Gun Control Protest Inside And Outside US Senate


By Jacob Ogles for Advocate – Capitol Police arrested seven members of Gays Against Guns after the group staged an ACT UP-style die-in at the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Monday. The protests occurred the day after yet another mass shooting, this time leaving 26 dead at a Texas church. Members of the group today brought their disruption to the offices of Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who each have lost constituents in mass shootings but maintain A ratings with the National Rifle Association. “We knew we were risking arrest,” said Tim Murphy, a member of GAG NYC. “But we are holding them accountable as puppets of the NRA.” Those arrested include Murphy, Mari Gustafson, John Grauwiler, Natalie James, Lewis Bossing, Michael Adolph, and John Becker. Murphy tells The Advocate that protesters conducted a die-in at the atrium for the Hart building, and video shows the individuals writhing around like wounded gunshot victims, chanting “how many more have to die.” The disruption, which included protesters loudly shouting, “You’re killing us with money from the NRA,” went on for about 10 minutes before police asked protesters to leave. When the protestors refused to do so, arrests began. Murphy says GAG members did not resist arrest. Each one was detained for a matter of hours by police and charged a $50 fine before being released.

Senate Military Spending Increase Alone Could Fund Free College


By Alex Emmons for The Intercept – ONE OF THE most controversial proposals put forward by Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential campaign was a pledge to make tuition free at public colleges and universities. Critics from both parties howled that the pie-in-the-sky idea would bankrupt the country. Where, after all, would the money come from? Those concerns were brushed aside Monday night, as the Senate overwhelmingly approved an $80 billion annual increase in military spending, enough to have fully satisfied Sanders’s campaign promise. Instead, the Senate handed President Donald Trump far more than the $54 billion he asked for. The lavish spending package gives Trump a major legislative victory, allowing him to boast about fulfilling his promise of a “great rebuilding of the armed services.” The bill would set the U.S.’s annual military budget at around $700 billion, putting it within range of matching the spending level at the height of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. To put that in further perspective: If the package becomes law, U.S. military spending would exceed the total spending of its next 10 rivals put together, going off of 2016 military spending estimates from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Put another way, with a $700 billion military budget, the U.S. would be spending more than three times as much as China on its military, and 10 times as much as Russia. According to SIPRI, the U.S. already accounts for more than a third of all military spending.

Senate Republicans Aren’t Just Aiming To Destroy Obamacare And Medicaid

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By Steven Rosenfeld for AlterNet – The Senate Republicans’ latest anti-Obamacare bill has bigger goals than destroying the Affordable Care Act and dismantling Medicaid. This bill aims to blow up the very foundation upon which a national health care system could be built—even if it roils private insurance markets via massive premium hikes for 2018. This overarching goal—to destroy the health care system’s structural underpinnings that could be used to create a national health care system—was made clear in the opening boasts of the Senate bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, when he introduced the bill on the same day Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, introduced a Medicare for All bill. “If you want a single-payer health care system, this is your worst nightmare,” Graham boasted on September 13, referring to his own bill. “Hell no to Berniecare!” If that wasn’t clear enough, Graham doubled down on Tuesday, when in an appearance with Vice President Mick Pence, Graham said, “federalism versus socialism, you pick.” Then on Wednesday, a Pence aide told reporters the vice president was leaving a U.N. Security Council meeting on peacekeeper reforms “to speak with leader McConnell on continuing momentum behind Graham-Cassidy.”

Senate Will Vote On Amendment To Repeal War Authorization

By Jason Ditz for Anti-War – Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’s push for a vote on his amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) appears to have been successful, and his office issued a press release confirming that such a vote will take place after all. Previously, there were doubts, as the Senate leadership sought to severely limit discussion of amendments and just push the NDAA through. The amendment is short and simple. It would repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) as well as the 2002 AUMF against Iraq. The two authorizations would sunset in six months, giving Congress a window in which to debate a replacement authorization. Limited debate on the amendment was held Tuesday evening, with expectations of further debate Wednesday morning. There is no formal time set for the vote, but it’s expected Wednesday in the late morning. Paul has advocated the repeal of the AUMF because it has been used by recent presidents as a blanket justification for new wars. Despite the 2001 AUMF not having anything to do with them, it is presently used as the legal cover for seven US military operations worldwide. The hope is that it will attract support not just from antiwar senators, but also from senators who have wanted a new AUMF that is directly applicable to current wars…

