Texas House Republicans passed a voter suppression bill early Friday morning despite a tough fight put up by Democrats, who offered over 130 amendments from late Thursday into the night. Democrats were able to water down the bill, SB 7, and cut into some of the most punitive proposals, but the final vision retained restrictive proposals like limiting ballot drop boxes and prohibiting counties from sending unsolicited absentee ballots. The House voted at 3 am to advance the bill, which contained 20 of the provisions proposed by Democrats, who had slim chances of outright stopping the bill. Texas’ House is controlled by Republicans by a wide margin; the bill passed 81-64.
Amid growing concerns that Republicans will try to use new voting laws to overturn elections in the wake of a campaign of lies stoking unfounded fears about vote-rigging, GOP-led state legislatures across the country are already trying to reverse popular ballot initiatives approved by majorities of voters. Missouri voters last year passed a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid. Arizona approved a new tax on the wealthy to fund schools. South Dakota legalized marijuana. But Republicans are trying to block those measures from being implemented and dozens of state legislatures are pushing new bills to make it harder to get voter initiatives on the ballot in the first place.
A man who took part in the Capitol breach on January 6 said this week that his actions weren’t 100 percent his fault. Rather, he said, was influenced into being a part of the violence that day by something his lawyer called “Foxmania,” which resulted in him believing false claims about election fraud in the 2020 election. Anthony Antonio surrendered to police in April and was charged with five federal crimes related to the January attack, including violent entry and disorderly conduct while in the Capitol, and impeding law enforcement. One video of Antonio’s actions during the day shows him shouting at officers, telling them, “You want war? We got war. 1776 all over again.”
Delivering another blow to people across the United States still struggling financially during the coronavirus pandemic and related economic crisis, a Trump-appointed federal judge on Wednesday vacated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s temporary federal eviction moratorium, which was set to expire at the end of next month. First enacted under former President Donald Trump last year, the CDC moratorium has been repeatedly extended — including twice under President Joe Biden.
Economy & Labor On May Day, Gig Workers Are Organizing an Intersectional Movement Prisons & Policing My Child Is Incarcerated. One Second in This Unjust System Is Too Much. Prisons & Policing Drug Raids Killed Andrew Brown Jr., Breonna Taylor. Advocates Say: Enough. Politics & Elections No, Joe Manchin, Eliminating the Filibuster Won’t Lead to “Serious Problems” 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 In the United States, Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September, while the rest of the world celebrates it on May 1st. May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day, actually has its origins in the U.S. It is a workers’ holiday celebrating international solidarity, a day of demonstrations and organizing, a day for workers to rise up — but for over a century, this holiday has not been observed in the U.S. However, this lack of formal recognition, intended deliberately by politicians to weaken the labor movement, hasn’t stopped American workers from celebrating on May 1st. Today, thousands of workers are rising up across the country to celebrate, demonstrate and demand change. One particular group of workers — gig workers, who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 — have organized a day of demonstrations and caravans led by rideshare drivers currently or previously working for companies like Uber and Lyft. Oakland is just one of several cities across the country where gig workers are planning a caravan of drivers today. Today’s action is being co-organized by a coalition of over 25 groups, including Rideshare Drivers United, Gig Workers Rising, Workers World and the People’s Strike. “In the last year with this pandemic and all of the things that have come with it, there are people from many different groups that are very angry about the state of our society,” Erica Mighetto, a former Lyft driver and organizer at Rideshare Drivers United, told Truthout. “So, I’m really excited for the action in Oakland, it’s really an uprising that’s happening and it’s really going to be a wonderful show of that solidarity.” Throughout the day there will be pit stops at locations such as Whole Foods and City Hall where Amazon workers and gig-workers will address the crowd, trucks with flatbed trailers will carry floats, and organizers will hand out fliers and petitions. “People are losing their housing, people like ourselves are losing their vehicles, some of us are even living in our vehicles,” Mighetto said. “We have a lot of legislation that’s working against people like me and people struggling for survival — so that’s why this event is so important to us, because there are hundreds, if not thousands of people just in the Bay Area that are in similar situations.” In November of last year, Californians passed Proposition 22, a ballot initiative designed to strip so-called gig workers of many rights traditionally afforded to workers, such as a guaranteed a minimum wage, access to unemployment insurance or overtime pay, and paid sick leave or family leave. The impacts of Prop 22 were only exacerbated as the pandemic hit and countless drivers lost their income because of social distancing mandates. “As it relates to economic exploitation and unsafe working conditions, I know what it’s like to work long hours with no guaranteed wage and no work and no restroom facilities, no overtime,” Cherri Murphy, a former Lyft driver and organizer at Gig Workers Rising, told Truthout. “I know what it’s like to be in the middle of a pandemic and have your corporation refuse to pay unemployment wages and have to wait for three months to get protection.” Although the challenges faced by gig workers are a significant focus of the caravan, the coalition has made sure to broaden its focus to address a wide variety of interlinked struggles faced by marginalized communities across the country. “We’re calling out police violence as well,” Murphy said. “Police violence and economic violence are all connected — they’re all part of the same systems that impact mostly people of color. COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter really pulled the curtain back and showed America’s rooted disease for which there still is no vaccine for.” In addition to elevating the voices of low wage workers and speaking out against police violence, today’s action puts a spotlight on housing issues in the Bay Area — a region which is home to one of the most inaccessible housing markets in the