Monday, May 22, 2017

Saudi Arabia just joined the parade of investors

I'm got some beach front property you might be interested in...
Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, wrote: 

Saudi Arabia just joined the parade of investors into U.S. public works by pledging a record $20 billion investment with Blackstone Group’s new infrastructure fund.

It’s the latest push around the world by large investors to buy up U.S. airports, roads, bridges, water systems, and other public projects.

Rather than taxing the wealthy and then using the money to fix our dangerously outdated infrastructure, the states and the federal government increasingly are giving rich investors tax credits to encourage them to do it.

The investors then charge tolls and user fees, and earn big profits.

So the public pays twice – once when we subsidize the investors with our tax dollars, and then again when we pay the tolls and user fees that also go into their pockets.

We don’t even get the infrastructure that’s most needed. Projects most attractive to investors are those whose tolls and fees bring in the biggest bucks – giant mega-projects like major new throughways and new bridges.

Not the thousands of smaller bridges, airports, pipes, and water treatment facilities most in need of repair. Not the needs of rural communities and smaller cities and towns too small to generate the tolls and other user fees equity investors want. Not clean energy.

To really make America great again we need more and better infrastructure that’s for the public – not for big developers and investors. And the only way we get that is if corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes.

Trump Just Reopened Our Coasts to Big Oil — Help Fight Back

BIG NEWS: NRDC and its partners are suing the Trump administration to block the president's reckless executive order attempting to reopen our Arctic and Atlantic coasts to dangerous oil and gas drilling. Simply put, Trump doesn't have the authority to reverse President Obama's landmark ban that put those critical waters permanently off-limits to Big Oil.

But as NRDC battles in court, we must mobilize a groundswell of public pressure on Congress to keep our coastal waters protected. It's time to show Trump and his fossil fuel allies that this is only the beginning of a fierce fight.

Tell Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain, and Representative Martha McSally, to support legislation protecting our coasts and oceans from dangerous oil and gas drilling!

Trump's order attempts to reverse President Obama's groundbreaking decision last year that rightly banned oil and gas drilling in almost all of America's Arctic Ocean and Atlantic coast, putting them off limits to Big Oil.

Drilling off our coasts harms our oceans, marine wildlife and coastal communities with leaks and catastrophic oil spills — like the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, which dumped more than 130 million gallons of toxic crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico seven years ago.

The federal government itself estimates a 75% chance of a major oil spill in the Arctic's Chukchi Sea if drilling proceeds there.

More drilling will also set us back in our fight against climate change, shackling us to the heavily polluting fossil fuels of the last century, driving more carbon pollution and slowing America's transition to clean energy.

The NRDC Action Fund is putting our full force behind supporting critical legislation to stop Trump's handout to Big Oil. The Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act (H.R. 1784) has been introduced in the House, and we expect other legislation ending offshore drilling soon in both the House and Senate.

Tell your senators and representative TODAY: Stop President Trump's assault on our coasts by supporting critical bills we need to ban drilling in the Arctic, the Atlantic and all other American ocean waters for good.

- Rhea Suh, President, NRDC Action Fund

Sunday, May 21, 2017

They did it. They actually voted to initiate the repeal of net neutrality.

They did it. They actually voted to initiate the repeal of net neutrality.

On a party-line vote, the FCC voted for the first step of Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to hand control of the internet to giant telecom corporations.

Comcast and Verizon may have won this battle, but they have not won the war.

Today's vote was just the first step in the FCC's rule-making process. We have until July 17 to put as much pressure as possible not only on the FCC, but also on Congress and the White House, to keep net neutrality rules in place.

The reason we can stop this plan is because gutting net neutrality is massively unpopular. So many people have made online comments against this plan that the FCC's website crashed.

We need to make sure that Republicans in the House, Senate, and White House all understand that if the FCC goes forward with handing over control of the internet to Comcast and their big telecom brethren, they will be held accountable.

Here's what we're doing to get the message across loud and clear:

*We're flooding Capitol Hill with phone calls against the Trump/Pai plan to kill net neutrality.
*We have a rally organized today at the FCC to call out this corporate power grab.
*We are building on our massive coalition to drive in 1 million grassroots actions against the Trump/Pai plan.

We have 60 days to keep net neutrality front and center in the political spotlight. 

- David Segal, Demand Progress

SIGN NOW: Demand Congress force release of Trump’s tax returns

We’ll cut to the chase: Republicans are blocking legislation that would force Trump to reveal his tax returns.

But we can overpower them. Using a procedure called the Discharge Petition, Democrats are attempting to force Trump to reveal his tax returns. But they need all the support they can get.

Trump just fired James Comey, the man who was leading the investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia. Now, we have NO WAY to tell if our President has been compromised by a hostile foreign power.

