fresh voices from the front lines of change








Sav Miles

Why I STAY In Appalachia

“Why would you ever go back?” “Why don’t you move to Los Angeles, or come out to Denver?” “Have you at least considered Birmingham?” Whenever I told someone, be it a stranger or someone much closer, that after graduating from college I was planning to move back to my hometown of Gadsden, Alabama, these are the questions I faced. Even people who saw me spend my entire undergraduate career studying inequality in the rural South could not understand why I would actually go back to put that knowledge to practice. And over the last six months of living back home, I can't say that I don’t ever question that decision, too. Yet like any piece of clothing worth a damn, there are pockets of people across Alabama and Appalachia that remind me where I fit. Last month I got to attend the Stay Together Appalachian Youth (STAY) Summer Institute, a gathering of young leaders, creators, and organizers across Appalachia dedicated to supporting one another in building inclusive and sustainable communities where we can and want to stay. And even though we’re now separated by hills and hollers and highways, I am starting to see that power all around me. It bubbles up in the spring that fuels my favorite swimming hole. I hear it interwoven in the Southern drawls and Spanish dialects at the Trade Day flea market, and in the banjo and guitar licks of Bluegrass Thursdays in my dad’s basement.I thank the heavens every day that I get to serve as Hometown Action’s Appalachian Region Lead Organizer, and I’m ready to fight like hell with anyone who wants to make this place somewhere we can and want to stay.

Sanders, Warren Confront "No We Can't" Dems

It's Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren vs. the 'No We Can't' Democrats. Guardian: "One of the most compelling things about Tuesday’s Democratic debate – which featured Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, and a host of lesser known candidates – was to see just how much of Sanders’ 2016 progressive agenda is dominating the party in 2019 and just how uncompelling the centrist replies to it still are. John Delaney, an unknown former congressman who has spent millions running a campaign no one’s heard of, was the unlikely gladiator willing to take it on. Despite statistically insignificant support, he got plenty of airtime, saying his progressive opponents (both Sanders and Warren) were committing political suicide and that they didn’t stand a chance in a general election. But while Delaney and Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar spoke about what they wouldn’t do, what they wouldn’t support, Sanders talked about getting 'rid of the profiteering of the health insurance and drug companies', about jobs, and free education, about basic rights that belonged to everyone. And Elizabeth Warren asked: 'Why go through the trouble of running for president and then talk about what we can’t do and won’t fight for?'"

Buttegieg Calls For Structural Reforms

Pete Buttigieg had the most important answer at the Democratic debate. Vox: "South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg gave the single most important answer at Tuesday’s Democratic debate. It came after a lengthy section in which the assembled candidates debated different health care plans that have no chance of passing given the composition of the US Senate, and then debated decriminalizing unauthorized border crossings, which they also don’t have the votes to do, and then debated a series of gun control ideas that would swiftly fall to a filibuster and, even if they didn’t, would plausibly be overturned by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority. That’s when Buttigieg spoke up. What’s different about Buttigieg is his insistence that he would prioritize political reforms over policy wins. To make policy, you have to fix the policymaking process. Some of the other candidates pay that idea lip service, when they get pushed on it. But he’s the one who places that project at the center of his candidacy."

ACLU Says Family Separations Continue

Administration is still separating migrant families despite court order to stop. NPR: "The Trump administration continues to separate hundreds of migrant children from their parents despite a federal court ruling that ordered an end to the practice, according to court documents filed in California by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU said that more than 900 parents and children, including babies, have been separated by U.S. border authorities since U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw, a George W. Bush appointee in San Diego, ordered the government to reunite more than 2,700 children with their parents more than a year ago. The controversy caused such an outcry that President Trump ordered an end to family separations on June 20, 2018, six days before Sabraw's ruling. Trump's executive order allowed separations only in cases where the parents posed a risk to the child. 'It is shocking that the Trump administration continues to take babies from their parents,' said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. 'The administration must not be allowed to circumvent the court order over infractions like minor traffic violations.'"

DOJ Guts Asylum Protections For Families

Justice Dept. moves to block asylum claims based on family ties. NYT: "Attorney General William P. Barr moved on Monday to end asylum protections for migrants solely because their relatives have been persecuted, the latest attempt by the Trump administration to limit sanctuary for people seeking refuge in the United States. Mr. Barr’s decision overturned a 2018 judgment by the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals, which found that a Mexican migrant whose father was targeted by a drug cartel could be eligible for asylum. Migrants are eligible for asylum in the United States if they can prove they were persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality or what immigration laws describe as “membership in a particular social group or political opinion.” Mr. Barr’s ruling concluded that the immigration appeals court “erred” in finding that a migrant’s family qualified as a persecuted social group."

New Indictments In GOP NC Vote Tampering

New indictments issued for man at center of North Carolina election fraud probe. CNN: "The man at the center of an election fraud investigation in a 2018 North Carolina congressional race faced new indictments Tuesday along with multiple other individuals. Leslie McCrae Dowless, a political operative in Bladen County who was connected to questionable absentee ballot activity, was indicted by a Wake County grand jury on two counts of felony obstruction of justice, perjury, solicitation to commit perjury, conspiracy to obstruct justice and possession of absentee ballot, according to a press release from the court. Dowless worked for Republican candidate Mark Harris, a Baptist minister who tallied 905 more votes than Democratic businessman and retired Marine Dan McCready in the election. This marks the second set of indictments against Dowless arising from the investigation. According to Tuesday's indictment, Dowless 'willfully, and feloniously did, with deceit and intent to defraud, obstruct public and legal justice by submitting or causing to be submitted by mail absentee ballots and container-return envelopes for those ballots to the Bladen County Board of Elections in such a manner so as to make it appear that those ballots had been voted and executed in compliance with the provisions of Article 21 of the North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 163A pertaining to absentee ballots when they in fact had not been so executed.'"

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