Disruption Of U.S. Senate Hearing Includes A 25-year Veteran Of FERC

Ryan McKnight/ Flickr

By Staff of Fossil Free Rhode Island – Ted Glick, a New Jersey-based activist who was arrested at a similar hearing for Trump’s first two nominees to FERC, stood and repeatedly asked Congress to investigate FERC. The agency’s abuses of law and power have been exhaustively documented by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, which hosted a speak-out at the National Press Club last year. Ted Glick met earlier this year with Richard Glick (no relation), whose expertise is in renewable energy. Ted Glick said: “Based on my meeting with him and what I know about him, he will have no impact at FERC. He will be run over by Trump’s three appointees, and probably [Obama appointee] Cheryl LaFleur, too. FERC is a corrupt agency and it’s a waste of a good man. Indeed, in a recent 2-1 ruling, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that FERC had not properly analyzed the climate impact of burning the methane that the Southeast Market Pipelines Project would deliver to power plants. Clarke Herbert, a retired school teacher from Alexandria, Virginia, disrupted the meeting and focused on the disruption to the lives of thousands of people due to construction of fracked gas infrastructure.

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.

FERC Quorum Restored In Night Vote After Protests


By Staff for Popular Resistance. Washington, DC – On Thursday, August 3, climate protectors and New York residents occupied Senator Chuck Schumer’s office to shut it down in protest of the upcoming senate vote to confirm Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) commissioners. The FERC has not had a quorum, and thus has not been able to issue permits, since the inauguration in January. Protesters stated that they would “not leave until he [Schumer] opposes Trump’s nominations to #FERC and vows to fight the #DirtyEnergyBill, which if passed, would give FERC more power. FERC has been working as an arm of the oil and gas industry to rubber stamp unneeded and harmful fossil fuel infrastructure for decades. The #Senate must take steps to replace FERC with an agency dedicated to a just transition off fossil fuels.”

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


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.

A Sit-In Almost Turned Into A Shit-In At Cory Gardner's Office

Kalyn Heffernan of Wheelchair Sports Camp is heading into the second day of a sit-in with the disability rights group ADAPT, at Republican Senator Cory Gardner's office.
Kalyn Heffernan

For Kyle Harris for Westword – A sit-in almost turned into a shit-in when disability rights activists with ADAPT started needing to use the restroom — which had been shut down — after they had spent the night in Republican Senator Cory Gardner’s Denver office, trying to force him to vote against a Republican healthcare proposal that the Congressional Budget Office says would leave 22 million uninsured by 2026. “We brought in a makeshift shitter,” says activist and musician Kalyn Heffernan, the MC with Wheelchair Sports Camp, which won Best Hip-Hop Group at the 2017 Westword Music Awards on Tuesday, June 27, the same night she was occupying the senator’s office. When the DIY toilet arrived, “I think that’s when they they decided to let us [into the restroom],” she says. “Once that came in, shit got real. We had so much coffee, someone was bound to shit.” It’s not like the activists were holding back their bodily functions. After they had been denied the restroom on Tuesday, several activists urinated in the senator’s office in cups, bottles, a trash can, diapers and through catheters.

Veterans Arrested At Senate Confirmation Of “Torture Memo” Author Steven Bradbury

FB/ Medea Benjamin

By Medea Benjamin for Code Pink – At the Senate confirmation hearing for Steven Bradbury as general counsel for the Commerce, Science and Transportation Department, members of Veterans for Peace and CODEPINK protested Bradbury for his authorship of the “Torture Memos” under the Bush administration. Three members of Veterans for Peace were arrested for speaking out at the hearing: Tarak Kauff, Ken Ashe and Ellen Barfield. All three veterans, in response to why they protested today, affirmed that Bradbury should not hold any kind of position in the United States’ government and called on the senators to oppose his nomination. “Anybody whose moral compass is so broken that they would condone torture doesn’t deserve a position in the US government,” stated Ken Ashe as he was handcuffed by Capitol Police. “I disrupted the hearing for a man, Steven Bradbury, who should be on trial for war crimes,” said Tarak Kauff as he was pulled out of the hearing by police. “He sanctioned, condoned, and confirmed torture practices that were used by the Bush administration, practices that disgraced our country.” “I am a veteran. I am deeply concerned about our soldiers, who are at risk for torture if our nation tortures,” said Ellen Barfield.