Our last hope is Trump’s tax returns -- they’ll reveal exactly how connected Trump’s businesses are to Russia.

Demand your Congressman sign the petition to force Trump to reveal his tax returns:

We refuse to be kept in the dark,


Good news! Momentum building for Open Primaries!

In 2016, the Republican Party of Montana and the Democratic Party of Hawaii filed legal challenges to the open primary laws in their respective states. The ninth Circuit Court ruled that neither party had provided evidence to show their rights had been abridged, and in both states the parties challenged the ruling.

After much anticipation, the Supreme Court announced that it would not hear legal challenges to Montana and Hawaii’s open primary systems. This is an important win for the open primaries movement. Had the Ninth Circuit’s decision been overturned, the Republican and Democratic Parties would have been able to use this decision as a weapon to close the primaries in in other states that conduct open elections.
The People of Florida Have Spoken

There is momentum for reform building in Florida, driven by the dozens of Floridians who have testified at public Constitution Revision Commission hearings about the need for open primaries. Local leaders Tim Canova and Steve Hough have been activating supporters and building a statewide volunteer network.

Print and television journalists, including NBC, have been covering the growing chorus for change. If you want to be inspired, watch this video reel of highlights from the public hearings held in the last several months. Or click here to watch an overview of the efforts in Florida.

Open Primaries in South Dakota

Joe Kirby, a leader in the 2016 Vote Yes on V campaign to enact open primaries in South Dakota, is gearing up for another go in 2018. “"It's awful simple. It's all about fairness," said Kirby, who lives in Sioux Falls. "Our slogan is: 'Let all voters vote.'"
Mississippi: Prime for Reform

Here’s an informative article from Mississippi about how that state’s partisan primary system is stifling voter choice and mobility. In 2014, Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann issued a report recommending that Mississippi convert to a top two open primary system. Open Primaries conducted polling in 2015 that showed a whopping 85% of Mississippians believe that a nonpartisan system would force politicians to represent the people and not the parties. Let’s hope the growing conversation about primary reform in Mississippi leads to concrete action in the near future.

- Reposted, Open Primaries Hot List

Add your name to tell Jeff Sessions he’s wrong about the War on Drugs

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is spouting rhetoric and promoting policies that we’ve been working hard to put in the past. With near-consensus that the War on Drugs was a failure on all levels, the country is ready to move to smart and commonsense reforms to our broken criminal justice system.

Except for one man: our top law enforcement official, Jeff Sessions.

Sessions has reversed an important charging policy that instructed prosecutors to avoid getting caught in the stranglehold of mandatory minimum sentencing. Mandatory minimums are widely understood as racist, destructive to families and communities, and fundamentally unfair. So why is our attorney general actively undoing policy in order to encourage the harshest possible punishments?

Jeff Sessions has a history of endorsing ineffective policies and positions based on political rhetoric. He wants to put as many people as possible behind bars. And not just anyone – the War on Drugs policies Sessions is rolling out target and harm Black and Brown people and communities.

This has to end. We need smart criminal justice reforms – not regressive, recycled policies. Add your name now to tell Jeff Sessions that no matter what he says, the War on Drugs must end.

- ACLU Action

Add your name: Demand a NAFTA renegotiations benefit working people, not corporations

The Trump administration officially notified Congress it will be renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

NAFTA made it easier for corporations to offshore jobs and to attack environmental, health, and other safeguards.

It killed jobs and depressed wages for millions. Hundreds of corporate advisers helped negotiate it behind closed doors.

Tell the U.S. Trade Representative now: Replace NAFTA with a deal that actually benefits working people in all three countries, not just multinational corporations.

If enough of us speak out, we can stop corporate elites from calling the shots and put an end to their rigged, devastating trade deals.

- Replace NAFTA

Target: U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer

Add your name: Demand a NAFTA renegotiations benefit working people, not corporations.

You will be signing this:

To: U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer
From: [Your Name]

Dear USTR Robert Lighthizer:

Your renegotiation of NAFTA is an opportunity to stop its ongoing damage and create a deal that benefits working people, not just big corporations.

That is why we call on you to meet these criteria in any new agreement with Canada and Mexico:

1. Institute a democratic, accountable, and transparent negotiating process without privileged backroom access for corporate interests.

2. Eliminate the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system, which promotes job offshoring and gives multinational corporations power to sue the U.S. government before a tribunal of three corporate lawyers. These lawyers can order U.S. taxpayers to pay corporations unlimited sums of money, including for the loss of expected future profits.

3. Include strong and enforceable labor and environmental standards, not the ineffective rules found in deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

4. Require all imported food, goods and services in the agreement to meet strong domestic safety and environmental rules.

5. Eliminate rules that waive important Buy American and Buy Local policies.


Thank you!  It's time for a trade policy that works for working people.