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MORNING MESSAGE

James Mumm

Shutting Things Down To Open Things Up

Have you heard about the life-affirming, healing power of direct action? You might need it. You may think direct action — the kind of protest that directly confronts power and shifts it from the hands of the few to those of the many — is something you do when everything else fails to get people in power to change Veteran organizer Lisa Fithian — who has played a key role in hundreds of protests, describes direct action as “a way of life and a strategy to heal ourselves in the midst of the struggle.” “Direct action,” she continues. “is not about asking permission, but rather doing what needs to be done to accomplish your goal as effectively and efficiently as possible. It means working together, democratically, to take care of the problems we face, instead of waiting for others to make the change.” In Shut It Down: Stories From A Fierce, Loving Resistance, Lisa draws from her deep well of firsthand knowledge to share stories from the front lines of social, racial, and economic justice movements. Fithian walks us through the growth and evolution of her beliefs and practice in organizing, direct action, and community-building through stories, because that’s how good organizers digest, process and share their experience. You may have already had the good fortune to experience the collective, life-affirming, healing power of nonviolent direct action Lisa Fithian describes in her stories. If you haven’t, it’s never too late. Join your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, Lisa Fithian and me in taking direct action that is inspired by love and committed to fierce resistance against hate. You won’t be the same, and neither will our world.

James Mumm is campaigns director for Greenpeace USA. He was formerly the chief innovation officer for People’s Action, a national network of grassroots groups dedicated to putting people and planet first.

Dems Unify Against Trump, Little Else

Warren faces first sustained attack in debate that begins with unified condemnation of Trump. WaPo: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whose steady stream of plans have propelled her to the top of the Democratic presidential field, came under sustained attack for the first time during a raucous primary debate here Tuesday that revealed Democrats’ ongoing public struggle to define their beliefs and choose a standard-bearer to take on President Trump. Warren (Mass.) faced direct challenges from several of the 11 other candidates onstage, who took her on over her policies, her fitness to serve as commander in chief and her willingness to question the motives of Democrats who support less transformational ideas. The stage was swollen with a dozen candidates, the most on a debate stage this year. And with several at risk of not making the next set of debates, a number of feisty exchanges were triggered by low-polling candidates still hoping to revive their campaigns. The debate also came at a pivotal time: just four months before the Iowa caucuses, and when the impeachment inquiry that House Democrats have launched against Trump has sucked up most of the political oxygen.”

Impeachment Barricade Crumbles

Trump’s impeachment barricade crumbles. Politico: “Donald Trump’s impeachment blockade has collapsed. The president’s former top Russia adviser, Fiona Hill — the first White House official to cooperate in Democrats’ investigation of the Ukraine scandal — has detailed for lawmakers a trail of alleged corruption that extends from Kyiv to the West Wing. In dramatic testimony on Monday, she roped in some of Trump’s top advisers as witnesses to the unfolding controversy. And on Tuesday, a senior State Department official, George Kent, testified for nearly 10 hours about his knowledge of the episode despite an attempt by Trump administration lawyers to block him, according to a source working on the impeachment inquiry. The House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena for his testimony Tuesday morning, and Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, complied. According to people familiar with his testimony, Kent told House impeachment investigators that he was alarmed at the role Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, was playing in Ukraine. In particular, one lawmaker in the room said Kent was concerned because the president was apparently listening to Giuliani, who had mounted a months-long campaign to discredit Joe Biden on unfounded charges. ‘He was concerned at the undue influence a private attorney — not an official with the United States government and not someone charged with the responsibility of U.S. relations with Ukraine — was exerting, and that Giuliani was listening to discredited sources and had ties to some questionable characters in Ukraine, and nonetheless had the ear of the president,’ Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said in a brief interview as he emerged from Kent’s deposition.”

How The White House Hijacked Foreign Policy

White House directed ‘three amigos’ to run Ukraine policy. WaPo: “Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney organized a meeting this spring in which officials were determined to take Ukraine policy out of the traditional channels, putting Energy Secretary Rick Perry, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and special U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker in charge instead, a top State Department official told lawmakers Tuesday. George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine, told House investigators he was instructed to “lay low,” focus on the five other countries in his portfolio and defer to Volker, Sondland and Perry — who called themselves the ‘three amigos’ — on matters related to Ukraine, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) told reporters Tuesday. Kent took that as a sign, Connolly added, that having been critical of the plan he was being pushed aside ‘because what he was saying was not welcome’ at high levels of the government. Mulvaney’s meeting, which Kent told lawmakers took place on May 23, according to Connolly, was just days after the administration recalled Marie Yovanovitch from her post as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Yovanovitch spoke to House investigators last week about the campaign against her, which she and other former diplomats have said was organized by President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.”

SCOTUS To Rule On PR Debt Crisis

Supreme Court case could have huge effect on Puerto Rican debt crisis. NYT: “The Supreme Court seemed prepared on Tuesday to reject a constitutional challenge to the federal response to the worst debt crisis in Puerto Rican history, one that threatened basic services like schools and hospitals, some $50 billion in public pension obligations and more than $70 billion in debts to bondholders. The crisis got worse after Hurricane Maria destroyed much of the island’s infrastructure in 2017, with the commonwealth estimating that recovery costs will exceed $139 billion. The Supreme Court argument, which lasted 80 minutes instead of the usual hour, concerned a question of constitutional law: whether members of a government board created by Congress in 2016 to clean up the financial mess had been properly appointed. The court’s answer to that question could undo years of work on restructuring the commonwealth’s debts and help resolve deep questions about its place in the federal system. The 2016 law at issue in the case — the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, or PROMESA — created an independent entity to restructure the commonwealth’s debt, the Financial Oversight and Management Board. Since then, the board has tried to resolve about 165,000 claims from creditors, not always to their satisfaction.”

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