hospital, officials said Saturday. The man had been held about a week at the Rio Grande Valley central processing center in McAllen, Texas, according to a law enforcement official. The official said the man, who had health issues, had been medically checked. The daughter was still in U.S. Border Patrol custody, but officials had requested an expedited transfer to a shelter run by the agency that manages children who cross the border alone, an official told The Associated Press. The official did not know the daughter's age. The facility where the man was being held, like most other Border Patrol stations along the U.S.-Mexico border, is overcrowded. Border stations are generally at capacity with about 4,000 people and more than 15,000 are in custody. Advocates and attorneys have decried fetid, filthy conditions inside the stations that were not meant as more than a temporary holding station."

Canceling Student Debt Costs Less Than GOP Tax Cuts

Sanders is right: Republican tax cuts cost more than forgiving student debt. Guardian: "A 2016 plan for free college tuition didn’t go far enough for Bernie Sanders. In this election cycle, the candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination is promising to forgive all outstanding student loan debt. Although Congress has the legal power to write off such debts, voters might be skeptical about the government’s financial power to do so. In 2006, total student loan debt stood at $481bn. Since then, total student loan debt has more than tripled, now standing at $1.6tn. A counter-argument put forward by politicians like Sanders and the New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is that Republican tax cuts have cost the government more money than would student loan forgiveness. These claims are correct. Estimates of the cost of the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 vary. But the most recent and reliable numbers come from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which is the federal agency whose job it is to provide budget information to Congress. This year, the CBO estimated that the new tax law would add $2.3tn to national debt by 2028. Those losses would partly be offset by economic growth of about $461bn meaning that overall, the tax cuts would cost the country $1.9tn."

DCCC Campaigns Against Progressives

Whose Side Is The DCCC On? Crooks and Liars: "Cheri Bustos, the anti-democracy Blue Dog running the DCCC, is determined to make sure no more progressives get into Congress. Currently she is working against the election efforts of 3 progressive Democrats who nearly won— without DCCC help— in 2018: Dana Balter (NY), Kara Eastman (NE) and Mike Siegel (TX). Each of these candidates built a strong two-cycle campaign, something the DCCC has never understood. Bustos has the DCCC recruiting conservative candidates; like herself; to drain resources and energy out of the Eastman and Siegel campaigns and possibly the Balter campaign as well. In 2018 Balter and Eastman beat DCCC candidates in the primaries, at which time a vindictive DCCC was determined to destroy them. DCCC operatives; as high up as Hoyer and Pelosi; call institutional Democratic donors and tell them not to “waste” their money on progressive candidates, a little trick that started while Rahm Emanuel; Bustos’ mentor; was chair of the DCCC."

Biden Stumbles Open Democratic Field

The 2020 Democratic primary is suddenly wide open. Politico: "For months, the Democratic presidential primary has been dictated by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. That primary is now over. After an eventful month and the conclusion of the first round of Democratic debates, there is a new top tier — and a sense among many campaigns and Democratic operatives that Biden and Sanders are suddenly within reach in a race that has broken wide open. Bernie and Biden were largely living off of inertia,' said Colin Strother, a veteran Democratic strategist. Now, he said, voters are becoming aware that 'other [candidates], they have a lot of other things to offer.' The campaign’s evolution came gradually at first — then violently amid the debates. Biden, already damaged by his shifting views on abortion and his one-time work with segregationists, withered under Sen. Kamala Harris’ filleting of his record on busing for school desegregation. Sanders committed no such error. Yet he was weakened by contrast — his forgettable debate performance versus the proficiency of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a fellow leftist previously untested in a presidential campaign. She is slowly rising in the polls, just as Sanders — a rival for the progressive vote — is seeing his numbers tick downward."

What Does Pride Mean Today?

50 years after Stonewall, what does Pride mean today? Salon: "Wandering the streets of New York City this June, I found myself moving through a rainbow wonderland. From store fronts and banks to iconic landmarks like the Empire State Building, the city has been transformed into a multi-colored display of LGBTQ support and allyship. It's incredible how much things have changed. After all, 2019 marks just 50 years since queer folks fought back against police persecution at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, sparking the modern LGBTQ rights movement. Back then, legal and social protections LGBTQ people have today, like marriage equality and employment security- let alone widespread celebrations like Pride - would have been inconceivable. However, while Pride engenders a spirit of progress, inclusion and self-acceptance, our community cannot afford to be complacent. For many of us, these threats are still prevalent. So far, at least 11 black trans women have been killed in the US this year, and in May, the Trump administration announced plans to roll back trans healthcare protections. In the face of these continuing injustices, Pride should stand as an important reminder that the homophobic and transphobic sentiments of the past continue to trickle into our lives. To me, Pride isn't just a party. It's a symbol of what's possible: the ability to witness fully realized LGBTQ equality in my lifetime. If in June, cities, institutions and individuals can devote attention and resources to LGBTQ people, maybe one day, they can do so all year round."

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