fresh voices from the front lines of change








Connie Huynh

It’s Time to Put #PeopleOverPharma

From Connecticut to Washington, New York and West Virginia, People’s Action members rallied across the nation this Tuesday to demand Congress and Trump put #PeopleOverPharma profits. “They’re jacking up these prices, and they’re killing people. If you don’t take the medicines you need, you die,” said Steve Derby, a retired engineer from West Hartford, a board member of Connecticut Citizens Action Group, one of the twelve People's Action member groups that participated in this National Day Of Action. “And if you pay the price, you can’t afford to live.” The stranglehold big pharmaceutical companies hold over patents also dramatically harms those affected by Hepatitis C. A once-daily treatment, Harvoni, can cure the disease, but the drug’s maker, Gilead Sciences, charges over $1,000 per pill, or $94,500 for a full course, which many insurance plans refuse to pay. “It’s like a death sentence,” said Bobby Tolbert, who rallied with other members of VOCAL-NY on the steps of the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan. “People fall through the cracks of the system, because they’re not able to get that treatment.”

Sanders Unveils $16t Green New Deal

Bernie Sanders unveils $16 trillion ‘Green New Deal’ plan. NYT: "Senator Bernie Sanders on Thursday will release a $16.3 trillion blueprint to fight climate change, the latest and most expensive proposal from the field of Democratic presidential candidates aimed at reining in planet-warming greenhouse gases. Mr. Sanders’s proposal comes one day after Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, who made climate change the central focus of his campaign, announced he was dropping out of the 2020 race. Mr. Inslee’s absence could create an opening for another presidential aspirant to seize the mantle of 'climate candidate.' Mr. Sanders was an early supporter of the Green New Deal, an ambitious but nonbinding congressional plan for tackling global warming and economic inequality. He is bestowing that same name upon his new plan, which calls for the United States to eliminate fossil fuel use by 2050. It declares climate change a national emergency; envisions building new solar, wind and geothermal power sources across the country; and commits $200 billion to help poor nations cope with climate change."

Sanders, Warren Demand End To Puerto Rico Debt

Hedge fund cash flows to presidential candidates at Puerto Rico’s expense. American Prospect: "Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have returned campaign contributions from individuals employed at hedge funds that have investments in Puerto Rican debt. An open letter from a coalition of progressive activist groups sent last week demanded that presidential candidates reject donations tied to the continuing misery on the island. Thirteen presidential candidates received a total of $230,900 in donations from fifteen different hedge funds holding Puerto Rican debt. The other candidates, including Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, and Pete Buttigieg, have not committed to returning the money.'We applaud Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in this important step and show of solidarity for the people of Puerto Rico,' said Julio López Varona, co-director of community dignity campaigns at the Center For Popular Democracy, in a statement. 'No presidential candidate can call themselves a friend of Puerto Ricans while taking money from hedge funds driving austerity on the island. We marched for days to oust a corrupt governor, we will not stand idle for these abuses and will condemn anyone who builds their campaigns from them.' For Sanders and Warren, sending back the funds was no great hardship, as they didn’t receive much money in the first place. For Warren, it was one $1,000 donation from an employee of Taconic Capital, and for Sanders, it was a single $2,700 contribution from an employee at BlueMountain Capital."

Native Americans Host Presidential Forum

Native Americans had their 2020 Democratic campaign forum. ThinkProgress: "The candidates addressed issues of critical importance to Native communities, including ballot access and sovereign land rights. One day after the forum in Sioux City, Iowa, tribal members say the two-day political event went better than they expected. 'Having 11 presidential candidates participate the best they could reflects the understanding that the Native vote has an impact on national elections,' said Brandon Stevens, vice chairman of the Oneida Nation in Wisconsin. 'It shows engagement that … was more of a conversation. Not gotcha questions,' he said. One barometer of success is that the candidates seemed to have a good grasp on a number of issues that uniquely pertain to Native Americans. Most of the candidates addressed the need to give Native Americans greater access to the ballot box one year after massive voter suppression efforts in North Dakota and other places."

Kids At Border Camps Left To Die Of Flu

Kids in border camps are 9 times likelier to die of flu. Trump’s team won’t vaccinate them. ThinkProgress: "More than two dozen immigrants, including children, have died in U.S. government custody since President Donald Trump took office. The judicial branch has had to force Trump’s administration to provide basic hygiene tools like toothpaste to detained migrant children. Now, his immigration officials are saying they will not act to prevent influenza from spreading in their cramped, overcrowded immigration jails at the U.S.-Mexico border. Flu played a role in at least three of the roughly 30 known migrant deaths in custody confirmed since January 2017. Vaccines are cheap and the highly controlled nature of incarcerated populations makes it relatively easy to reach the high innoculation rates that can radically reduce the reach of the illness in any given flu season.Still, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said it will not bother issuing the shots 'due to the short-term nature of CBP holding and the complexities of operating vaccination programs.'"

Trump Guts Endangered Species Act

Trump escalates war on species as we face an extinction emergency. Truthout: "The Trump administration’s recent announcement of rule changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) will blow a hole through protections that have been crucial to preventing extinctions and to helping the recovery of many threatened species. The changes, announced by the Interior Department’s, Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service, will take effect in September. About 1,600 plant and animal species in the U.S. are listed under the ESA. It’s been estimated the ESA has prevented 227 species from going extinct. It has a 99 percent success ratio, meaning only 10 species ever listed have gone extinct. According to a recent study, 77 percent of once-endangered marine mammals and sea turtles protected by the ESA are now recovering. Without the ESA, it is very likely many iconic as well as many lesser-known species would have disappeared forever. Among others, the ESA is believed to have saved the bald eagle, the monk seal, the leatherback sea turtle, the grizzly bear, the gray wolf, the California condor, the snowy plover, and humpback and gray whales. It is also protecting plant, insect and other species that are vital parts of natural ecosystems."

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