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It’s a meticulously curated but tranquil home where objects that inhabit the space interact harmoniously with one another, reflecting the couple’s design mindset: minimalist, yet rich with vintage cool and contemporary...

Hawaii Poised to Become First State to Declare Climate Emergency

Politics & Elections Biden’s Speech Pointed to a Possible End to Reagan’s Rancid Legacy Prisons & Policing New Report Looks at Strategies to Cut Incarceration of Illinois Women by Half Politics & Elections GOP Rebuttal to Biden’s Speech Flopped Because Progressive Policies Are Popular Environment & Health Hawaii Poised to Become First State to Declare Climate Emergency Environment & Health Progressives Introduce Huge Climate Bill That Rivals Biden Infrastructure Plan Racial Justice Commission Finds Anti-Black Police Violence Constitutes Crimes Against Humanity The Hawaii state legislature is set to make history later on Thursday by becoming the first state in the country to pass a resolution declaring a climate emergency. Hawaii lawmakers will declare in a nonbinding resolution that the current global climate crisis is a threat to both humankind and the environment. The text of the resolution calls for a collaborative effort to address the effects of the crisis and come up with ways to halt the increase of global temperatures. “We must take strong action to address climate change related challenges, such as sea level rise, coastal erosion, and the protection of our critical infrastructure,” the resolution’s primary sponsor, Democratic state Sen. Mike Gabbard, said in a statement. Although it does not have any forceful language requiring immediate action on the climate crisis, the resolution calls for state lawmakers to seek ways to prohibit “any further public or private investment or subsidies in projects that will make the climate emergency worse, such as coal, oil, gas, and tree-burning projects.” It also asks for lawmakers to pass bills that facilitate investments in low- and zero-emission projects, including reforestation efforts throughout the state. While more must be done, climate activists in the state have praised the move. “It’s a recognition of symbolic importance…. It provides for collaboration statewide for a transition to a cleaner environment,” said Ted Bohlen of Climate Protectors Hawaii in a committee hearing earlier this month. “And these are important, even though it’s just a resolution.” The climate crisis has already had a tremendous impact on Hawaii, particularly for its Indigenous peoples. Droughts have become more commonplace on the islands, according to the Climate Reality Project, which have detrimentally affected freshwater streams and rivers, reducing access to water for Hawaii’s Indigenous peoples and the broader ecosystems in general. “The limited amount of freshwater has a disproportionate impact on Hawaii’s Native peoples as the increased droughts threaten the growth of important traditional food sources, like taro and breadfruit,” the organization’s website explained. Rising sea levels are also a concern for the state. One study in 2012 found that 70 percent of beaches on the islands of Kauai, Oahu and Maui were already experiencing long-term coastal erosion. The rise in sea levels are speeding up, too. Since 1950, the sea level around Hilo Bay in Hawaii has gone up by 10 inches, and over the past 10 years, sea levels in that area have increased by one inch every four years. While Hawaii is the first state in the U.S. to declare a climate emergency, several other governments have made similar pronouncements. In 34 countries across the globe, 1,933 jurisdictions have also declared such emergencies. At the federal level, a bill introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) and co-sponsored by more than 40 other lawmakers, would obligate President Joe Biden to announce a climate emergency — but since February there has not been any action on the proposal. Copyright © Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Big Corporations Strike Racial Justice Pose While Continuing to Fund Police

Politics & Elections Trump-Disrupted Census Hurts Marginalized Communities and Hands New Power to GOP Environment & Health No, Biden’s Not Banning Burgers — But Meat Is a Real Climate Problem Environment & Health The More Biden Expands ACA, the Harder It Will Be for the Right to Cut It Politics & Elections Over 80 House Democrats Urge Biden to Lower Medicare Eligibility Age Economy & Labor Biden to Sign Executive Order Raising Federal Workers’ Wages to $15 an Hour War & Peace Biden Is Reviewing US Policy in North Korea. The Brutal Sanctions Must End. As protests for racial justice erupted around the globe last summer following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin, many activists called upon corporate America to step up and fight for racial equality in the workplace and beyond, bringing to light a long history of discrimination toward workers of color. The push prompted a series of sweeping apologies and broad action plans, shifting the goalposts for what would be expected of corporations in their relatively new status as “corporate citizens.” Nearly a year later, many major corporations have assumed a similar posture following Chauvin’s conviction on murder charges, reminding the