Fish Doing Well

In the East Hampton Star 4/21/22

East Hampton
April 18, 2022

Dear David,

Much of the resistance to the South Fork Wind farm, currently being constructed 35 miles east of Montauk’s Lighthouse, has centered on the question of whether it might impact our local fishing industry. There have been numerous studies of marine species in Europe’s North Sea, probing whether their wind farms, in operation for more than 20 years, may have caused harm. They have not. Some species (like mussels) thrived, especially around the base of the wind turbines!

North America’s first offshore wind farm began operation in October 2016: The Block Island Wind Farm.  Just last month (March 2022) a study was published in the ICES Journal of Marine Science examining whether the abundance of fish was affected by either construction (2014-2015) of the Block Island turbines, or operation (2016-2019) of the Block Island turbines.  The study is available online as a pdf.  It is a highly technical study that begs for a lay language summary.

The abundance of bottom species was assessed in the area of the Block Island Wind Farm and compared to two reference areas: to the south and to the east of Block Island.  This was done both prior to, during, and after construction of the Block Island turbines, by monthly trawling. 663,970 fish, representing 61 species, were collected over 7 years.  What stands out is the following.

No species were adversely affected by the construction or operation of the Block Island turbines. Black sea bass increased nearly 10-fold in the Block Island turbines area, but not in the reference areas, during operation 2016-2019.

During construction, there were surges in the frequency of spiny dogfish. One catch was too large to be brought on board!  These are predators and their frequency is linked to that of their prey (Atlantic cod, herring, squid, butterfish, and mackerel). Maybe they were attracted to the wind farm because their prey was more abundant?

It is important to remember that an increase in a species may mean many different things. There could be increased food for the species. Or there may be a decrease in predators, etc.

The paper contains a ton of data not covered in this brief synopsis. The general gist, however, is that fish are doing well around the Block Island turbines.

I note that this study was authored by marine scientists of INSPIRE Environmental in Newport R.I. This is a company that performs studies commissioned and paid for by private enterprises, like Orsted, with a vested interest in wind farms. One author is an employee of Orsted. The study also relied on commercial fishing partners although these are not listed as authors.

This is a very valuable type of study. I hope it will be repeated as further wind farms are constructed all along Atlantic shores. I also hope that other entities (not only the companies building the wind farms) become involved in funding such studies.

DAVID POSNETT, M.D.

Posted in East Hampton, Offshore Drilling, water quality, wind energy | 4 Comments

Climate Change Resources

April 25, 2022

If you don’t already receive this excellent weekly climate round-up newsletter, read on. And sign up.

Climate Change Resources was created in 2016 by publishers Lena Tabori and Mike Shatzkin to educate and empower us all to be climate activists, and to take the critical steps necessary to rescue humanity’s future. There is simply no time to waste.

Take a look at their invaluable and beautifully designed website https://climatechangeresources.org/. Lena’s weekly newsletter was just selected as one the top climate newsletters in the country. I’m honored that she highlighted one of my recent articles. MCF Morgan

This is your weekly newsletter from Climate Change Resources, keeping you informed and involved in the fight against climate change as we all search for solutions. Each week, you’ll find breaking news, valuable resources, actions to take, answers to common questions, and more — even sustainable shopping suggestions.
• The hideous war continues. CCR’s People Are Talking About (PATA) are keeping track of the way war and climate change interact here.
• For Earth Day, climate reporters from The Washington Post wrote about some of their favorite stories–from Juliet Eilperin’s magnificent piece about a tree in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to Michael Robinson Chavez’s terrifying photographs of Hurricane Ida slamming the Gulf Coast. Our lead story on CCR’s Earth Day PATA is both angry and somber as Bill McKibben is struck by what we haven’t done.
• Disinformation reporting ramped up with the first of a 3-part series from PBS on big oil, a new report on social media companies, and, not surprisingly, rampant corporate climate denial on Earth Day. Much more on CCR’s Greenwashing page and CCR’s PATA…misinformation page.
• Americans are beginning to migrate in the hope of finding more climate friendly homes. The Northeast is where they should be heading, reports CNBC. More on CCR’s Migration page.
• 
They took a poll in Massachusetts and discovered that residents are less concerned about climate change now than they were in 2019; Democrats were more alarmed than Republicans; Latina women considered climate change a more serious issue than any other group; nearly half of the respondents are considering acquiring an electric car, and climate change trailed several other priorities.
• Just in time for Spring, one of our wonderful contributors, Mary Foster Morgan, reminds us of the power of eating locally, wasting little and composting much in her latest blog, Farm Stands Open, Don’t Look Up, Kiss The Ground.

FYI• Our website, Climate Change Resources, has now been live for nine months! Press materials are here. Please forward this newsletter to anyone you feel should know more about climate change with the intention of doing more.
–Lena Tabori, Co-Founder & Publisher The description of each item below is drawn from copy provided in the article or website cited.

NATIONAL NEWS

TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook Are Letting Climate Denial Run Rampant
By Lauren Leffer
Gizmodo, 4/22/2022
Twitter is the worst of the bunch, followed by TikTok. YouTube and Pinterest are a bit better. Fossil fuel companies have known about climate change since 1966, and for almost as long, they’ve been buying TV, radio and newspaper ads trying to make sure you don’t. Decades later, lies about climate change haven’t disappeared; they’ve just gone digital. Almost half of people in the U.S. regularly get their news from social media, according to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey. Those social networks are often chock-full of lies. Social media companies like Facebook have claimed to be combating false information on climate change, but their efforts are inadequate to the challenge, according to a new report by the environmental non-profit groups Friends of the Earth, Avaaz, and Greenpeace USA. In order from best to worst, the report ranked the platforms as follows: Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, and, lastly, Twitter. More here

Greenwashing 101: How to decipher corporate claims about climate
By Douglas MacMillan
The Washington Post, 4/21/2022
Companies are eager to tout their environmental progress on Earth Day. As big businesses face more pressure to act on climate change, corporations have unleashed a tsunami of environmental pledges, net-zero commitments and sustainability certifications, all designed to show they are part of the solution. Here are five tips for investigating whether their claims tell the full story. More here

Biden restores climate safeguards in key environmental law, reversing Trump
By Dino Grandoni and Anna Phillips
The Washington Post, 4/19/2022
The White House on Tuesday announced it has restored key protections to a landmark environmental law governing the construction of pipelines, highways and other projects that President Donald Trump had swept away as part of an effort to cut red tape. The new rule will require federal agencies to scrutinize the climate impacts of major infrastructure projects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a 1970 law that required the government to assess the environmental consequences of federal actions, such as approving the construction of oil and gas pipelines. More here

Low-producing oil wells cause 50% of methane emissions
By Carlos Anchondo 
E&E Energy Wire, 4/21/2022
Low-producing oil and gas wells are to blame for roughly half of the methane emitted from all U.S. well sites, despite making up 6% of the country’s total production, according to new research published this week. The study, published in Nature Communications, is the first comprehensive look at low-production well site emissions nationwide, researchers said. The paper found that low-producing or “marginal” wells emit methane at a rate 6 to 12 times higher than the national average — releasing some 4 million metric tons of the potent greenhouse gas a year. “Our research shows that the total methane emitted from the country’s half million low-producing wells has the same impact on the climate every year as 88 coal-fired power plants,” said Mark Omara, a scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund and lead author, in a statement. More here

Natural gas-fired generation peaked in 2020 amid growing renewable energy production
By Ethan Howland
Utility Drive, 4/13/2022
The Institute for Energy Economics and Finance expects wind, solar and hydroelectric generation will make up a third of U.S. power production by 2027, up from about 19% in December, according to its report. “The transition has just started,” Wamsted said. “We do believe that the takeoff is right now.” More here.

STATES

Green infrastructure helps cities with climate change. So why isn’t there more of it?
By Lauren Sommer
NPR, 4/15/2022
Federal agencies are beginning to hand out billions of dollars in infrastructure spending, the largest investment ever made in the country’s water system. Much of it will go to improving pipes, drains and stormwater systems. But some scientists and urban planners are pushing to fund projects that are better adapted to the changing climate. Instead of just gray infrastructure, supporters say the answer is green. Green infrastructure, whether it’s large rain gardens or plants along a street median, has the same purpose as big storm sewers: to manage large amounts of water that can build up during heavy rains. Plants and soil absorb and slow runoff from rainstorms, while a stormwater drain captures water that runs down a street gutter and diverts it underground into pipes. More here

Big fight brewing over California ballot measure to reduce single-use plastics
By Suzanne Rust
Los Angeles Times, 4/17/2022
Oakridge Mall food court overflow with plastic spoons, forks, soft drink cups and takeout food containers. Paper frozen yogurt containers are mashed in with plastic boba tea cups and soda bottles. The same can be seen across California — piles of single-use plastics that can’t easily be recycled, pollute roadsides and waterways and add to the garbage that clogs landfills. In November, Californians may get a chance to shrink that waste. An initiative designed to reduce single-use plastics and polystyrene food containers will be on the ballot, a move by environmentalists to bypass the Legislature, where such measures have repeatedly failed in the face of industry lobbying. The initiative — known as the California Recycling and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act — would require all single-use plastic packaging and food ware used in California to be recyclable, reusable, refillable or compostable by 2030, and single-use plastic production to be reduced by 25% by 2030. More here.

Gas Hikes Prompt New York to Investigate Potential Price Gouging by Oil Companies
By Lauren Leffer
Gizmodo, 4/15/2022
Exxon, Chevron, Shell, and BP, four of the largest petroleum companies, are raking in record profits. Meanwhile, prices at the pump have surpassed the (non-inflation adjusted) highs of 2008. If that dynamic seems fishy to you, you’re in good company. First, U.S. House Democrats and President Joe Biden raised concerns. Now, Letitia James, New York State’s attorney general, is officially suspicious, as well. On Thursday, the attorney general’s office launched a statewide investigation into whether or not the gas industry is engaging in price gouging. The probe was first announced in a CNN reportMore here
 
In Pennsylvania, Ukraine invasion and urgent climate report drive new interest in renewables, efficiency
By Jon Hurdle
WHYY, 4/17/2022
Pennsylvania’s renewables industry may have an opportunity to sell more solar panels or wind turbines as prices of fossil fuel-powered energy spike in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and warnings of climate chaos intensify, analysts said. With U.S. natural gas prices at their highest in more than a decade, and electricity costs rising in tandem, individuals and businesses are more inclined to seek alternative energy sources that will be less costly and more sustainable, energy industry observers said. More here
 
As Earth’s temperature rises, Massachusetts residents’ sense of urgency on climate change declines
By Sabrina Shankman and Darma Noor
Boston Globe, 4/19/2022
Despite increasingly urgent international warnings and an onslaught of catastrophic wildfires and weather linked to global warming, fewer Massachusetts residents see the climate crisis as a very serious concern than they did three years ago, according to a new poll. It’s not that respondents weren’t aware of the climate threat; a large majority acknowledged that symptoms of the crisis such as increased flooding, extreme heat waves, and more powerful storms are either already happening or very likely within five years, according to the poll, a collaboration of The Boston Globe and The MassINC Polling Group. And more than three quarters called climate change a “very serious” or “serious” concern.” But with a pandemic and war in Ukraine as a backdrop, fewer than half, 48 percent, ranked climate in the highest category of concern, down from 53 percent in 2019, the last time the poll was taken. Less than half said they would vote along climate lines or take steps such as switching their home heat off fossil fuel. More here

Unregulated Texas gas pipeline triggers a huge methane leak
By Aaron Clark and Naureen Malik
Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 4/19/2022
A natural gas pipeline in Texas leaked so much of the super-potent greenhouse gas methane in little more than an hour that by one estimate its climate impact was equivalent to the annual emissions from about 16,000 U.S. cars. The leak came from a 16-inch pipe that’s a tiny part of a vast web of unregulated lines across the U.S., linking production fields and other sites to bigger transmission lines. Although new federal reporting requirements start next month for so-called gathering lines, the incident highlights the massive climate damage even minor parts of the network can inflict. More here
 
New York green lights massive renewable energy projects to cut fossil fuel reliance
By Shirin Ali
The Hill, 4/15/2022
New York state has made a big step in cutting off its reliance on fossil fuels, announcing contracts for projects that will channel clean, renewable solar, wind and hydroelectric power from upstate New York to New York City. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced on Thursday that the State Public Service Commission approved contracts for the Clean Path NY project and the Champlain Hudson Power Express project. Both are expected to reduce the city’s reliance on fossil fuels by more than 50% in 2030, pushing towards the goal of having 70% of the state’s electricity fueled by renewable sources by 2030. New York hopes to have a zero-emission electricity grid by 2040.  Hochul’s office said both projects are expected to deliver $5.8 billion in overall societal benefits statewide and $8.2 billion in economic developments across the state. More here

LEARN MORE

The Next American Migration: What Cities Should Know About Climate Change and Populations on the Move
National League of Cities, 4/22/2022
Climate change is no longer just a problem for future generations – it is here now, with storms, wildfires, droughts and extreme temperatures becoming more prevalent in our cities, towns and villages. As these impacts intensify, more Americans are being forced out of their homes or are voluntarily relocating in advance of catastrophes. With new sources of federal funding now flowing directly to cities, local leaders have a critical opportunity to transform their communities into equitable and resilient places to live. Download the report to learn more. More here
 
The hottest electric vehicles at New York’s auto show have two wheels
By Maria Gallucci
Canary Media, 4/15/2022
A staggering number of electric vehicles are projected to hit roads worldwide this year as automakers launch new plug-in models and drivers ditch their oil-guzzling engines. But another mode of electrified transportation is booming and, in the United States, even outpacing sales of battery-powered cars: bicycles. More here
 
In a comparison of life-cycle emissions, EVs crushed combustion cars
By Prachi Patel
Anthropocene Magazine, 1/13/2022
Electric vehicles have lower tailpipe emissions compared to fossil fuel-burning cars, but they don’t go scot-free when it comes to the environment. Mining the raw materials for batteries is dirty business, and manufacturing and charging them can produce emissions. Those overlooked indirect emissions have led skeptics to argue whether EVs are really as green as touted. New research from Yale University should put those arguments to rest. The study finds that the total indirect emissions from EVs pale in comparison to the indirect emissions from fossil fuel-powered vehicles. And if a carbon price is placed on all the emissions, both direct and indirect, from a vehicle’s full life cycle, EVs become far more attractive to buyers. “The elephant in the room is the supply chain of fossil fuel-powered vehicles, not that of electric vehicles,” says lead researcher. More here

WATCH

‘Truth Has Nothing to Do With Who Wins the Argument’: New Details on Big Oil’s Campaign to Defeat Climate Action
Frontline’s latest documentary, 4/22/2022
Through new documents and exclusive, on-camera interviews, “Denial”, the first episode of The Power of Big Oil, reveals the fossil fuel industry’s efforts to forestall action on climate change and to sow seeds of doubt. Among those efforts was the media campaign spearheaded by the Global Climate Coalition (GCC), an industry group comprising major fossil fuel companies, trade associations and corporate consumers of fossil fuels. More here

TAKE ACTION – INDIVIDUALS

‘Truth Has Nothing to Do With Who Wins the Argument’: New Details on Big Oil’s Campaign to Defeat Climate Action
Frontline’s latest documentary, 4/22/2022
Through new documents and exclusive, on-camera interviews, “Denial”, the first episode of The Power of Big Oil, reveals the fossil fuel industry’s efforts to forestall action on climate change and to sow seeds of doubt. Among those efforts was the media campaign spearheaded by the Global Climate Coalition (GCC), an industry group comprising major fossil fuel companies, trade associations and corporate consumers of fossil fuels. More here

TAKE ACTION – BUSINESSES

Salesforce Ramps Up Investments in Global Fight Against Climate Change
By Gary E. Frank
Triple Pundit, 4/19/2022
Salesforce is giving a total of $11 million to 12 global nonprofits in the first round of donations from its $100 million Ecosystem Restoration and Global Justice Fund. The donations, which were announced April 12 at the company’s Net Zero Summit, support key programs that have embarked on various strategies to tackle climate change, including ones that enhance natural carbon sinks, protect biodiversity and create green jobs. “We believe that philanthropy can be a powerful tool in fighting climate change,” said Naomi Morenzoni, senior vice president of philanthropy at Salesforce, in a public statement. “Climate change impacts everyone, and it disproportionately affects the world’s most vulnerable communities. Through our philanthropic donations, we aim to support organizations that work with local communities to find meaningful, nature-based climate solutions.” The organizations receiving the funds include American Forests, the Arbor Day Foundation, Conservation International, Fundación Natura, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, One Tree Planted, Restor, Save The Bay, the Nature Conservancy, the Ocean Foundation, Wetlands International, and the World Resources Institute. More here

FAQs

Q: Why are we talking about anything but climate change?
 
