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‘We Will Sue,’ Vow Green Groups After Trump Guts Nation’s Key Environmental Law

A number of environmental protection groups on Wednesday announced their intention to bring the Trump administration to court directly after President Donald Trump announced his finalized plan to roll back the National Environmental Policy Act.

By weakening the 50-year-old law known as NEPA, the president will end the system of thorough environmental impact reviews, which are meant to keep infrastructure projects from damaging biodiversity, polluting waterways and residential areas, and threatening the climate.

Trump announced the sweeping changes to the law at a campaign stop in Atlanta Wednesday afternoon, touting the plan as one that will “modernize” and “streamline” infrastructure projects as environmental reviews will need to be completed within two years.

The Western Environmental Law Center rejected the administration’s euphemisms for what it called Trump’s attempt to “eviscerate…the single most important safeguard for environmental justice, public health, and environmental protection in the U.S.”

“This does not represent ‘streamlining,’ a ‘revision,’ a ‘modernization,’ or any such minimization of the very real effects this will have for Americans and the clean air and water we require to exercise our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” said Brian Sweeney, communications director for the group. “This overreach will also deliberately and massively curtail public input on major federal decision-making. Dramatic? Yes. This is a rewrite of a law written by Congress, without Congressional action. We will sue over this.”


Cut the Pentagon 10 Percent, Invest in Public Health

It feels like the world is falling apart.

But with a pandemic raging and an eviction crisis looming, the Senate is preparing to spend three quarters of a trillion dollars… not on public health or housing, but on the Pentagon.

The United States may be going down, but we’re going down well-armed.

At a time when health workers have struggled to find masks and protective gear, the Pentagon has so many extra trucks, guns, and other gear, it hands the surplus out for free to police departments—who then use it whether they need it or not, much like the Pentagon itself.

The Pentagon is like a giant black hole, devouring hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Even the Pentagon doesn’t know where the money goes. Meanwhile, everything else—from public health and medical research to education, housing, and infrastructure—has been severely and chronically underfunded.

At more than $740 billion this year, the Pentagon budget is more than 100 times the budget of the CDC—and more than 1,800 times the U.S. contribution to the World Health Organization that the president has promised to cut.

Despite the Pentagon’s favorite child status in Washington, most Americans agree that making reasonable cuts to the Pentagon to fund domestic needs is a good idea, according to a poll released just before the coronavirus shook the world. Since then, our needs have only grown more dire.

That’s why now is such an urgent time to finally break the gravity of the Pentagon’s black hole.

Senators Bernie Sanders, Representative Barbara Lee, and Representative Mark Pocan have put forward an eminently reasonable proposal to cut 10 percent from the Pentagon budget to fund other urgent needs — like education, housing, and infrastructure—in the country’s most destitute places.



Austin, Texas, Just Voted to End the Drug War

On day one, we will end the prosecution of low-level drug offenses here in Travis County,” announced district attorney candidate José Garza, at a February forum on criminal justice reform in Austin. “We will end the prosecution of possession and sale offenses of a gram or less.”

That may have sounded to some like a bold statement, but Garza argued it was the rational response to a “broken system.”

On Tuesday night, voters in the state capital of Texas and the surrounding county agreed. Garza, a former federal public defender, immigrant rights activist, and executive director of the Texas Workers Defense Project–Proyecto Defensa Laboral, swept to victory over Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore in a closely watched Democratic primary runoff election. And the successful challenger signaled that he is ready to act. “We know that 60-percent of all people arrested and charged with drug possession through traffic stops are people of color,” he told reporters. “So, it is time to end the war on drugs in this community to begin to unwind the racial disparities in our criminal justice system.”

Garza won 68 percent of the vote to 32 percent for Moore, who, as The Austin Chronicle noted earlier this year, had been “under fire on many fronts for her perceived insufficient commitment to true justice, particularly for women survivors of sexual assault.” The Chronicle endorsed Garza as a candidate who would bring to the office “a demonstrable commitment to equity.”

With the party nomination secured in an overwhelmingly Democratic county, Garza is positioned to further demonstrate that commitment as one of the most high-profile members of the emerging class of county prosecutors who are prepared to upend old ways of thinking about law enforcement and the achievement of justice. He’ll join Chicago’s Kim Foxx, Philadelphia’s Larry Krasner, and San Francisco’s Chesa Boudin as part of a movement to transform how cities and countries across the country address public safety issues. “The movement is growing!” observed Boudin, as he celebrated the victory by Garza, who ran with strong support from unions, Austin Democratic Socialists of America, the Working Families Party, and Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

The Texan summed up the thinking of the movement during the course of a campaign in which he told voters, “Our system doesn’t have to be broken. We have the power to fix this. And we have a right and a responsibility to demand that it be fixed.”


The Nixon-spawned War on Drugs has wrecked lives, created the for-profit prison industry, and helped make the fuzz into FRight militarized monsters. Hope Austin’s actions become nationally contagious.