American public of their purported commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Amid mounting evidence that many police departments routinely display both implicit bias and outright racism, reports show that corporate America continues to pour millions of dollars into the police. One way corporations funnel money into law enforcement is through police foundations. As nonprofits, police foundations allow police departments to raise unregulated slush funds from undisclosed sources, generally meaning corporations or private foundations associated with wealthy families or individuals. Police have historically used this money to expense weaponry and special equipment that is not covered by their municipal budgets. “Police foundations are really good at hiding what they’re actually spending their money on,” Arisha Hatch, vice president of Color of Change, told Salon. “These foundations exist completely off the books.” According to Nonprofit Quarterly, there are about 251 police foundations across the U.S. A report last year by the government watchdog LittleSis found that a whole host of well-known corporations have been intimately involved with police foundations throughout the nation. One notable example is AT&T. Last year, Sludge found that AT&T was “an active donor” to the Seattle Police Foundation, which according to IRS filings amassed more than $1.5 million in contributions and grants in 2019 alone. Gothamist reported in 2019 that AT&T made an appearance as a “deep-pocketed donor” at the New York City Police Foundation, which collected $9.2 million in contributions and grants over the fiscal year ending in June 2019. Because these foundations are not subject to typical IRS disclosure laws, neither of them reported how that money were spent. AT&T is also a “Platinum Partner” of the National Sheriffs’ Association, a pro-police lobbying group that fights to preserve the 1033 Military Surplus Program, a government-run initiative that distributes surplus military-grade weaponry and supplies to police departments throughout the nation. In order to become a Platinum Partner, a corporation must donate at least $15,000. Asked about the company’s relationship with law enforcement, an AT&T spokesperson told Salon that the company supports “many civil rights organizations” and is “working with them to redefine the relationship between law enforcement and those they serve to advance equitable justice for all Americans.” Kevin Walby, an associate professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Winnipeg, told Salon that any company that makes strong rhetorical commitments to racial equality should not donate to police foundations at all, saying that in doing so, “they are actually backstopping very racist policing practices.” Target is another corporate giant with deep ties to the police. On Tuesday, Target CEO Brian Cornell postponed a speaking event in anticipation of Chauvin’s verdict, later telling his employees in an internal memo: “The murder of George Floyd last Memorial Day felt like a turning point for our country. The solidarity and stand against racism since then have been unlike anything I’ve experienced. Like outraged people everywhere, I had an overwhelming hope that today’s verdict would provide real accountability. Anything short of that would have shaken my faith that our country had truly turned a corner.” One might assume such concern for racial justice would translate to the company’s spending habits. However, according to government watchdog LittleSis and Sludge, the Minnesota-based retail giant has donated to at least nine police foundations since 2015, including those in Atlanta, New York and Los Angeles. Back in 2014, Target quietly donated $200,000 to the Los Angeles Police Foundation so that its affiliate department could gain early access to surveillance software engineered by Palantir, a company accused of whitewashing systemic racism with its supposed data-driven solutions to policing. Target has also supplied thousands of dollars in grant money to various law enforcement agencies throughout the country. The company reported that by 2011, it had given “Public Safety Grants” to over 4,000 law enforcement agencies. In that same year alone, Target said it had distributed more than $3 million in grants to “law enforcement and emergency management organizations.” A Target spokesperson declined to provide more recent figures on grant money. The company also declined to clarify whether its relationships with police foundations remain active, instead providing the following statement: “We also believe that team members and guests should feel safe in their engagements with law enforcement. We support holistic changes in policing that advance more equitable, community-centric policing that is grounded in innovative law enforcement reform best practices.” Numerous tech giants, including Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft, also support the police in ways outlined above. Amazon, for example, which claimed to “stand with [its] Black employees, customers, and partners” following Chauvin’s verdict, has supported the police in a variety of different ways. In 2019, the tech giant reportedly donated up to $9,999 to the Seattle Police Foundation. A company representative told Salon that the company has not donated to the Seattle