Progressive Breakfast for August 21

Morning Message

Small Red-State Towns Team Up to Support Immigrants

In Eldora, Iowa, 67-year-old Julie Duhn reserved the lodge at her local state park and hosted her own Families Belong Together cookout. With a population of only 2,600, Eldora is home to the only prison in Iowa that maintains a contract with Immigration Customs Enforcement to hold immigrants in detention. “I’m a mother and a grandmother,” she says. “I cannot in a million years imagine what it was like for these families to come this far through all the danger of that journey, trying to find safety, then to have their children taken from them. On what planet is that right?” People arrived at the cookout with food made with ingredients fresh from their gardens. They introduced themselves to one another. Then, they passed around a hat to collect more than $1,000 to help reunite separated families, many of whom are still held in prison-like detention centers. A common sentiment was: “I’ve been on the sidelines for too long. With this policy, I realized I can’t stay on the sidelines any longer.”

Prisoners Strike To Protest ‘Modern-Day Slavery’

Prisoners nationwide go on strike to protest ‘modern-day slavery’. USA Today: “Prison inmates nationwide plan to put pressure on the country’s penal system by going on a two-week strike beginning Tuesday. The strike is timed to begin on the anniversary of the killing of jailed African American activist and inmate George Jackson. He was killed by a guard in 1971 after taking guards and two inmates hostage in a bid to escape from San Quentin State Prison in California. The final day of the strike — Sept. 9 — also carries symbolism. That’s the day in 1971 that the Attica Prison riots in New York began, eventually leaving over 40 people dead when police stormed in to re-take the facility. Prisoners leading the protests say the strike is aimed at ending what they call ‘modern-day slavery.’ Inmates complain they are paid pennies on the dollar per hour for labor. The event is spearheaded by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, a network of imprisoned prisoner rights advocates based out of Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina and supported by the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), a prisoner-led trade group. Inmates plan to abstain from reporting to their assigned jobs, halt commissary spending, hold peaceful sit-in protests and refuse to eat during the strike.”

L.A. Tenants Lead Largest Rent Strike In History

These tenants are leading the largest rent strike in L.A. history. The Nation: “os Angeles’s housing market is in crisis. Low-income communities of color across the city are facing systematic displacement due to gentrification. Skyrocketing housing costs have created a homelessness epidemic that has left almost 60,000 people living on the streets. And now, the city is undergoing its largest rent strike in recent history. In three buildings on South Burlington Avenue in the rapidly gentrifying Westlake neighborhood, an estimated 200 families in about 80 units are currently refusing to pay rent. After years of neglect, the buildings’ management company began rolling out exorbitant rent increases this February, hiking residents’ rents anywhere from 25 to 40 percent. For the buildings’ working-class tenants, these rent increases are just not affordable—so they’ve joined together and have been on a rent strike since March. The tenants of the three Burlington Avenue buildings have been living in deplorable conditions for years. Back-flowing drains cause leaks and floods, leading to serious mold issues; trash is left to pile in the dumpsters, filling the trash chute to the top floor of the three-story building; and large sewage pipes in the first-floor parking garage repeatedly become backed up and flood the area with the building’s collective waste. Maintenance requests are only selectively resolved, if not completely ignored, by the property-management company, which has made the buildings breeding grounds for roaches, bedbugs, and rodents. And when repairs and fumigations are completed, they are routinely charged to tenants.”

UNC Protests Topple Monument To White Supremacy

Students tear Confederate ‘Silent Sam’ statue from its campus pedestal. ThinkProgress: “On the eve of first day of classes, a group of mostly protesting students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill toppled the statue of Silent Sam, the Confederate monument that’s stood at the entrance to campus since 1913 as a memorial to ‘white supremacy.’ According to mainstream and social media reports, a planned demonstration to protest the statue began about 7 p.m. and swelled to an estimated crowd of 250 students, faculty, and community residents who exchanged shouts with a group of the monument’s supporters. At about 9:30 p.m., with a heavy police presence looking on, some among the anti-statue demonstrators revealed rope that had been hidden in their banners and wrapped it around the statue. Witnesses told The Daily Tar Heel, an independent, student-led newspaper that covers the university, that it took about 10 seconds for the monument to plummet from its pedestal. ‘I feel liberated — like I’m part of something big,’ said first-year student Natalia Walker. ‘It’s literally my fourth day here. This is the biggest thing I’ve ever been apart of in my life just activist-wise. All of these people coming together for this one sole purpose and actually getting it done was the best part.'”

EPA To Ease Coal Restrictions

New E.P.A. rollback of coal pollution regulations takes a major step forward. NYT: “Andrew Wheeler, the acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, on Monday signed a plan to weaken regulation of coal-fired power plants, advancing a proposal that the coal industry has hailed as an end to burdensome regulation and environmentalists have criticized as a retreat in the battle to address climate change. Mr. Wheeler’s signature officially sets in motion one of the Trump Administration’s most significant rollbacks yet of former President Barack Obama’s climate change legacy, alongside an earlier decision to let automobiles pollute more. A senior E.P.A. official confirmed the signing late Monday. The agency is expected on Tuesday to discuss the details of its proposal, which it is calling the Affordable Clean Energy rule, to replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which was designed to curtail greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The long-anticipated Trump administration overhaul of those rules is likely to set the stage for years of legal clashes. President Trump is expected to head to West Virginia coal country, where in May 2016 that he donned a coal miner’s helmet and vowed to strip away regulations on the industry.”

Trump Judges Impact The Law

Federal judges appointed by Trump are starting to leave their mark. LA Times: “In 2015, Donald Zimmerman, a conservative city councilman in Austin, Texas, tried a novel strategy to win reelection: suing his own city. Zimmerman thought the city’s $350 limit on municipal campaign donations violated the 1st Amendment. A federal judge disagreed. After Zimmerman appealed, the full U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to hear his case, with one judge writing a dissent. That was James C. Ho, newly appointed to that court by President Trump. He argued that not only did Zimmerman have a case, but that all donation limits in the U.S. should be abolished. ‘The 1st Amendment protects the freedom of speech, and that freedom emphatically includes the right to speak about who our elected leaders should and should not be,’ he wrote, concluding: ‘The 1st Amendment therefore protects campaign contributions.’ As Washington prepares for a Senate showdown over whether Brett Kavanaugh will join the Supreme Court, Trump has already put his stamp on the judiciary with the lifetime appointments of at least 43 federal judges. Ho was confirmed by the Senate in December by a 53-43 vote. Trump’s total of 22 successfully appointed appeals court judges — as of last month — is more than either of the last two presidents at this point in their terms, according to an analysis last month by the Pew Research Center. ‘The real kind of big news is the sheer amount of change that’s happening on the court of appeals,’ said Harsh Voruganti, founder and editor of the Vetting Room, a website that tracks judicial appointments. ‘I think we’re going to see a fair amount of change in jurisprudence.’ Trump has reportedly received input in selecting nominees from right-leaning groups such as the Federalist Society. While conservative groups have celebrated his picks, liberal court-watchers are worried. ‘What we’ve seen in only a very limited amount of time is deeply disturbing, and confirms concerns that we had before these individuals were approved by the Senate,’ said Daniel Goldberg, legal director for the Alliance for Justice, a liberal-leaning judicial advocacy group.”