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Native American Students Can Now Attend U. of California Tuition-Free

Native American students who are California residents will no longer have to pay tuition or fees at one of the nation’s largest public-university systems — a decision that some say is a long-overdue acknowledgment of past harms.

The University of California system said this week that all in-state students who are members of federally recognized Native American, American Indian, and Alaska Native tribes will have tuition and fees — about $14,000 each year — waived starting this fall. Then, on Wednesday, one of California’s recognized tribes announced a $2.5 million scholarship fund that will cover tuition and fees for in-state students from unrecognized tribes.

The UC system’s decision affects 500 undergraduates and 160 graduate students who are members of federally recognized tribes, a spokesperson said. Native American students make up less than 1 percent of the UC system’s total enrollment.


WA, other states sue U.S. Postal Service over new gas-powered delivery fleet

Washington and 15 other states sued the United States Postal Service Thursday, claiming it violated federal law by choosing new gas-powered trucks over an electric fleet.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, asserts Postmaster General Louis DeJoy violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when the Postal Service decided in February during a “deficient review process” to replace nearly 165,000 mail trucks primarily with vehicles powered by gasoline, not electricity, in its nationwide fleet of 212,000.

The lawsuit asserted that, when choosing a vehicle manufacturer, USPS did not consider alternative options, weigh the impacts of poor air quality in polluted communities, align its purchase with state climate policies or release an environmental review before its decision to sign a contract worth $6 billion over the next 10 years.

NEPA “requires government to look before it leaps by considering reasonable alternatives and allowing the people’s voices to inform decisions,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a news release. “Postmaster DeJoy illegally leapt towards gas-powered vehicles without sufficiently considering alternatives. Postmaster DeJoy failed to uphold his responsibility to protect our shared environment.”

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed Thursday include 16 states — Washington, California, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont — as well as two cities — the District of Columbia and New York City — and California’s Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

Two other lawsuits were filed Thursday in New York and California by environmental advocacy groups that asked judges to order a more thorough review of the postal service’s decision.


California Promised to Close its Last Nuclear Plants. Newsom is reconsidering.

With the threat of power shortages looming and the climate crisis worsening, Gov. Gavin Newsom may attempt to delay the long-planned closure of California’s largest electricity source: the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant.

Newsom told the L.A. Times editorial board Thursday that the state would seek out a share of $6 billion in federal funds meant to rescue nuclear reactors facing closure, money the Biden administration announced this month. Diablo Canyon owner Pacific Gas & Electric is preparing to shutter the plant — which generated 6% of the state’s power last year — by 2025.

“The requirement is by May 19 to submit an application, or you miss the opportunity to draw down any federal funds if you want to extend the life of that plant,” Newsom said. “We would be remiss not to put that on the table as an option.”

He said state officials could decide later whether to pursue that option. And a spokesperson for the governor clarified that Newsom still wants to see the facility shut down long term. It’s been six years since PG&E agreed to close the plant near San Luis Obispo, rather than invest in expensive environmental and earthquake-safety upgrades.

But Newsom’s willingness to consider a short-term reprieve reflects a shift in the politics of nuclear power after decades of public opposition fueled by high-profile disasters such as Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, as well as the Cold War.

Nuclear plants are America’s largest source of climate-friendly power, generating 19% of the country’s electricity last year. That’s almost as much as solar panels, wind turbines, hydropower dams and all other zero-carbon energy sources combined.

A recent UC Berkeley poll co-sponsored by The Times found that 44% of California voters support building more nuclear reactors in in the Golden State, with 37% opposed and 19% undecided — a significant change from the 1980s and 1990s.

The poll also found that 39% of voters oppose shutting down Diablo Canyon, with 33% supporting closure and 28% unsure.

Nuclear supporters say closing plants such as Diablo would make it far more difficult to achieve President Biden’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2035, and to mostly eliminate planet-warming emissions by midcentury — which is necessary to avert the worst impacts of climate change, including more dangerous heat waves, wildfires and floods, according to scientists.

Nuclear plants can produce power around the clock. The stunning growth of lithium-ion battery storage has made it easier and cheaper for solar panels and wind turbines to do the same, but those renewables still play much less of a role when the sun isn’t shining and wind isn’t blowing, at least for now.

The U.S. Commerce Department, meanwhile, is considering tariffs on imported solar panels, which could hinder construction of clean energy projects that California is counting on to avoid blackouts the next few summers, as Diablo and several gas-fired power plants shut down. Newsom said in a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo this week that her department’s tariff inquiry has delayed at least 4,350 megawatts of solar-plus-storage projects — about twice the capacity of Diablo Canyon.

He urged Raimondo to “take immediate action to resolve this issue as soon as possible.”

“This Department of Commerce tariff issue is one of the biggest stories in the country,” Newsom told The Times’ editorial board. “Looking at retroactive 250% tariffs for everything coming out of Malaysia or Vietnam, and Taiwan, elsewhere — this is serious.”

