Thoughts and Prayers and N.R.A. Funding

(NY TIMES) Davd Leonhard, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Stuart A. Thompson — Most Americans support stronger gun laws — laws that would reduce deaths. But Republicans in Congress stand in the way. They fear alienating their primary voters and the National Rifle Association.

Below are the top 10 career recipients of N.R.A. funding – through donations or spending to benefit the candidate – among both current House and Senate members, along with their statements about the Las Vegas massacre. These representatives have a lot to say about it. All the while, they refuse to do anything to avoid the next massacre.

via Opinion | The Congress Members Receiving the Most N.R.A. Funding – The New York Times.

Woman Dragged Out of West Virginia House Hearing For Listing Oil and Gas Contributions to Members

(COMMON DREAMS) Russell Mokhiber, February 13, 2018 — Lissa Lucas traveled the 100 miles from her home in Cairo, West Virginia to the state capitol in Charleston Friday to testify against an oil and gas industry sponsored bill (HB 4268) that would allow companies to drill on minority mineral owners’ land without their consent.

Lucas began to testify to the House Judiciary Committee, but a few minutes in, her microphone was turned off.

And Lucas was dragged out of the room.

Lucas is running for the House of Delegates from Ritchie County, which has been overrun by the fracking industry.

“As I tried to give my remarks at the public hearing this morning on HB 4268 in defense of our constitutional property rights, I got dragged out of House chambers,” Lucas said. “Why? Because I was listing out who has been donating to Delegates on the Judiciary Committee.”

Lucas took to the podium and began by pointing out that “the people who are going to be speaking in favor of this bill are all going to be paid by the industry.”

“And the people who are going to be voting on this bill are often also paid by the industry,” Lucas said.

via Woman Dragged Out of West Virginia House Hearing For Listing Oil and Gas Contributions to Members | By Russell Mokhiber | Common Dreams.

The Largest Number Of Scientists In Modern U.S. History Are Running For Office In 2018

(HUFFPOST) Alexander C. Kaufman, February 13, 2018 — More than 60 researchers and technologists are running for federal office in 2018 as part of a historic wave of candidates with science backgrounds launching campaigns.

At least 200 candidates with previous careers in science, technology, engineering and math announced bids for some of the nation’s roughly 7,000 state legislature seats as of Jan. 31, according to data that 314 Action, a political action committee, shared exclusively with HuffPost.

The group, which launched in 2014 to help scientists run for office, said it is talking with 500 more people and is pressing about half of them to run. An additional 200 such candidates are running for school boards.

“The sheer number is really astonishing,” 314 Action founder Shaughnessy Naughton told HuffPost. “We’ve never seen anything like this.”

This is the largest number of scientists to run for public office in modern history. If any of them win, it could dramatically multiply the number of scientists in Congress beyond Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.), the lone Ph.D. scientist, a physicist.

The surge in congressional bids comes as scientists are experiencing a fierce political backlash. A year into his first term, President Donald Trump has yet to name a science adviser and has proposed dramatically slashing research budgets across federal agencies. He openly mocks the widely accepted science behind global warming and has nominated ardent climate deniers to key environmental positions. Under Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, the White House has reversed regulations to reduce greenhouse gases and put new rules in place to give control of the agency’s science advisory boards to researchers paid by industries.

via The Largest Number Of Scientists In Modern U.S. History Are Running For Office In 2018 | HuffPost.

Here Are the Democrats, 36 Senators and 73 in the House, Who Voted Just Against Dreamers

(COMMON DREAMS) Jon Queally, February 10, 2018 — Seventy-three Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 36 Democratic Senators joined with Republicans in a “dead-of-night vote” to pass a two-year spending bill that does nothing to protect immigrant communities and throws undocumented “Dreamers” under the bus, despite looming threats from President Donald Trump and the GOP to make matters much worse in future legislation.

“Democrats have failed to remain united and use their leverage in budget negotiations to ensure that we are protected,” said Antonio Alarcón, a recipient of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) protections and youth organizer with Make the Road New York, in a statement after the votes. “Congress’s failure tonight is astonishing.”

via Here Are the Democrats, 36 Senators and 73 in the House, Who Voted Just Against Dreamers | Common Dreams.

Here Are the 19 Senate Democrats Still Not Committed to Defending Net Neutrality

(COMMON DREAMS) Jake Johnson, January 8, 2017 — Now that the FCC has finally made public all 539 pages (pdf) of chairman Ajit Pai’s order to repeal net neutrality, defenders of the open internet are warning that the time has come for members of Congress to make a choice—either side with the American public and take action to stop Pai’s attack on net neutrality, or be voted out of office.

“Are they going to ignore overwhelming public opinion during a tight election year and rubber stamp these 500+ pages of blatant, stinking corruption?” Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future said in a statement on Thursday. “Or will they listen to their constituents, small businesses, free speech advocates, and tech experts and support a Congressional Review Act (CRA) vote to overturn the FCC’s repeal and restore net neutrality protections that keep the web free from censorship, throttling, and new fees?”

As of this writing on Friday, 29 senators—28 Democrats and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—have signed on to Sen. Ed Markey’s (D-Mass.) effort to undo the Republican-controlled FCC’s December vote to kill net neutrality by introducing a “resolution of disapproval” that would, if passed, restore the 2015 net neutrality protections that are currently being scrapped.

Nineteen Senate Democrats—as well as Sen. Angus King (I-Maine)—have yet to announce their support for Markey’s resolution (see list below). A minimum of 30 votes are needed to bring the resolution to the Senate floor.

