fresh voices from the front lines of change








Progressive Breakfast


Judith LeBlanc

Tribal Sovereignty And The Struggle For Democracy In 2020

In Indian Country, we are concerned about the future. From an indigenous point of view, we link our ancestors and the past with the future by how we walk in the present, how we organize our power. We are in a unique position because of our inherent, moral and legal relationship to the federal government based on our treaties. While the majority of Indians live in cities, tribal sovereignty and the fulfillment of treaty rights will have an impact on Indians no matter where they live. Our treaty rights guarantee us healthcare from birth to death, as well as education, housing and caretaking of land. Every movement is grappling with these issues, but we have a special connection as sovereign nations within a nation to the process of achieving those basic human rights for all. In order for democratic processes to be deeper and more effective in the United States, the government must recognize those treaty rights. There is lots of innovation and a struggle for clarity about how we can exercise our collective power to achieve tribal sovereignty and the political power that flows from it. We will never achieve tribal sovereignty unless there is a fight for democracy and a system that recognizes our nation to nation relationship with the federal government. Strategically, Indian Country organizing must be fully engaged in the struggle to defend democracy, which is under attack in every way.

Judith LeBlanc is director of the Native Organizers Alliance, which recently hosted the Frank LaMere Presidential Forum, the first-ever forum with candidates focused on Native nations, in Sioux City, Iowa.

Sanders Unveils ‘Corporate Accountability’ Plan

To Tackle ills of ‘unfettered capitalism,’ Sanders plan would give workers seats on corporate boards and reverse Trump tax cuts. Common Dreams: “Taking aim at the vast inequities produced by America’s business-dominated economic system, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday unveiled a far-reaching proposal that would roll back President Donald Trump’s tax cuts and transfer more power to U.S. workers by giving them seats on corporate boards and ownership shares in their companies.’The establishment tells us there is no alternative to unfettered capitalism, that this is how the system and globalization work and there’s no turning back. They are dead wrong,’ Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, writes on his website. ‘The truth is that we can and we must develop new economic models to create jobs and increase wages and productivity across America.’ ‘Instead of giving huge tax breaks to large corporations that ship our jobs to China and other low-wage countries, we need to give workers an ownership stake in the companies they work for, a say in the decision-making process that impacts their lives, and a fair share of the profits that their work makes possible in the first place,’ said the Vermont senator.”

TX Police Shooting Sparks Outrage

Hundreds join family to honor slain woman and protest Fort Worth police. Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “The family of a 28-year-old woman fatally shot by Fort Worth police early Saturday morning gathered Sunday outside their home where she was shot, holding candles in a vigil. Several hundred people stood with them. Sunday night’s vigil for Atatiana Jefferson was emotional — some yelled in anger while speakers addressed the crowd. Others cried when the family’s attorney, S. Lee Merritt, described Jefferson as a tomboy who wanted to go back to medical school. Starting at 7 p.m., the crowd at the intersection of Mississippi Avenue and Allen Avenue listened to various church leaders and community activists talk about Jefferson. She liked to take the sticker off fruit and put it on her forehead — she was silly that way, Merritt said. She also liked to play video games with her 8-year-old nephew. That was what she was doing when Fort Worth police got a call at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday from a concerned neighbor who said her front door was open. Two officers responded to the house in the 1200 block of East Allen Avenue and went into the backyard. One looked through the window and yelled, “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” He did not identify himself as an officer before he fired, killing Jefferson in the same room as her nephew, according to police.”

