Barbara Lee And Tulsi Gabbard Side With War Party On Sanctions

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By Danny Haiphong for Black Agenda Report – The House recently voted to enforce sanctions against Russia, Iran, and the DPRK. Congress included an unprecedented provision in the bill to restrict the President from amending the sanctions without approval from Congress. Despite vocal opposition, the Trump Administration was forced to sign the bill in the face of near unanimous support. All three in Congress who voted against the sanctions were Republicans. Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul were the only Senators to vote down the bill. Also missing from the opposition’s short list was Democratic Party representatives Barbara Lee and Tulsi Gabbard. Lee and Gabbard’s absence from Washington’s minuscule opposition to sanctions is significant because both representatives have a record of using their vote to curtail US war designs. Lee was the only elected official to vote against the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. She opposed the invasion of Iraq two years later. One of the few Black Congressional Caucus members with a consistent track record against foreign intervention, Lee also opposed President Barack Obama’s violation of the War Powers Act when he led the NATO invasion of Libya in 2011.

Tell Your Congressmember To Save The Internet

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By Protect Our Internet. Right now your members of Congress are in their Home Districts…And they need to hear YOUR voice demanding they Protect Our Internet! Here’s The Scoop: On September 7th, Congress will hold a hearing on Net Neutrality inviting both ISPS and tech companies to testify. Before these CEOs take the stand, we have to make sure the PEOPLE are heard. What You Can Do: Visit the Town Hall Project to find out whether there’s a town hall being held in your area. If so, check out some sign and messaging ideas below. If not, pay your member of Congress a visit! Check out messaging and signage below and knock on their office door. Here’s a quick one-page primer on how to make the most out of your meeting! Town Hall or Office Visit, check out this list of social media posts and spread the word about #TeamInternet & the fight to #SaveTheInternet

Ajit Pai’s Anti-Net Neutrality Plan Gets The Facts And Law Wrong

Enlarge / Democrats vs. Republicans.

By Jon Brodkin for ARS Technica – The FCC has prioritized one metric above all—the amount of money Internet providers have spent on upgrading networks since the rules were passed in 2015, Democrats wrote. The argument that investment has decreased is based on “scant evidence and questionable assumptions,” and in any case, network investment should not be the FCC’s only consideration, they wrote. Pai has said he will make his net neutrality decision based on the “facts and the law,” but the lawmakers argued that he has gotten both the facts and the law wrong. The FCC, Democrats wrote, “is prohibited from ignoring the effects of its actions on important national priorities such as free speech, democracy, small businesses, economic opportunity, jobs, and privacy.” The FCC comment was submitted by Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), and Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Diana DeGette (D-Col.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.).

Big Oil’s Bi-Partisan Helpers: A Refiner’s Fire 5 Years Later

By Matt Jiggins | CC BY 2.0

By Steve Early for Counter Punch – Five years ago, my wife and I moved to Richmond, CA and soon learned about the local emergency response protocol known as “shelter in place.” When large fires break out in Bay Area refineries, like the century old Chevron facility near our house, first a siren sounds. Then public officials direct everyone nearby to take cover inside. Doors must be closed, windows taped shut, if possible, and air conditioning turned off. August 6th is the fifth anniversary of such self-help efforts in Richmond. On that day in 2012, we looked up and saw an eruption worthy of Mount Vesuvius. Due to pipe corrosion and lax maintenance practices, a Chevron processing unit sprang a leak. The escaping petroleum vapor reached an ignition source. This led to a raging fire that Contra Costa County (home to four refineries) classified as a “Level 3 incident,” posing the highest level of danger. Nineteen oil workers narrowly escaped death at the scene of the accident. It sent a towering plume of toxic smoke over much of the East Bay and fifteen thousand refinery neighbors in search of medical attention for respiratory complaints, While local property values took a hit, Chevron stayed on track to make $25 billion in profits that year.

