fresh voices from the front lines of change








James Mumm

All Is Not Lost

Reeling from reports on our climate catastrophe, I took a break to recharge my own batteries and see if today’s best speculative fiction writers could imagine us into a better future. There is a growing genre of climate science fiction, or “cli-fi,” which features prominently in A People’s Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers, a new volume edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams. I found myself revived by what longtime climate activist Bill McKibben calls “the flow” of inspiration, when reading what these authors propose about what could be, if we are bold enough to reimagine the future. Their call to imagination is restorative. All is not lost, their brilliant visions suggest - even if our climate catastrophe feels insurmountable. The human spirit has not perished. Whenever the path forward is not clear and we lack inspiration, we should stop and listen to the voices of and stories of women, people of color, indigenous people, workers, non-binary people, young people, and the people who have paid for the climate emergency coming and going. They can still imagine our future, and so can we. Let’s do that now.

Planned Parenthood Loses Funding

Planned Parenthood loses Title X funding. Vox: "Planned Parenthood has decided to reject Title X funding rather than complying with a new Trump administration abortion rule. Earlier this year, the Trump administration released a new rule that would bar organizations receiving Title X funding — the only federal funding for family planning — from providing abortion referrals. Planned Parenthood, which serves about 40 percent of Title X recipients, immediately pushed back and called it a 'gag rule.' Planned Parenthood was left with two choices: no longer referring abortions or rejecting about $60 million in federal funding. The organization chose the latter. This doesn’t mean that the organization will lose all of its federal funding, as it receives about $500 million from Medicaid a year (according to 2017-2018 records). But some services will undoubtedly have to be cut, experts say. The lack of funding could affect about 1.5 million people, many who receives services other than abortions such as birth control and STD testing. Some patients will experience delays in treatment, while some will lose all access, according to Planned Parenthood."

NYPD Fires Cop Who Killed Eric Garner

The NYPD Finally Fired the Cop Who Killed Eric Garner — but the Police Reaction shows how little will change. The Intercept: "For five years, the public — along with the New York Police Department itself — has known that Officer Daniel Pantaleo killed Eric Garner on a Staten Island street corner using a prohibited chokehold maneuver. We have known, for all those years, that Garner called out, 'I can’t breathe,' 11 times before he could take no more breaths. A deputy police commissioner, acting as a judge in Pantaleo’s department trial this year, wrote in her opinion that the officer had been 'untruthful' and that fellow cops who testified in his defense were “unhelpful and unreliable.” Pantaleo’s long overdue firing is scant justice for a life so callously and brutally ended. Pantaleo deserved at the very least to be fired and lose his pension. This simple fact has long been established but was only officially recognized by the police department on Monday. In a press conference, Police Commissioner James O’Neill announced, “In this case, the unintended consequence of Mr. Garner’s death must have a consequence of its own. Therefore, I agree with the Deputy Commissioner of Trial’s legal findings and recommendations. It is clear that Daniel Pantaleo can no longer effectively serve as a New York City Police Officer.”

Gun Control? What Gun Control?

After lobbying by gun rights advocates, Trump sounds a familiar retreat. NYT: "Days after a pair of deadly mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, President Trump said he was prepared to endorse what he described as 'very meaningful background checks' that would be possible because of his 'greater influence now over the Senate and over the House.' But after discussions with gun rights advocates during his two-week working vacation in Bedminster, N.J. — including talks with Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association — Mr. Trump’s resolve appears to have substantially softened, and he has reverted to reiterating the conservative positions on the gun issue he has espoused since the 2016 campaign. Mr. Trump said he was 'very, very concerned with the Second Amendment, more so than most presidents would be,' and added that 'people don’t realize we have very strong background checks right now.' He also echoed the standard response to mass shootings delivered by the N.R.A., which since 1966 has pushed the government to focus on the mental problems of the gunmen rather than how they were able to obtain their guns. 'I don’t want people to forget that this is a mental health problem,' Mr. Trump said. 'I don’t want them to forget that, because it is. It’s a mental health problem.'"

Sanders Proposes Criminal Justice Reforms

Bernie Sanders unveils ambitious plan to reform nation's criminal justice system. Salon: "Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has unveiled a new criminal justice reform plan, which his presidential campaign claims would rectify some of the economic and social injustices currently embedded in America's law enforcement system. After decrying how America incarcerates 'more of our own people than any country on Earth' — including 2 million in jail and another 5 million under the supervision of the correctional system — Sanders' campaign website argues that the current prison system is "criminalizing poverty" and that 'mass incarceration disportionately [sic] falls on the shoulders of black and brown people in America.' To combat these problems, Sanders calls for a number of reforms, including: eliminating for-profit prisons; banning practices in which prisoners are charged for basic things like communications or are price gouged; stopping the use of secured bonds for federal criminal proceedings; and withholding funding from states which insist on using cash bail systems. Sanders also condemned the problem of police officers targeting racial minorities, with his website explaining that 'we must hold our police and sheriff’s departments to a higher standard. And we must end harmful policing practices like racial profiling, stop and frisk, oppressive 'broken windows' policing and the militarization of police forces — all of which actively undermine public safety and community trust in law enforcement.'"

Trump Wants To Fire Women Who 'Act Masculine'

The Trump administration wants to make it easier to fire women who act too ‘masculine’. ThinkProgress: "Thirty years ago, in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, the Supreme Court held that 'sex stereotyping' is forbidden by a federal law banning employment discrimination. 'We are beyond the day,' Justice William Brennan wrote in the court’s plurality opinion, 'when an employer could evaluate employees by assuming or insisting that they matched the stereotype associated with their group.' Nevertheless, the Trump administration filed a brief last week asking the Supreme Court to bring back the day when an employer could evaluate employees by assuming or insisting that they matched the stereotype associated with their group.

Oil Lobby Admits Driving Efforts To Criminalize Protest

Oil lobbyist touts success in effort to criminalize pipeline protests. The Intercept: "The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, a powerful lobbying group that represents major chemical plants and oil refineries, including Valero Energy, Koch Industries, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Marathon Petroleum, has flexed its muscle over environmental and energy policy for decades. Despite its reach, AFPM channels dark money and influence with little scrutiny. The group is now leveraging its political power to criminalize protests of oil and gas infrastructure. In an audio recording obtained by The Intercept, the group concedes that it has been playing a role behind the scenes in crafting laws recently passed in states across the country to criminalize oil and gas pipeline protests, in response to protests over the Dakota Access pipeline. The laws make it a crime to trespass on public land used for 'critical infrastructure,' impose a fine or prison time for violators, and hold protesters responsible for damage incurred during the protest. Many of the laws also carry heavy fines to groups and individuals who support such demonstrations."

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