Enviros Disrupt Senate Energy Committee For Second Time Over Trump Nominees


By John Zangas for DC Media Group – A group of environmentalists disrupted the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources as it attempted to vote on two key Trump nominees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). It was the second time in two weeks the Senate Committee was disrupted by environmentalists. Three activists representing a coalition of 170 green groups were arrested early Tuesday after interrupting the Committee vote, delaying it for a brief time. Ted Glick and Sid Madison, environmental activists from New Jersey, and Jess Rechtschaffer, an activist from New York, were arrested and charged with incommoding and blocking an exit during a Senate hearing. Glick was also charged with resisting arrest and held overnight and will be arraigned Wednesday. Both Rechtschaffer and Madison paid a $50 post and forfeit fine and were released a short time later. By posting the fine, they admit guilt and avoid a court hearing. The Senate Energy Committee meeting ended after voting 20-3 to forward the nominees anyway. The approvals of Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson, who have worked as fossil energy insiders, will come to a full Senate vote.

Arizona Senate Votes To Seize Assets Of Those Who Plan, Participate In Protests That Turn Violent


By Howard Fischer for Arizona Capitol Times – Claiming people are being paid to riot, Republican state senators voted Wednesday to give police new power to arrest anyone who is involved in a peaceful demonstration that may turn bad — even before anything actually happened. SB1142 expands the state’s racketeering laws, now aimed at organized crime, to also include rioting. And it redefines what constitutes rioting to include actions that result in damage to the property of others. But the real heart of the legislation is what Democrats say is the guilt by association — and giving the government the right to criminally prosecute and seize the assets of everyone who planned a protest and everyone who participated. And what’s worse, said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, is that the person who may have broken a window, triggering the claim there was a riot, might actually not be a member of the group but someone from the other side.

7 Heated Town Halls That Show Voters Are Turning On Their Republican Senators

Photo: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to assembled members of the United States Congress in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, USA on 3 March, 2015 (AFP)

By Kali Holloway for AlterNet – Iowa’s Chuck Grassley was challenged by two constituents. An Afghan man, who worked as an interpreter with the U.S. military, questioned what would be done to aid him as the Trump administration rolls out its unconstitutional Muslim ban. “Who will save me?” he asked the senator. And a local farmer revived the Republican myth of Obamacare “death panels” to drive home how lives would be imperiled by an ACA repeal. In Colorado, constituents held an “in absentia town hall” for legislators who were no-shows. Already familiar with the lie Trump again repeated the morning before, they kicked off the session by holding up their Colorado drivers’ licenses to prove they’re local residents. Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey avoided his constituents altogether, but they went ahead with a town hall anyway. It featured an empty suit in Toomey’s place, to which constituents directed their questions.

Dear Senator Toomey: Cuts You Vote For Make It Impossible To Feed My Family

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

By Myra Young for Talk Poverty – You don’t know me. You have never met me, or answered any of my calls. But you have power and influence over my life—and my children’s well-being—and that scares me. So Senator Toomey, let me introduce myself: My name is Myra Young. I’m a mother, an advocate, and I live in poverty. I work hard to take care of my family. For the last 22 years I worked as a certified nursing assistant, but I still lived in poverty and needed government assistance to put food on the table and to keep my kids healthy. Two months ago, the company I worked for closed and I was laid off. Now without my job, my struggle is even more difficult. I only receive $33 a month in food stamps—barely enough to get my family through one healthy meal. My kids need fruit and vegetables, but I simply cannot afford them. Last week, my 10-year-old son asked, “Mom, why do you cry so much?”

Senator Blair Introduces Bill That Would Allow Pipeline Companies To Survey Without Permission Of Landowner

"We will fight back through through the courts, protests, and any means available and necessary," says Eriel Deranger of the Athabasca Chippewayan First Nation. (Photo: Pax Ahimsa Gethen/flickr/cc)

By Staff of Morgan County USA – Mountaineer Gas wants to send its pipeline right through David Kerns’ family farm in Morgan County just east of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. Kerns has made it clear that he doesn’t want Mountaineer Gas coming onto his property. Now, the natural gas industry is going over the heads of David Kerns and other property owners who don’t want anything to do with this or other pipelines. And they are going straight to Charleston where Senator Craig Blair (R-Berkeley) has introduced legislation — SB 245 — that permits natural gas companies “to enter private property without prior consent from the owner” to survey land for proposed pipelines. Last year, Senator Charles Trump (R-Morgan), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, help shepherd a similar bill through his committee and onto the Senate floor, where Blair and Trump voted for it — but the bill was voted down 23 to 11.