A: This is a question I ask myself every time scientists release one of their consistently alarming reports on the projected countdown to doomsday. Doomsday being the moment when the ability to lower the atmospheric temperature has slipped from our control. The moment when we puny humans are finally and irrevocably at the mercy of hurricanes, fires, tornadoes, drought, food shortages, rising sea levels and all the socio-political carnage that will accompany same. The moment that, by the latest estimates, is less than 10 years away. So the first thing we need to do is stop using the term “climate change,” which makes the situation seem relatively benign and natural, as if the Earth were entering menopause and all those scientists just want us to know that hot flashes can be expected. The man-made shift they are predicting will cause a large number of humans to regularly die by heat, fire, water, drought and famine. More here.
Find elected officials: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officialsFax legislators for free: Reps:  https://faxzero.com/fax_congress.phpSenate:  https://faxzero.com/fax_senate.php  White House contact:  https://www.usa.gov/federal-agencies/white-house
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Posted in climate change, Environment, Paris Climate Accord, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Heard on Twitter: a plea for Ukraine help!

Olga Chyzh is Assist. Prof. of  Political Sciences in Toronto.

Professor Olga Chyzh @olga_chyzh

Apr 9

Tanya is not a monster (at least not fulltime)—she is a highly educated woman that plays the piano and casually quotes Russian literature in everyday conversations. But if you ask her about the Bucha massacre, she’ll tell you it didn’t happen.

There are millions like her in Moldova, Ukraine, Russia itself, and even in Western countries like Germany, Canada and the US. We call them the “deceived generation,” the last victims of Soviet propaganda.

The break-up of the USSR marked the start of nation-building (actually re-building), pitting Russian minorities against the ethnic majorities. After more than 50 years of repression (think Bucha), the ethnic majorities finally got a say in the politics of their own states.

This nation-building consisted of downplaying or outright rejecting everything Soviet (read Russian) in favor of national (Moldovan, Ukrainian), and the corresponding change in the distribution of power and wealth.

All of a sudden, ethnic Russians who refused to learn the national language, started getting passed over for promotions in favor of those (including ethnic Russians) who spoke the national language.

In Moldova where I lived, everything around me—TV programming, store signs, street signs, and ever street names—changed from Russian to Romanian.

Other changes included an increase in the hours of Romanian (in schools for Russian-speakers, like the one I attended), as well as the content of literature and history classes.

I was a child, so none of this was a big deal. I quickly picked up Romanian, as children do. For the Russian-speaking adults, however, it was not so easy. It is difficult to learn a completely new language as an adult. But the real obstacle was the hubris.

Decades of Soviet propaganda (backed with repression) taught the ethnic Russians about their undeniable superiority over everyone else. Why should they learn some backward language like Romanian or Ukrainian if Russian is the “purest and the most beautiful language”?

How and why should they accept a government made up of non-Russians? And anyway, there was no point in trying, because Russia was going to come back and re-absorb all the former satellites soon enough, setting everything back how it was.

I kid you not, these were the conversations I listened to as a kid in our Russian-speaking circle of friends. More surprisingly, these are the conversations I still hear (even from my own relatives) today, 30 years later.

These people still hope that Russia will come to save them from the “inferior” national majorities AND give them their coveted Russian pension. These people are still waiting for Russia to give back the money they lost (na knijke) when the Soviet Union broke up.

These people did not cause the Russian invasion—contrary to what they think, protecting them is the last thing on Putin’s mind (he doesn’t actually want to pay them pensions). But these people are complicit in the crimes being committed against Ukrainians.

Deep down, they know that the Bucha massacre did happen—they just don’t care, because the victims are “inferior.” Just ask them about Russian crimes in Chechnya. #StandWithUkraine #StopPutin #BuchaMasacre #MariupolMassacre

Please consider using this form letter to ask you Rep/MP for more help for Ukraine:

https://pbs.twimg.com/card_img/1512561388585115658/qNVmfLG8?format=png&name=small

docs.google.com

Form letter—help Ukraine

Dear [Name and title of representative], I have been following the situation in Ukraine closely. Over the past week we have witnessed atrocities against men, women and children on a scale we have not…

Dear [Name and title of representative],

I have been following the situation in Ukraine closely. Over the past week we have witnessed atrocities against men, women and children on a scale we have not seen since World War II. The list of crimes and barbarity multiplies each day as adults and children are tortured, raped, murdered, and their corpses defiled. The words coming from Moscow make it clear they are fully committed to genocide against the Ukrainian people. I am very upset about these horrific crimes, as I am sure you are. It should be obvious that we cannot ask the Ukrainian people to submit to such evil as it would mean their complete destruction.

The key question in all this is what can we do to defeat Russia, push it out of Ukraine, and bring an end to the suffering of innocent people. The most obvious thing we can do is to provide more arms, and equipment, while strengthening economic sanctions. Here is list of weapons that Ukraine needs the most:

1. Long Range Integrated Air Defense Systems (IADS) – The Ukrainians have a few Soviet-era systems that are progressively being destroyed and they need more to form a ground based “no fly zone” without our direct military intervention. We need to facilitate transfer of S300, and Buk air defense systems.

2. Long Range Artillery and Counter Artillery Assets – These are necessary to counterattack against the Russian seized positions inside occupied Ukraine. The Ukrainian military desperately needs 155mm artillery systems with ammunition, 152mm artillery shells, Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) Grad, Tornado, Smerch, and M142 HIMARS.

3. Aircraft – While ground based IADs can neutralize the Russian bombers, aircraft will be necessary for close air support of counterattack operations as this is a vital capacity in modern military operations;

4. Anti-Ship Missile (ASM) – The Russian offensive on Odesa and Mariupol rely almost entirely on naval resupply, and disrupting those supply lines will be necessary for the Ukrainian Army to defend its coastal cities; and

5. Modern Western and Soviet Tanks – To help expel Russian forces from the occupied territories, we should provide Ukraine with T-72 tanks in the short term, as Ukrainian soldiers are familiar with these. The medium-term goal should be to move towards German Leopard or US M1 tanks. The sooner we will start training Ukrainian crews to use these, the faster they will be able to free the occupied territories.

6. Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) – APCs are necessary for Ukraine to maneuver their infantry forces into position and provide heavier fire suppression while these forces employ anti-armor munitions. Armored forces require a mix of Tanks, APCs and light infantry to successfully conduct counter offensives inside Ukraine;

7. Full trade embargo of Russian goods to deprive Russia of the ability to finance its invasion.

These actions are time sensitive with the situation on the ground rapidly evolving. Weapons and sanctions a month from now may be too late. I strongly urge you and your fellow elected officials to act immediately.

Respectfully,

[Name]

[Title]

Posted in ukraine | 2 Comments

Getting into Putin’s mind

Two interesting and excellent analyses:

(1) New Yorker Hour on NPR for 3/11 Stephen Kotkin on Ukraine (20 min – Apple Podcast)

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-new-yorker-radio-hour/id1050430296?i=1000553758866

“It’s impossible to understand the destruction and death that Vladimir Putin is unleashing in Ukraine without understanding his most basic conviction: that the breakup of the Soviet empire was a catastrophe from which Russia has yet to recover. Some experts, including John Mearsheimer, have blamed NATO expansion for the invasion of Ukraine, arguing that it has provoked Vladimir Putin to defend his sphere of influence. Stephen Kotkin, a professor of history and international affairs at Princeton University, and a research scholar at the Hoover Institution, respectfully disagrees. Putin’s aggression is “not some kind of deviation from the historical pattern,” he tells David Remnick. Russia in the nineteenth century looked much as it does today, he says. “It had an autocrat. It had repression. It had militarism. It had suspicion of foreigners and the West.” Kotkin describes how and why the Putin regime has evolved toward despotism, and he speculates that the strategic blunders in invading Ukraine likely resulted from the biases of authoritarian rulers like Putin, and the lack of good information available to them. Kotkin is the author of an authoritative biography of Joseph Stalin, two volumes of which have been published; a third is in the making.” (The New Yorker Radio Hour)

And this one too:

(2) Putin’s Road to War: Julia Ioffe (interview) | PBS FRONTLINE

Mar 9, 2022

“Brilliant analysis of Putin’s current mindset and it’s implications. About 40 minutes well spent.” 

1,333,616 views

Posted in 2022 elections, putin, Russian connection, ukraine, war | 1 Comment

PUTIN’S FOSSIL-FUELED WAR

HOW TO STOP A PETRO-CRIMINAL

Shared below are excerpts from the Climate Action Now weekly enewsletter.  I have been spending a few minutes each day taking “planet-saving actions” on the amazing, easy-to-use, free app Climate Action Now.  Impact to date: “274,418 planet-saving actions taken by our community — up 10,527 from last week!”  And you earn tree plantings too!

PUTIN’S FOSSIL-FUELED WAR

How to Stop a Petro-Criminal

​​While the fossil fool industry and its shills have seized on the Ukrainian crisis to call for ramping up oil, gas and coal production, the rest of the world is beginning to draw a very different conclusion.

As usual, Bill McKibben was one of the first to see that our global addiction to fossil fuels is directly financing Putin’s horrifying war on Ukraine. He entreats President Biden to immediately invoke the Defense Production Act, which he could do without the approval of Congress, to produce millions of heat pumps and send them to Europe in time to dramatically weaken Putin’s oil-based chokehold on the continent.

Last week, Ukrainian leaders sent an open letter to governments around the world calling on them to “reject and ban the importation of Russian oil and gas, and rapidly phase out all fossil fuels in the name of peace.” (Climate Action Now also signed the letter.) “Reliance on coal, oil and gas is the intentional embrace of death, misery, and collapse at a global scale. It is our duty to finally get real about that if we want to have a livable future.”

And next week, according to the New York Times, the leaders of the European Union are expected to announce a proposal to “accelerate the clean energy transition and reduce permanently our dependence on imports of natural gas.”

What all of these people see that the fossil fools can’t see by dint of their self-interest is that getting off fossil fuels is now an urgent matter of national security.

Get. Off. Fossil. Fuels. Now.

CLIMATE ACTION NOW SUCCESS STORIES

A new program in Burlington, Vermont is incentivizing apartment owners to build EV charging stations. If successful, it could provide a national roadmap for providing the 36% of Americans who rent their homes with access to reliable EV charging.

One country really got the message about ditching oil for peace and freedom. This week, in response to the crisis in Ukraine, Germany committed to 100% renewable energy by 2035—a full 15 years ahead of its previous target.


It’s official—a global plastics treaty is coming! UN delegates promised on Wednesday that a treaty addressing the full life cycle of plastics will be signed by 2024.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
A different tomorrow is feasible. A tomorrow free from Putin and other petro-dictators. A tomorrow free from climate-hostile and war-feeding fossil fuels… Our joint, brighter future demands nothing less.” – Excerpt from Ukrainian activists’ letter to global leaders

The Climate Action Now community is made up of like-minded people committed to fighting climate change. Our Climate Action Now app is the hub of the community and the tool that lets us take, collectively, thousands (someday, millions) of planet-saving actions each and every day.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

WE ARE WITH UKRAINE

Submitted by Bob Brody.

Dear MoveOn members;

Our hearts continue to break for the devastations faced by Ukrainians, even while we’re inspired by the confidence and courage they are showing the world each day in refusing to give in to occupation by a dictator with imperial ambitions.

Vladimir Putin’s destructive choice to launch an unprovoked invasion is backfiring as the global community unites around Ukraine. And every action that we take to live into that solidarity is important. Wherever we are, we can help keep the light of peace and hope alive for the people of Ukraine by showing our solidarity with them in our homes and our communities—and by reaching into our pockets to put food into their hands.

Click here to download a “We Are With Ukraine” image to put in your window or post online.

And then dig deep to donate whatever you can directly to World Central Kitchen, which is serving fresh meals to people forced to flee the invasion, inside Ukraine and in neighboring countries.

Putin might have thought that violently forcing himself upon the people of Ukraine would splinter them along ethnic, linguistic, and religious lines, expand his legacy at home, and result in Ukraine allying with Putin. The exact opposite is happening: He has united Ukrainians against him, inspired a wave of protests in Russia, and unified the global embrace of an independent, democratic, and free Ukraine.1 Rather than conceding to Putin’s demands, the European Parliament has voted to advance Ukraine’s application to join the European Union.2

We’re part of that global outcry. Over 150,000 of us have signed the MoveOn statement in support for the people of Ukraine, just as a crowd of 100,000 reportedly marched in Berlin on Sunday against Putin’s war.3

Solidarity takes many shapes. Our governments have a critical role to play, as the Biden administration has joined with countries from Switzerland to Japan in taking strong economic action against Putin’s government—freezing offshore assets of government cronies, blocking financial transfers, and holding Putin and Russia’s foreign minister accountable. Those steps are crucial, but they aren’t the only avenue for action. Cultural acts of solidarity have come from all sorts of places: From sports leagues, who have moved their games out of Russia in protest of the invasion of Ukraine, to New York’s Metropolitan Opera and the Munich Philharmonic, who cut ties with a conductor and close ally of Putin’s who refused to denounce the invasion, there are many important ways to act against war.4

MoveOn members have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars directly to Ukrainian relief efforts, while also using our collective voice to advocate for a diplomacy-first, peaceful end to this conflict. One more simple way is to display your support for Ukraine’s democracy to your friends and family, or by donating to food relief efforts. 