Police Foundation within the last two years. Salon was unable to confirm this, since the foundation reportedly scrubbed all information pertaining to its corporate sponsors shortly after LittleSis released its report. Additionally, Amazon board member Indra Nooyi serves as a trustee on the board of the New York City Police Foundation, according to digitally archived information on the foundation’s website from last year. Meanwhile, AmazonSmile, the company’s charity initiative — which allows Amazon to donate 0.5% of proceeds from a sale to the buyer’s chosen charity — has helped pass along donations from customers to numerous police foundations, including those in Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Cleveland. (This relationship has been publicly advertised via Twitter.) A company representative said that Amazon defers to guidance from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Southern Poverty Law Center on what organizations meet AmazonSmile’s eligibility requirements. These requirements state that eligible organizations cannot “engage in, support, encourage, or promote … intolerance, discrimination or discriminatory practices based on race.” Just this year, however, the SPLC published a feature calling racial bias in policing a “national security threat.” Neither the Seattle Police Foundation nor New York City Police Foundation responded to Salon’s request for comment. Coffeehouse giant Starbucks has visibly attempted to go above and beyond in demonstrating its commitment to racial justice. Last year, at the height of the racial unrest following George Floyd’s death, the coffee chain said it would distribute 250,000 shirts bearing the “Black Lives Matter” slogan to employees, flouting its existing ban on any apparel that “advocate for a political, religious or personal issue,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Just this year, Starbucks invested $100 million in “small business growth and community development projects in BIPOC neighborhoods.” Following the Chauvin verdict, Starbucks the company released a statement from CEO Kevin Johnson, which read in part: Today’s jury verdict in the murder trial of ex-police officer Derek Chauvin will not soothe the intense grief, fatigue and frustration so many of our Black and African American partners are feeling. Let me say clearly to you: We see you. We hear you. And you are not alone. Your Starbucks family hurts with you … We will be here for our partners in the Twin Cities and for each and every BIPOC Starbucks partner as we try to understand the systemic wrongs that lead to inequality. One might argue these “systemic wrongs” have been exhibited by the Seattle Police Department. In a 2019 “Use of Force” report released by the Seattle Police, the department revealed that it used force against Black residents at a disproportionately higher rate than white residents. According to the report, more than 31 percent of cases of police force used against males involved Black males, even though they make up around 7 percent of the city’s population. A subsequent “Disparity Review” that year found that residents of color were frisked at higher rates than white residents, even though white people were statistically more likely to be carrying a weapon, and that Seattle officers drew their guns in encounters with residents of color at a higher rate than with white residents. In that same year, Starbucks donated two grants totaling $15,000 to promote “implicit bias training” within the Seattle police and help the department host its “2019 banquet gala,” a spokesperson told Salon. The company also “contributed $25,000 to the New York City Police Foundation to help provide protective equipment such as masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, and coordinated the delivery of meals to precincts.” The representative did not say whether there were any accountability mechanisms in place to ensure the money was used appropriately, but did note that the company does “not currently have any funding with the Seattle Police Foundation.” When corporations like Target and Starbucks give money to police foundations, it not only presents an ideological contradiction; it also presents a conflict of interest within the department itself, noted Walby, of the University of Winnipeg. “We only hear about donations” to police “when corporations want to celebrate them,” he said. “They want that halo effect. However, there are lots of instances in which the transfers and purchases aren’t made public. It’s an even bigger problem if they’re spending it on money that pertains to the corporation.” In 2014, for instance, the Los Angeles Daily News reported that the Los Angeles Police Foundation received $84,000 in donations from stun-gun maker TASER International (now known as Axon) prior to TASER’s contract with the LAPD. In another case, Motorola, a donor to the New York Police Foundation, was later awarded several NYPD contracts, as reported by Politico in 2017. “There’s a real potential for private influence in public policing through police foundations,” Walby said. “It’s appropriate to call this money dark money. Because we can’t really see this money going in. We can’t really see this money going out.” As the negative impact of police violence and criminalization becomes increasingly apparent in communities of color, Walby and Hatch argued, continuing to donate to police undermines corporations’ claims to awakened social consciousness. “Police departments across this country have plenty of money,” Hatch said. “They are well-resourced in a way that undermines other programs that could lead to safer and healthier communities.” “Any money for police reform just enhances the power base of police as an institution,” Walby said. “The institution can’t change conduct that is institutionalized. The funds should be given directly to community and social development groups, groups that actually have a chance of creating something like equality in our world.” This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Google Fixes Two Annoying Quirks in Its Voice Assistant

