Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tell IBM: Don’t help Trump spy on immigrants. Refuse to build his Extreme Vetting Program

Donald Trump’s Extreme Vetting Program is designed to criminalize immigrants and Muslims and keep them out of the country – and his Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is recruiting tech companies to help build it.
Tech giant IBM has already shown interest in designing the advanced computer system that will help Trump spy on, target and terrorize immigrants.1 We must act now to stop IBM from building this racist machine.
DHS’s Extreme Vetting Program will try to use a computer algorithm to predict whether an immigrant applying for a visa will become a positive member of society or a criminal who will commit acts of terror.2 Leading data scientists agree that it would be impossible to create a system to accurately evaluate anyone based on these criteria.3 It is also impossible to create algorithms that are free of systemic racism as they mirror and replicate the biases of the people and cultures that create them.4
If the Trump regime – an administration stacked with white nationalists and neo-Nazis – succeeds at building an algorithm to expand and automate DHS’ visa vetting process, it would make the country’s immigration system even more discriminatory, ramp up the federal government’s surveillance of immigrants, and strengthen and institutionalize Trump’s racist, xenophobic and anti-Muslim policies. We cannot allow IBM to help make that happen.
IBM claims to be a global company that supports immigrants, but its actions tell a different story. IBM executives have been playing both sides with Trump’s anti-immigrant administration. When Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, IBM publicly condemned his decision and the company’s CEO Ginni Rometty visited members of Congress to demand they restore the program immediately.5 But Rometty also helped normalize and legitimize Trump’s Muslim ban, attacks on sanctuary cities and his entire hateful agenda by serving on his business council until it dissolved, despite demands from shareholders and customers that she step down.6 Now the multinational technology company is one of many corporations that have shown interest in building Trump’s Extreme Vetting Program.
Enough is enough. IBM must pick a side, which is why we are teaming up with our friends at Center for Media Justice, Color Of Change, Daily Kos and United We Dream to force IBM to make its position clear. Whether IBM lives up to its commitment to support immigrants and refuses to build Trump’s extreme vetting machine or helps him surveil, target and terrorize people simply because they were born in another country is up to us.Add your name to make sure IBM does the right thing.
Tell IBM: Don’t help Trump spy on immigrants. Refuse to build his Extreme Vetting Program. Click the link below to sign the petition.
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
References:
  1. Sam Biddle and Spencer Woodman, "There are the technology firms lining up to build Trump's 'Extreme Vetting' Program," The Intercept, Aug. 7, 2017.
  2. April Glaser, "ICE Wants to Use Predictive Policing Technology for Its “Extreme Vetting” Program," Slate, Aug. 8, 2017.
  3. Abelson et al., "Technology Experts Letter to DHS Opposing the Extreme Vetting Initiative," Nov. 16, 2017.
  4. Glaser, "ICE Wants to Use Predictive Policing Technology for Its “Extreme Vetting” Program."
  5. Ina Fried, "Apple, IBM among tech companies challenging Trump's effort to revoke DACA," Axios, Nov. 1, 2017.
  6. Tony Romm, "Here are the business leaders who are — and aren’t — officially advising Trump," Recode, Aug. 16 2017.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Sign petition: Don't open Grand Canyon to new uranium mining leases


The petition to the Trump administration reads:
"Do not open the Grand Canyon to new uranium mining leases."
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►