Print and post a solidarity sign now.

Experts estimated that 7 million people in Ukraine could be displaced by Putin’s war.5 Already, hundreds of thousands of people have flooded across borders to neighboring Poland, Hungary, Romania, and beyond in the dead of winter. World Central Kitchen is responding to the acute need, using their experience in bringing food relief to areas hit by disasters and war to help give people food and hope. We might not be able to go join them, but we can help their work by making a generous donation, small or large, right now.

Donate to World Central Kitchen’s fund for emergency food relief in Ukraine.

Though tanks might have crossed into Ukraine last week, we know that this invasion is not an isolated act of violence. The cluster bombs seen in Ukraine’s second-largest city, widely banned because they are designed to kill civilians indiscriminately, were used on the Syrian people by Russian and Russian-backed forces propping up dictator Bashar al-Assad.6,7 Meanwhile, thousands of conscripted Russian soldiers, many of them young and poor, have lost their lives due to Putin’s senseless aggression.8

Unless we stop Putin from seeing war as a positive choice, we’ll continue to see more death and destruction. So let’s come together now and show solidarity with Ukraine.

Thanks for all you do.

–David, Mana, Amy, Isbah, and the rest of the team

Sources: 

1. “Attack on Ukraine brings rare sight in Russia: Protests in cities against Putin and invasion,” The Washington Post, February 24, 2022

2. “European Parliament Backs Ukraine’s EU Application, But Long Road Ahead,” Newsweek, March 1, 2022

3. “As over 100,000 rally for Ukraine, Germany announces vast defense spending increase that may upend European security policy,” The Washington Post, February 27, 2022

4. “Munich Philharmonic drops star conductor Valery Gergiev over Putin ties,” DW Akademie, March 1, 2022

5. “EU says expects millions of displaced Ukrainians,” Reuters, February 27, 2022

6. “Ukraine’s Kharkiv struck by cluster bombs, experts say,” Reuters, March 1, 2022

7. “What are cluster and vacuum weapons, and how has Russia used them in the past?,” The Washington Post, March 2, 2022

8. “Russian Troop Deaths Expose a Potential Weakness of Putin’s Strategy,” The New York Times, March 2, 2022

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stand with Ukraine – East Hampton

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Cross walk in Zurich (Switzerland)
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Covid Notes

From Norbert Goldfield, M.D., Ask Nurses and Doctors (AND)

We are continuing to build up health professional networks in preparation for the 2022 elections. As part of this effort, Jeff Lerner (AND lead in Pennsylvania) and I appeared on the Robert Hubbell podcast last week. Hope to see you all next week on March 9 at 730 pm when AND will host a webinar on Engaging Social Media and Policymakers as we build and prepare for the elections. Appearing will be

Jeff Lerner PhD, President Emeritus, ECRI and adjunct senior fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics of the University of Pennsylvania;  AND consultant; director of AND PA

Dan Stone MD: Medical Director Cedars Sinai Hospital Los Angeles, CA AND Consultant

Gail Wilensky PhD Project Hope and CMS Administrator under President GHW Bush, AND Board of Advisors

It never happened to me before during this pandemic – out of the 23 patients, I saw last Tuesday I had four who I convinced to get the vaccine. I failed at two others including one patient of mine. But I felt an incredible high; what a strange idea – again unique during my lifetime that I feel a sense of exhilaration at the end of the day having convinced four previously unvaccinated individuals to change their minds. 

remarkable COVID statistic: in the six months between April and October 2021, the number of children experiencing the death of a parent or primary caregiver as a result of COVID-19 nearly doubled to more than 5·2 million globally – surpassing the total number of reported COVID deaths worldwide.  The mental health and substance abuse impact is staggering. Just as I am writing this, I am working with a young mother using ten bags of heroin a day laced with fentanyl (she has Narcan) who is now in withdrawal and we are trying to convince her to switch to suboxone. 

Many of you have heard of the new CDC Covid guidelines. Bottom line, I will continue to wear masks when I go to the grocery store. As the Post reported, instead of focusing on eliminating transmission of the virus, the framework is aimed at preventing hospitals and healthcare systems from being overwhelmed and protecting people at high risk for severe illness, officials said.

Public health in the U.S. is deteriorating with public health officers continuing to leave their positions. Not surprisingly, private companies have stepped into this increasing void. After bankruptcy, the Detroit Public Health Department was privatized with disastrous consequences. Trust is the key. National public health systems simply will not occur at this point in the US. But they could happen, I am convinced, at a state level. I continue to have meetings in Massachusetts. Poor public health services exacerbate the social disparities impact of COVID. Here are some specifics: In Virginia, 41% of Medicaid enrollees 5 and older are vaccinated, compared with 76% of state residents in that age group. Sadly the new surgeon general in Florida is not clear that vaccines work and that ivermectin doesn’t

Vaccines for all, throughout the globe, should be a basic public health tenet. We are still falling short on this goal – both in terms of the financial commitment of all countries including the US and the willingness of countries such as the U.S. and Germany to waive intellectual property rights on the vaccines and allow countries to produce this life-saving treatment at a lower cost.  

Bob Herman from Axios gave a very nice summary of the overall challenges the U.S. health care system faces. An overarching issue is the price. Take the example of hip replacement:  Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield paid $98,000; Cigna paid almost $71,000; UnitedHealthcare paid $66,000. Medicare paid around $20,000.  Most agree that Medicare payment is “reasonable.” But while Obamacare was a significant step forward, there is no agreement on next steps. Health professionals and voters will have a significant role.  As we look to the 2022 election midterm elections AND continues to work on vaccines, public health and healthcare reform. 

Reminder: join us if you can on March 9 at 7:30 pm eastern. We are beginning to build our health professional networks now, in preparation for the 2022 elections. Hopefully, you can either play a part for just 1 hour/month. Perhaps you know health professionals who are interested. Effective use of social media is key.

Just click here to join on March 9 7:30 pm:   https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2548017298.

Also, you will like the short 30 minute podcast that aired last week on the work of AND. 

Norbert Goldfield, M.D.

Posted in 2022 elections, ACA, Coronavirus, Health Care | Leave a comment

Whale ‘Highways’ Are Being Destroyed by the Fishing Industry

Forwarded by Judith Hope. Original here: https://www.speciesunite.com/news-stories/whale-highways-are-being-destroyed-by-the-fishing-industry

By Amy Jones, Feb 19,2022

Whales are facing ‘alarming threats’ from fishing gear and ghost nets, a new WWF report warns.

The world’s whales are facing increasing threats in their key habitats and the ‘blue corridors’ they use to migrate, warns World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

A new report from the wildlife conservation organization details that whales are encountering many growing threats in their critical ocean habitats – locations where they feed, mate, give birth, and nurse their young – and along their migration superhighways or ‘blue corridors’.

To identify the mounting threats that whales face along the superhighways, WWF and marine scientists used satellite tracking data from 845 whales worldwide collected over the past 30 years to create the first-of-its-kind whale migration map. 

This map highlights the growing dangers they face from human activity, both in their critical habitats and during migration along coasts and across oceans such as the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic. 

By far the deadliest threat facing these marine giants is the fishing industry, with the entanglement in fishing gear and “ghost nets” – fishing equipment which is lost or abandoned in the sea – responsible for the death of around 300,000 whales each year, according to the report. 

Ship strikes, chemical plastic, noise pollution, habitat loss, and climate change are also factors in creating a hazardous and sometimes fatal obstacle course for whales, said Chris Johnson, Global Lead for whale and dolphin conservation at WWF. 

Six of the 13 great whale species have been categorized as endangered or vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as a result of these threats, despite decades of protection following commercial whaling. The highly critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, which migrates between Canada and the United States, is one of the most vulnerable populations. It is at its lowest point in 20 years – numbering only 336 individuals. 

A disturbing 86 percent of known right whales have been entangled in fishing gear at least once, and between 2017 – 2021, 34 North Atlantic right whales died off the Canadian and United States coasts due to ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear.

In light of the report, WWF is calling for urgent action to safeguard whales amid mounting threats along their migratory routes. 

“This report presents some of the most comprehensive data to date on large scale movements of whales through the world’s oceans,” said Dr. Margaret Kinnard, WWF Global Wildlife Practice Lead. “The emerging picture underscores the need for swift, concerted action and investment of resources from national governments, international bodies, local communities, industry and conservation groups like WWF to stop this underwater assault on whales and protect these critical blue corridors.” 

https://www.speciesunite.com/news-stories/whale-highways-are-being-destroyed-by-the-fishing-industry

Comment 1: as a frequent recreational sailor in the waters of Gardiners Bay (between the South and North Forks) I have gotten my rudder or keel entangled by fishing gear (lobster pot lines presumably) at least once every year. Why should this not also happen to whales? DP

Comment 2: The WWF fund Blue Corridors report (69 pages) is quite amazing and highly recommended, especially the maps/charts of whale migrations: https://www.wwfca.org/en/protecting_blue_corridors/

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Introducing Chop Wood, Carry Water 2/11

Jessica Craven
9 hr ago
We have the voters.
art by Ruchita Bait from @amplifierart

Hi, all and happy Friday (today is Feb 11th)!

I apologize for running late this morning— I gave an Activism 101 workshop to a lovely group of folks on the East Coast at 9AM and it’s pushed everything else back a bit. (The “lovely group of folks”, that’s us, R&R! Note added by D. Posnett)

Speaking of Activism 101, ‘tis the season for it again! 🎉

For those who haven’t taken it, Activism 101 is a one-hour workshop I put together before the 2020 elections. It’s designed to give newer-to-activism folks easy ways to help us win races. It’s part survey course, part training, part pep talk, (and part therapy session 😂); at the end I give participants a link to a google doc—one I’ll be updating all year—with places to postcard, write letters, phonebank, canvass, register voters, and give money strategically.

I did over 50 of these free workshops in 2020, and I expect to do even more this year. I’ll present one for any group of 6 or more, pretty much at any agreed-upon time. I just want the information out there!

Why? Because WE CAN WIN IN NOVEMBER! We have the voters, we have the policies, we have the demographics, we have the good candidates, we have the field game. And more!

We just need to do the work to turn those voters out. That’s what Activism 101 is all about.

So write me back if you want to set one up—I’ll do it for your friends, your book club, your fishing pals…you name it.

OK, all. Let’s get to work making our calls, sending our letters, and generally showing our patriotism through our democracy-loving actions.

Have a great weekend!

P.S. A brand new online publication, Bolts, launched this week. I’m VERY excited. Covering the “nuts and bolts of power and political change, from the local up,” it’s well worth subscribing to. REMEMBER STEVE BANNON!! Also? It has a fantastic resource doc called “Who Runs Our Elections?” that everyone should check out. (Bannon already has. 🤨)

Call Your Senators (find yours here)

Hi, I’m a constituent calling from [zip]. My name is ______.

First, I want the Senator to vote yes on S. 1720, the Postal Service Reform Act, when it comes to the Senate floor for a vote. And also please ask the Senator to demand that Louis DeJoy stop the purchase of 160,000 gas-powered trucks for the USPS and go with electric vehicles instead. We’re in a climate emergency.

Also, I’m glad to hear that the Violence Against Women Act could soon pass, but dismayed to learn that Republicans are insisting on excluding a provision that would close the “boyfriend loophole.” Women are as likely to be killed by dating partners as by spouses. Use the Violence Against Women Act to close the boyfriend loophole now please. Thanks.

Call Your House Rep (find yours here)

Hi, I’m a constituent calling from [zip]. My name is _______.

I want the Congressmember to do everything in his/her power to pass legislation that bans members of Congress from buying or selling individual stocks while they’re in office. This is a bipartisan issue that the majority of Americans support—and s/he should too. Thanks. [H/T]

Extra Credit ✅

Post this on social please.

Want to stop #LouisDeJoy from sabotaging our climate progress by buying 165K new gas-powered trucks for the #USPS? Here’s a toolkit with a few *really* easy actions. We need to #electrifyeverything—not buy a new fleet of gas guzzlers!

https://tinyurl.com/electrifyuspstrucks

Also? #FireDeJoy!

Get Smart! 📚

Join Indivisible South Peninsula this Sunday, February 13th, 1:00 PM PST, for a one-hour webinar, “Understanding the Threats to the 2022 and 2024 Elections and What We Can Do,” featuring Alexandra Chandlerfrom Protect Democracy.

Chandler will outline the core threats to U.S. election integrity and how they will change the playing field compared to 2020, and she will speak to how ordinary citizens and civil society groups can form alliances, take action to reduce the risk of an election crisis, and join the fight to preserve democracy itself. This talk will be moderated by Bruce Hahne, and co-sponsored by Indivisible San Jose, Silicon Valley Courageous Resistance, Orchard City Indivisible and Indivisible Sonoma County.

Sign up for the event here.

Win Races! 🗳

Are you wondering how you can help Democrats win in 2022? Where you should focus for the biggest impact? Whether what you’re doing is enough? You have another chance to hear David Pepper—this time at one of his new zoom “pep rallies!”

Pepper, former Ohio Democratic Party Chair and author of Laboratories of Autocracy, will hold pep talk/strategy sessions on Tuesday, February 15 and Thursday, February 17). These are really supposed to be great. I for sure will be attending.

Sign up here and he will email registration information to you.

Resistbot Text (new to Resistbot? Go here! And then here.)

[to all 3 reps] [H/T]

On everything from combating the opioid epidemic to strengthening our schools to improving veterans’ health care, it’s critical that Congress pass an omnibus appropriations bill by February 18th with updated funding to ensure our families and communities are receiving the support they need from the federal government.

Since 2010, 68% of programs of importance to people with low and moderate incomes have seen their funding cut, taking inflation into account.

I urge you to take immediate action to increase investments in education, housing, child welfare services, job training, nutrition, home heating and cooling for people with low incomes, and more.

A failure to do so is directly hurting our communities. Thank you.


OK, you did it again! You helped save democracy! You’re amazing.

Talk Monday.

Jess

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Nobel and Sainthood?

Marthe Gautier

Dr. Jérôme Lejeune

I was curious whether anyone had ever been awarded a Nobel prize in the sciences or medicine, first initiated in 1901, and then later been canonized (sainthood). There are some interesting stories throughout the history of canonized scientists, but most of them antedate 1901. However, Dr. Jérôme Lejeune piqued my interest.  He discovered trisomy 21 as the cause of Down syndrome in 1959.  Read Ref (2).

