By Liz Essley Whyte for the Center for Public Integrity. Despite massive losses for Democrats in races from the White House to governors’ offices Tuesday, those on the left celebrated some significant victories with state ballot measures. From marijuana to minimum wage to gun control laws, they won many key initiatives among the 162 statewide measures — part of a concerted plan put in motion more than a year ago to circumvent Republican-led legislatures and take policy questions directly to voters. Progressive advocates appeared to lose major healthcare initiatives in California and Colorado, however. The Center for Public Integrity tracked how those fighting over these measures shaped their messages with TV ads, typically an expensive yet far-reaching endeavor. Media tracker Kantar Media/CMAG estimates that more than $384 million was spent through Monday just to air TV ads about such measures this election.
By Hina Shamsi and Chris Anders for ACLU – In the wake of the attack on LGBTQ Americans in Orlando, gun control is again at the forefront of the national conversation. It is also the subject of proposed legislation in Congress. We at the ACLU, like many other Americans, are appalled by the Orlando tragedy. We have deep concerns, however, about legislative efforts to regulate the use of guns by relying on our nation’s error-prone and unfair watchlisting system. That’s why we sent a letter today to the Senate, opposing legislation from Sen. Cornyn (R-Texas), which uses the watchlisting system as a predicate for gun regulation, and also opposing a proposal by Sen. Feinstein (D-Calif.)…
By Eleanor Goldfield for Act Out! – Meet the people making a killing off of death plus the how and why gun owners are pro gun control and WHY gun control is the only common sense policy available. Next up, the stand against fracked gas and oil pipelines is a national fight, being fought on local levels by activists all over the political and social spectrum — and here’s how you can get involved. But first – shots fired.
By Nadia Prupis for Common Dreams – At least 16 people were arrested during a peace vigil outside the National Rifle Association (NRA) on Tuesday, as activists staged a “die-in” to demand gun reform in the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando earlier this month. The demonstration, organized by the peace group CODEPINK, began Monday night and lasted into Tuesday morning as activists blocked the entrance to the NRA’s headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia and lay down on the ground to symbolize victims of gun violence.
By Pamela Weymouth for Social Earth – Orange is the color that hunters wear in the woods to avoid being shot by accident. Orange was the color worn by the mourning friends of Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old Chicago student who was shot and killed only one week after performing with her high school band at President Obama’s second inaugural parade. Orange has become the color of a movement to end gun violence in America. It is the color that marched across our country on National Gun Violence Awareness day, on June 2, to stop more children from being shot.
By Dennis Trainor, Jr. for Acronym TV. TransCanada lost its bid to build the Keystone XL pipeline. Now it is using NAFTA and the US Federal courts to seek $15 billion damages – and they way I understand NAFTA, they just might win. All the more reason to make one final push to defeat NAFTA’s big brother in waiting: that Trojan Horse gently knocking at the wall that will usher in a global corporate coup: that is right people, it is time once again to take action against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
By Dennis Trainor, Jr. for Acroynm TV. Dennis Trainor, Jr. or Acroynm TV takes a look back on some of the biggest stories of 2015 including what to do about the threat of ISIS abroad and what to think of the San Bernardino mass shooting at home; from the unlikely rise of a socialist Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont and the ugly reality of real estate mogul Donald Trump’s appeal; his stint working with Jill Stein, #BlackLivesMatter puts a focus on racism at universities, the cost of Manifest Destiny’s Child, American Empire, in Syria and the Middle East, what could we do without all of that spending on the military? Trainor takes a look at all of that and more in the Acronym TV 2015 year in review.
By Egberto Willies for Daily Kos, The President exasperatedly addressed the shooting massacre at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon with a passionate press conference. He made one statement that should be burned into every American’s psyche. He said, “We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.” Looking at the big picture, that statement could very well be, “We collectively are answerable for the demise of the America we thought we had.” This is deja vu all over again. A mass shooting occurs. People are shocked. The president speaks, begging for legislative action. Time passes. People forget. No substantive action is taken. People go back to life as usual. It is a pattern that we expect. It is a pattern that has become routine. We are now programmed to be accepting of this.
One week ago, in an op-ed for the far right wing website World Net Daily, National Rifle Association (NRA) Board Member Ted Nugent commented on the violence that has made national headlines in Ferguson, Missouri, and stated, “The overwhelming majority of violent crime across America is conducted by young, black males who, sadly, are on the self-inflicted expressway to prison or an early grave-or more often than not, both.” Where to begin… For starters, Nugent has blatantly misstated the facts. In truth, more whites are arrested for violent crime in the United States than blacks (even though African Americans are arrested for such crimes at a higher rate than whites). There are multiple socioeconomic and structural causes that increase an individual’s propensity for violent behavior. Pigmentation is simply not a factor.
George Zimmerman, singing autographs at a gun show in Orlando, Florida over the weekend, wondered why people are angry with him. Here is one possible answer: Here is the thing, George, people know that it is not an aberration for a wanna be cop like you to patrol a neighborhood with a loaded gun and, upon seeing an African American kid whom you did not recognize, assume that kid was a threat, and then tail that kid with your itchy finger on the trigger of your loaded gun and initiate and then escalate a situation that resulted in that unarmed kid murdered and killed by you, Georgie. It is more than that, however. People are angry at the ALEC written stand your ground laws that, while it played no direct role in your not guilty verdict, played a very direct role in the culture that empowered you to cruise around packing heat. In the case of stand your ground, the NRA wrote the law, and worked with ALEC to grease it through the legislature and get it passed into law in 2005, and the rate of legally justifiable homicides in Florida has tripled since then.
As protesters gathered outside Alec’s 40th annual gathering of lawmakers and corporate interests in Chicago, a new watchdog report finds that stand-your-ground laws of the sort forwarded by the group and made infamous by the Martin killing are still proliferating around the country. Last year, Alec came under intense criticism that its model stand-your-ground law, first adopted in Florida in 2005 having been drafted by the National Rifle Association, had prevented the arrest of George Zimmerman, Martin’s shooter, and made his prosecution more difficult.
What is happening in Gilberton should be a warning to all those who value our basic, inalienable rights to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The story there centers around Police Chief Mark Kessler, who drew attention by posting a series of profanity-lacedvideos to YouTube in which he attacks “libtards,” fires fully automatic assault weapons, and threatens, “If you f***ing maniacs want to turn this into an armed revolt, knock yourselves out.” On Wednesday, during a meeting of the Gilberton Borough Council to consider disciplinary actions against Kessler, his supporters answered his call. While a State Police helicopter circle overhead, more than 100 people gathered outside the borough hall, many of them armed. In the end the chief was suspended 30 days without pay.