Tell the Trump administration: No uranium mining in the Grand Canyon
It’s unbelievable that we have to protect one of America’s most precious national treasures – the Grand Canyon – from something as dangerous and destructive as radioactive uranium mining. But that’s exactly what we have to do right now.
Thanks to an executive order from Donald Trump, the U.S. Forest Service has taken the first step toward ending a 20-year moratorium on uranium mining in the Grand Canyon watershed. Uranium mining would threaten ancient forests, Native American communities and the Colorado River – a source of drinking water for millions.
We must push back now on this dangerous and misguided proposal.
This March, Trump signed an executive order telling federal agencies to review their rules to find ways to allow more destructive oil drilling, natural gas fracking, and coal and uranium mining. In response, the U.S. Forest Service has proposed ending a ban on uranium mining in and around Grand Canyon National Park.1 The Obama administration enacted a moratorium in 2012 that was intended to last for 20 years, but now the Trump administration could lift the moratorium at any time.
Uranium mining would threaten the land, water and communities around the Grand Canyon. The Havasupai Tribe, who live at the bottom of the canyon, use water from the canyon's seeps and springs to water their beans, corn, melon and other crops.2 Mining around the canyon could release uranium pollution into the groundwater, threatening the Havasupai community's health for generations.
We know how destructive uranium can be. On the nearby Navajo Nation, where mining companies have blasted 4 million tons of uranium from more than 500 mines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found uranium already present in newborn babies.3 Uranium exposure is linked to lung cancer, bone cancer and impaired kidney function, all of which have plagued Navajo people around the mines.4
Uranium mining in the Grand Canyon could also threaten the health of people hundreds of miles away. The Colorado River, fed by the watershed, supplies water to 40 million people in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and other cities.5 It is unconscionable to risk human health by re-opening the Grand Canyon to mining uranium.
The Forest Service has admitted that the federal government will receive no revenue from any uranium mining that happens. Rather than saving money, reversing the ban on mining would actually force taxpayers to shell out funds for pro-mining studies.To get rid of the ban, the administration would have to undertake environmental studies that try to refute the scientific findings that uranium is harmful to local wildlife and communities.6
The Grand Canyon ecosystem is unique and incredibly complex. The Obama administration enacted a 20-year ban in part because 20 years is the estimated time required to complete an Environmental Impact Statement on such a large-scale ecosystem.7 Now the Trump administration wants to barrel ahead without any understanding of the harm that could be caused.
Tell the Trump regime: Don't allow destructive uranium mining near the Grand Canyon. Click the link below to sign the petition:
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
References:
  1. Erin Ford, "USFS proposes revisions to 20-year uranium mining ban," Grand Canyon News, Nov. 7, 2017.
  2. Joanna Walters, "In the Grand Canyon, uranium mining threatens a tribe's survival," The Guardian, July 17, 2017.
  3. Laurel Morales, "For The Navajo Nation, Uranium mining's deadly legacy lingers," NPR, April 10, 2016.
  4. Susan E. Dawson, "Navajo uranium workers and the effects of occupational illnesses: A case study," Human Organization, Vol. 51, No. 4, 1992.
  5. Ron Dungan, "Is uranium mining near the Grand Canyon safe? The answer may be in the water," The Republic, March 8, 2017.
  6. Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter, "Trump administration targets uranium mining ban near Grand Canyon," Sierra Club, Nov. 1, 2017.
  7. Earthjustice, "Protecting the Grand Canyon against uranium mining," accessed Nov. 13, 2017.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Fight for a humane tax plan and healthcare: Share your personal story with these maverick senators


First, Senator Ron Johnson, an arch-conservative from Wisconsin, came out against the Republican Party's misguided plan to cut taxes for the wealthy and sabotage Obamacare.1 Then, 13 Republicans voted against the House tax bill. Now, Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski seem to be leaning our way, and a new analysis shows the Senate tax plan will actually RAISE taxes on the poor and the middle class--a huge political blow to the bill's chances.2,3

If Sens. Collins, Murkowski, and Johnson vote no, the bill is dead. That's why we're making Senate phones ring off the hook in Washington, D.C., and organizing our members in key states to tell their stories about what this tax DEFORM plan would mean for them.

Desperate for a win, Senator Mitch McConnell and Trump are pushing to pass their rich-person giveaway when they come back after Thanksgiving. That means we've got just one week to raise hell in Maine, Arizona, Nevada, and Alaska--the same kind of organizing that helped us kill Trumpcare earlier this year.

But just like this summer, we have to keep the pressure on senators from these states. We've got the cold hard facts: 13 million will lose their health insurance.4 Americans earning less than $75,000 a year will see their taxes INCREASE.5

We have to back up those facts with the stories of real people, real voters, who can't afford for this dangerous tax plan to become law.