The science led to prenatal diagnosis of genetic disorders and termination of pregnancy as an option, widely practiced nowadays. Lejeune strongly opposed this practice:

“It was a bitter irony for Lejeune, when the young discipline [of cytogenetics] spawned by his research, permitted the diagnosis of Down syndrome in utero, facilitating the termination of affected pregnancies. A devout Catholic who staunchly opposed abortion, Lejeune hoped that research into the causes of Down syndrome and other genetic disabilities could lead to improved treatment and even cures. He was active in treating Down syndrome patients, counseling their families, and advocating against abortion. In 1994, Pope John Paul II appointed him founding president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Lejeune’s views were well known in the scientific world. At the William Allan Memorial Award ceremony, instead of presenting the customary lecture on research, Lejeune gave a talk called “On the Nature of Men,” during which he noted that “geneticists have not broken the secret of the human condition, and … scientific arguments are of little help in ethical issues.” He ended with an impassioned rejection of genetics as a basis for terminating pregnancies. Afterward, he reportedly told his wife, “Today, I lost my Nobel Prize in medicine.”  Lejeune, who died in 1994, never got the call from Stockholm.”

However Lejeune’s chances of becoming a Saint are still alive, see (1). On 21 January 2021, Pope Francis declared Lejeune’s heroic virtues, and Lejeune was named “Venerable”.

But there is a twist to the story. Second author on the original 1959 paper, Marthe Gautier,  published an article in Human Genetics at the 50thanniversary of the discovery, stating that she, not Lejeune, made the first observations. She writes that she did not have the equipment capable of reliably documenting the discovery, so she “entrusted the slides to Lejuene…I was too young to know the rules of the game. … I suspected political maneuvering, and I was not wrong…I felt cheated in every respect,” 

This reminds us of the fate of Rosalind Franklin,  who was the British researcher who took the famous “Photograph 51” that gave James Watson and Francis Crick crucial information on which they based their model of the double-helix structure of DNA. Franklin died before the pair, plus Maurice Wilkins, won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1962. Watson disparaged Franklin in his best-selling book,The Double Helix, but now admits that had she lived, she should have shared the prize.

Is Lejeune an example of a case of “selective morality”? Lejeune seems to have picked and chosen when to have a moral stance.  To him, abortion was morally inadmissible.  But taking advantage of a young inexperienced female colleague and possibly presenting her scientific data as his own, seems to have been morally permissible.

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%A9r%C3%B4me_Lejeune
  1. https://www.science.org/content/article/updated-scientist-saint
Posted in Religion & tolerance, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Time to re-engage for 2022!

Submitted by Diane Saatchi



Time to re-engage for 2022!
January 10, 2022

Robert B. HubbellJan 10[Audio version here.]         

Last Friday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases involving vaccine mandates issued by federal agencies—OSHA and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Rulings in both cases will be issued soon because they involve the question of whether lower courts can issue “preliminary injunctions.” Such injunctions are temporary, remaining in place while the trial courts consider the merits of the challenges to the mandates. As a practical matter, by the time the lower courts hold trials on the merits of the mandates, the pandemics will be over. Thus, the preliminary injunctions, if granted, will effectively strip the Biden administration of power to issue vaccine mandates. Americans will die as a result.         

While the question before the Court seemed narrow—the authority of federal agencies to issue vaccine mandates—the implications are sweeping. The Court seemed to signal that the “individual liberty” to refuse the vaccine outweighs the societal interest in preventing harm to others. The Court also seemed to be signaling its desire to strip federal agencies of vast swaths of regulatory authority—a long-term goal of the most conservative wing of the Republican Party. Finally, the Court is poised to claim for itself the right to decide which federal regulations can be issued under a congressional grant of authority to an agency. We may be witnessing a massive shift of rulemaking authority from the executive to the judicial branch—a radical seizure of federal power entirely at odds with the traditional conservative view of the federal judiciary’s role.

Before discussing details, let’s skip to the end: The reactionary majority of the Court is about to undo five decades of judicial deference to rulemaking by federal agencies. That revolution will occur because Mitch McConnell denied Barack Obama the right to appoint justices as provided in the Constitution and because Donald Trump appointed a justice a week before a presidential election. Two justices of the reactionary majority thus occupy seats that were obtained in violation of the Constitution or centuries-long norms relating to appointments of justices. The Court must be enlarged to prevent the illegitimate majority from taking a wrecking ball to decades of settled precedent.         

On the issue of vaccines, Justice Gorsuch made a jaw-dropping statement, comparing Covid-19 to the flu. In the official transcript of the proceeding, Gorsuch allegedly said that the flu kills “hundreds of thousands of people a year”—a patent falsehood. (Official Sup. Ct. transcript here.) The audio of the hearing is ambiguous, suggesting that Gorsuch said that the flu kills “hundreds, thousands of people a year.” It does not matter which of the contested statements that Gorsuch made. It is an outrage either way. Comparing Covid-19 to the flu tracks the talking points of conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers, and Fox News. Justice Alito joined in the anti-vaccine hysteria by saying that some vaccinated people “will suffer adverse consequences”—suggesting that vaccines are unsafe. (Before he made that point, Alito said three times, “I am not making that point.”) In short, anti-vaccination propaganda has made its way onto the reactionary majority, which appears ready to substitute their political views about the vaccine in place of the federal agencies charged with protecting the health and safety of workers.         

An equally disturbing implication of the hearing is that the Court will abolish traditional judicial deference to federal rulemaking by agencies. The legal issues are complicated and beyond the scope of this newsletter. Interested readers should consult the excellent analyses by Ian Millhiser in Vox, “The Supreme Court appears more afraid of Joe Biden than it is of Covid-19,” and Kimberly Wehle in The Atlantic, “What the Supreme Court’s Vaccine-Mandate Case Is Really About, (“This could be the start of a major dismantling of the federal government.”) If the reactionary majority uses the vaccine mandate cases to strike down large swaths of federal workplace regulation, it will hurt workers, businesses, and the American economy. But the ideals of the Federalist Society will be protected from harm.         

Democrats can stop this judicial carnage by enlarging the Court. Congress could do so tomorrow—if it abolished the filibuster. Dozens of other worthy suggestions for reforming the Court require a constitutional amendment and ratification by 38 states—which will never happen. We have a mechanism to rehabilitate the Court, and we should use that mechanism now.

Neal Katyal on Merrick Garland.         

I have taken Merrick Garland at his word that the DOJ investigations of the January 6th insurrection will hold accountable those responsible “at every level” and “whether present or otherwise.” Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal is dubious. Katyal also notes that even if Garland will eventually get around to investigating Trump, the delay in doing so is prejudicial to the integrity of any such investigation. See Neal Katyal in The Atlantic, “The Justice Department Needs to Investigate Trump and His Enablers.”         

On the other side of the coin is the argument that prosecuting a former president is serious business and must be done with utmost caution. See E.J. Dionne, Jr. in The Washington Post, “Garland’s caution is an asset when it comes to holding Trump accountable.”

Please read this article in the NYTimes by Ezra Klein.        

Early Sunday morning, readers started sending me links to Ezra Klein’s op-ed in the NYTimes, “Steve Bannon Is Onto Something.” I was put off by the title but read the op-ed anyway. Wow, am I glad I did! Klein makes essential points that every Democrat worried about 2022 should read. Klein starts with some tough love. He says that being involved in politics is notdoom-scrolling on Twitter and then complaining to family and friends about all the things you just read. Real political work isthe intentional, strategic accumulation of power in service of a defined end. It is action in service of change, not information in service of outrage.         

That phrase worth remembering: Political work is “action in service of change.”         

\Klein devotes much of his essay extolling the necessity and virtue of political action at the local level. He quotes Amanda Litman of Run for Something, who says,         

We do not have one federal election. We have 50 state elections and then thousands of county elections. And each of those ladder up to give us results. While Congress can write, in some ways, rules or boundaries for how elections are administered, state legislatures are making decisions about who can and can’t vote. Counties and towns are making decisions about how much money they’re spending, what technology they’re using, the rules around which candidates can participate.         

Whether Democrats “win” or “lose” in 2022 will be defined by tens of thousands of races up and down the ballot—not merely by who controls the House and Senate. As Amanda Litman notes, Congress controls some things, but state legislatures and city councils control other important aspects of political and civic life. So, as you practice the art of “action in the service of change,” don’t limit your field of vision to federal races only. Yes, they matter, but driving people to the ballot box for races at the bottom of the ticket can boost candidates in close races at the top of the ticket!Field Team 6 interview on Today’s Edition Podcast        

On Saturday, I interviewed Jason Berlin, the founder and driving force behind Field Team 6. If you want a reason to feel hopeful about our prospects for 2022, listen to the Today’s Edition Podcast, “Interview with Jason Berlin of Field Team 6.” Volunteers with Field Team 6 do one of the hardest things possible in politics: They approach strangers and ask them if they want to register to vote! Field Team 6 trains volunteers to be fearless, organized, and effective. You can start your own voter registration drive by using the “Voter Drive in a Box” available on the Field Team 6 website. And if you run a local organization interested in partnering with Field Team 6, they will welcome you with open arms and great resources! And, of course, Field Team 6 welcomes donations to help fund its voter registration drives. (About 90% of Field Team 6’s budget goes directly to registration drives.)         

It is easy to see why Jason has built such an effective organization. If you don’t have time to listen to the entire podcast, listen to this two-minute snippet from Jason’s conclding comments for your daily inspiration:  Jason Berlin’s concluding comments.  Contact information for corporations donating to Sedition Caucus members.         

Last week, I mentioned articles in Popular Information and the New York Times highlighting corporations that pledged to suspend donations to Sedition Caucus members and subsequently violated that pledge. A couple of dozen readers asked for contact information for those companies. Reader Cathy Murphree put together this document that contains mailing addresses and electronic addresses for companies that appear to be supporting members of the Sedition Caucus. Thank you, Cathy!

Concluding Thoughts.         

In my interview with Jason Berlin, he said two things that gave me hope for 2022. In describing his journey from writer in the entertainment industry to leading political activist, he said that “You come for the cause, and stay for the people.” In that statement lies the essence of political activism: joining with like-minded people who lift you up and give you strength. You become part of a community that helps everyone in the community to endure tough times and push on to victory.         

Second, Jason noted that we now have millions of Democrats who have five years of experience in political organizing and activism. Groups like Field Team Six, Swing Left, Indivisible, Sister District, PostCardsToVoters, Voter Riders, Voter Movement Project, Fair Fight, and many others have existing staff, dedicated volunteers, and databases. 2021 was adrift in the political doldrums, but people are re-engaging for 2022. I have heard that sentiment from many readers. If you took a hiatus in 2021, you deserved a break! But now is the moment to re-engage. Your friends and colleagues are waiting with open arms to welcome you back!         

Talk to you tomorrow!LikeCommentShareYou’re on the free list for Today’s Edition Newsletter. This post is public, so feel free to share it. Share Today’s Edition NewsletterIf you are not a subscriber and would like to receive Today’s Edition Newsletter daily (Monday – Friday), click the “Subscribe” button below:Subscribe nowPlease consider becoming a paying subscriber to help support the work of Today’s Edition Newsletter. Paying subscribers can post in the Comments section for each newsletter.
Posted in 2022 elections | Leave a comment

Join Paul Hawken and Damon Gameau

As They Highlight the January 2022 Drawdown Festival

“Join the Regeneration” says acclaimed Australian filmmaker of 2040, keynote speaker and festival partner for the 2022 Drawdown Festival – Tools For Regeneration: Forums! Fun! Films! coming to the Southampton Arts Center, Friday–Sunday, January 21-23, 2022, with talks, workshops and films scheduled all weekend (virtual). Registration is free, hosted by Southampton Arts Center, who is also accepting donations to cover costs. 

Damon Gameau will be joined by Paul Hawken, author of the New York Times bestseller Drawdown, which has grown into an international climate research organization, and the newly-released Regeneration: Solving the Climate Crisis in One Generation.  Gameau’s award-winning film 2040 and accompanying book 2040 is based on the top Drawdown climate solutions. They will be co-hosting the opening event Friday January 21 from 6:44 – 830pm.

Join a Carbon CREW

In addition to Damon Gameau, SAC is co-partnering with the newly-formed Carbon CREW Project, cofounded by Dorothy Reilly of Southampton. The founders of CREW, which stands for Carbon Reduction for Earth Well-being, highlight a recent international study: Did you know the U.N. has found that 2/3 of all greenhouse gas emissions originate from decisions made at the household level?  “The choices made by each of us make all the difference! Together our choices are powerful” said Ms. Reilly.  Over the weekend there will be an option to enroll in a Carbon CREW program to guide you to a 50% carbon reduction lifestyle by 2030.

Climate Action = Climate Safety

“This is all about climate action, climate safety, climate hope. Learn about how you can begin now to cut emissions, address equity issues, protect and restore ecosystems and create a regenerating, thriving world,” said Mary Morgan, cofounder of Drawdown East End, also a festival partner, a group inspired by the science of Project Drawdown to guide local climate solutions to reverse global warming.

.

Join Friday’s Climate Youth Festival

The Festival promises an array of talks, workshops, and films — on soil and sea sequestration, climate cuisine, electrify-everything, the debut of Stories of Regeneration on ways that we can all participate in regenerating our earth and reversing climate devastation — and, on Friday evening, the opportunity to join the Climate Youth Festival from LIU.   

Session curators include: League of Women Voters of the Hamptons, Shelter Island and the North Fork, Sean Barrett, founder, Montauk Seaweed Supply Co., journalist Alexandra Talty, Mark Haubner, VP, North Fork Environmental Council, Sheila Pfeiffer, co-founder of Carbon CREW Project, Scott Carlin, professor, Long Island University, author “Gratitude and Climate Change,” and more.

Schedule of Events*

All times are EST. We suggest that all registrants watch the uplifting climate solutions film 2040 before the Festival. 

Friday, January 21, 2022

  • Evening – 6:45 PM to 8:30 PM – We welcome you with an opening Shinnecock Blessing and Co-Host filmmaker Damon Gameau (2040) with Drawdown’s Paul Hawken.
  • 8:30 – 10:00 Climate Youth Festival from LIU.

Saturday, January 22, 2022 

  • Morning –  9:30 AM to 12:30 PM – Welcome back ceremony, hear talks on Indigenous Wisdom, Electrify Everything and Soil Sequestration, with Drawdown and Carbon CREW explained.
  • Afternoon – 1:00 PM to 5:45 PM – panels on Sea Sequestration, Climate Cuisine, Women and Girls with talks on Climate Games, Instant Actions and the Environmental Voter Project, ending the afternoon with One Million Women singing.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

  • Morning – 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM – Panels on Model Towns and Regenerator Web Resources.
  • Afternoon – 1:00 PM to 5:30 PM – Panels on Communicating for Changing Times, Protect Nature Now, Consumption, Financial Impact for Regeneration, ending with our closing ceremony at 5:15 PM.