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Over 80 House Democrats Urge Biden to Lower Medicare Eligibility Age

Politics & Elections Trump-Disrupted Census Hurts Marginalized Communities and Hands New Power to GOP Environment & Health No, Biden’s Not Banning Burgers — But Meat Is a Real Climate Problem Environment & Health The More Biden Expands ACA, the Harder It Will Be for the Right to Cut It Politics & Elections Over 80 House Democrats Urge Biden to Lower Medicare Eligibility Age Economy & Labor Biden to Sign Executive Order Raising Federal Workers’ Wages to $15 an Hour War & Peace Biden Is Reviewing US Policy in North Korea. The Brutal Sanctions Must End. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington) organized over 80 House Democrats to sign a letter calling on President Joe Biden to expand Medicare in his administration’s upcoming American Families Plan. The lawmakers are asking Biden to lower the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 60 or even 55, require Medicare to negotiate drug prices, and add benefits such as dental, vision and hearing to Medicare coverage. In the letter, the Democrats argue that this would be “a critical investment in health care to bolster the security of our country’s economy and families.” “As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic — the nation’s most acute health care crisis in the last century — now more than ever, we must ensure that families and older adults are equipped with the health coverage they need,” the lawmakers write. The lawmakers say that expanding coverage by lowering the eligibility age for Medicare is vital to the nation’s health and could provide immediate relief to many Americans. They cite a study by Stanford researchers that found that cancer diagnoses spike up at the age of 65 because many adults are suddenly diagnosed once they have health care coverage under Medicare and are able to seek out care. Lowering the eligibility age to 60 would provide an additional 23 million people access to health care, the lawmakers write. Lowering it further to 55 would expand coverage to over 40 million people. The letter writers also cite statistics on Medicare beneficiaries who still struggle with their health because basic versions of Medicare coverage don’t cover vision, hearing or dental. Statistics from 2018 from The Commonwealth Fund cited by the Democrats show that over 70 percent of Medicare beneficiaries struggle to eat or hear, likely due to this gap in coverage, and 43 percent hadn’t had an eye exam in the past year despite having trouble seeing. The House Democrats who signed the letter are also urging Biden to address prescription drug prices. The U.S. pays the highest prices of any other country for prescription drugs, as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) pointed out last month when he introduced a bill that would, similarly to the House Democrats’ request, also allow the government to negotiate drug prices. “By prioritizing the inclusion of robust drug-pricing provisions, we can produce enormous federal savings and use it to sustainably expand health coverage, equity, and access,” the lawmakers wrote. They argue that Medicare could save hundreds of billions of dollars by negotiating prices with pharmaceutical companies. The House Democrats’ letter comes just after Sanders and 16 other Democratic senators also sent a letter to Biden urging him to include similar Medicare expansions. “We have an historic opportunity to make the most significant expansion of Medicare since it was signed into law,” the senators wrote. The push by members of Congress for Medicare expansion comes as other progressive groups are launching a $6 million campaign “ahead of President Biden’s American Jobs and Families Plan address, doubling down on its commitment to passing a permanent, national paid family and medical leave policy,” according to Politico. The push is led by Paid Leave for All, a coalition of groups that are committed to getting paid medical and family leave passed in the United States. The U.S. is one of only a small handful of countries that don’t have guaranteed paid parental leave. Biden’s plan will call for paid family leave but reportedly calls for less than half of what other Democrats call for in funding for the policy. The Biden administration is set to release the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan on Wednesday, which will also contain proposals for making community college free and subsidizing child care costs using funds partially generated through a hike on capital gains taxes for the wealthy. Copyright © Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