country. “People can’t afford to pay their rent and they need to be provided sustainable housing,” Mighetto, who was herself evicted from her apartment in Sacramento in September of 2019, told Truthout. “We really want to show that these are important issues and it’s not out of laziness that this is our situation — it’s out of social injustice and legislative shortcomings.” Not only is the coalition in solidarity with low wage workers, folks struggling with housing, and communities facing violence from the police, but they’ve also chosen to include a focus on things such as climate change, education and immigration. “We understand that oppression is intersectional,” Murphy said. “The majority of the workers that Uber, Lyft, and Doordash employ happen to be immigrants and people of color. And so we know that economic justice is racial justice.” With surprisingly progressive policy proposals like the PRO Act winning the support of the Biden administration, we may be witnessing the beginning of a shift in how gig workers are treated in the United States. Demonstrations and caravans such as those taking place today are an essential component in bringing about the sweeping structural reforms needed to address the many challenges of our time. The powerbrokers who defanged Labor Day in the United States knew that very well, but fortunately, as we see the beginnings of a broad and intersectional labor movement emerge in the U.S., it seems that their time may be coming to an end. Copyright © Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.
Fainting, dizziness, vomiting, a racing heart— these are just some of the reported reactions people said they experienced after receiving Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. However, according to a new analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these reactions weren’t related to an issue with the vaccine itself but instead were the results of pre-vaccine anxiety, including a fear of needles.
Economy & Labor On May Day, Gig Workers Are Organizing an Intersectional Movement Prisons & Policing My Child Is Incarcerated. One Second in This Unjust System Is Too Much. Prisons & Policing Drug Raids Killed Andrew Brown Jr., Breonna Taylor. Advocates Say: Enough. Politics & Elections No, Joe Manchin, Eliminating the Filibuster Won’t Lead to “Serious Problems” 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 U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia bolstered his impedimentary pedigree on Friday by becoming the first Democratic senator to publicly oppose legislation that would make Washington, D.C. the nation’s 51st state. D.C. statehood would not only end “taxation without representation” for the capital’s approximately 700,000 residents, it would also boost Manchin’s own party’s political fortunes as the city’s residents overwhelmingly vote Democratic. Following last week’s passage of the Washington, D.C. Admissions Act (H.R. 51) by the House of Representatives, voting rights advocates demanded the Senate follow suit. However, despite having 51 votes in the upper chamber, the faltering foursome of Democratic caucus members — Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Independent Angus King of Maine, and Manchin — who oppose or have yet to signal their support for statehood-by-legislation pose a potentially mortal threat to D.C.’s hopes. From opposing the $15 federal minimum wage, higher corporate taxes, and the pro-democracy reforms of the For the People Act, to preserving the filibuster and the fossil fuel industry, Manchin has earned a reputation among progressives as an obstructionist to rival the most intransigent Republican. Y’know there are constitutional scholars who argue West Virginia was improperly admitted, if Manchin wants to go to war over thishttps://t.co/BKQmteVvdt — dylan matthews (@dylanmatt) April 30, 2021 During a Friday morning press call, Manchin told reporters in his home state that he believes making the nation’s capital a state would require a constitutional amendment. Discussing H.R. 51, Manchin invoked former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in saying that the measure “complicates D.C.’s pathway to statehood.” The senator said: Congress had three options to choose from back in 1961. They could either have D.C. statehood, they could have retrocession to Maryland… or they could have granted electoral votes to D.C…. Congress selected, at that time, option three… Kennedy said in 1963 that Congress and the states embodied this choice in the form of a constitutional amendment. Hence, it is arguable that the choice can now be reconsidered only by means of another constitutional amendment. He said that we are a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and it seems to me that’s who should be answering this question. Let the American people decide. The people, according to a March poll by Data for Progress and Democracy for All 2021, support D.C. statehood. Over half (54%) of all survey respondents said they favored statehood, including 74% of Democrats, 51% of Independents, and 34% of Republicans. That is the highest level of support for the policy recorded to date. Over the course of US history, we've added 37 states. Not a single one required a constitutional amendment. And yet: DC requires a constitutional amendment to become a state? https://t.co/9rzUrtX2um — Lee Drutman (@leedrutman) April 30, 2021 “The people who elected President [Joe] Biden and Democrats in Congress recognize that making D.C. a state is critical to the fight for racial justice and civil rights in this country,” Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, said in a statement after the poll’s publication. Last week, the White House formally endorsed D.C. statehood, with its Office of Management and Budget declaring the move “will make our union stronger and more just.” In a Friday Chicago Sun-Times opinion piece, civil rights icon, two-time Democratic presidential candidate, and longtime D.C. statehood supporter Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. argued that racism and Republican fear of losing power are behind opposition to making the district a state, and that doing so is a matter of fundamental fairness. “The case for D.C. statehood is clear,” he wrote. “The nation was founded in protest against taxation without representation. D.C. residents are denied voting representation in the House and Senate.” “The nation is shamed by military service without representation,” Jackson added. “D.C. residents have fought in wars going back to the Revolutionary War and yet have no representatives to vote in favor or against those wars. America, which claims to lead democracies across the world, denies the foundation of democracy to more than 700,000 citizens in the nation’s capital.” 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.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we turn now to look at a slew of laws pending in Republican-led state legislatures that criminalize...
