fresh voices from the front lines of change








Connie Huynh

How We Can Take On Powerful Interests To Win Medicare for All

Achieving Medicare for All in the United States would mean replacing our current broken patchwork of a healthcare system with one where everyone could access comprehensive, equitable care whenever and wherever they need it. With so many entities that profit immensely from our broken healthcare system, we will have to remove countless barriers along the way. The American Medical Association (AMA), a highly influential player in this debate, made a major move in August when it backed out of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF), the lead industry group created to ensure Medicare for All does not become a reality. The AMA’s decision to leave the PAHCF didn’t happen on its own, or overnight. Rather, it was the product of organizing. In April, roughly 1,000 People's Action members occupied the lobby of PAHCF’s Washington, D.C. office, demanding the group drop its opposition to Medicare for All. People’s Action member organization Jane Addams Senior Caucus (JASC) then led an organizing effort which culminated in June when JASC and PNHP members took over the main floor of AMA’s national convention in Chicago, with seniors, doctors and other community members taking the stage and calling on the AMA to end its participation in the PAHCF as well as its opposition to Medicare for All. While the AMA leadership may have been opposed to our action, it was clear from the reception that many members at the convention supported us. This is the kind of incremental win we need on the path to winning universal healthcare. One by one, we will have to remove the barriers to expanding an incredibly popular and effective program. It won’t be easy. But in the end, we believe our movement for Medicare for All will prevail.

Connie Huynh is Health Care for All Campaign Director for People's Action

Trump Welcome To Testify At New Impeachment Hearings

White House faces Sunday deadline on participating in Judiciary Committee hearing. WaPo: "The White House faces a Sunday deadline to decide whether to participate in a hearing next week by the House Judiciary Committee, the panel that will soon weigh whether to move forward with articles of impeachment against President Trump. The committee is awaiting a report on Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine that House investigators are pulling together based on public testimony and private depositions. The transcripts of the final two of those depositions were released Tuesday and revealed that two officials at the Office of Management and Budget resigned in part over concerns about the holdup in military assistance to Ukraine. Democrats are seeking to build a case that Trump leveraged military assistance and an Oval Office meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in exchange for investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden and a debunked theory alleging Ukrainian interference in the 2016 presidential election."

President Ordered Hold On Aid Before Ukraine Call

Trump administration officially put hold on Ukraine aid same day as Trump call. CNN: "The White House budget office's first official action to withhold $250 million in Pentagon aid to Ukraine came on the evening of July 25, the same day President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke on the phone, according to a House Budget Committee summary of the office's documents. That withholding letter, which was among documents provided to the committee, was signed by a career Office of Management and Budget official, the summary states. But the next month, OMB political appointee Michael Duffey signed letters taking over the decision to withhold both the Pentagon and State Department aid to Ukraine from the career official. A hold was placed on the Ukraine aid at the beginning of July, and the agencies were notified at a July 18 meeting that it had been frozen at the direction of the President, a week before the Trump-Zelensky call. The career official who initially withheld the aid money was Mark Sandy, according to a source familiar with the matter. Sandy testified before House impeachment investigators in a closed-door deposition, while Duffey defied a subpoena."

Trump Knew About Whistleblower Before Congress

Trump knew of whistle-blower complaint when he released aid to Ukraine. NYT: "President Trump had already been briefed on a whistle-blower’s complaint about his dealings with Ukraine when he unfroze military aid for the country in September, according to two people familiar with the matter. Lawyers from the White House counsel’s office told Mr. Trump in late August about the complaint, explaining that they were trying to determine whether they were legally required to give it to Congress, the people said. The revelation could shed light on Mr. Trump’s thinking at two critical points under scrutiny by impeachment investigators: his decision in early September to release $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine and his denial to a key ambassador around the same time that there was a 'quid pro quo' with Kyiv. Mr. Trump used the phrase before it had entered the public lexicon in the Ukraine affair. Mr. Trump faced bipartisan pressure from Congress when he released the aid. But the new timing detail shows that he was also aware at the time that the whistle-blower had accused him of wrongdoing in withholding the aid and in his broader campaign to pressure Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to conduct investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump’s re-election chances."

TX, SC Chemical Plants Explode

A chemical plant blast has injured 3 and caused extensive damage to a Texas city as fire continues to burn. CNN: "An explosion rocked a chemical plant early Wednesday in Texas, causing extensive damage across the small city of Port Neches and leaving at least three employees injured. A chemical fire continues to burn at the site, and a mandatory evacuation order has been issued within a half mile of the TPC Group plant, about 90 miles east of Houston, the Nederland Volunteer Fire Department said. The fire is burning a chemical called butadiene, police said. A colorless gas, butadiene is considered a health hazard, according to the US National Library of Medicine. It is made from processing petroleum and is used to make synthetic rubber and plastics. An unrelated fire was quickly extinguished early Wednesday at the Lanxess chemical facility in Charleston, South Carolina. The company has six production plants at the site and manufactures phosphorus chloride and flame-retardant additives."

Google Fires Workers Who Led Organizing

'This Is Meant to Scare Workers': Vows to fight back after Google fires four employees who led organizing. Common Dreams: "Tech industry labor organizers and rights advocates pledged solidarity on Tuesday with four Google employees who were reportedly fired for organizing their colleagues against the company's complicity in human rights violations as well as its unjust workplace policies. Engineers Rebecca Rivers and Laurence Berland were among the workers, dubbed the 'Thanksgiving Four' by the Tech Workers Coalition, who were fired Monday after organizing petitions to end a Google contract with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and protesting hate speech on Google subsidiary YouTube. Their termination was 'meant to scare workers,' the Tech Workers Coalition advised other employees. 'Don't let it.' Rivers and Berland were placed on administrative leave earlier this month for allegedly breaching new policies recently put in place after Google hired IRI Consultants, a consulting firm that has helped many companies fight unionization efforts. The two engineers were accused of accessing documents they weren't authorized to see, a charge they denied at a rally last Friday at Google headquarters in San Francisco. More than 100 colleagues joined the demonstration to show support for Rivers and Berland."

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