The governor said he’s been thinking about keeping Diablo open longer since August 2020, when California’s main electric grid operator was forced to implement rolling blackouts during an intense heat wave. Temperatures stayed high after sundown, leaving the state without enough electricity to keep air conditioners humming after solar farms stopped producing.

A few hundred thousand homes and businesses lost power over two evenings, none of them for longer than 2½ hours at a time, officials said. The state only narrowly avoided more power shortfalls during another heat storm a few weeks later, highlighting the fragility of an electric grid undergoing a rapid transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Newsom spokesperson Anthony York said the governor’s decision to reconsider Diablo Canyon’s closure timeline was driven by projections of possible power shortages in the next few years. Those projections, he said, came from the California Independent System Operator, which oversees the electric grid for most of the state.

Anne Gonzales, a spokesperson for the grid operator, couldn’t immediately provide the projections. She said in an email that the agency supports “considering and exploring all options” for keeping the lights on, as doing so gets harder due to climate impacts including more extreme heat waves, more aggressive wildfires and hydropower supplies diminished by drought.

Newsom told the editorial board that reliable electricity is “profoundly important.” He also acknowledged the growing number of scientists, activists and former U.S. energy secretaries who have pressed him to rescue Diablo for climate reasons.

“Some would say it’s the righteous and right climate decision,” Newsom said.

Extending the plant’s closure deadline — PG&E is on track to shutter the first reactor in 2024, and the second in 2025 — wouldn’t be easy even with funding from the Biden administration. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission would need to hurry to renew Diablo’s operating license. Newsom suggested several state agencies would need to be involved, too — as well as the Legislature, which last year declined to even give a committee vote to a bill designed to keep Diablo Canyon open.

For Newsom to extend Diablo’s life, he would also need PG&E’s cooperation in applying for federal funds. The company committed to closing the plant in 2016, when it struck a deal with environmental groups and its own union workforce to get out of the nuclear business — a decision that was eventually endorsed by regulators and lawmakers.

Asked whether PG&E is open to changing course on Diablo, spokesperson Lynsey Paulo said in an email that the company is “always open to considering all options to ensure continued safe, reliable, and clean energy delivery to our customers.”

“PG&E is committed to California’s clean energy future, and as a regulated utility, we are required to follow the energy policies of the state,” Paulo said.

Newsom said he’s asked PG&E to consider what it would take to keep Diablo Canyon open longer, including the possible role of federal funds.

“Based on the conversations we’ve been having with PG&E, it’s not their happy place,” he said.

The company declined to comment on how federal funds might be used to Diablo’s benefit. State officials have previously told The Times that operating Diablo past 2025 would require billions of dollars of upgrades to comply with earthquake safety rules, and with environmental regulations governing the use of ocean water for power-plant cooling.

To Ralph Cavanagh — co-director of the clean energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, and a key architect of the 2016 deal to shut down Diablo Canyon — applying for federal funds would be a fool’s errand.

Cavanagh said it’s his understanding that only certain types of power companies with specific economic challenges are eligible for the funding, and PG&E isn’t one of them. York, Newsom’s spokesperson, acknowledged in a text message that there’s “some question about whether Diablo is eligible” for the federal money, and that “PG&E would need to talk to” the federal Energy Department to get more clarity.

Cavanagh also said solar, storage and other clean energy resources could replace Diablo cheaply and reliably, as envisioned in the 2016 deal. As for the supply chain and tariff issues that have slowed solar and battery storage projects, he pointed out that both of Diablo’s reactors will still be online through summer 2024, with the second sticking around until August 2025.

“We have time to get our arms around that,” he said.

While NRDC supports keeping some nuclear plants operating where safety risks are lower, the technology’s fiercest critics argue nuclear is fundamentally unsafe. They consider Diablo Canyon especially risky because it’s near several seismic fault lines along California’s Central Coast. As far back as the 1970s — when then-Gov. Jerry Brown protested the plant’s construction — Diablo has stirred fears of an earthquake-driven meltdown spreading deadly radiation across the state.

Nuclear waste is another concern. In the absence of a permanent underground storage repository for spent fuel, radioactive waste is piling up at power plants across the country, including the shuttered San Onofre facility along the coast in San Diego County.

There are many other steps the state might take — and in many cases is actively taking — to keep the lights on after sundown the next few summers, such as adding batteries to the grid, paying homes to use less energy and coordinating electricity supplies more closely with other Western states. Longer-term options include investing in geothermal energy and offshore wind.

Newsom told The Times’ editorial board he plans to announce a “resilience fund” in next month’s update to his annual budget proposal, to pay for projects that would help avoid rolling blackouts the next few years.

But the governor also thinks keeping Diablo Canyon around at least a little while longer is worth considering, despite the political backlash it might provoke. He pointed to modeling by the state’s Public Utilities Commission and Independent System Operator showing that worsening heat waves — fueled by climate change — are making it harder to keeps the light on.

“We threw out the old playbook. We’re going to worst-case scenario,” he said. “We are being very sober.”

Supporting nuclear is a key climate priority for the Biden administration. But federal officials hadn’t seemed optimistic PG&E would apply for a share of the Energy Department’s $6-billion nuclear bailout fund. During a visit to Southern California last week, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told reporters she’s “not sure that the community [around] Diablo Canyon is on board yet.”