Prisons & Policing Drug Raids Killed Andrew Brown Jr., Breonna Taylor. Advocates Say: Enough. Politics & Elections No, Joe Manchin, Eliminating the Filibuster Won’t Lead to “Serious Problems” 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 Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) recently argued that eliminating the filibuster would lead to “serious problems.” According to Manchin, “the Senate is different” than the House, yet “for some reason, people are trying to make the Senate operate the same as the House,” even though “our founding fathers never intended that.” First of all, eliminating the filibuster will not lead to serious problems. Most U.S. states and most democratic countries around the world don’t allow for legislation to be filibustered. Many such states and countries function just fine. Giving the minority party veto power over widely supported legislation is unnecessary when there are other strong checks and balances in place. Second, while the Senate today operates much differently than the House thanks to the filibuster, that is not what the “founding fathers” intended. Notably, they did not include the filibuster in the U.S. Constitution, and in 1789, both the Senate and House rulebooks allowed a simple majority to end debate. Eventually, the Senate decided to revise its rulebook upon the recommendation of Vice President Aaron Burr. One of the rules that was eliminated in 1806 at Burr’s behest was that which allowed a simple majority to end debate. This change was exploited in 1837 when the Senate endured its first filibuster. Manchin argues that if “regular order in the Senate” is abandoned, “our nation may never see stable governing again.” One could argue that after former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election and refused to concede, characterizing the U.S. system as unreservedly “stable” is perhaps overly generous. Setting that point aside, it’s important to note that “regular order” in the Senate has evolved over time, as the rules related to the filibuster have changed on several occasions. For example, in 1917, 1974, 1975, 2013 and 2017 senators willingly voted to weaken the filibuster. In other words, over the last 100 or so years, the Senate has been slowly trying to revert to the filibuster-free era that existed in 1789. Although conservatives frame attempts to abolish the filibuster as a progressive power grab, in reality, it moves the rules that govern the U.S. closer to the original intent of the framers of the Constitution. Manchin asserts that, “[t]he filibuster is a critical tool to protecting … our democratic form of government,” and as such, “[t]here is no circumstance in which [he] will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster.” Recall that, at present, 60 votes are needed for legislation to be filibuster-proof. This means that senators from the 21 least-populous states (which would together be 42 senators) could collectively prevent the passage of legislation. The population of the 21 least-populous states equates to only about 11 percent of the country. In essence, the filibuster allows for just over a tenth of the population to hold the rest hostage. This is not the protection of “the minority’s rights,” as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell purports. Rather, this is tyranny of the minority. In essence, the filibuster allows for just over a tenth of the population to hold the rest hostage. Recently, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the budget reconciliation process, which can be used to bypass the filibuster, may be able to be used more often than previously thought. Manchin’s refusal to consider abolishing the filibuster, or even simply weakening it by utilizing the budget reconciliation process, effectively means that McConnell wields a veto on Biden’s legislative proposals, even though Democrats control the presidency, the House and the Senate. Given that the Senate is evenly divided 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats (along with independents that caucus with them), a common retort is that the country itself is also evenly divided, and as such, Biden’s slim majority shouldn’t be able to “ram through half-baked ideas.” However, because of the population differences between states, in actuality, the 50 Democrats (and their independent colleagues) represent roughly 40 million more Americans than the 50 Republicans. Furthermore, anything that’s dangerously undercooked would likely be ruled unconstitutional by the conservative-leaning Supreme Court. An exasperated Woodrow Wilson once stated that the “Senate of the United States is the only legislative body in the world which cannot act when its majority is ready for action.” Manchin likes to portray himself as a bipartisan warrior fighting to protect the world’s greatest deliberative body. Unfortunately, the Senate is not the world’s greatest deliberative body, nor will it ever be, as long as the inherently undemocratic filibuster remains. Copyright © Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.
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.