Source: Here Are the 19 Senate Democrats Still Not Committed to Defending Net Neutrality | Common Dreams.

The Math Behind Gerrymandering and Wasted Votes

(WIRED) , January 4, 2018 — IMAGINE FIGHTING A war on 10 battlefields. You and your opponent each have 200 soldiers, and your aim is to win as many battles as possible. How would you deploy your troops? If you spread them out evenly, sending 20 to each battlefield, your opponent could concentrate their own troops and easily win a majority of the fights. You could try to overwhelm several locations yourself, but there’s no guarantee you’ll win, and you’ll leave the remaining battlefields poorly defended. Devising a winning strategy isn’t easy, but as long as neither side knows the other’s plan in advance, it’s a fair fight.


Bernie Sanders Explains His Plan to Fix a Broken Democratic Party

(COMMON DREAMS) Jake Johnson, November 13, 2017 — Following a massive wave of progressive victories in elections throughout the U.S. earlier this week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) argued in a Politico op-ed on Friday that the Democratic Party must embrace “fundamental reforms” and “welcome into its ranks millions of working people and young people” if it is to build on this grassroots momentum and overcome the “unprecedented crisis” posed by the Trump administration.

“Do you believe in open primaries, or do you not? Do you believe in transparency or not? Do you believe in keeping 700-plus superdelegates or not? Do you believe in letting people vote in caucuses who currently cannot?”
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
Sanders’ plea for systemic change within the party that has been decimated at nearly every level of government over the past eight years comes just ahead of the final meeting of the DNC’s “Unity Reform Commission,” a group formed in the aftermath of the 2016 Democratic primary with the stated goal of “ensur[ing] that inclusivity is upheld in all things that we do.”

Some of the reforms Sanders says the commission “desperately” needs to consider during its December meeting if it is to have any hope of defeating Trump’s “agenda of the billionaire class” include:

  • Reducing the power of superdelegates, which currently have “the power to control the nominating process and ignore the will of voters”;
  • “Making voting easier, and not harder” by “ending the absurdity of closed primary systems” that lock out independent voters and fully embracing “universal and same-day voter registration”;
  • Developing a process that makes it easier for working people and students to participate in the voting process in states that use caucuses “even if they are not physically able to attend a caucus”; and
  • “Fully appreciat[ing] Donna Brazile’s revelations and understand the need for far more transparency in the financial and policy workings of the Democratic Party.” Brazile, Sanders wrote, “exposed the rot.”

The Democratic Party, Sanders argues, “cannot remain an institution largely dominated by the wealthy and inside-the-Beltway consultants” if it is to defeat Trump’s “reactionary agenda”—which includes massive tax breaks for the wealthy coupled with enormous cuts to life-saving social programs.

It is “not acceptable” that “hundreds of millions of dollars flow in and out of the DNC with little to no accountability,” Sanders writes. “At a time when we have a Republican president and Republican Party whose leadership and agenda are strongly opposed by the American people, now is the time for real change. It is critical that we come together and reform the Democratic Party. When we do that, we will win local, state, and national elections and transform our country.”

In addition to pressuring the Democrats to support his proposed reforms in op-eds and interviews with major news outlets, Sanders also began circulating a petition Thursdaycalling on DNC chair Tom Perez to work toward making the party “as open, as inclusive, and as progressive as it can possibly be.”

Sanders told the Washington Post that the petition had already garnered tens of thousands of signatures just hours after going live.

Source: Bernie Sanders Explains His Plan to Fix a Broken Democratic Party | Common Dreams

Countries agree on Pacific trade pact that excludes U.S. – POLITICO

(POLITICO)  Michael Tatarski, November 13, 2017 — DA NANG, Vietnam — Top trade officials from the 11 remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have agreed on a bare-bones plan to bring the pact into force without the United States, according to a joint statement provided to POLITICO by the Chilean government.

The move came one day after President Donald Trump sharply criticized large multilateral trade deals during his keynote speech at the annual APEC leaders summit here.

“Ministers are pleased to announce that they have agreed on the core elements of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP),” the statement said.

About 20 provisions that were once part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have been “suspended.” Notably, no agricultural commitment appears on the list.

Source: Countries agree on Pacific trade pact that excludes U.S. – POLITICO

Was Democratic Primary Rigged Against Sanders? Warren Says Definitively ‘Yes’

(COMMON DREAMS)  Jake Johnson, November 5, 2017 — When asked by CNN‘s Jake Tapper in an interview on Thursday if she believes the 2016 Democratic primary was “rigged” in favor of Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) gave a definitive one-word answer: “Yes.”

Tapper’s question came in response to the bombshell piece by former interim Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Donna Brazile, which detailed the party organization’s “unethical” fundraising agreement with former Secretary of State Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Source: Was Democratic Primary Rigged Against Sanders? Warren Says Definitively ‘Yes’ | Common Dreams

America since 9/11: timeline of attacks linked to the ‘war on terror’

(THE GUARDIAN) Ben Jacobs, November 3, 2017 — The attack on Tuesday in Lower Manhattan is one of a number of major terrorist attack on US soil that has been carried out by those who have claimed inspiration from Islamist terror groups like al-Qaida or Isis. It is the latest attack of its kind since the 11 September attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 that left nearly 3000 people dead and prompted president George W Bush to launch military action against al-Qaida in Afghanistan. Here is a timeline of other major terror attacks in the US:

Source: America since 9/11: timeline of attacks linked to the ‘war on terror’ | US news | The Guardian