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At India’s Request, Twitter Blocks Posts Critical of Modi COVID Response

War & Peace Biden Is Reviewing US Policy in North Korea. The Brutal Sanctions Must End. Environment & Health Biden Is Providing Some Vaccines to India But Hasn’t Budged on Patent Waiver Prisons & Policing Justice Department Investigations Don’t Actually Challenge Police Violence Prisons & Policing We Are Fighting for a World Where Ma’Khia Bryant Would Have Lived Politics & Elections Americans View Biden as Doing Much Better Than Trump Did in First 100 Days Immigration Abuse and Lack of Transparency Fuel Vaccine Mistrust in ICE Jails “Not a surprise. But terrifying nonetheless.” That’s how Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein responded Sunday to news that India had requested — and Twitter had agreed — to have numerous tweets critical of the Modi government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic blocked from the popular social media platform. The Indian news outlet Medianama was the first to report the situation on Saturday, followed by Buzzfeed in U.S. press. According to Medianama’s reporting by Aroon Deep and Aditya Chunduru: Twitter has complied with government requests to censor 52 tweets that mostly criticised India’s handling of the second surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. These tweets, which are now inaccessible to Indian users of the social media website, include posts by Revanth Reddy, a sitting Member of Parliament; Moloy Ghatak, a West Bengal state minister; actor Vineet Kumar Singh; and two filmmakers, Vinod Kapri and Avinash Das. Uncompromised, uncompromising news Get reliable, independent news and commentary delivered to your inbox every day. Deep and Chunduru confirmed that several people who had their postings blocked were informed by Twitter what was coming ahead of the move and that the decision was based on a request made by the Indian government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It’s a bit old now, but for those interested in how this works: In 2019, @zidanism & I did a deep dive into the mechanics of this type of Twitter censorship (legal demands for country-specific censorship) taking the case study of Kashmir back in 2019. https://t.co/DIWfpBwocB — Avi Asher-Schapiro (@AASchapiro) April 25, 2021 In response to request, a Twitter spokesperson sent Medianama the following statement: When we receive a valid legal request, we review it under both the Twitter Rules and local law. If the content violates Twitter’s Rules, the content will be removed from the service. If it is determined to be illegal in a particular jurisdiction, but not in violation of the Twitter Rules, we may withhold access to the content in India only. In all cases, we notify the account holder directly so they’re aware that we’ve received a legal order pertaining to the account. We notify the user(s) by sending a message to the email address associated with the account(s), if available. Read more about our Legal request FAQs. The legal requests that we receive are detailed in the biannual Twitter Transparency Report, and requests to withhold content are published on Lumen. India is currently experiencing a serious surge in Covid-19 cases — averaging over 300,000 new daily cases over the last week and oxygen supplies running low and hospitals overwhelmed — as Modi’s handling of the pandemic has come under significant scrutiny from both within the country and from abroad. Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, reported Buzzfeed on Saturday, also restricted dozens of tweets that criticized Modi or shared pictures of India’s overflowing crematoriums and hospitals, in addition to a tweet from the Indian American Muslim Council, a Washington D.C-based advocacy organization of Indian American Muslims. That group shared a Vice story about the Kumbh Mela, a Hindu pilgrimage attended by hundreds of thousands of Indians earlier this month, and which turned into a super spreader event. “While hundreds of thousands of Covid patients are literally gasping for breath, the government’s alacrity in pressuring Twitter to block tweets critical of its handling of the crisis shows the administration’s moral compass continues to point in a direction that is shamelessly self-serving,” the Indian American Muslim Council said in a statement. Rana Ayyub — a journalist who has been writing dispatches from India for the Washington Post, TIME magazine, and other outlets — reacted with scorn Sunday to the latest reports, tweeting: Narendra Modi &BJP leaders response to reports of the Covid carnage in India. Seize properties of those talking of oxygen shortage, Suspend twitter accounts of those reporting the truth. What does one expect of a heartless regime that looks the other way as the country bleeds — Rana Ayyub (@RanaAyyub) April 25, 2021 “I’m sorry,” wrote epidemiologist and health economist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, “but Modi’s authoritarian government can go to hell if they dare to silence the true human suffering” now taking place in India. This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

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