BREAKING: Starbucks workers have won another union election in New York City!

Workers at the Astor Place store in Manhattan just voted 11-2 to join @SBWorkersUnited.

There are now 41 unionized Starbucks nationwide.

— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) April 29, 2022


Starbucks unionization map.. living map…

SB Unionization Map Screenshot 2022-04-29 111048.jpg

We now have evidence to support the story of the worst presidential political offense against the Union in American history.

The @January6thCmte hearings in June will expose every facet of the assault against our democracy and Constitution on 1/6.

— Jamie Raskin (@jamie_raskin) April 29, 2022


In these last few days before the election on May 3, the excitement in Cleveland is palpable. People in the district and elsewhere understand: @ninaturner is a national treasure and we can’t pass up this opportunity to put her in the Congress of the United States! pic.twitter.com/0KWigfsfse

— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) April 29, 2022


Hello everyone!

Ever ahead of the world I am quite proud we are(one of) the only progressive sites to have covered Lowkey before the recent cersorship saga.


Thanks to you, LD!




The Democrats’ Losing Strategy

On NBC’s Meet the Press in early April, Hillary Clinton expressed frustration with polls showing that Americans are turning against President Biden and the Democrats as the midterm elections approach. “I’m not quite sure what the disconnect is between the accomplishments of the administration and this Congress and the understanding of what’s been done and the impact it will have on the American public,” griped the party’s 2016 presidential nominee, adding: “Democrats in office and out need to be doing a better job of making the case.”

Former president Barack Obama echoed that message two days later. After an April 5 visit to the White House, he responded to a reporter’s question about how Democrats should approach the midterms by declaring, “We got a story to tell, just got to tell it.”

That’s a common strategy proposal from centrist Democrats these days, as their party careens into what’s expected to be a brutal election cycle. There’s just one problem: It doesn’t work. The last two Democratic administrations tried the “you don’t know how good you’ve got it” line and got trounced.

The Biden Administration Is Leaving the States to Deal With Covid on Their Own
In 1994, President Bill Clinton declared, “We have made an important beginning with a comprehensive economic strategy designed to empower American workers to compete and win in the 21st century.” He then proceeded to tick off what his team saw as major accomplishments: passing free trade agreements, “reinventing government” by slashing federal employment, and tackling the deficit with what felt a lot like an austerity agenda. Voters balked. Republicans took the House for the first time since 1952, flipped the Senate, and gained 10 governorships.

Democrats failed to take back Congress in 1996 and 1998, and in 2000 they lost the presidency. The party renewed its claim on power in 2008, thanks to Barack Obama’s “Yes, We Can!” appeal and voter fury over the Great Recession. In 2010, Obama and his fellow Democrats, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, hit the midterm campaign trail, touting their success in “moving forward…not backward” on health care and financial reform. Voters rolled their eyes and gave control of the House and key governorships to the Republicans, who had embraced the Tea Party movement’s savagely dishonest attacks on the nation’s first Black president. Four years later, after another uninspired Democratic midterm campaign, the Republicans took the Senate, disempowering Obama so completely that he couldn’t get a hearing for his final Supreme Court nominee.

No doubt, the Biden administration has brag-worthy accomplishments: advancing the American Rescue Act, managing the Covid-19 vaccination program, and presiding over red-hot jobs growth. But economic heat and corporate price gouging have sparked the worst inflation in four decades, and polls show that 72 percent of Americans think the country is “on the wrong track.” There’s also the inconvenient truth that Democrats haven’t kept big promises. The Senate parliamentarian blocked a $15 minimum wage, and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin upended the Build Back Better agenda and thwarted efforts to address the climate crisis. Congress allowed the groundbreaking child tax credit to expire. And Covid case counts are rising.

Despite what Clinton and Obama say, Biden’s current list of accomplishments won’t cut it. Biden should reject the cautious counsel of corporate-friendly Democrats like Mark Penn and be bolder: issuing executive orders to do popular things like canceling federally held student loan debt and rallying congressional support for plans to tax the rich and tackle price gouging. Above all, the Democrats must draw stark contrasts with Republicans.

A campaign telling voters they’re wrong to feel frustrated will fail. A campaign warning voters about the clear threat a GOP takeover would pose to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, abortion rights, worker rights, and the planet just might avert a repeat of the 1994 and 2010 midterm debacles.

The Democratic message should be blunt: If we lose Congress, Republicans will make Biden the lamest lame-duck president in history. And if we lose the statehouses, Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” will be codified just in time to tip the 2024 presidential election to Trump or someone worse. Instead of a feel-good “touting accomplishments” campaign, Democrats should rip into the GOP with a warning that America’s future is at stake. Because it is.




Remember, Biden did not promise more than $10K during the campaign. If he does this, it is a step. Granted, I don’t know why it couldn’t be $25K, given that Biden is using 33B more to send weaponry to Ukraine, but still, it’s better than nothing.


It’s not only good for the debtors but also would help with Dem turnout.