fresh voices from the front lines of change








Megan Day

Ilhan Omar Is The Fighter The Tenants’ Movement Needs

"I’m excited to introduce the Homes for All Act,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar, “which will fulfill the promise of a homes guarantee by building 12 million new public housing and private, permanently affordable rental units — vastly expanding the available affordable housing stock, driving down costs throughout the market, and creating a new vision of what public housing looks like in the United States.” When Linda Armitage watched Omar’s video announcement on Twitter, she cried. Armitage is a seventy-seven-year-old public housing resident and member of the housing committee of the Jane Addams Senior Caucus, a grassroots senior organization in Chicago. “This is what we dreamed of and worked hard for,” she says, “and here is a big piece of it in black and white.” The Homes Guarantee campaign was launched by a network of housing activists involved in the group People’s Action. The campaign has a grassroots leadership team of one hundred people who are directly impacted by the housing crisis, explains Tara Raghuveer. Omar’s bill also reflects the vision of housing organizers on the ground, Raghuveer says — and we can trace the origins of Omar’s proposal directly to tenants like Armitage themselves. “Our grassroots team was pretty unapologetic about what they wanted,” says Raghuveer: policy team members who were “ready to go to work to deliver on the grassroots vision, not vice versa.”

Read more in Jacobin Magazine

Trump Declares War On Cheese, Champagne

US threatens 100% tariffs on French cheese and champagne. CNN: "US trade officials proposed a wave of tariffs on French goods Monday as they released a report finding that a new French tax on digital services — affecting large American tech companies such as Facebook (FB) and Google — represents a barrier to trade. The list of proposed US tariffs covers dozens of products, including cheeses, beauty products, handbags and sparkling wines such as champagne. The move risks escalating transatlantic trade tensions after the United States already hit $7.5 billion worth of European goods — including French wine, Italian parmesan cheese and Scotch whisky — in October over subsidies to planemaker Airbus (EADSF). Roughly $2.4 billion in French products could be subject to the new taxes of up to 100%."

GOP Defies Reality In Impeachment Defense

New GOP report defies reality with Trump exoneration. CNN: "A new report aimed at defending Donald Trump against Democratic claims of abuse of power represented a remarkable demonstration of the President's greatest political achievement -- the transformation of the Republican Party in his image. The 123-page document written by GOP members on three House committees formalized the President's own cycle of distraction and denial that he used to ride out the Russia scandal. He's using the same tactic to save his job now that he's faced with impeachment over his political pressure on Ukraine. Trump isn't waiting to hear the formal case against him because he doesn't have to. Ultimately, it will make little difference since his defense was long ago unmoored from fact and is based on selling a disinformational narrative to his followers that sows confusion and devalues truth for everyone else. The report released by the President's House Republican allies on Monday was in effect the prebuttal of a report on the Democratic impeachment investigation set to be released by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Tuesday. The message of the document was less a defense of Trump on the merits but rather an endorsement of his counterfactual denials."

GOP Rep. Hunter Pleads Guilty To Fraud

GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter to plead guilty To campaign finance charge. NPR: "In a reversal, embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter is now set to plead guilty to misusing campaign donations, likely ending the California Republican's political career. Hunter told local TV station KUSI in an interview that he has struck a deal to plead guilty to one count of illegal use of campaign funds. He's due in federal court on Tuesday. Hunter initially denied all the charges, and his attorneys accused the prosecution of trying to unfairly embarrass him. It's unclear what type of jail time Hunter would face or when he might resign, which is typically what happens in such situations. New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins resigned this year after pleading guilty to insider trading charges."

Dems At Climate Summit With No Plan

Congressional Democrats arrive at Madrid climate talks, announce they still don't have a climate plan. Gizmodo: "International climate talks kicked off on Monday in Madrid, and a delegation of House Democrats showed up to tell the world how much they care about climate change. But they actually revealed, uh, how little action they’ve actually taken to appropriately address the severity of the crisis. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced the U.S. Congressional delegation for the talks (known as COP25) on Monday, including people like Representative Kathy Castor of Florida who heads the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas who chairs the Science, Space, and Technology Committee. They were there to tell the world that despite a president who’s begun the formal process of withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, leaders on the state and city level are taking steps so that the U.S. stays on track to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and meet the targets set forth in the international agreement. 'Our delegation is here to send a message that Congress’ commitment to take action on the climate crisis is ironclad,' Pelosi said during the event. That’s great to hear, but the truth is that the Democratic-led House hasn’t done enough to tackle the climate crisis. Indeed, as Pelosi and her colleagues made clear Monday after a reporter asked, they don’t support a Green New Deal, which is the only bill currently put forth in Congress with enough vision to stave off climate chaos. I mean, c’mon, the youth, environmental groups, badass senators and representatives, and the American public want to see this type of transformative change. And Green New Deal proponents have begun building out a vision for that change with two recently released housing plans. Yet more moderate Congress members refuse to seriously consider it. Instead, Castor announced that Democrats will be releasing a climate action plan. In March. That’s three months from now and more than a year after Democrats took back the House in the midterms."

Loan Sharks Send Clients To Jail

They loan you money. Then they get a warrant for your arrest. ProPublica: "It’s against the law to jail someone because of an unpaid debt. Congress banned debtors prisons in 1833. Yet, across the country, debtors are routinely threatened with arrest and sometimes jailed, and the practices are particularly aggressive in Utah. (ProPublica recently chronicled how medical debt collectors are wielding similar powers in Kansas.) Technically, debtors are arrested for not responding to a court summons requested by the creditor. But for many low-income people, who are not familiar with court proceedings, lack access to transportation, child care options or time off, or move frequently and thus may not receive notifications, it’s a distinction without a difference. Reese, a 70-year-old Vietnam veteran, said he missed a hearing because he couldn’t afford to put gas in his car. Gordon, 46, said he was never personally notified of the court date. Avila and Albritton, 32, said they couldn’t take time off work. In Utah, payday lenders and similar companies that offer high-interest, small-dollar loans dominate small claims court. Loans for Less, for example, filed 95% of the small claims cases in South Ogden, a suburban city of 17,000 about a half-hour north of Salt Lake City on the interstate, in fiscal year 2018, according to state data."

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