Register Today!! (virtual)

*schedule subject to change

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The good, the bad and the ugly (2022)

It is a mixed bag of news.

The redistricting maps in Suffolk county were voted upon and the legal hurdles were overcome. And this just hours before the county legislature was ceded to Republican control!

But (as per Newsday), despite Friday’s vote, the fate of the map remains uncertain. The court battle is expected to continue in the new year, and County Executive Steve Bellone, whose office did not respond to requests for comment, has not said whether he will sign the legislation.

On a national scale too, Dems did not fare too badly. It’s interesting that Republicans were playing defense in some places because of demographic shifts.

As for the “bad and the ugly” consider this:

“The next US civil war is already here – we just refuse to see it”

It is a pretty convincing (and depressing) opinion piece in The Guardian. I quote: “…The legal system grows less legitimate by the day. Trust in government at all levels is in freefall, or, like Congress, with approval ratings hovering around 20%, cannot fall any lower. Right now, elected sheriffs openly promote resistance to federal authority. Right now, militias train and arm themselves in preparation for the fall of the Republic. Right now, doctrines of a radical, unachievable, messianic freedom spread across the internet, on talk radio, on cable television, in the malls….”

Even our mild-mannered neighbors to the north agree and are discussing contingency plans: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-american-polity-is-cracked-and-might-collapse-canada-must-prepare/

injured turtle

I am vacationing in the Caribbean (on Turks and Caicos). This morning we encountered a turtle. It might have been a (a) leatherback (b) green (c) hawksbill or a (d) loggerhead according to local tourist websites. Some local Jet ski enthusiasts diagnosed the turtle with an injury and I contacted the local preservation society. But islanders retain a culture of turtle use, with the current regulated and legitimate harvest likely to be one of the largest among the Caribbean Islands. One of the presumed rescuers joked that he would catch the turtle and offer it to me for supper. I think the turtles probably have a more uncertain future than we do, civil war or not. And certainly, they don’t deserve their fate.

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Redistricting: Action required now (before the end of the year)

To All Democrats and Community Activists,

I understand it is the holiday season, but the fight for democracy does not rest! Right now the Suffolk County Legislature is considering adopting a fair map that doubles the minority-majority districts from two to four, and in areas where new minority districts could not be created, they were left whole so that their votes are not diluted. This map follows town lines and zip code boundaries as much as possible and politically is an even split. 

IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT THIS MAP GETS VOTED ON AND SIGNED BY COUNTY EXECUTIVE STEVE BELLONE ON FRIDAY!! Come January the bill will automatically die if it is not voted for and the Republicans will hold control of the legislature next year. 

The Republicans have held up the vote on this bill several times, we cannot let them run out the clock! 

PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW!

Please call & email Steve Bellone’s office and urge him to sign the bill! Here is an example script you can use. 

Phone:(631) 853-4000

Email: county.executive@suffolkcountyny.gov

Call/email script: Hello, my name is ____________ and I live in ______________. I am calling/emailing in support of IR 1964. This is a fair and equitable map that reflects the demographic changes in Suffolk County and creates representation that aligns with those changes. Signing these maps into law will be a step towards racial justice in our communities.  I ask that County Executive Bellone sign IR 1964, and stand in solidarity with the communities that would benefit from increased representation.

There is also a petition on this matter you can sign! 

Please share this information with your groups, committees, friends, and neighbors.

Thank you,

Leigh-Ann Barde and Vincent Vertuccio, Co-Founders of Mobilize Suffolk Blue 

Shoshanna Hershkowitz, Founder of Suffolk Progressives 

Skyler Johnson, Candidate for New York State Assembly 

Garrett Petersen

Posted in 2022 elections | 6 Comments

Trending in 2022: Meet the Climatarians

Who Dine with the Earth in Mind

I’ve been meeting some Climatarians lately. It’s a lifestyle that is starting to trend, especially with millennials.  

What Is a Climatarian?” the NY Times headlined, describing this new climate-centered lifestyle. I think of it as “dining with the Earth in mind.” Wikipedia says the Climatarian diet has no strict rules so much as “mindfulness about food production, where food comes from, and where it goes.” I like that. A big part of being a Climatarian is being mindful of where your food goes — do you use it all? Give excess away or feed animals? Any leftover scraps — do they end up as compost, enriching soil, not in the landfill releasing the potent GHG methane?  

Self-described Climatarians are giving Tedtalks. One of my favorites is Australian Mark Pershin’s Reclaim our Future with the Climatarian Diet whose dark eyes flash talking about his love of shashlik, a shish-kabob from his native Russia. He defines Climatarian as healthy for both humans and earth, eating more traditional cuisines, not the unhealthy “meat-heavy Western diet” pushed by industrialized “concentrated animal feedlot operations, CAFOs.” Then he smiles, suggesting we try kangaroo. With a 97% smaller footprint “they don’t burp methane, and you don’t need to cut down trees for them to graze.” Mark’s ending salvo: they are native, adapted to our dry climate, are lean and versatile and when he substitutes kangaroo for beef in dishes, friends say it’s delicious. (Think venison!)

Meet Amanda and Taylor

Amanda_the_climatarian I met earlier this summer. Living in western MA, 30-year-old wildlife biologist Amanda and her husband dine on mushrooms (they are members of a South Deerfield CSA) and frequent farmers markets for all the wonderfully-ripe in-season produce. Amanda says her cooking is richly plant-based. A favorite dish is mushroom pizza with truffle oil and homemade tofu “ricotta.” Other specialties a la mansion are mushroom tacos and “king oyster mushroom ‘scallops’ with pasta.” Do they compost? You bet. “I have an outdoor, dual compartment barrel composter. I love it!”

“Eating with a climatarian ethos” Amanda told me “means consuming intentionally with the planet in mind.”  She puts locally grown food first, then considers how it’s grown — are resources being conserved, especially water. “Each meal we eat in a day is an opportunity to vote with our dollars for more regenerative food systems. I think anyone who does the best they can–within the limits of their own abilities, access, and resources–to choose more climate-friendly foods can be a Climatarian.”

Brooklynite Taylor loves oysters, so when she visits her parents in Orient, she has plenty of oyster stands to choose from. As for eating out “I always order the local Long Island options, to try more varieties.” Alot of her friends are “flexitarian” which she says is really a health choice. One friend likes to add seafood to her basically vegetable cuisine, another stays with vegetarian “unless they know the fish or meat is coming from a humane and sustainable source.”

“I’m absolutely drawn to the aspect of reducing food waste,” says newly-minted Climatarian Taylor.” There are so many points of the food consumption process that generate waste, and any waste we can reduce is important. We should consider the packaging and transport, how much we purchase at a time, how much we cook at a time, how we save leftovers, what we do with scraps, everything.”

In the backyard at her parent’s place Taylor is planning a compost.  Meanwhile she puts eggshells and tea leaves in the garden and freezes veggie scraps to take to Deep Roots farm in Southold “for the chickens.” In Brooklyn Taylor took part in the municipal food scrap program which she explained paused during the pandemic but now “the city is starting composting pick up again this fall which I am very excited about.” It’s a wonderful resource, she says, “you can compost nearly anything–including bones, proteins, greasy food, and soiled paper.” For now she delivers her Brooklyn scraps to the nearby farmers market.

Meet More Climatarians at the January Drawdown Festival 

Join the Regenerationsays acclaimed Australian filmmaker ( 2040 ) keynote speaker and festival partner for the 2022 Drawdown Festival – Tools For Regeneration: Forums! Fun! Films! coming again to the Southampton Arts Center, Friday- Sunday, January 21-23, 2022, with talks, workshops and films, scheduled all weekend  (in person and virtual).  Registration is free, hosted by Southampton Arts Center, who is also accepting donations to cover costs.

Will the Climatarian trend make a difference?

Consider this. Today’s food system has become the single greatest cause of global warming (34% GHG emissions) and soil loss, chemical poisoning, rainforest destruction, dying oceans. Our current system of “Big Ag” chemical farming and food waste can be changed to a regenerative system. (Regeneration by Paul Hawken)

“Halve food waste, halve emissions” says the UN Environment Program (SDG 12.3 Food waste index | ThinkEatSave)

The #1 Solution for the US calculated in Project Drawdown’s Table of Solutions is to Reduce Food Waste.  Here 40% of food grown is wasted with a whopping 70% generated at the household level. I calculate, based on Drawdown’s math, that if we can

  • 1) bring our food waste down by 60% (think soups, pasta sauce, and, this is critical, no food to the landfill), 
  • 2) make a healthy habit of once-a-week-red meat (or source beef and chicken from regenerative farmers, not those cruel CAFOs), and 
  • 3) buy local first, we can shift our wasteful food system to use-everything regenerative, with compost enriching our soils and sequestering tons and tons of carbon. 

Sounds do-able, dollar-saving, and delicious. Try it! Check out the #Climatarian trend happening @Climatarian.Cafe.

Reprinted from the East End Beacon

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Omicron: welcome to New York.

We have all seen the lines: people on the Upper Eastside are willing to wait over 1 hour to get tested and in the Lexington Ave. / 86th Street neighborhood I counted 5 free testing sites just this morning.

The Mayor and the Governor weigh in here:


New York City expects
omicron infections to
rapidly surge but peak in a matter of weeks, mayor says23 hours ago


Hochul Says No New
Shutdown as Omicron
Overtakes Delta, Fuels Case Records

and apparently, we are not alone:

The U.S. Faces Another Covid Christmas as Omicron Fuels a Rise in Cases

Here is a scary story I heard firsthand. You know all major offices and businesses are having Christmas parties. So this one happened about 7 days ago: 100 guests and some catering people. Everyone was tested for Covid the day of the party. Everyone was negative. Everyone was vaccinated x2 and most had had a booster shot. 2 days after the party one person had Covid (symptomatic cold-like illness). So they test all 100 guests again 3-7 days after the party. Now 25/100 are positive and some of them have symptoms.

25% of vaccinated people were apparently NOT protected? Wow!

Well, perhaps they were protected from having a severe disease requiring an ER visit or even hospitalization. It is a bit too early to tell.

Avoid office parties! Perhaps we need to lock down again?

A covid testing site in Washington: The mayor reinstated an indoor mask mandate on Monday.Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

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Home grown bigot

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COVID Notes: Anti-vaxer husband and wife both hospitalized…

By Norbert Goldfield, M.D.

Anti-Vaxxer husband and wife long-time patients of mine were both hospitalized last week with COVID pneumonia. I had on numerous occasions tried to convince them to be vaccinated – to no avail. That said, the vast majority of my patients are vaccinated. 

Data bottom lines locally:  COVID-19 test positivity rate has increased to 5.98%, MA vaccination rates are significantly higher than national ones: All ages: 71% fully; 86% at least one dose 12 and older. For 65 and older: 92% fully; >99% at least one dose. Key points: Vaccine Breakthrough cases in MA are rare but do occur 1.6% of fully vaccinated individuals have been diagnosed with COVID-19 infection (I have one of those patients who Friday received monoclonal antibody as she has a risk factor – elderly like me) Since vaccines were introduced 3% of these vaccine breakthrough cases have been hospitalized less than 1% (0.77%) of vaccine breakthrough cases have died from COVID-19 (Colin Powell who had significant chronic illnesses is one example). Key points: Cases are >5-times higher and deaths are >13 times higher in the unvaccinated; most hospitalized COVID cases were not vaccinated. Unlike all other industrialized countries, we are unable as a country to come together on vaccine mandates. 

Vaccine-induced immunity wanes over time; this is especially noteworthy in older people. This and omicron are driving the booster initiative nationally. At the same time, Republicans are not only decrying efforts to increase vaccination rates, but threaten people at the individual level. The result: people living in counties that went 60% or higher for Trump in November 2020 had 2.7 times the death rates of those that went for Biden. Counties with an even higher share of the vote for Trump saw higher COVID-19 mortality rates. In October, the reddest tenth of the country saw death rates that were six times higher than the bluest tenth. This is occurring in tandem with health care workers quitting. Omicron might change this. Dylan Scott this week highlighted key Omicron questions/points:

1)     How transmissible is the omicron variant?

2)     Does omicron cause more severe disease?

3)     How well can omicron evade the Covid-19 vaccines?

4)     How do the existing Covid-19 treatments hold up against omicron?

Bottom line for me: We have good treatment available; vaccines work very well but better to err on the side of caution and most importantly: get your booster, wear masks, avoid large crowds. 

COVID is just one health challenge. Health insurance saves lives. Medicaid expansion saves lives but here are two stories of why communication matters if voters decide to expand Medicaid- Oklahoma and Missouri. The “Better Building Act” passed by the House of Representatives will pass permanent funding of children’s health insurance plans and make it harder for children to lose Medicaid benefits due to eligibility issues, thereby supporting children’s continued access to health insurance.

The political corollary of Republican resistance to vaccines is the benefit that Republicans accrue at last month’s electoral box. Vaccine mandates feed into the cultural narrative that Republicans are capitalizing on with misinformation. Challenging for me as the child of Holocaust survivors is comparisons of vaccine mandates to the Nazi regime. Apathy on the part of those favoring vaccines (and electoral reform) is still widespread. ‘Ask Nurses and Doctors’ will continue to work on vaccine hesitancy – trying to work with health professional societies to, in turn, encourage businesses on vaccine hesitancy and support, for example, the pharma price control provisions of the Better Building Act. We will switch over to electoral support in the next few months but are preparing now. In addition, we are trying to encourage universal vaccine access – without vaccines for all (need to address patents and not America First) we will continue our current path. AND is working with Justice is Global on this. Consider supporting their efforts. Engagement on any issue discussed here is welcome. The picture below, courtesy of my wife who took this picture in Northampton MA says it all.

Norbert Goldfield, M.D.

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50 Amazing Things Democrats Have Done Since Biden Took Office: Saturday’s GNR

reprinted in its entirety from Daily Kos:

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2021/10/16/2058227/-50-Amazing-Things-Democrats-Have-Done-Since-Biden-Took-Office-Saturday-s-GNR

It has been less than 9 months since Biden took office — so we are less than a year into a 4 year presidency.

What have Biden and the Democrats accomplished in that time?  A lot.

The press likes to focus on the PANIC they can induce while we wait for Democrats to figure out their differences on major legislation.  It gets clicks.  What they are ignoring is a party that has gotten a heck of a lot done for the American people in less than a year.

Let’s share some good news about Democrats for a change!

Here are 50 of my favorites of their accomplishments:

1.  Run a real and important investigation into January 6th

I am jumping the gun on this one a little bit because it is just starting, but everything I am seeing here makes me really hopeful.  Mark my words, this committee will shine light onto a lot of dark corners.  You betting against Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi?  Good luck with that!

