New TSA Policy May Lead To Increased Scrutiny Of Reading Material

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By Jay Stanley for ACLU – The TSA is testing new requirements that passengers remove books and other paper goods from their carry-on baggage when going through airline security. Given the sensitivity of our reading choices, this raises privacy concerns. Tests of the policy are underway in some small airports around the country, and DHS Secretary John Kelly recently said that “we might, and likely will” apply the policy nationwide. “What we’re doing now is working out the tactics, techniques, and procedures, if you will, in a few airports, to find out exactly how to do that with the least amount of inconvenience to the traveler,” he told Fox News. The policy may also apply to food items. The rationale for the policy change given by Kelly and the TSA is that the imposition of growing fees for checked baggage by the airlines has prompted passengers to more densely pack their carry-ons, and that this has made it harder for screeners to identify particular items amid the jumble of images appearing on their screens. Laptops must already be pulled out separately because they are regarded as a heightened threat and can be better examined if they are not scanned in a bag with many other objects.

Trump Names BP Oil Spill Lawyer, Climate Policy Foe As Top DOJ Environment Attorney

Clark was prominently involved in industry challenges to the EPA's "endangerment finding" that set the scientific basis for all subsequent attempts to regulate greenhouse gases. Credit: U.S. Navy

By Marianne Lavelle and John H. Cushman Jr. for Inside Climate News – Jeffrey Bossert Clark, a lawyer who has repeatedly challenged the scientific foundations of U.S. climate policy and was part of a legal team that represented BP in lawsuits stemming from the nation’s worst oil spill, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, was nominated by President Donald Trump on Tuesday to serve as the Justice Department’s top environmental lawyer. Clark, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Kirkland & Ellis, has represented the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in lawsuits challenging the federal government’s authority to regulate carbon emissions. In court he has repeatedly argued that it is inappropriate to base government policymaking on the scientific consensus presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “When did America risk coming to be ruled by foreign scientists and apparatchiks at the United Nations?” Clark demanded in a 2010 blog posting on the EPA’s endangerment finding. Clark was prominently involved in industry challenges to the EPA’s “endangerment finding” that set the scientific basis for all subsequent attempts to regulate greenhouse gases, including from autos and industrial sources.

Women Imprisoned Under Drug War Speak Out Against Sessions' New Policy

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks to reporters in Richmond, Virginia, March 15, 2017. (Photo: Chet Strange / The New York Times)

By Victoria Law for Truthout – In the federal prison in California, Michelle West described people standing in front of the television in shock this past Friday as they learned about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ memo, which promises to intensify the war on drugs. “They knew it was going to be bad because of his past comments regarding the criminal justice system, but not this bad,” West said. In federal prisons across the country, a similar scenario played out as people, many of whom were sentenced under the drug war policies of the 1980s and 1990s, learned about Sessions’ two-page memo entitled Department Charging and Sentencing Policy. The directive instructs federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious, readily provable offense. It thus resurrects the emphasis on mandatory minimum sentencing requirements, which have required judges to impose draconian sentences for drug crimes, even when they don’t believe these sentences are warranted. Sessions’ memo rescinds and reverses the reforms implemented by former Attorney General Eric Holder, which urged prosecutors to charge people with low-level drug cases to avoid triggering mandatory minimum sentences. Nearly half (or 92,000) of the people in federal prison are serving sentences for drug convictions.

Climate Policies Could Boost Economic Growth By 5%, OECD Says

Climate policies help create sustainable jobs with a long-term future and spur technology innovation, the OECD says. Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

By Marianne Lavelle for Inside Climate News – The world’s major economies could boost their long-term economic growth by 2.8 percent with policies that lower greenhouse gas emissions and boost resilience to climate change impacts, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said in a new analysis. That rises to nearly 5 percent mid-century when the economic benefits of avoiding future impacts of climate change are factored in. “Far from being a dampener on growth, integrating climate action into growth policies can have a positive economic impact,” Angel Gurría, secretary-general of OECD, said Tuesday at an international meeting on climate hosted by the German government in Berlin. The new figures bolstered a theme that has been sounded repeatedly by the OECD, the research and policy organization that represents developed nations. “There is no economic excuse for not acting on climate change, and the urgency to act is high,” Gurría said. OECD economists estimate that the major economies in the G20 could add 1 percent to average economic output by 2021 and lift their 2050 output by up to 2.8 percent through economic policies that are shaped to address climate change.

How Tax Policy Created The 1%

As chair of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and then of the NYSE, Emil Schram (pictured at right, 1939) helped shape tax policy to serve his peers (Library of Congress)

By Julia Ott for Dissent – Last Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters across the country joined the Tax March, although most realized Trump won’t divulge anything about his taxes unless Congress or the courts take action. So we may never know the truth about Trump’s income and charitable contributions, about the conflicts of interest and the “emoluments” from foreign powers. Trump’s already said a lot about his taxes. In the first presidential debate, he famously boasted that his ostensibly legal tax avoidance strategies prove he’s “smart“—and by extension, so are the rest of the rich who do likewise. With Republicans controlling both the White House and Congress, the stage is set for massive tax cuts to reward those brilliant members of the 1 percent—unless popular ire over Trump’s tax filings can be translated into demands for tax justice. Polls suggest that Americans won’t stomach a tax plan that will enrich the rich at the expense of the rest. In 2016 Gallup found that 61 percent of Americans agreed that “upper income people” paid “too little” in taxes. And a majority (52 percent) concurred that “our government should redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich.”

Is US Farm Policy Creating Another Dust Bowl In Age Of Climate Change?