ICE Poultry Plant Raids Cripple MS Town

Months after ICE raids, rural MS town is still reeling. The Intercept: “Migdalia couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat. Her whole body ached. ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with me,’ she told her children. She thinks the pains began in late June, around the time that President Donald Trump announced massive immigration raids across the country. On August 7, the day Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers stormed her workplace, her feet ached. ‘I could feel it coming, that’s what was happening to me,’ Migdalia said, her electronic ankle bracelet flickering on her leg. For 14 years, Migdalia had been slicing chicken breasts and pulling entrails at the chicken processing plant at Koch Foods Inc. in Morton, Mississippi. She was arrested there in August, as ICE targeted seven factories owned by five different chicken companies around Mississippi, taking with them 687 workers, almost all of whom were undocumented Hispanics. It was the largest immigration raid in history in a single state. Two months later, some 300 people who were arrested in that raid remain detained at two ICE centers in Louisiana. The majority have not yet had the opportunity to defend themselves in front of an immigration judge. Among them, about 90 people have been charged in criminal courts with a count of identity theft, for working with Social Security numbers that were not theirs. None of the companies targeted in the raid have been charged with immigration or labor law violations.”

UAW Calls Mack Truck Strike In Three States

UAW calls strike of 3,600 workers at Mack Truck plants in 3 states. Detroit Free Press: “More than 3,600 hourly workers at Mack Trucks Inc., in Florida, Maryland and Pennsylvania went out strike at six plants at 11:59 p.m. Saturday seeking “fair pay and benefits,” the UAW confirmed early Sunday. ‘UAW members get up every day and put in long, hard hours of work from designing to building Mack trucks,’ Ray Curry, secretary-treasurer of the UAW and director of the Heavy Truck Department, said in a prepared statement. ‘UAW members carry on their shoulders the profits of Mack and they are simply asking for dignity, fair pay and job protections.’ This strike comes in the middle of a national strike of 46,000 UAW members striking General Motors in 10 states and 55 locations. The GM strike, which began Sept. 16, has dragged on so long that Wall Street has suggested it could harm the automaker’s credit rating if not resolved soon. Talks in Detroit after four weeks of picketing are said to be making progress. The UAW also called a strike of 850 maintenance workers employed by Aramark at five GM sites in Michigan and Ohio. That strike started 24 hours before autoworkers went out. All UAW strikers now qualify for $275 a week strike pay from the UAW, up from $250 a week ago. The Detroit-based union started the strike on GM with about $800 million in the strike fund and notes there’s plenty of money to sustain workers for the long haul.”

Pence Wants Indiana’s Punitive Medicaid Model To Go Nationwide

Mike Pence wants Indiana’s punitive form of Medicaid to become a national model. Truthout: “Before Pence ascended to the national stage as Vice President, and he recruited his longtime ally Seema Verma to lead the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, they together crafted a unique Indiana approach to Medicaid. Their goal was to reshape the 54-year-old program into something far smaller and more punitive. The Healthy Indiana Plan, they promised, would demand ‘skin in the game’ from enrollees like Rhonda Cree. Medicaid works as a federal-state partnership, with the federal government paying most of the cost and the states agreeing to follow guidelines set at the national level. All U.S. states have agreed to the terms, and Medicaid accounts for almost one-fifth of the country’s personal healthcare spending. The platform for Pence and Verma’s ambitious remodeling of Medicaid was provided by the Affordable Care Act of 2010’s invitation to states to significantly expand their Medicaid coverage. Under the ACA, all adults in households whose income is less than 133% of the federal poverty level, a little under $17,000/year for an individual, would be eligible for Medicaid. the ACA included a tantalizing offer for Indiana and other states: if they expanded Medicaid coverage as the new law called for, the feds would pay the full cost of the initial expansion, and 90% of the cost after that. Pence’s constituents, most notably the well-connected leaders of Indiana hospital systems that would benefit from more of their patients being covered by Medicaid, pushed him to accept the deal. Caught between his ideology and political pressure, Pence turned for help to Verma, a former Indiana hospital administrator who had launched her own consulting firm. Verma had already gained a reputation for taking a conservative approach to public healthcare systems, earning contracts from multiple state agencies and private companies. At Pence’s request, Verma took the lead in crafting a version of Medicaid expansion that would look less like a government program than a high-deductible insurance plan offered by the for-profit insurance industry. The Healthy Indiana Plan, Pence promised, would be a ‘hand-up, not a hand-out.’ It would demand healthy behaviors and personal responsibility from low-income Hoosiers, or they would face dire consequences.”

Progressive Breakfast

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