- UltraViolet Action

Sources:

1. GOP tax plan in trouble after Republican senator says he won’t back it, The Washington Post, November 15, 2017
2. Why Republicans may have lost Susan Collins in their tax reform fight, Bangor Daily News, November 16, 2017
3. Murkowski Tax Vote Contingent on Stabilizing Individual Health Insurance Market, Roll Call, November 17, 2017
4. Repealing the Individual Health Insurance Mandate: An Updated Estimate, Congressional Budget Office, November 8, 2017
5. $1.5 Trillion Tax Cut Passed by House in Mostly Party-Line Vote, The New York Times, November 16, 2017

Does the #GOPTaxPlan treat corporations and individuals the same in terms of who gets to keep deductions and who doesn’t? Nope, not even close. WATCH VIDEO.

You can contact Sen. McCain at his Tucson Office:
(520) 670-6334
Fax: (855) 952-8702

One way to reach him is to share you personal stories on his website:

https://www.mccain.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form

Here's mine for inspiration:

Dear Senator McCain,

I live in Tucson where so many of your constituents are living paycheck to paycheck. They are one medical emergency from going bankrupt and losing their homes. Everyday I see more and more homeless people - some vets, some people who had to quit their jobs to care for a sick loved one, some who had a medical emergency. I'm urging you to take care of vulnerable Tucsonans. It is just heartless to pass a huge tax cut for the wealthiest Americans on the back of the most vulnerable. Why are you raising taxes on married couples who make less that $19050 a year? When my husband left me, I struggled to get by on spousal support. No one would hire me because I had been a stay at home mom. I could have easily become homeless. So many of us are just one emergency away from being homeless.

My parents in Missouri are just getting by on their limited retirement plan and social security.  My dad recently had gallbladder surgery. He could not have had that surgery without the help of Medicare.  They finally had to get a home health aide. That is also paid for by Medicare. This immoral tax plan even cuts the dependent deduction that enables families to take care of their elderly parents at home AND the deduction for their medical expenses. How are people supposed to get by? 

Senator McCain, please, don't take away our healthcare or make it even harder on the poor. I know you are a moral man; vote your conscious. Vote no on that cruel tax bill.

The GOP sneaks bad bills that the public fought into their tax reform bill

Will the GOP tax plan bring back jobs? 
The GOP has found a way to sneak the bad bills that the public fought into their tax reform bill - all under the guise of giving us a tax cut. This includes allowing drilling in our Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, cutting the EV tax credit that makes clean vehicles affordable, limiting the ability of clean energy developers to use solar and wind tax credits (while fossil fuel companies still get theirs), cutting tax deductions for student loan interest, and not just dismantling Obamacare, but defunding Medicare and Medicaid!

The truth is that this tax plan will benefit big corporations and billionaires at the expense of the working class. After this irresponsible tax cut raises the deficit by $1.7 trillion, the GOP will use that as an excuse to cut even more vital services for the American people.

And for what? The taxes for the poorest Americans will actually go up. Married couples making less than $19,050 will pay 2% more. The taxes for the lower and middle class will increase steadily after 5 years. But the tax cuts for the wealthiest people the planet has ever known, will last FOREVER.

The 1% already has 90% of the wealth in America. But that isn't enough for them. They have invested millions of dollars in bribing our politicians. The GOP tax bill is their big payoff.

This will increase wealth inequality and give them even more power over our government and the American people. And they have no intention of giving anything to the American people. Look at the cabinet that Trump nominated. His choice to head the Department of Labor was Carl's Jr. CEO Andy Puzder who fought raising the minimum wage and cheated managers out of overtime pay.

They say this tax bill will bring companies back. Then why does it include a provision allowing companies to deduct moving expenses for relocating abroad? This tax bill won't bring back companies until the GOP succeeds in making the US "competitive" - which is code for paying us slave wages and dismantling worker protections. For a temporary minimal tax cut, are we willing to give up the protections that our ancestors sacrificed for?

When they say "Make America Great Again" is that code for going back to a time when a privileged few benefited from slavery?

Don't believe your bought and sold Representatives. (Rep. McSally, I mean you.) Do your own research on how the average American will fare with the new tax code.