Medicare’s Anniversary Reminds Us The Impossible Is Possible

Medicare-for-All may be closer than many persons think. (Photo: Molly Adams)

By Mark Karlin for Truth Out – Before the establishment of Medicare, many persons more than 65 years of age who weren’t wealthy dealt with a harrowing reality. When they became seriously ill or required a costly procedure, they possibly faced bankruptcy due to lack of health insurance or high deductibles and co-pays. Many also confronted having to go without health care because of costs, sometimes leading to a painful death because of the exorbitant price of medical care without insurance. In fact, the lack of a government health insurance program for the elderly led to seniors being among the poorest age groups in the nation. This past Sunday, Medicare celebrated its 52nd anniversary. National health care coverage in the United States for seniors had been an elusive goal until the program was launched in 1965. For years, efforts to pass Medicare were thwarted by charges that we still hear today against the Affordable Care Act and proposals for single-payer health care. Government health care insurance for the elderly was called “communist” medicine and accused of being “un-American.” Despite his ability to get Social Security enacted in 1935 and launch other government-administered New Deal programs, President Franklin Roosevelt was not able to overcome vigorous opposition to government health coverage for seniors…

‘Disappointed’ AIPAC Targets Gillibrand For Removing Her Name From Boycott Bill

Palestinian fishermen hold banners in a protest to demand the boycott of the Israeli agricultural products, during the 10th annual Israeli Apartheid Week

By Robert Herbst for Mondoweiss – At two town halls late last month, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand promised to reconsider her co-sponsorship of Senate Bill 720, the Anti-Israel Boycott Act, after a number of her constituents raised free speech concerns, to rousing applause, seemingly without dissent. At the time, Gillibrand was one of 45 co-sponsors in the Senate and 234 in the House. Since the bill was sponsored by the Israel lobby group AIPAC, it was not surprising that, despite its attack on First Amendment rights, it would receive huge support before it was widely publicized, based solely on its AIPAC pedigree. Gillibrand herself agreed with my characterization that AIPAC was a lobby with a “stranglehold” on Congress (when I approached her after a town hall). So despite her explicit commitment to take another look at the bill, and her expressed concerns about the government of Israel and its Prime Minister’s failure to have a vision for peace, it was reasonable to question whether the junior senator from New York would ultimately find the wherewithal to resist that stranglehold. Well, lo and behold, this past Monday, Gillibrand withdrew her co-sponsorship of the bill.

The Senate FERCed Us

Ryan McKnight/ Flickr

By Karen Feridun for The Huffington Post – Robert Powelson, the newly-confirmed member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, wasn’t clear who he was referring to when he said that citizens who fight pipeline projects are engaged in a “jihad” at an industry conference in March. He may have been referring to the Standing Rock Sioux and all the other water protectors who withstood attack dogs, water cannons in sub-freezing temperatures, and countless other assaults in North Dakota last year. Perhaps he was referring to the Sisters of Loretto who successfully fought off the Bluegrass pipeline in Kentucky. He might have meant the residents of Pennsylvania and New Jersey who have flooded the FERC docket for the proposed PennEast pipeline with detailed comments, many from experts who have weighed in on everything from vulnerable species to sinkholes. He could have been thinking of any of them and so many others. More likely, he was thinking of all of them. No matter. What Mr. Powelson calls a “jihad”, a term he uses as a pejorative which is concerning and revealing in its own right, is otherwise known as civic participation. That one of our two new FERC commissioners has so much disdain for it is disheartening.

Will A Mega-Billionaire Rescue America From GOP’s Insurance Mayhem?