Farm policy critics say the latest Farm Bill is helping turn widespread drought into another Dust Bowl. Credit: Getty Images

By Staff for Inside Climate News – Over the past decade, farmers in the Great Southern Plains have suffered the worst drought conditions since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. They’ve battled heat, dust storms and in recent weeks, fires that devoured more than 900,000 acres and killed thousands of cattle. These extreme conditions are being fueled by climate change. But a new report from an environmental advocacy group says they’re also being driven by federal crop insurance policy that encourages farmers to continue planting crops on compromised land, year after year. “Dust bowl conditions are coming back. Drought is back. Dust storms are back. All the climate models show the weather getting worse,” said Craig Cox of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which released the report Wednesday.

Protesters Blocked Road And Bridges Against Macri’s Hunger Policies

Resumen Latinoamericano, FM Riachuel, Revista Venceremos / The Dawn News / March 15, 2017. Photos: Agencia Resistir y Luchar and FPDS

By Staff of The Dawn News – Hundreds of blockades around the Latin American country, cutting bridges and routes to the big cities, including Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Chaco, Formosa, were carried on by thousands of workers of the popular economy, people that is desperate by the level of violence that the economical policies unleashes towards the Argentinean inhabitants. The Confederation of Workers of the Popular Economy (CTEP), Standing Neighbourhoods, the Classist and Combative Current, the 19 and 20 Current of the CTEP, the Dignity Popular Movement, the Popular Front Dario Santillán, To Fight and Resist, Motherland, MULCS, FPDS…

“Freedom Cities” Campaign: Resistance Through Progress At Local Level

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By Ronald Newman for ACLU – On Saturday night, people at more than 2,200 events around the nation tuned in for the inaugural event of People Power, a new platform harnessing nationwide grassroots resistance to the Trump administration’s assault on our Constitution and our values. At the event, we announced “Freedom Cities,” a campaign that provides a concrete plan for the People Power team to play offense in cities and towns across the country. Even before “Freedom Cities,” our grassroots activism has borne fruit, as evidenced by the incredible protests around the country that brought defeat to President Trump’s first attempt to ban Muslims and refugees.

How “Blue Lives Matter” Went From Reactive Slogan To White House Policy

Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty

By Dara Lind for Vox – They’re symbolic, but that doesn’t make them pointless. Trump is picking a side in a culture war that’s arisen in the past few years, with advocates for racial justice and improvements in police-community relations on one side, and law enforcement officers (and their supporters) who fear “anti-police” reforms on the other. There’s no reason that “Black Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter” should necessarily be in conflict, because there’s no necessary trade-off between improved police-community relations and officer safety. It’s the Blue Lives Matter side that’s decided the two are zero-sum — and that any implication that police could do more to help communities of color puts officers in danger.

Poor People Could Get Even Hungrier Under Trump 

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By Marissa Higgins for The Establishment – Recognizing this potential, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced trial programs in seven states that will allow recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) programs to order their groceries from participating vendors online, including FreshDirect, Amazon, and smaller local vendors. The delivery program is being piloted in Maryland, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Washington this summer. If implemented nationwide, it could benefit the one in seven Americans who receive SNAP, including those who are disabled, elderly, and living in food deserts where access to brick-and-mortar shops is limited.

Big Gap Between Trump’s Promises To The Middle Class And His Policies

John Bazemore/AP Photo

By Josh Bivens for EPI – During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump promised that he would take the side of American workers against economic elites when evaluating policy. Yet, the policy proposals he put forth during the campaign had nothing in them that would actually help working- and middle-class Americans. Now that more plans and potential cabinet appointments are coming into focus, it looks worse than many of us thought even before the election.

Anti-Fascists Storm National Policy Institute Dinner

Richard Spencer, President of the National Policy Institute (center)/Photo by John Zangas

By John Zangas for DC Media Group – Washington, DC — Activists from Smash Racism DC, an anti-fascist group, confronted about 60 members of the National Policy Institute (NPI), a white nationalist think-tank, at a local restaurant where they were holding a dinner meeting Friday night. They barged into the dining area of Maggiano’s of Little Italy, chasing the self-proclaimed white “identifiers” upstairs. As meeting participants bolted upstairs, protesters chanted, “No Nazis, no KKK, no fascist USA!”

How Urban Governments Are Promoting Worker Co-ops

Flickr/Tim Green

By Michelle Camou for GEO – City governments are shaping up as key actors accelerating worker co-op development. It started in 2009 when the City of Cleveland accessed a federal guaranteed loan to help finance the Evergreen Cooperatives. Since then, nine more city governments have moved to promote worker cooperatives through municipal projects, initiatives, or policies because they want to reach people and communities often left out of mainstream economic development. Other city governments including Philadelphia are considering it now.

7 Simple Ways To Make Environmental Change In Your Community

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By Staff of Grist – You’re probably aware that the environment could be in better shape. (If this is news to you, might we suggest unsubscribing from Everything’s Peachy Monthly and peering through your soot-covered windows to the barren fields on the horizon. That brittle skeleton used to be a cow!) Luckily for the environment, though, you’re a strapping young idealist who’s ready to take to the streets, rock the vote, and effect some serious policy change.

Social Protest And Policy Attitudes: The Case Of 2006 Immigrant Rallies

Millions of people were deported during the Obama era, a record. There were consistent protests against his immigration policy.

By Valerie Martinez-Ebers for AJPS – Mass demonstration has been characterized as the “defining trope of our times” (Andersen 2011). The scope and number of protests in one year alone was so exceptional that “The Protester” was recognized as the 2011 Person of the Year by Time magazine. Individuals participate in political protests for the purpose of making their opinion heard, in an attempt to influence public opinion and, ultimately, government actions.