Tell Trump administration: Ethically compromised Wilbur Ross must go


Petition to the Trump administration:
"Wilbur Ross reportedly misled the American people about his business conflicts of interest, maintains financial ties to Putin-linked Russian oligarchs and has ducked ethics scrutiny. Remove him from office immediately."
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
Trump Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross reportedly misled the American people about his investments and appears to have used his position to line his own pockets.1 It’s time for him to go.
Wilbur Ross’s hidden investments were one of the biggest revelations in the Paradise Papers – documents revealing how the Wall Street super-wealthy and international corporations avoid taxes.2 Not only does Ross have secret financial ties to Russian oligarchs with family ties to Vladimir Putin, the papers show that Ross was negotiating natural gas export deals while he held huge investments in the world’s largest fleet of liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers.3
Worse, the ethics official who endorsed Ross’s activity received a promotion from Ross shortly after clearing him.4
This is another textbook case of the Trump administration’s phony populism serving as cover for the wealthiest few to enrich themselves at public expense. We need a concerted public push to expose Ross and make it clear that recusals cannot erase this conflict of interest and seeming corruption. Wilbur Ross has to go.
The Paradise Papers reveal that Trump Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has financial ties to Russian oligarchs and did not reveal that information before his confirmation.5 But the conflict of interest goes beyond Russia.
Wilbur Ross “personally negotiated” a trade deal involving the shipping of LNG to China. All the while, he held far greater investments in Navigator – the company with the largest fleet of LNG carriers – than he had previously revealed. When pressed, Ross points at a stamp of approval from Commerce Department ethics adviser David Maggi. But a few months after approving Ross’s suspect deals, Ross rewarded Maggi by promoting him to a permanent post.6
As Jeff Hauser of the Revolving Door Project put it: “The commerce secretary is behaving in a way that’s a prima facie conflict of interest. The designated ethics official should rein him in. He hasn’t, and he owes his job to Ross.”7
Once again, the oligarchs of team Trump are using their ill-gotten power to profit while making grand populist promises. It is up to us to expose this phony populism and demand that Ross step down.
Since the release of the Paradise Papers, Ross has agreed to divest of the original holding – which only goes to show how wrong-headed Maggi’s initial judgment actually was. We still do not know the extent of Ross’s financial holdings, and we cannot trust either his false promises to recuse himself or the ethics official who owes his job to Ross.8 As Sen. Richard Blumenthal said recently:
“In concealing his interest in these shipping companies – and his ongoing financial relationship with Russian oligarchs – Secretary Ross misled me, the Senate Commerce Committee, and the American people. Secretary Ross’ financial disclosures are like a Russian nesting doll, with blatant conflicts of interest carefully hidden within seemingly innocuous holding companies.”9
Sen. Blumenthal has called for an Office of the Inspector General investigation, but it is hard to see how any finding would eliminate the fundamental and blatant conflict of interest. We need to keep Ross’s seeming corruption in the spotlight and keep the pressure on until he is no longer able to exploit the American people.
Tell the Trump administration: Ethically compromised Wilbur Ross has to go. Click below to sign the petition:
- Murshed Zaheed, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
References:
  1. David Dayen, “The Wilbur Ross Scandal Isn’t About Russia, It’s About Corruption,” The Intercept, Nov. 8, 2017.
  2. Richard Engel and Aggelos Petropoulos, “Paradise Papers: Leaks Show Wilbur Ross Hid Ties to Putin Cronies,” NBC News, Nov. 5, 2017.
  3. Dayen, “The Wilbur Ross Scandal Isn’t About Russia, It’s About Corruption.”
  4. Ibid.
  5. Engel and Petropoulos, “Paradise Papers: Leaks Show Wilbur Ross Hid Ties to Putin Cronies.”
  6. Dayen, “The Wilbur Ross Scandal Isn’t About Russia, It’s About Corruption.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Louis Nelson, “Wilbur Ross: Accusations that I failed to disclose Russia-linked investments are 'evil,’” POLITICO, Nov. 6, 2017.

Tell your senators to oppose any legislative attempt to weaken ESA protections for species affected by pesticides


The pesticide industry is pushing a bill that threatens the survival of endangered species.
The pesticide industry is pushing secret legislation on Capitol Hill that would dismantle Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections against deadly pesticides. A version of this hidden bill was obtained by the Center for Food Security.

