fresh voices from the front lines of change








Tom Conway

Even the Grim Reaper Favors the Rich

Income inequality is a pox on America. The rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer. CEO pay keeps rising while workers’ paychecks have been all but flat for decades. As a result, income inequality now rivals that of the robber baron days of the early 1900s, when labor unions were virtually outlawed while corporate monopolies thrived. It gets worse. It turns out that low income is an actual pox, killing people before their time. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office had found that poor people live shorter lives than rich people. Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican from Iowa, recently suggested that Congress meet behind closed doors to discuss “changes” in Social Security. She said she feared public backlash from having the conversation in public. More specifically, she said she didn’t want to look like she was pushing “granny over a cliff.” Sen. Ernst needs to wake up. The Republicans’ pro-wealth, anti-labor and anti-social welfare campaigns are already pushing people over a cliff before they live long enough to become grannies.

Whistleblower Sets Off Impeachment Furor

The Trump-Ukraine affair: what you Need to know and what's coming next. NPR: "A tumultuous week in Washington has set the stage for an intense new congressional investigation into President Trump — and what could prove to be a historic clash between the White House and Congress. The outlines are now clear about conduct that no one, including Trump, disputes: The president asked his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate the family of Vice President Joe Biden, a potential political rival in the 2020 presidential election. If Trump was sanguine about confirming that story — which the White House did with the extraordinary release on Wednesday of its own records about the conversation — House Democrats want the answers to more questions before they decide how much further to travel down a road they've said could lead to impeachment."

U.S. Slams Door On Refugees

The US will admit just 18,000 refugees in the next year. Vox: "The United States will accept fewer refugees over the coming year than ever: 18,000 at most, down from a cap of 110,000 just two years ago. And a new executive order from President Donald Trump will allow state and local authorities to block refugees from settling in their areas. The administration announced Thursday that it will lower the annual cap on refugees to 18,000, from 30,000 this year, in the coming fiscal year, which starts October 1. And local governments that do not have the resources to support refugees in becoming 'self-sufficient and free from long-term dependence on public assistance' will be able to turn them away. Taken together, the reduction in refugee admissions and the new restrictions on where they may resettle represent another blow to the US’s ability to aid the world’s most vulnerable populations, even as the number of refugees worldwide has soared. The number of refugees worldwide approximately doubled between 2012 and 2018 to more than 20 million, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The administration said the decision was necessary so it could focus on processing asylum seekers at the southern border. But a drastic cut to refugee admissions has been rumored for months, an idea reportedly embraced by Trump adviser Stephen Miller and other hard-line immigration restrictionists."

EPA Blames Homeless For CA Water Quality

EPA tells California it is ‘failing to meet its obligations’ to protect the environment. WaPo: "The Trump administration accused the state of California Thursday of 'failing to meet its obligations' to protect the environment, claiming that a growing homeless population threatens the state’s water quality. Days after President Trump mocked Los Angeles and other big cities for their “tremendous pollution,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler sent an oversight letter charging California officials with failing to meet federal health standards in numerous communities where large homeless populations litter the streets with trash, drug paraphernalia and human waste. The unusual move ratchets up the Trump administration’s ongoing assault on the nation’s most populous state, a multipronged campaign that California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has described as “weaponizing” the federal government. The outcome of that battle — which has involved the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the EPA — could determine who gets to set policy on a range of issues, from immigration to transportation."

Neoliberalism Paved Path To Right-Wing Populism

Neoliberalism paved the way for authoritarian right-wing populism. Truthout: "Talk of a looming recession is heating up as the global economy slows and President Trump’s tiff with China unsettles financial markets. As world trade contracts, stock markets drop, the manufacturing sector in the United States is in decline for the first time in a decade, and farmers and steel workers continue losing their income and jobs. Just as the 2008 global economic crisis revealed the failures of liberal democracy and the scourge of neoliberalism, a new economic recession in 2019 could also reveal how institutions meant to serve the public interest and offer support for a progressive politics now serve authoritarian ideologies and a ruling elite that views democracy as the enemy of market-based freedoms and white nationalism. What has not been learned from the 2008 crisis is that an economic crisis neither unites those most affected in favor of a progressive politics nor does it offer any political guarantees regarding the direction of social change. Instead, the emotions that fueled massive public anger toward elites and globalization gave rise to the celebration of populist demagogues and a right-wing tsunami of misdirected anger, hate and violence toward undocumented immigrants, refugees, Muslims and people of color."

Democrats, Please Don't Mess This Up

Impeach Trump for all his crimes, not just for Ukraine.. The Intercept: "Are Democrats preparing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement on Tuesday that the House of Representatives would hold an 'official impeachment inquiry' over Trump’s phone call with the president of Ukraine, and his request for dirt on Joe Biden and his son Hunter, was a welcome one. But on Wednesday, according to several reports, 'Pelosi and senior House Democrats agreed in a private meeting … that they should narrow their impeachment investigation of President Trump to his dealings with the president of Ukraine.' To be clear: There is now a majority in the House for impeachment, especially with the publication of the whistleblower complaint on Thursday, which reveals how “the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.” House Democrats — even in swing seats — have united on this issue and see Trump as a clear threat to national security. It looks like a slam dunk. So how then might this end up as a defeat, and not a victory? Think about it. For House Democrats to wait this long and then impeach a reckless, lawless, racist, tax-dodging president only over his interactions with the president of Ukraine would be to effectively give Trump a clean bill of health on everything else. The Democrats only get one chance at impeachment. One chance to remind the public there is a criminal sitting in the Oval Office. They can’t afford to rush it — or blow it."

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