2. Got the US back in the UN Human Rights Council

Remember when we were such an embarrassment that we weren’t even allowed to weigh in on other country’s human rights?  Who changed that?  Democrats.

3.  Wind Farms Are Seeing Huge Expansion

Biden has been working behind the scenes to make huge changes in energy production.  This is one outcome.

Biden administration announces plans for massive expansion of wind farms off US coasts

The Biden administration is planning to aggressively expand offshore wind energy capacity in the United States, potentially holding as many as seven new offshore lease sales by 2025.

The move was announced Wednesday by US Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and first reported by The New York Times.

Haaland said the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is exploring leasing sales along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, in the Gulf of Maine, the New York Bight, the central Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, as well as off the Carolinas, California and Oregon.

The administration in March announced a coordinated effort to bolster offshore wind energy projects in the United States in order to jump-start a “clean energy revolution.”

As part of that initiative, which spans multiple government agencies, the Departments of the Interior, Energy and Commerce committed to a shared goal of generating 30 gigawatts of offshore wind in the US by 2030. The Interior Department estimates that reaching that goal would create nearly 80,000 jobs.

4.  The COVID plan is working

Biden took a potential hit and a lot of anger for his vaccine mandates.  Guess what?  They work and are getting us closer to ending this nightmare.

Faced with losing their jobs, even the most hesitant are getting vaccinated

In the quest to get more Americans vaccinated, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: Vaccine mandates work.

Nowhere is that more apparent than at United Airlines. On Aug. 6, United became the first U.S. airline to tell its workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they wanted to keep their jobs.

The company says 99.5% of United employees have been vaccinated, not counting the roughly 2,000 who have applied for religious or medical exemptions. Elsewhere, other employers also report success with mandates. Tyson Foods, New York City schools, major hospital systems in Maine and the NBA are among those with vaccination rates topping 90%.

5.  Biden’s smart actions saved us from a shipping disaster you might not have even known was coming

This is one of MANY things the Biden administration is doing behind the scenes to make our country work.  This, my friends, is what a functional government looks like!

Port of LA to go to 24/7 operations, Biden announces

President Joe Biden announced Wednesday morning, Oct. 13, that the Port of Los Angeles will begin operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, continuing months-long  efforts from the White House and trade officials to clear supply chain disruptions that threaten the holiday shopping season and the nation’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

The federal push stems from a record-breaking cargo surge that’s lasted since mid-2020, creating huge backups of ships off the Southern California coast and maxing out warehouses in the Inland Empire.

Biden on Wednesday also announced major shippers and retailers, including Walmart, FedEx, UPS, Samsung, Home Depot and Target, have agreed to speed up operations to clear cargo out of the ports and free more space on the docks.

“The supply chain is essentially in the hands of the private sector,” the White House official said, “so we need the private sector to step up to help solve these problems.”

6.  Biden negotiated an international deal to end tax havens

This is HUGE and the result of MORE behind the scenes work of the Biden Harris team

Global Deal to End Tax Havens Moves Ahead as Nations Back 15% Rate

The world’s most powerful nations agreed on Friday to a sweeping overhaul of international tax rules, with officials backing a 15 percent global minimum tax and other changes aimed at cracking down on tax havens that have drained countries of much-needed revenue.

The agreement is the culmination of years of fraught negotiations that were revived this year after President Biden took office and renewed the United States’ commitment to multilateralism.

7.  Biden and the Democrats raised social security for 70 million people

Oh, just more of our party saving old people from poverty….

Social Security benefits to rise 5.9 percent for roughly 70 million people in 2022

The Social Security Administration announced Wednesday that its beneficiaries will see a 5.9 percent increase in their benefit checks starting next year — the largest boost to benefits in close to four decades.

The adjustment will be made for 64 million Social Security beneficiaries as well as 8 million Supplemental Security Income recipients. Some Americans receive both benefits.

8.  Biden and the Democrats protected people from foreclosure and eviction 

So many of my favorites fit into one theme: making life better from the 99% of Americans that Republicans don’t care about. 

Extend foreclosure and eviction moratoriums

Biden directed key agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the Department of Veterans Affairs; the Department of Agriculture; the Department of Housing and Urban Development; and the Federal Housing Finance Agency to extend the current pause on federal evictions and foreclosures

Biden extends eviction ban amid fears of ‘horrific crisis’

The Biden administration unveiled a raft of measures to prevent people who lost income during the pandemic from losing their homes on Thursday, including by extending nationwide eviction and foreclosure bans until July 31.

The White House and other federal agencies sprang into action amid growing concerns that state and local governments were not prepared to protect renters if the federal eviction ban expired next Wednesday. More than six million renter households are behind on rent, according to a recent survey by the Census Bureau.

9.  Biden extended the US Russia nuclear deal

And here is Biden keeping us safe from nuclear war.  No biggie 😉 

U.S. extends New START nuclear treaty with Russia for 5 years

The United States and Russia have extended a crucial nuclear arms control treaty until 2026, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday.

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty or New START is the last nuclear treaty between the two countries and was set to expire Feb. 5. Renewing the agreement was one of the first national security challenges facing President Joe Biden’s administration.

“Especially during times of tension, verifiable limits on Russia’s intercontinental-range nuclear weapons are vitally important,” Blinken said in a statement, noting that Russia has remained in compliance since 2010 when the treaty was signed.

Extending the treaty made “the world safer,” he said, adding that “unconstrained nuclear competition would endanger us 

10.  Biden eliminated some student debt

Not one big dramatic action like we would like, but little by little, this is getting done.  It is actually impressive how they are inching this in, bit by bit, without anyone noticing

Biden’s DOE just canceled $1.3 billion of student debt for 41,000 borrowers with disabilities — and ended a rule requiring 230,000 to submit paperwork to qualify

  • Education Secretary Miguel Cardona canceled student debt for 41,000 borrowers with disabilities.
  • He also removed the requirement to submit income documentation for over 230,000 borrowers.
  • Experts said these changes should have occurred years ago.

Freeze student debt collection

Biden is immediately directing the Education Department to continue to freeze monthly payments and interest on most federal student loans until “at least” Sept. 30.

Here’s everything Biden has done so far to address the $1.7 trillion student debt crisis

As one of his first actions in office, Biden extended the pause on student-loan payments through September, coupled with zero growth in interest, to ensure borrowers suffering financially would not have to worry about paying off their loans. Since then, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has cancelled student debt for borrowers with disabilities and borrowers defrauded by for-profit schools. He’s also started conducting reviews of student loan forgiveness programs that don’t work as they should.

He has also asked the Justice and Education Departments to review his authority to cancel student debt

Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan

The U.S. Department of Education has canceled approximately $3 billion in student loans since President Joe Biden entered office in January 2021. The agency first forgave $1 billion in March for 72,000 borrowers with approved fraud claims against colleges, universities and career schools. Another $500 million was forgiven in June for 18,000 loan holders under the same borrower defense rule. And $1.3 billion was also canceled in March for 41,000 borrowers with total and permanent disabilities.

11.  Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Accords!

What have Democrats done for us?  Just put us back on path to protect the freakin’ planet.  

Rejoin the Paris climate accords

Biden signed an order to rejoin the Paris climate accords that President Trump exited last year, sending the United Nations a document that will make the U.S. party to the agreement in 30 days. The international pact aims to push all countries to slash their greenhouse gas emissions

12. Biden strengthened protections for dreamers

Again, here are the Democrats taking real action to help actual people.

Strengthen legal protections for “Dreamers”

Biden directed the secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the attorney general, to take actions to shore up the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that shielded hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation. The Trump administration tried to abolish the program but was stopped by federal courts.

13.  Biden cracked down on big tech monopolies

And the 1%?  Biden and the Democrats are holding them accountable.

Biden signed an executive order cracking down on big tech monopolies

President Biden on Friday will encourage federal agencies to crack down on the way major tech companies grow through mergers and gain a competitive advantage by leveraging reams of consumer data, as part of a larger executive order aimed at dispersing corporate consolidation throughout the economy.

The executive order includes several measures specifically targeting big tech companies like Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon, people with knowledge of its contents said.

Mr. Biden has already put some vocal critics of Big Tech in leadership positions. In the White House, he appointed Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor and outspoken proponent of breaking up companies like Facebook, as a special adviser on competition. He named Lina Khan as chair of the Federal Trade Commission. Ms. Khan has also called for the breakup of big tech companies and worked on a House antitrust investigation into Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

How New Biden Rules Could Make It Easier To Buy Hearing Aids Or Fix Your Phone

President Biden is set to unveil a new plan on Friday taking aim at powerful industries where a handful of players have so much market clout that they can drive up prices, depress wages and make it hard for small companies to break in.

His executive order on competition contains directives for a dozen government agencies to take 72 measures — some big, some small — to shake up key markets for consumers, workers, farmers and small businesses, White House officials told NPR. They spoke on the condition of anonymity ahead of Biden’s announcement.

Biden also will create a new competition council at the White House to track progress on the 72 ideas and come up with new measures to add to the list.

That systematic approach should pay dividends, Furman said. He explained that a series of small and medium measures can add up to big changes.

For example, he said, hearing aids — an expensive market dominated by a few players — is one area ripe for competition. The Obama administration tried to make it possible to buy more types of hearing aids at pharmacies, just like reading glasses, rather than treating them like expensive medical devices.

“That won’t transform our economy,” Furman said, “but for a lot of people, that’ll save them thousands of dollars. And that’s the type of action you want to do over and over again.”

14.  Biden reinvested in cybersecurity

Another big behind the scenes move.  This is just one example of all the Biden admin has done to increase cyber security

After big hack of U.S. government, Biden enlists ‘world class’ cybersecurity team

Biden is hiring a group of national security veterans with deep cyber expertise, drawing praise from former defense officials and investigators as the U.S. government works to recover from one of the biggest hacks of its agencies attributed to Russian spies.

“It is great to see the priority that the new administration is giving to cyber,” said Suzanne Spaulding, director of the Defending Democratic Institutions project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Cybersecurity was demoted as a policy field under the Trump administration. It discontinued the Cybersecurity Coordinator position at the White House, shrunk the State Department’s cyber diplomacy wing, and fired federal cybersecurity leader Chris Krebs in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s Nov. 3 election defeat.

15.  Biden strengthened unions

Protect the 99%?  ✅

Execute order designed to protect workers

It is focused on protecting federal workers and contractors, in part by restoring collective bargaining power and worker protections by revoking measures that President Donald Trump had signed. It also eliminates Schedule F, a class of worker that Trump had established that stripped many federal civil service employees of job protections.

It asks agencies to take a look at which federalemployees are earning less than $15 per hour and come up with recommendations to get them above that wage.

Biden Ousts All 10 of Trump’s Union Busters From Powerful Labor Panel

On Tuesday, Joe Biden demanded the resignations of all 10 of Donald Trump’s appointees to the Federal Service Impasses Panel, a powerful labor relations board, in a major victory for federal unions. Eight members resigned, and two were fired after refusing to step down. Trump’s appointees—a group of partisan anti-labor activists—had hobbled federal unions for years, sabotaging their ability to organize and bargain collectively. Biden’s clean sweep, which was first reported by Government Executive’s Erich Wagner, marks a crucial step toward ending his predecessor’s campaign of federal union busting.

Biden’s support for unions if almost unprecedented

President Joe Biden made a historic statement in favor of workers’ right to organize and against employer intimidation of workers in a video released Sunday evening. “I made it clear when I was running, that my administration’s policy would be to support unions organizing and the right to collectively bargain,” he said. “I’m keeping that promise. You should all remember the National Labor Relations Act didn’t just say that unions are allowed to exist, it said that we should encourage unions.

“So let me be really clear: It’s not up to me to decide whether anyone should join a union,” Biden continued. “But let me be even more clear: it’s not up to an employer to decide that either. The choice to join a union is up to the workers—full stop. Full stop.”

Biden’s video came days after a group of progressive organizations called on him to support the Amazon workers’ effort. Labor historians and worker advocates hailed the video as a major step beyond those Biden’s predecessors took.

“It’s almost unprecedented in American history,” Erik Loomis, a labor historian at the University of Rhode Island, told The Washington Post. “We have the sense that previous presidents in the mid-20th century were overtly pro-union, but that really wasn’t the case. Even FDR never really came out and told workers directly to support a union.”

”We haven’t had this aggressive and positive of a statement from a president of the United States on behalf of workers in decades,” said Faiz Shakir, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 campaign manager and the founder of More Perfect Union. “It is monumental that you have a president sending a message to workers across the country that if you take the courageous step to start to unionize you will have allies in the administration, the NLRB, and the Labor Department. It means a lot.”

16. Biden got rid of burrowing

This is just one of many moves they made to get rid of corruption

Biden To Toss Trump Plan That Would Have Made It Easier To Fire Top Civil Servants

President Biden plans to sign an order on Friday that will toss a plan that would have made it easier to fire top career civil servants and hire political appointees into high-ranking positions — a practice known as “burrowing.”

Former President Donald Trump’s plan to create the “Schedule F” category had been decried by federal unions as an attack on people he called the “deep state” when it was announced in October. The Biden White House was quick to cancel the classification, saying it “undermines the foundations of the civil service.”finally…..

17.  Biden ordered all federal contractors to pay their workers a $15 minimum wage and provide emergency paid leave.

Protect the 99%?  ✅

Biden executive order takes steps to require federal contractors pay $15 minimum wage

Biden plans to sign an executive order that will expand protections for federal workers, including putting federal agencies on a path to require a $15 minimum wage for contractors.

18. Fighting domestic violent extremism 

Again, lots more of this going on behind the scenes.  The Democrats are protecting us.

Biden orders ‘comprehensive threat assessment’ of domestic violent extremism following Capitol riot

In the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, President Joe Biden is directing the intelligence community to assess the threat of domestic violent extremism in the U.S. and explore new policies to counter extremist networks.

A three-pronged effort, unveiled Friday by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, includes tasking the Office of the Director of National Intelligence with leading a “comprehensive threat assessment” to help shape policies to address the rise of domestic violent extremism. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security will consult on the work.

Biden Steps Up Federal Efforts to Combat Domestic Extremism

The Biden administration is stepping up efforts to combat domestic extremism, increasing funding to prevent attacks, weighing strategies historically used against foreign terrorist groups and more openly warning the public about the threat.

The attempts to more assertively grapple with the potential for violence from white supremacists and militias are a shift from President Donald J. Trump’s pressure on federal agencies to divert resources to target the antifa movement and leftist groups despite the conclusion by law enforcement authorities that far-right and militia violence was a more serious threat.

White House Unveils Strategy to Combat Domestic Extremism

The Biden administration on Tuesday unveiled a national strategy to combat domestic extremism, calling for aggressive steps such as hiring more intelligence analysts and screening government employees for ties to hate groups.