Toxic pesticides are one of the primary risks to endangered species. They threaten thousands of species, from California condors to Florida panthers, Sandhill Cranes to Atlantic salmon. Under current law, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is legally required to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to minimize harm to endangered species from EPA-approved pesticides.

That requirement is effective. For example, in a case brought by CFS attorneys a federal court held that the approvals of 59 bee killing “neonic” pesticides were illegal because the EPA failed to comply with the ESA. But the new legislation promoted by the pesticide industry would erase this critical requirement. And the deadly harm of toxic pesticides to endangered species would only be assessed upon request by pesticide manufacturers – who obviously have zero incentive to put their own products under scrutiny. The proposal would also limit enforcement actions designed to prevent pesticides from killing or harming endangered wildlife.

Tell your members of Congress to oppose any legislative attempt to weaken ESA protections for species affected by pesticides >>

Why would Congress make this dangerous change to the law? In April, DowDupont (formerly Dow Chemical) asked EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to stop all efforts to fully assess the impacts of chlorpyrifos, malathion, and diazinon, which have been shown to harm virtually all of America’s approximately 1,800 protected species. AndPruitt has apparently capitulated - the federal government’s efforts to protect endangered species from those three chemicals has been completely stalled.

Shortly after becoming EPA Administrator, Pruitt reversed a research-based decision by the agency’s scientists to ban use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos — which is linked to learning disabilities in children — on food crops, including apples and oranges. Pruitt approved chlorpyrifos use even though the EPA’s own research shows residues of the chemical on produce in amounts exponentially above levels the agency has determined to be safe.

If Pruitt won’t protect our children and farmworkers from the overuse of highly poisonous insecticides, then he certainly can’t be trusted to protect our endangered species from them. Beautiful species like Palos Verde Blue butterflies, rusty patched bumble bees, and even our majestic whooping cranes may all disappear if we are forced to trust Mr. Pruitt – but this bill removes all the checks on him.

In short, this new legislation would eviscerate meaningful protections for fish, wildlife, and plants under the Endangered Species Act.

Tell your Senators and Representative to oppose any legislative attempt to weaken ESA protections for species affected by pesticides >>

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The U.S. People’s Delegation sent a message to the world at the COP 23 UN climate talks

The only event the Trump administration hosted at the COP 23 UN climate talks during the last two weeks in Germany was a panel promoting “clean” coal, nuclear, and other fossil fuels. This is climate denial in action.

Luckily, people weren’t buying it. As fossil fuel executives took the stage to speak, hundreds of people rose up, disrupting the event by singing, and walked out. I was there, and I can tell you that being part of that beautiful and powerful moment sent shivers down my spine. But don’t just take it from me -- watch this powerful video of people rising up in resistance:
This powerful act of resistance was led by members of the U.S. People’s Delegation. The delegation included youth, Indigenous peoples, frontline communities, advocates, and policymakers who came to Germany to stand their ground as the true representatives of people in the U.S. Through direct actions, speak outs and discussions with elected officials, they spotlighted that true climate leadership in the U.S. comes from the people.
The U.S. People’s Delegation sent a powerful message to the world in Germany: U.S. communities aren’t waiting for this administration to get its act together -- we’re demanding lasting change now. The delegation showed world leaders that people are already organizing in cities and states across the country to call for a fast, just transition to a world free of fossil fuels that’s powered by 100% renewable energy for all.
The organizations represented in the People’s Delegation include: SustainUS, Sunrise Movement, Indigenous Environmental Network, Global Grassroots Justice Alliance, and the Climate Justice Alliance as part of It Takes Roots, U.S Human Rights Network, Climate Generation, Our Children’s Trust, ICLEI USA, NextGen America, and 350.org.
Now, with the climate talks having just finished, the delegation members are heading home for some much-needed rest -- but here in the U.S., our fight is just beginning. We will be in touch soon with more information on what’s next.
- Thanu Yakupitiyage 350.org
Once you’ve shared the video, there’s one more way you can join the movement for local climate solutions: People across the U.S. are holding #FossilFree House Parties to chart out a plan for 100% renewable energy and no new fossil fuel projects in their communities. Click here to find or host a house party near you this week.