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By Staff of Nader Page – Before recommending a practical way to reverse the devastating impact of Congressional Republicans’ attempts to strip tens of millions of Americans of health insurance coverage, and the non-stop anxiety and dread that comes with such cruel and vicious legislation, note the impact of having gerrymandered (the politicians pick the voters) Washington rulers. The arrogant Republicans in Congress have good health insurance, life insurance, pensions, salaries and expense accounts paid by you the taxpayers. This perversely has led them to drop any empathy their residual consciences might have possessed before they came to Capitol Hill – many as millionaires. At the same time, in a country that spends well over $3 trillion a year on ‘healthcare’, the GOP’s various bills leave millions of families fearing loss of insurance, reduced coverage, larger deductibles, unaffordable co-pays and inscrutable insurance and billing fine-print trap doors. This is producing serious fear, anxiety, depression and in many cases absolute terror for sick children and ailing parents. We have the New York Times to thank for bringing this vast human toll, day after day, night after night, to their readers. In a recent article, reporter Jan Hoffman interviews people who are wondering “whether they would be able to continue screenings and treatment.”

Internet Censorship Bill Would Spell Disaster For Speech And Innovation

From eff.org

By Elliot Harmon for EFF – There’s a new bill in Congress that would threaten your right to free expression online. If that weren’t enough, it could also put small Internet businesses in danger of catastrophic litigation. Don’t let its name fool you: the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693) wouldn’t help punish sex traffickers. What the bill would do (PDF) is expose any person, organization, platform, or business that hosts third-party content on the Internet to the risk of overwhelming criminal and civil liability if sex traffickers use their services. For small Internet businesses, that could be fatal: with the possibility of devastating litigation costs hanging over their heads, we think that many entrepreneurs and investors will be deterred from building new businesses online. Make no mistake: sex trafficking is a real, horrible problem. This bill is not the way to address it. Lawmakers should think twice before passing a disastrous law and endangering free expression and innovation.

In Rebuke To Sessions, Senate Committee OKs Medical Marijuana Protections

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By Bruce Barcott for Leafly – The Senate Appropriations approved an amendment to protect state medical marijuana patients this morning, delivering a setback to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In May, Sessions delivered a letter to Congress specifically requesting that leaders reject that budget amendment, known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment. The amendment, led by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), passed in a voice vote with strong Republican support. During the hearing, Leahy said this in support of the amendment: “29 states and the District of Columbia have decided it’s more humane to regulate medical marijuana than to criminalize it. Almost every state—46 right now, and counting—regulate the use of a marijuana derivative that is used to treat epilepsy and other rare medical conditions. I think just about every member on this committee represents a state with patients who would be protected under this amendment. The federal government can’t investigate everything. And shouldn’t. And I don’t want them spending money pursuing medical marijuana patients who are following state law, whether they’re an epileptic or whatever they might be.”

The Hypocrisy Of The Bi-Partisan Congress On Militarism

From blackagendareport.com

By Ann Garrison for Black Agenda Report – Supporters of the British Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn marched through London streets on Saturday, July 1st, from the BBC headquarters to the Parliament Building at Westminster. The London- based Independent reports that tens of thousands joined the “Not One More Day” march against the Conservative Tory government and its austerity policies. They carried signs that read “Tories Out,” “No to Islamophobia, No to War,” “Cut War, Not Welfare,” and “Austerity is the New Terror. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn addressed the crowd upon their arrival outside Parliament. “What this election campaign, this anti-austerity movement, this current mood in British politics has done is unleashed the ideas and the imagination, unleashed that day-to-day conversation on every street corner, every café, and every pub of how differently this country could be run. The Tories are in retreat. Austerity is in retreat. The economic arguments of austerity are in retreat. It’s those of social justice, of unity, of people coming together to oppose racism and all those that would divide us that are the ones that are moving forward.”

350+ Groups Oppose Dirty Senate Energy Bill That Will Hasten Climate Chaos

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By Staff of Food & Water Watch – As the Senate considers a broad energy policy package that would encourage increased fossil fuel extraction and consumption, more than 350 national, statewide and local groups sent a letter to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer today calling on him to lead opposition to the bill – S. 1460, the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 – and ultimately prevent its passage. The letter, organized by the advocacy group Food & Water Watch, states in part: “No energy legislation is better than bad energy legislation that serves to increase our dependence on dirty fossil fuel production instead of building on successful policies to expand clean energy sources… We find it astounding that any energy bill could contain a ‘Renewables’ subtitle but not include provisions on solar and wind energy.” The letter is signed by notable national organizations including: Food & Water Watch, League of Women Voters, Our Revolution, CREDO, Working Families Party, Friends of the Earth and Center for Biological Diversity. “This energy bill is long-term commitment pledge between America and the fossil fuel industry, and it will hasten our reckless advance toward climate chaos,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch.