Governments Worldwide Are Failing Indigenous Peoples During the Pandemic

Vanessa Dundon has spent 16 weeks supporting her fellow Navajo Nation members as they continue to grapple with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.

“It feels like biological warfare,” said Dundon, a Dine Bikeyah woman and enrolled member of the Navajo Nation.

In May, Navajo Nation, which has a population of 173,647 people living within its borders, surpassed New York City as the region with the highest per capita rate of COVID-19 in the U.S. At its peak, Navajo had an infection rate of 2,304.41 cases per 100,000 people. (Comparatively, Texas currently has an infection rate of of 942 cases per 100,000 people and Florida is reporting 1,315 cases per 100,000 people.) As of Monday, the Navajo reported a total of 8,243 confirmed virus cases, with 402 deaths. And after three months of fighting COVID-19, mandatory weekend curfews have flattened the nation’s curve, but outbreaks are ongoing.

Dundon lives in White Cone, Arizona, in one of Navajo Nation’s 110 communities. Her area hasn’t been hit particularly hard by COVID-19, but she knows several people who’ve caught the virus and she’s bracing for the worst. As of “this past week, there are cases now in my area and I knew it was coming,” Dundon said.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez has reissued a state of emergency multiple times and implemented several lockdowns, on and off mandatory curfews, mandatory facemasks, and checkpoints limiting flow in and out of the nation—measures Indigenous communities around the world have taken to prevent contagion.

COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Indigenous communities all over the world, from Brazil to Australia, highlighting a global pattern of colonial governments that continuously fail Indigenous peoples. Indigenous communities have had to take matters into their own hands in response.

It’s common for Navajo families to set up multigenerational homes, often sheltering up to 10 or 12 people, many of whom are elders, in the same house. Dundon said that makes it difficult to maintain distance from others and likely contributes to the growing number of COVID-19 cases. But there are bigger issues as well, including the lack of clean, running water in nearly 30 percent of homes, too little government funding, too few medical staff on reservations, and a shortage of sanitizers and medical-grade protective gear, Dundon said.





The Trump administration and Senate Republicans are reportedly considering a plan to pressure U.S. schools to reopen in the fall by attaching conditions or incentives to desperately needed Covid-19 relief funds as educators and parents warn that—in addition to being unpopular—the White House push to send children back to the classroom without an adequate safety strategy is reckless and dangerous.

With school districts across the nation in need of billions of dollars in funding to prepare for potential reopenings, the Washington Post reported Wednesday that “the White House and Republicans are debating whether to take a carrot or a stick approach with the aid.”

“Some White House officials are pushing for conditioning the aid on schools reopening partly or fully, but others involved prefer to offer incentives to schools to take steps to reopen,” according to the Post. One anonymous Senate GOP aide told the Post that “there are those who would rather incentivize good behavior, and others want to punish bad behavior.”

Teachers and public health experts have voiced alarm at the Trump administration’s aggressive push to reopen schools as states across the U.S. see a surge in Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations, cautioning that sending children back to full in-person classes without adequate precautions in place could endanger students and faculty—a warning the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has echoed.


Almost fascist.


fasc•ism făsh′ĭz″əm►

A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, a capitalist economy subject to stringent governmental controls, violent suppression of the opposition, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.
A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.
It’s fascism.


“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”
― Benito Mussolini



Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will spearhead a new campaign to push Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to tax billionaires who live in New York State and use the money to assist people hurt by the pandemic-fueled economic crisis.

Similar measures targeting the wealthy have stalled in Albany, opposed by Republicans who long controlled the State Senate or by Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat who has made his tax-cutting ways a central platform of his decade-long tenure.

But the environment has changed: Democrats gained control of both houses of the Legislature in a “blue wave” election in 2018, and the effects of the coronavirus-forced shutdown have created a $13 billion state budget shortfall.

Jessica Ramos, a state senator from Queens who was among the progressive Democrats who won office in 2018, sponsored the bill that would tax the unrealized capital gains of the state’s 119 billionaires. The money raised would be redirected to workers not eligible for unemployment insurance or the federal stimulus.

The proposed legislation is one of at least three tax-the-rich bills, including one that would impose an ultra-millionaires’ tax, that will greet the State Legislature when it returns for a rare July session on Monday.

But even with Democrats in control in Albany, the measures are still sure to encounter opposition from Republicans and many business leaders.

On Thursday, a campaign-like video will be released featuring Ms. Ocasio-Cortez; Ms. Ramos; the New York City public advocate, Jumaane Williams; and two Assembly members, Carmen De La Rosa and Yuh-Line Niou.

“Governor Cuomo, we need you to pass a billionaires’ tax, in order to make sure that we’re providing for our working families,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said in the video. “It’s time to stop protecting billionaires, and it’s time to start working for working families.”

