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Daniel Aldana Cohen

A Successful Climate Plan Must Also Tackle The Housing Crisis

One truly radical and intersectional approach to connecting the dots between the climate crisis and the crises of economic and racial inequality that afflict us every day.? Tackle the United States’ housing and climate crises at the same time – with a Green New Deal for housing. So far, Bernie Sanders’ mammoth Green New Deal and Housing for All platforms go furthest in tackling these two crises together. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has also spoken about how beautiful, sustainable, and resident-friendly affordable housing complexes, with social services like childcare facilities on the ground floor, exemplify the conjoined social and ecological promise of a Green New Deal. We can push all this ambition forward, and make it even more specific. Here’s where the progressive group People’s Action’s Homes Guarantee campaign comes in. (Full disclosure: I was on the campaign’s policy team.) The Homes Guarantee plan’s headline demand is, to echo Bernie, yuge: 12m new units of social housing, built to emit net zero carbon emissions, include a mix of incomes (with the priority going to very low-income households), and built in a way that pioneers low-carbon and sustainable construction methods. Indeed, Sanders’ more recent housing plan explicitly echoes People’s Action’s proposal, from specifics like its Green New Deal tie-ins to its all-encompassing ambition. Sanders’ plan states outright that “we need a homes guarantee”. With the climate emergency, everything is connected. We know why that’s dangerous. It’s time to talk about the benefits of all that intersectionality: we can – indeed must – solve our most pressing crises at the same time.

Daniel Aldana Cohen is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he directs the Socio-Spatial Climate Collaborative, or (SC)2. He’s also a senior fellow at Data for Progress, and a member of the People’s Action Homes Guarantee policy team.

CA Approves Creation Of Public Banks

California Gov. signs law allowing creation of public banks. Common Dreams: “California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed into law historic legislation that would allow the state’s cities and counties to establish public banks as an alternative to private financial institutions, a move advocates hailed as a ‘stunning rebuke to the predatory Wall Street megabanks that crashed the global economy in 2007-08.’ Trinity Tran, co-founder of Public Bank LA, said Newsom’s decision to sign the Public Banking Act (A.B. 857) despite fervent opposition from the state’s business lobby ‘is a testament to the power of grassroots organizing.’ ‘The people of California just went up against the most powerful corporate lobby in the country—and won,’ Tran said in a statement. ‘Now is our moment in history to lead the nation by re-envisioning finance and recapturing our money to benefit our local communities by building a new system that works for the greater good.’ The Public Banking Act—which was backed by a diverse coalition of labor unions, climate justice groups, and civil rights organizations—makes California the second state in the U.S. after North Dakota to allow the creation of public banks.”

Dallas Police Officer Sentenced For Murder

Amber Guyger sentenced to 10 years in prison for the murder of Botham Jean. Slate: “Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who was convicted of murder on Tuesday for the 2018 shooting of Botham Jean in his own apartment, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Wednesda, at a hearing that ended with an unexpected moment of reconciliation, the Dallas Morning News reports. Guyger, who was off-duty when she shot Jean, said that she had entered the wrong apartment by mistake—her apartment was in the same relative location as Jean’s but on a different floor—and believed Jean, a 26-year-old black man, to be a burglar. Initially charged with manslaughter, she was eventually indicted for murder after a public outcry about the way the Dallas Police Department handled a case implicating one of their officers: Jean’s apartment was searched for contraband, and police let it be known they’d found marijuana there, in what Jean’s family said was an attempt to smear an innocent victim. The sentencing hearing was unexpectedly emotional, as Botham Jean’s younger brother Brandt Jean told Guyger, ‘If you are truly sorry, I know—I can speak for myself—I forgive you.”

MD Who Prescribed 500,000 Opioid Pills Heads To Prison

A Doctor Who Prescribed 500,000 Doses of Opioids Is Sent to Prison for 40 Years. NYT: “A Virginia doctor who prescribed more than 500,000 doses of opioids in two years was sentenced to 40 years in prison on Wednesday for leading what prosecutors called an interstate drug distribution ring. The overprescription of painkillers is one of the roots of the nation’s opioid crisis, and patients of Dr. Joel Smithers traveled hundreds of miles from neighboring states to pick up oxymorphone, oxycodone, hydromorphone and fentanyl, according to law enforcement officials. They said he prescribed controlled substances to every patient in the Martinsville, Va., practice he opened in August 2015. Dr. Smithers, 36, was convicted of more than 800 counts of illegally prescribing opioids, and jurors found that the drugs he prescribed caused the death of a woman from West Virginia. He faced a maximum sentence of life in prison.”

WV Town Sold Millions Of Opioid Pills

Why were millions of opioid pills sent to a West Virginia town of 3,000? The Guardian: “Tug Valley Pharmacy was late to the gold rush, but swiftly made up for lost time. To the watching investigators, the stone building with a peaked red roof looked more like a rural cabin than a fount for the millions of opioid pills spilling across Appalachia. The giveaway was the drive-thru window, and the cars lined up past the abandoned ghost shops in downtown Williamson, West Virginia. The name of the pharmacy’s owner, Samuel R Ballengee PharmD, was displayed on the window under a sales pitch: ‘It’s all in the bag.’ ‘Let’s call this whole thing what it is. It’s pretty much a cartel. A drug trafficking organisation,’ said Sgt Mike Smith of West Virginia state police, who spent years unravelling the web of doctors, pharmacists and drug companies that made rural Mingo county the opioid capital of America. ‘Then right in the middle of this drug trafficking organisation, you have a little pharmacy that pops up and everybody’s OK with it. I’m sitting here looking at this. It’s hard to believe that was allowed.’ It wasn’t long before drug distribution companies, some of the largest firms in America among them, were delivering millions of opioid pills a year to Tug Valley. Millions more were shipped to another pharmacy, Hurley’s Drug Store, four blocks away. All in a town of fewer than 3,000 people.”

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