The 32-page plan highlights a shift in the government’s approach to counterterrorism, which for decades has prioritized fighting foreign terrorists. But violent attacks by American extremists are growing, a problem laid bare by the deadly Capitol riot on Jan. 6.

“We cannot ignore this threat or wish it away,” President Biden wrote in the strategy document. “Preventing domestic terrorism and reducing the factors that fuel it demand a multifaceted response across the federal government and beyond.”

19. Reuniting families Trump tore apart

this one falls into this category:

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Lawyers make progress in locating parents of children split from families at the border, latest court filing says

Lawyers are still trying to locate the parents of 506 children who had been split from their families at the US-Mexico border by the Trump administration, according to a new court filing — down from a month ago, when attorneys were looking for the parents of 611 children.

Wednesday’s filing is the first under the Biden administration, which is now responsible for the reunification of families separated at the US-Mexico border as a result of former President Donald Trump’s controversial “zero tolerance” immigration policy.

Biden administration will let migrant families separated under Trump reunite inside U.S.

The Biden administration’s task force for reuniting migrant families separated by the Trump administration will give separated families the option to be reunified in the U.S. or their countries of origin, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Monday.

Mayorkas said in a White House briefing that the separation of thousands of migrant families during the Trump administration was “the most powerful and heartbreaking example of the cruelty that preceded this administration.”

“We are hoping to reunite the families either here or in their country of origin. We hope to be in a position to give them the election, and if, in fact, they seek to reunite here in the United States, we will explore lawful pathways for them to remain in the United States and to address the family needs,” he said.

20.   Obamacare has a new life

Protect the 99%?  ✅

 Biden to reopen ‘Obamacare’ markets for COVID-19 relief

Fulfilling a campaign promise, President Joe Biden plans to reopen the HealthCare.gov insurance markets for a special sign-up opportunity geared to people needing coverage in the coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly one million people signed up for Obamacare coverage this spring.

Nearly one million Americans have signed up for Affordable Care Act coverage during the first 10 weeks of a special open enrollment period the Biden administration began in February.

A total of 940,000 people enrolled in Obamacare coverage between Feb. 15 and April 30, new data released Thursday by Health and Human Services shows. Of those new enrollees, nearly half bought coverage last month, after Congress added billions in subsidies included in the most recent stimulus package.

With that additional funding, the average monthly premium that Healthcare.gov consumers paid fell to $86 for those signing up in April, down from $117 in February and March (before the new subsidies).

21.  Democrats passed one of the largest industrial bills in US history

Making moves to protect our long term economic interests?    ✅

22.  Democrats got increased access to voting in a lot of places

We often hear about the flip side of this (which is really distressing).  But Democrats have been working hard too.

A new report suggests that Democrats have been even more successful enacting increased voter access laws this year than Republicans have been in restricting voting.

As GOP-controlled state legislatures push through a wave of laws to restrict voting, a new report from the Voting Rights Lab suggests that Democratic state legislatures have enacted their own proposals to increase voting access at an even faster rate.

In the first six months of 2021, a “tidal wave” of voting rights legislation has resulted in the enactment of 153 new laws in 38 states—with over half increasing access to voting.

23.  Biden and the Democrats ushered in a great covid relief bill

The history books will tell the story of how Democrats saved our economy from COVID/Trump damage. This was step one.

Democrats held strong on the COVID relief bill

Many cynically expected (I expected!) Democrats to capitulate to Republican demands like they did while negotiating the 2009 health care bill when they eliminated the public option for no fucking reason. But they didn’t. Senator Chuck Schumer, emboldened by either the majority leader’s gavel or fear that he’s about to be primaried by somebody who New York voters find more appealing, has stood up to Mitch McConnell, stood up to bad faith negotiating by Republicans. What may have been an opportunity for Democrats to blame Republicans for watering down COVID relief became an opportunity for Democrats to show strength.

24. Biden and Democrats saved the pensions of over 1 million unionized workers

Protect the 99%?  ✅

 More than 1 million unionized workers who were poised to lose their pensions will now receive 100 percent of their promised retirement benefits for at least the next 30 years

the $86 billion is a taxpayer bailout for about 185 union pension plans that are so close to collapse that without the rescue, more than a million retired truck drivers, retail clerks, builders and others could be forced to forgo retirement income.

The bailout targets multiemployer pension plans, which bring groups of companies together with a union to provide guaranteed benefits. All told, about 1,400 of the plans cover about 10.7 million active and retired workers, often in fields like construction or entertainment where the workers move from job to job. As the work force ages, an alarming number of the plans are running out of money. The trend predated the pandemic and is a result of fading unions, serial bankruptcies and the misplaced hope that investment income would foot most of the bill so that employers and workers wouldn’t have to.

25.  Biden and Democrats invested more in Black farmers than any government act in history

Relief bill was most significant legislation for Black farmers since Civil Rights Act, experts say

A little-known element of President Biden’s massive stimulus relief package would pay billions of dollars to disadvantaged farmers — benefiting Black farmers in a way that some experts say no legislation has since the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Of the $10.4 billion in the American Rescue Plan that will support agriculture, approximately half would go to disadvantaged farmers, according to estimates from the Farm Bureau, an industry organization. About a quarter of disadvantaged farmers are Black. The money would provide debt relief as well as grants, training, education and other forms of assistanceaimed at acquiring land.

“This is the most significant piece of legislation with respect to the arc of Black land ownership in this country,” said Tracy Lloyd McCurty, executive director of the Black Belt Justice Center, which provides legal representation to Black farmers.

Black farmers in America have lost more than 12 million acres of farmland over the past century, mostly since the 1950s, a result of what agricultural experts and advocates for Black farmers say is a combination of systemic racism, biased government policy, and social and business practices that have denied African Americans equitable access to markets.

26.  Biden and Democrats provided huge sums to victims of domestic abuse

The U.S. is distributing stimulus aid to victims of domestic abuse, who faced even greater hardship in the pandemic.

The Biden administration has begun to distribute hundreds of millions of dollars in funds to support victims of domestic abuse, a group that faced greater hardships and more danger while sheltering at home during the pandemic.

The Department of Health and Human Services said Monday that it will award $200 million to help abuse victims get counseling, emergency and transitional housing and help with safety planning and other resources.

27.  Reined in ICE

New Biden rules for ICE point to fewer arrests and deportations, and a more restrained agency

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is preparing to issue new guidelines to agents this week that could sharply curb arrests and deportations, as the Biden administration attempts to assert more control over an agency afforded wide latitude under President Donald Trump, according to internal memos and emails obtained by The Washington Post.

Cancel the Trump administration’s interior enforcement rule

Biden revoked a Trump executive order that massively expanded immigration officials’ interior enforcement work and broadened the categories of who they should try to detain and deport. His acting DHS secretary then issued a memo pausing deportations for 100 days beginning on Jan. 22.

ICE to avoid detaining pregnant, nursing and postpartum women

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will no longer detain most pregnant, nursing and postpartum women for deportation, reversing a Trump-era rule that permitted officials to jail thousands of immigrants in those circumstances, according to a new policy to be released Friday.

ICE’s new policy is even more expansive than it was during the Obama era, when President Biden was vice president. The Obama administration generally exempted pregnant women from immigration detention, but the Biden administration is also including women who gave birth within the prior year and those who are nursing, which could last longer than a year.

the president has said he wants a more humane approach to immigration, especially for parents and children arriving in increasing numbers from regions such as Central America.

DHS secretary orders ICE to halt mass workplace raids

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday issued a memo ordering U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to stop mass worksite raids.

Driving the news: Mayorkas said the Biden administration would instead focus on pursuing employers who hire and take advantage of immigrants without work authorizations, rather than the employees.

28.   Revoked Trump’s Medicaid work rules

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Biden moving to withdraw Trump-approved Medicaid work rules

The Biden administration on Friday will notify states it plans to revoke Medicaid work requirements, starting the process of dismantling one of the Trump administration’s signature health policies.

The move is one of several steps that Biden’s health department is expected to take this week to unravel the contentious work rules long criticized by Democrats, according to internal documents obtained by POLITICO.

29. Recommitted us to NATO

Biden stresses U.S. commitment to NATO after four years of Trump railing against the alliance

President Biden on Friday pledged that the United States is “fully committed” to NATO after four years of President Donald Trump railing against the alliance. During a major address to the Munich Security Conference, Biden also warned that “democratic progress is under assault” in many parts of the world, including the United States and Europe.

Biden And The EU Call A Truce In A 17-Year Trade Fight To Focus On Threats From China

President Biden on Tuesday announced a truce in a long-running trade war with the European Union, saying it was time to put aside the fight and focus together on the growing trade threats posed by China.

“I’ve been making the case that the U.S. and Europe — and democracies everywhere — are stronger when we work together to advance our shared values like fair competition and transparency. Today’s announcement demonstrates exactly how that can work in practice,” Biden said in a statement

30.  Supported LGBTQ+ Americans in numerous ways

Biden calls for LGBTQ protections in Day 1 executive order

On his first day in office, President Biden issued a sweeping executive order making it clear that gay and transgender people are protected against discrimination in schools, health care, the workplace and other realms of American life.

Biden’s order calls on agencies across the federal government to review existing regulations and policies that prohibit sex discrimination, and to revise them as necessary to clarify that “sex” includes sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports,” Biden’s executive order states. “Adults should be able to earn a living and pursue a vocation knowing that they will not be fired, demoted, or mistreated because of whom they go home to or because how they dress does not conform to sex-based stereotypes. People should be able to access healthcare and secure a roof over their heads without being subjected to sex discrimination.”

The executive order set the stage for an administration that has pledged to pursue a “bold” agenda on LGBTQ issues and that has already named LGBTQ leaders to prominent positions in the administration.

Biden issues first presidential proclamation on Trans Day of Visibility

President Joe Biden on Wednesday issued the first presidential proclamation recognizing Transgender Day of Visibility.

The day is dedicated to celebrating transgender people and bringing awareness to the discrimination and violence they face everyday.

In his proclamation, Biden said Trans Day of Visibility recognizes the generations of activism by transgender and nonbinary people.

Biden admin scraps Trump’s restrictions on transgender troops

The Pentagon on Wednesday scrapped restrictions on transgender troops imposed by the Trump administration, and unveiled new rules designed to end discrimination and provide medical care for those service members.

‘We’ll remember’: Biden signs law designating Pulse nightclub site a national memorial

A nightclub that was the site of a horrific shooting in Florida became a national memorial Friday.

President Joe Biden signed a law designating the Pulse nightclub in Orlando as a national memorial at a White House ceremony that included survivors of the 2016 attack.

“A place of acceptance and joy became a place of unspeakable pain and loss. We’ll never fully recover, but we’ll remember,” Biden said before signing the law designating the memorial. Pulse survivors stood around the president as pictures of the 49 killed displayed on video screens.

“May no president ever have to sign another monument like this,” Biden said.

President Joe Biden to name Jessica Stern special envoy for LGBTQ rights

President Joe Biden will name Jessica Stern as the US Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons Friday, according to a White House official.

Stern currently serves as Executive Director of OutRight Action International, an organization aimed at ensuring human rights for LGBTQ people both domestically and abroad and will join Biden at the White House Friday for remarks commemorating Pride Month, the official told CNN Thursday.

She’s the second person to be named to the role — her predecessor, Randy Berry, served in the then-new role from its inception in 2015 until 2017, at which point the position was left vacant by former President Donald Trump

‘Pride is back at the White House,’ Biden commemorates LGBTQ Pride Month

President Biden on Friday commemorated LGBTQ+ Pride Month, signing legislation designating the National Pulse Memorial and urging passage of the Equality Act. “Pride Month represents so much,” Biden said at a White House gathering. “It stands for courage. … And above all, Pride month stands for love.”

31. Biden Recognized indigenous people’s day and made Juneteenth a holiday

Biden becomes first president to issue proclamation marking Indigenous Peoples’ Day

President Joe Biden issued a proclamation commemorating Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Friday, becoming the first US president to do so, the White House said.

“The contributions that Indigenous peoples have made throughout history — in public service, entrepreneurship, scholarship, the arts, and countless other fields — are integral to our Nation, our culture, and our society,” Biden wrote in the proclamation Friday. “Today, we acknowledge the significant sacrifices made by Native peoples to this country — and recognize their many ongoing contributions to our Nation.”

32. Gotten tough on Russia

Biden Orders Sweeping Assessment of Russian Hacking

President Biden ordered a sweeping review on Thursday of American intelligence about Russia’s role in a highly sophisticated hacking of government and corporate computer networks, along with what his spokeswoman called Moscow’s “reckless and adversarial actions” globally and against dissidents inside the country.

Mr. Biden also instructed Ms. Haines on Thursday to provide him with an assessment of the Kremlin’s effort to use a chemical weapon against Russia’s leading opposition politician, Aleksei A. Navalny. Mr. Navalny, who survived the attack, was arrested this week when he returned to Russia.

Ms. Haines was also asked to review intelligence that produced evidence that Russia put a “bounty” on the lives of American troops in Afghanistan.

Biden readies his first major penalties on Russia

The U.S. is preparing to respond to Russia’s poisoning and jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and is expected to coordinate a sanctions rollout with European allies in the coming weeks, according to people familiar with the matter.

The response would mark a break with the previous administration, which prepared a sanctions package following Navalny’s poisoning but never implemented it, the people said. It would also constitute the new administration’s first major step in holding Russia accountable for human rights abuses, which Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have listed as a key pillar of their foreign policy agenda.

Biden makes good on his promise to punish Russia for the massive SolarWinds hack

The Biden administration has officially blamed and sanctioned Russia for its role in the massive SolarWinds hack that compromised computer systems in multiple government agencies as well as private companies.

In an executive order issued April 15, President Biden levied a variety of economic sanctions against several Russian financial institutions, technology companies, and individuals designated as having participated in “harmful foreign activities,” including but not limited to the hack.

The biggest winner in the Biden-Putin summit: Democracy

Putin offered a few compliments to President Biden — some that were intentional (e.g., that Biden is experienced in diplomacy), and others that were not (e.g., that Biden’s views on human rights are different than Biden’s predecessor). He also provided a glimpse into his gloomy worldview: “There is no happiness in life. There’s only a mirage on the horizon.”

The contrast between Putin and Biden was on clear display during their individual news conferences. Even the settings of those events were remarkably distinct: Putin held his inside; Biden’s was outside, with bright sunshine and a picturesque background.

Biden emphasized his defense of human rights and democracy. “I pointed out to [Putin], that’s why we are going to raise our concerns about cases, like Alexei Navalny. I made it clear to President Putin, and will continue to raise issues of fundamental human rights, because that’s what we are. That’s who we are,” he recounted. “No president of the United States could keep faith with the American people if they did not speak out to defend our democratic values. . . . Human rights is going to always be on the table, I told him.” The president also warned that if Navalny died, the consequences for Russia would be devastating. When asked about Putin’s false equivalency between his jailing of a dissident and Jan. 6, Biden declared it a “ridiculous comparison.”