Also on Thursday, 100 immigrant workers will start a 24-hour fast and sleep-out near the Fifth Avenue penthouse of Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and one of the richest men in the world. On Friday, hundreds of people are expected to hold a “march on billionaires” that will end at Mr. Cuomo’s Manhattan office.

“We are calling for a just recovery for all New Yorkers, but right now our system is rigged to protect the mega-rich,” said Angeles Solis, lead organizer for Make the Road New York, one of the groups in the coalition.

Last year, a so-called pied-à-terre tax on the second homes of the wealthy in New York City gained some momentum after Kenneth C. Griffin, a hedge fund billionaire with an estimated net worth of $10 billion, purchased the most expensive single family home in the United States, a $238 million apartment on Central Park South.

Mr. Cuomo voiced support for the plan before it fell apart after the real estate industry exerted pressure on legislators.

But the financial crisis created by the coronavirus — the state estimates it needs more than $10 billion to stave off major cuts in education, health care and public safety — has forced lawmakers to reconsider implementing new taxes.

Don midwest
Don midwest

Florida now has 4x the number of covid 19 cases as China. And there are many more. FL death count will soon overtake China.

A couple of people on twitter said that this is the start of republicans distancing themselves from Trump. Most of the other jerks will simply change stripes but not show by actions like these that they have bypassed Trump.

Gov of MD with a Korean wife who ordered test kits and supplies from Korea and had to hid them so that the feds would not steal them.

I will put in more text than usual because WA Post behind a paywall and my wife subscribes.

Fighting alone
I’m a GOP governor. Why didn’t Trump help my state with coronavirus testing?

This should not have been necessary. I’d watched as the president downplayed the outbreak’s severity and as the White House failed to issue public warnings, draw up a 50-state strategy, or dispatch medical gear or lifesaving ventilators from the national stockpile to American hospitals. Eventually, it was clear that waiting around for the president to run the nation’s response was hopeless; if we delayed any longer, we’d be condemning more of our citizens to suffering and death. So every governor went their own way, which is how the United States ended up with such a patchwork response. I did the best I could for Maryland. Here’s what we saw and heard from Washington along the way.

recounts early days of lies, not listening to public health experts, etc.

I knew a little about this effort by Governors

America’s governors took a different approach. In early February, we descended on Washington for the annual winter meeting of the National Governors Association. As chairman, I had worked closely with the staff for months assembling the agenda, including a private, governors-only briefing at our hotel, the Marriott Marquis, to address the growing viral threat. We brought in Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who was already widely admired but whose awesome knowledge and straight-talking style hadn’t yet made him a national rock star; CDC head Robert Redfield; Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of homeland security; Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases; and Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services.

They hit us with detailed presentations and the unfiltered truth, as well as it was known then. I remember hearing many dire claims: “This could be catastrophic. . . . The death toll could be significant. . . . Much more contagious than SARS. . . . Testing will be crucial. . . . You have to follow the science — that’s where the answers lie.”

Gov wife is named Yumi

It was jarring, the huge contrast between the experts’ warnings and the president’s public dismissals. Weren’t these the people the White House was consulting about the virus? What made the briefing even more chilling was its clear, factual tone. It was a harrowing warning of an imminent national threat, and we took it seriously — at least most of us did. It was enough to convince almost all the governors that this epidemic was going to be worse than most people realized.

During the retreat in D.C., the Republican Governors Association sponsored a private dinner with the president. Backstage beforehand, I said hello to him. We took a photo together. He was perfectly cordial, even though we’d criticized each other in the past. Then he came out and gave one of his unscripted rally speeches that seemed to go on at least an hour too long. I don’t remember him mentioning the virus, but he talked about how much he respected President Xi Jinping of China; how much he liked playing golf with his buddy “Shinzo,” Prime Minister Abe of Japan; how well he got along with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Then, the jarring part: Trump said he really didn’t like dealing with President Moon from South Korea. The South Koreans were “terrible people,” he said, and he didn’t know why the United States had been protecting them all these years. “They don’t pay us,” Trump complained.

Yumi was sitting there as the president hurled insults at her birthplace. I could tell she was hurt and upset. I know she wanted to walk out. But she sat there politely and silently.

Don midwest
Don midwest

also from WA POST

A month later, Pence’s wildly optimistic view of the pandemic has proved almost entirely wrong

not news to people here

Pence wrote a WSJ column

the final paragraph of the WA Post article which begins by quoting Pence

“The media has tried to scare the American people every step of the way, and these grim predictions of a second wave are no different,” he wrote. “The truth is, whatever the media says, our whole-of-America approach has been a success. We’ve slowed the spread, we’ve cared for the most vulnerable, we’ve saved lives, and we’ve created a solid foundation for whatever challenges we may face in the future. That’s a cause for celebration, not the media’s fearmongering.”

You may assess that claim for yourself.