fresh voices from the front lines of change








Sasha Abramsky

HUD Is Planning a Bureaucratic Pogrom Against Public Housing Tenants

Donald Trump’s Department of Housing and Urban Development is proposing rule changes that would upset decades of settled policy. Under the proposed new rules, if a single member of a family lacks legal status, the entire family can be evicted within 18 months. Quite apart from its cruelty, the policy is utterly impractical—and costly. It is almost guaranteed to have expensive health, educational, and employment consequences. In a scathing July letter to HUD, the NHLP wrote, “Studies have shown that unstable housing situations can cause individuals to experience increased hospital visits, loss of employment, and are associated with increased likelihood of mental health problems in children.” This is, quite simply, government-sponsored vandalism in furtherance of Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. “We don’t know how many of those folks have family or what everyone will do,” says Bill Przylucki, the executive director of POWER. “But a lot of people don’t have a plan. And we don’t have low-income housing stock to absorb these folks.” In the late spring and early summer, groups like Przylucki’s coordinated a large-scale response during the public comment period that’s required before any proposed rule change may be published in the Federal Register. More than 30,000 comments were filed by individuals, community groups, public health and housing experts, educators, and so on. And of the comments the NHLP has analyzed so far, the overwhelming majority were firmly opposed to the changes.

Trump's Border Plan: Shoot Them In The Legs

Shoot migrants’ legs, build alligator moat: behind Trump’s ideas for border. NYT: "The Oval Office meeting this past March began, as so many had, with President Trump fuming about migrants. But this time he had a solution. As White House advisers listened astonished, he ordered them to shut down the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico — by noon the next day. The advisers feared the president’s edict would trap American tourists in Mexico, strand children at schools on both sides of the border and create an economic meltdown in two countries. Yet they also knew how much the president’s zeal to stop immigration had sent him lurching for solutions, one more extreme than the next. Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down."

Johnson & Johnson Agrees To Opioid Settlement

In opioid settlement, Johnson & Johnson agrees to pay Ohio counties $20 million. NPR: "Johnson & Johnson and two Ohio counties have reached a tentative $20.4 million settlement that removes the corporation from the first federal lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, scheduled to begin later this month. In a statement released Tuesday, the healthcare giant said the agreement with Cleveland's Cuyahoga and Akron's Summit counties allows it "to avoid the resource demands and uncertainty of a trial." However, the terms stipulate that Johnson & Johnson makes "no admission of liability." In 2017, Ohio had the nation's second highest per capita rate of fatal opioid overdoses, with 46.3 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. West Virginia had the highest rate at 57.8 per 100,000, the CDC said. In August, the drug maker was ordered to pay $572 million in a case in Oklahoma, which blamed Johnson & Johnson for helping fuel the opioid crisis in the state. The company has appealed the ruling. The case involving the Ohio counties is the first federal case to be brought against pharmaceutical companies and is therefore seen as potentially setting precedent for how similar suits will be handled. Four other drug makers have already settled ahead of the Oct. 21 trial, but McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and Henry Schein Inc. are still listed as defendants, according to Reuters."

Court Freezes GA's 6-Week Abortion Ban

Court freezes Georgia's 6-week abortion ban. Politico: "A federal judge in Atlanta on Tuesday temporarily blocked a Georgia law banning abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected — one of the strictest curbs of its kind in the nation and one of a series passed by Republican-led legislatures earlier this year. 'Because the constitutional liberty of the woman to have some freedom to terminate her pregnancy is implicated here, and because a preliminary injunction preserves the status quo, the public interest factor weighs in favor of Plaintiffs,' wrote U.S. District Court Judge Steve Jones. The injunction puts the law on hold while a broader challenge to its constitutionality plays out. The law also conferred full legal rights on fetuses but did not give guidance on how to implement that change under Georgia laws, a provision those challenging the law argued was vague and could be enforced in arbitrary and discriminatory ways."

Sanders Plans Tax On Corporate CEOs

Sanders unveils plan to tax companies with high-earning CEOs. Politico: "Bernie Sanders has a new plan to reduce the widening gap between the rich and poor. The presidential candidate and decadeslong crusader against income inequality unveiled a proposal Monday to raise taxes on businesses whose CEOs make at least 50 times more than their median workers. The boost in corporate taxes would be imposed on companies that bring in $100 million or more in annual revenue. 'The American people are sick and tired of corporate CEOs who now make 300 times more than their average employees, while they give themselves huge bonuses and cut back on the health care and pension benefits of their employees,' Sanders said in a statement. 'It is time to send a message to corporate America: If you do not end your greed and corruption, we will end it for you.' According to government data released this month, income inequality in the U.S. is at its highest point in at least 50 years. Sanders also introduced a wealth tax plan last week in hopes of lessening the nation’s divide in fortunes. His presidential primary opponent Sen. Elizabeth Warren proposed a wealth tax early this year. Both candidates have expressed support for wealth taxes before this year."

State Dept. IG Meets With Impeachment Committees

State Department inspector general to meet with Hill committees Wednesday. WaPo: "The State Department inspector general and two former state officials agreed to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told House Democrats on Tuesday that State Department officials scheduled to appear this week for depositions before committees conducting the impeachment inquiry would not show up. Meanwhile, the president is bringing the rhetorical heavy artillery to the most serious challenge to his presidency in nearly three tumultuous, norm-busting, warp-speed years in office. In Tuesday night tweets, Trump escalated his attacks on Democrats, arguing that 'what is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP.' Expanding on the lexicon of outrage and victimhood honed during the probe into Russian interference in the last election, Trump is invoking the muskets-and-ramparts idioms of the country’s beginnings. The ratcheting up of his rhetoric is also indicative of Trump’s tendency to interpret any criticism of him as an attack on the government, worrying critics and scholars who warn of the dangers posed by his l’état, c’est moi call to arms."

Warren Plans Tax On Corporate Lobbying

Warren outlines tax on federal lobbying. The Hill: "Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a 2020 White House hopeful, on Wednesday announced a plan to 'end lobbying as we know it' with a proposed tax on any corporation or organization that spends more than $500,000 annually in lobbying the federal government. Her plan calls for a 35 percent tax rate on corporations and organizations spending between $500,000 and $1 million on lobbying, 60 percent for those spending between $1 million and $5 million, and 75 percent on all spending over $5 million. 'Corporate lobbyists are experts at killing widely popular policies behind closed doors,' Warren wrote in announcing the proposal. She presidential candidate has focused much of her presidential campaign on government corruption and social inequality. A previously announced anti-corruption plan would prohibit most federal officials from serving as lobbyists after leaving the government, prevent lobbyists from donating to candidates and ban lobbying in Washington on behalf of foreign entities."

Global Climate Fight Is Local

The fight to stop the climate crisis is local. Common Dreams: "Everywhere the global #ClimateStrike movement exists, the fight to protect ourselves from fossil fuel extraction and climate injustice is personal and lives at home in our communities. I participated in the historical week of Global Climate Strikes, where an estimated 7.6 million people took to the streets across the world to demand real action on climate. As I stood looking at sign after sign from diverse youth as young as ten years old unapologetically demanding an end to the era of fossil fuels, I truly felt that the change we’ve been demanding for decades would finally be possible. We’re at a turning point where a blossoming and growing multigenerational and multiracial climate movement is calling for social and economic transformation that is rooted in justice. The September 20th global climate strikes was the slingshot into a week of continued momentum across the U.S. in towns and cities everywhere. These actions show that the work is everywhere, with clear targets from the fossil fuel industry to financial institutions to local government. Communities are applying national demands put together by youth ahead of the U.S. strikes to the local level, and they are applying pressure until we win."

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