In Red Pairs: Handmaids Are Resisting

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By Abby Zimet for Common Dreams – Women occupying senators’ offices Friday aren’t alone in resisting the all-male “declaration of war on women” that would be repeal of Obamacare and enactment of a GOP health plan widely blasted as “catastrophic.” Getting creative, women from Texas to Ohio have increasingly been protesting assaults on women’s health care by dramatically donning red robes and white bonnets to channel Margaret Atwood’s dystopian-themed “The Handmaid’s Tale,” wherein women are forced to bear children in a totalitarian society. Their goal: To remind persistently-backwards-looking conservatives that Atwood’s vision of women defined purely by their reproductive capacity is not, in fact, “an instruction manual.” Atwood’s 1985 novel depicts women stripped of their rights in a theocratic, patriarchal, not-so-distant Gilead – aka America – rendered barren by environmental disaster, where fertile women, or handmaids, must bear the children of regime leaders and are controlled by them. Initially seen as a cautionary tale, the book has seen new life as a hit TV show on Hulu; it gained new resonance when Trump got “elected” in the middle of filming. Atwood has long argued its premise is based on old, real human themes: Historically, she notes, “There is no totalitarianism worth its salt that doesn’t try to control women.”

Voters Are Fired Up For Single Payer Creating Dilemma For Democrats

Voters are Fired Up for Single Payer Creating Dilemma for Democrats

By Margaret Flowers for Health Over Profit – On Sunday, June 4, the same day that Our Revolution, a Democratic Party group that arose from the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, organized rallies and die-ins to highlight the number of people dying in the United States due to lack of access to health care, the New York Times published an article, “The Single Payer Party? Democrats Shift Left on Health Care“, prominently on the front page and above the fold. The article quotes RoseAnn DeMoro, head of National Nurses United, saying, “There is a cultural shift. Health care is now seen as something everyone deserves. It’s like a national light went off.” Minnesota Congressman Rick Nolan was also quoted, saying that rank and file Democrats “are energized in a way I have not witnessed in a long, long time.” Nolan is correct in stating that following the Democrat’s large loss in 2016, the party needs “a more boldly ‘aspirational’ health care platform.” Democratic Party voters have been strong supporters of single payer health care for a long time. Polls have consistently shown that super-majorities of Democratic Party voters want single payer, but Democratic Party candidates keep telling them that they can’t have it.

NJ Congressman Targets Constituent For Urging Town Hall Meeting

Assemblyman critical of congressman's healthcare vote

By William Westhoven for Daily Record – John McKeon was one of the first New Jersey Democratic leaders to be heard last week speaking out against Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s vote in favor of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Now, the assemblyman representing the six Morris County municipalities in New Jersey’s 27th District is hearing calls to challenge the longtime Republican incumbent’s congressional seat. “Never did I ever have a thought about running for Congress, but frankly, what’s come out of Washington for the last 120 days or so has been of great concern, as much from a national perspective as it is from a Jersey-centric one,” McKeon told the Daily Record. “This came out of left field, but is something to be thoughtfully considered.” McKeon stressed that as a candidate for re-election to the Assembly this year, he is looking forward to continuing his work in Trenton, especially if a Democrat wins this years’s gubernatorial election and replaces outgoing Republican Chris Christie in 2018. “I was thinking with great anticipation, and I still am, that with a new governor, I would be able to put forward a lot of the policy issues I have been trying to advance for seven years, and was blocked from doing so,” McKeon said.