What a difference a presidential election makes. Here was a sober, serious U.S. president defending democracy and standing firm against a thuggish dictator. 

Biden wiped the smirk off Putin’s face

At Helsinki in July 2018, then-President Trump simpered and cowered. In a low point of a presidency with more low points than Death Valley, Trump accepted at face value Putin’s “extremely strong and powerful” denials of complicity in the 2016 election attack. Putin emerged from that meeting smirking like the cat that swallowed the canary.

As the historian Michael Beschloss noted, there was no such grin on Putin’s lips when he did his solo press conference after meeting with Biden on Wednesday. While Putin engaged in his usual dishonesty and whataboutism — he compared his jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny with the prosecution of the Capitol rioters — his manner was subdued and far from triumphant. He attacked the United States but was careful not to insult Biden personally. He even compared the current president favorably to his predecessor: “President Biden is an experienced statesman. He is very different from President Trump.” (Ouch. That’s got to sting for Putin’s biggest fanboy in the United States.)

33.  Changed the border to be more humane

Texas family detention centers expected to transform into rapid-processing hubs

The Biden administration is preparing to convert its immigrant family detention centers in South Texas into Ellis Island-style rapid-processing hubs that will screen migrant parents and children with a goal of releasing them into the United States within 72 hours, according to Department of Homeland Security draft plans obtained by The Washington Post.

“We welcome the change, because the detention of families — we never thought that was a good system or a good policy at all,” said Edna Yang, co-executive director of American Gateways, an immigration legal aid organization in Texas. “They shouldn’t be detained, and they should be given the opportunity to go before the immigration judge and be released in the community and not held like prisoners.”

Transforming family detention amounts to a wholesale repudiation of not only Donald Trump’s policies but also Barack Obama’s and presents a significantly different vision of how to handle the fast-changing character of mass migration at the southern border.

Number of children held in Border Patrol facilities drops 84% since peak last month

The number of unaccompanied migrant children held in jail-like conditions by US Customs and Border Protection dropped nearly 84% in the span of a month, according to a White House official, underscoring the significant progress made by the administration after reaching record high custody figure

Biden administration grants protected status to thousands of Haitian migrants

The Biden administration will grant a form of provisional residency known as temporary protected status to tens of thousands of Haitian migrants living in the United States without legal status, the Department of Homeland Security announced Saturday, citing worsening conditions in the Caribbean nation.

Biden ‘greatly expands’ number of Central American children eligible to apply for asylum in U.S.

The Biden administration said Tuesday that it will expand the number of Central American children eligible to apply for asylum in the U.S. while still in their home countries.

The program, known as the Central American Minors Program, began in 2014, during the Obama administration, to allow children whose parents were legally in the U.S. to apply for admission, but the Trump administration stopped it. The Biden administration had been accepting applications only from children with cases that were pending when the program closed.

Now, the program will go beyond the Obama administration’s eligibility limits to consider children whose parents have asylum cases pending in the U.S., a State Department spokesperson said in a statement.

The statement said the new eligibility requirements will “greatly expand” the program.

34. Improved gun control

Biden acts on gun control

President Biden on Thursday announced a series of executive actions to curb gun violence, and he pledged to push for sweeping change to the country’s firearms laws — his first substantive response to a pair of mass shootings last month that left 18 dead.

The president unveiled new rules on “ghost guns” — firearms that are assembled at home, which lack serial numbers and are harder to track — among other moves designed to make it harder for unqualified people to obtain dangerous weapons.

Biden said his moves Thursday do not relieve Congress of the responsibility to act. He urged lawmakers to take up gun-control legislation, including measures already passed by the House that would require more gun buyers to undergo background checks.

“They’ve offered plenty of thoughts and prayers, members of Congress, but they’ve passed not a single new federal law to reduce gun violence,” Biden said. “Enough prayers. Time for some action.”

35.  Reduced the number of hungry Americans

Protect the 99%?  ✅  This is an area where A TON has been done and it is all amazing.

Historic increase in food stamp benefits starts in October

Food stamp recipients will see their monthly payments go up in October thanks to a major update to the program, even though a special pandemic boost has now expired.

Benefits will jump 27% above pre-pandemic levels, on average — the largest increase in its history. The change stems from a revision of the Thrifty Food Plan, which determines the benefit amounts of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the formal name for food stamps.

Biden Effort to Combat Hunger Marks ‘a Profound Change’

 With more than one in 10 households reporting that they lack enough to eat, the Biden administration is accelerating a vast campaign of hunger relief that will temporarily increase assistance by tens of billions of dollars and set the stage for what officials envision as lasting expansions of aid.

The effort to rush more food assistance to more people is notable both for the scale of its ambition and the variety of its legislative and administrative actions. The campaign has increased food stamps by more than $1 billion a month, provided needy children a dollar a day for snacks, expanded a produce allowance for pregnant women and children, and authorized the largest children’s summer feeding program in history.

“We haven’t seen an expansion of food assistance of this magnitude since the founding of the modern food stamp program in 1977,” said James P. Ziliak, an economist at the University of Kentucky who studies nutrition programs. “It’s a profound change.”

President Biden to increase federal food benefits among executive actions aimed at stabilizing U.S. economy

Biden is asking the Department of Agriculture to allow states to increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits — commonly known as food stamps — and to increase by 15 percent benefits awarded through a school meals program for low-income studentsstarted during the pandemic, according to Biden administration officials. That could give a family of three children more than $100 in extra benefits every two months, officials said.

Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, told reporters on a call Thursday night that the measures are meant as only partial solutions, as the administration kicks off negotiations with Congress on its $1.9 trillion relief economic proposal.

Biden’s order attempts in several ways to address the surge in hunger in America during the pandemic, with approximately 50 million people, including 17 million children, considered food insecure.

Perhaps the most significant change in this executive order is a reassessment of the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan, the basis for determining SNAP benefits. Lisa Davis, senior vice president of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, said the metrics are out of date with the economic realities most struggling households face. The president will ask the USDA to consider beginning the process of revising the Thrifty Food Plan to better reflect the modern cost of a healthy basic diet.

Biden Quietly Preparing for Food Stamp Increase Without Congress

The Biden administration is quietly laying the groundwork for a long-term increase in food aid for tens of millions of Americans, without going through the ordeal of a fight with congressional Republicans.

The instrument is an obscure U.S. Department of Agriculture shopping list used to determine food stamp benefits, known as the market basket.

A review of the so-called Thrifty Food Plan, ordered by Biden two days after he took office, could trigger an automatic increase in benefits as soon as Oct. 1, a day after expiration of a temporary 15% boost in food stamp payments that Biden included in his $1.9 trillion Covid-relief package.

36.  Strengthened the economy

Given the circumstances, it is amazing how well the economy is doing.  Another thing the press is ignoring.

Weekly jobless claims fall below 300,000 for first time amid pandemic

The number of Americans filing initial unemployment claims fell below 300,000 for the first time since the pandemic began, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The 36,000 drop brought the weekly count to 293,000, strikingly close to the pre-pandemic mark of 256,000. The four-week moving average fell by 10,500 to 334,250, its lowest level since March 2020.

37.  Slashed child hunger

This is amazing.  

Round one of child tax credit payments slashed hunger rates, U.S. data shows

The percentage of American families with kids who report not having enough to eat fell dramatically after the first child tax credit payments were distributed last month, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The government’s finding shows that the monthly payments are having a major and immediate impact on millions of households, potentially bolstering President Joe Biden’s push to extend the tax credit past the end of this year, when it is set to expire.

38: Clean water for Flint

Flint has replaced over 10,000 lead pipes

The city’s effort to remove lead pipes shows what’s possible with funding and political
will.

Now, this once-poisoned city is on the brink of a milestone. A lead water pipe removal program, established under a 2017 court order issued as part of a massive lawsuit on behalf of Flint residents, is inching toward a close. Block by block, house by house, the city and its contractors have excavated and checked more than 27,000 pipes to determine what hidden risks remain under the ground.

The effort has led the city to replace more than 10,000 lead pipes so far, officials say.

39.  Protecting women’s health

Biden administration reverses Trump rule barring federally funded family planning clinics from abortion referrals

The Biden administration has revoked a Trump-era rule that had become a flash point in the abortion wars, saying Monday it would no longer bar clinics that receive federal family planning aid from advising people about ending their pregnancies.

The new rule for the half-century-old family planning program known as Title X will allow health centers to receive the federal funds even if they refer patients for abortions. It takes effect Nov. 8.

40: Shared vaccines with the world

Biden pledges to double U.S. donations of Pfizer vaccine for poor nations

President Biden announced Wednesday that the United States will double the number of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine doses it is donating to other countries, a step toward the goal of immunizing 70 percent of the world’s 8 billion people within the next year.

41.  Nominated leaders who will be tough on big banking

Biden taps Wall Street critic Saule Omarova for key banking regulation post

President Biden will nominate Saule Omarova, a Cornell University law professor, to head the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, selecting an outspoken critic of the banking and crypto sectors to oversee the biggest U.S. banks.

The White House announced the pick Thursday, noting that if confirmed, Omarova would be the first woman and the first person of color to lead the 158-year-old agency.

Liberal senators cheered the decision. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) pointed to Omarova’s background as an academic, Treasury Department official and corporate lawyer, saying her experience “will allow her to work with stakeholders across our financial system to ensure the economy works for everyone, and to protect our economic recovery from the risky activities of Wall Street and other bad actors.”

42.  Quietly and carefully addressing unchecked Chinese military power

Biden and Harris are pulling off a shift in our foreign policy orientation that has been talked about for more than a decade

Biden and Harris are pulling off a shift in our foreign policy orientation that has been talked about for more than a decade — a “pivot” or “tilt” away from our traditional focus on Europe and the Middle East toward the region now called the Indo-Pacific, with an eye toward the rise of China as a competing superpower.

Biden secretly negotiated a new defense pact with Australia and Britain that will give the Australians nuclear-powered submarine technology as a check on China’s growing naval power. He hosted the first in-person summit of the Quad strategic alliance — the United States, Japan, Australia and India — in another initiative aimed at containing China’s regional ambitions. He sent Harris to Southeast Asia to shore up U.S. ties with Singapore and Vietnam.

43.  Ended the forever war

Biden got us out of Afghanistan

The Obama administration talked for years about ending the war in Afghanistan and withdrawing American forces, but ended up agreeing to a troop surge instead. The Trump administration signed a bad deal, incompetently negotiated, to bring U.S. troops home but got booted out of office before being able to follow through. Biden could have tried to get out of the bargain. Instead, he went ahead and fulfilled it.  This nation’s longest war is over — any way you look at it, that’s a historic milestone, and one Biden has used to reshape U.S. goals abroad.

44.  Preserving DACA

Biden administration takes new steps to preserve Obama-era DACA immigration program

The Biden administration Monday morning took steps to save the Obama-era DACA program that shields hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has been the subject of ongoing litigation since it was established in 2012. President Donald Trump tried to terminate the program, an effort blocked by the Supreme Court.

For years, Congress has tried and failed to pass legislation to provide a pathway to citizenship or otherwise address the immigration system. In the absence of legislation, the Obama administration and now, the Biden administration has relied on DACA to ensure the group known as “Dreamers” — many of whom are now adults — can stay and work in the US.

45:  Brought diversity to the judicial branch

Biden nominates nine top federal prosecutors; several historic firsts

President Joe Biden on Tuesday nominated a slate of nine people to serve as U.S. attorneys, including several who, if confirmed, would become the first Black women to serve as the top federal prosecutors in their districts.

Biden has in total nominated 25 people to run some of the 93 U.S. attorneys’ offices nationally. His latest picks would lead federal prosecutors’ offices in Colorado, Hawaii, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Ohio, Vermont and the U.S. Virgin Islands

46. Transformed the lower courts

Biden is on track to transform federal courts

Media coverage of the Trump administration often posited that he had transformed the judiciary by appointing 234 federal judges. While it is true his appointees to the Supreme Court have turned that body into an instrument of right-wing policy, the right-wing grip on lower courts is weaker than one might imagine, thanks to the number of Obama appointees (334) and the furious pace of nominees under the current president.

The White House on Thursday announced its eighth slate of nominees to federal courts, raising that total to 53. Of these, 14 have been confirmed. For comparison’s sake, by Sept. 1 of his first year, President Donald Trump had a grand total of six confirmed judges. By the end of the year, he had appointed just 19. Eventually, he was able to appoint 234 federal judges.

The vast majority of cases never reach the Supreme Court, so the composition of lower courts, especially appellate courts that set precedent for lower courts throughout their circuits, is critical in determining the legal landscape.

47.  Added legal defense for immigrant kids

The Biden Administration Is Providing Legal Representation For Certain Immigrant Children In Eight US Cities

The Biden administration will provide government-funded legal representation to certain unaccompanied immigrant children in deportation proceedings in eight US cities as part of an effort to boost legal access in the immigration court system, according to agency officials.

The new effort, labeled the Counsel for Children Initiative, comes months after the Biden White House dealt with an increase in children arriving at the southern border, leading to overcrowded detention facilities and a scramble to find appropriate locations to hold them. Immigrants in deportation proceedings are generally not provided an attorney by the government if they cannot afford one.

Note: this is WAY better than the Obama administration did on this issue (I don’t even need to get into TFG’s record here, right?!)

48: Biden protected people from eviction

49.  Biden and the Democrats made the largest investment ever made by the US govt in indigenous communities

50. Biden returned us to normalcy

Thanks, President Biden, for returning radical normalcy to the White House

President Biden has overseen the distribution of covid-19 vaccines faster than anyone could have anticipated, won approval of a massive $1.9 trillion pandemic relief program and rejoined the battle against the existential threat of climate change. But his biggest accomplishment has less to do with policy than psychology: After the insanity of the Donald Trump era, he has made almost everything less crazy.

For four long years, we were forced to live in a constant state of anxiety that rarely dipped below the where’s-my-Xanax level. We went through multiple news cycles every day, as the morning’s outrageous presidential tweet was followed by the afternoon’s off-the-wall presidential claim — and then overtaken by the evening’s presidential recap of whatever he’d just seen on Fox News.

It was brutalizing, and Biden ended the stream of lunacy pouring from the White House. There are days now when the administration is so radically normal that it’s actually kind of boring. Thank you, Mr. President, from a grateful nation

Is that enough?  Heck no!  But we have at least 3+ more years to get more done!  Let’s keep pushing.

Does this mean our democracy is safe and good?  Ummm, nope.  But guess what?  We can fix that too.

What can you do to save democracy?

Most important: DON’T LOSE HOPE.  This is a giant and important fight for us but, win or lose, we keep fighting and voting and organizing and spreading truth and light.  We never give up.

That is it for today.

I am so lucky and so proud to be in this with you

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