Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Make The Handmaid's Tale Fiction Again/Power to the Peaceful

Think it's past time we entered the 21st century and left the last century's narrow-mindedness behind? Read on!

Make The Handmaid's Tale Fiction Again
#StopTheBans Protest 2019
photos and words by C. A. Matthews

It's spring--and it's time for all good activists to come out of their warm homes and hit the streets with signs in hand. This past week thousands of women across the nation came out to protest recent legislation in states like Alabama and Ohio that severely limit--if not altogether prohibit--a woman's right to seek abortion care. The following photos come from the Toledo #StopTheBans demonstration.
The creativity in the signage and costuming was superb. There's something about having your very existence threatened that brings out the latent talent hidden in the depths of a woman's soul. We aren't "having brunch with the gals" here. This ain't no garden party. We are fighting for our right to determine our own destinies; our right to live our lives as we see fit--not as others deem proper.
Are we equal with men, or are we "just a womb"? The Handmaid's Tale is a novel, not a guidebook, right? Are we heading toward a sadistic patriarchal society were women are barely seen behind their red capes and bonnets with wings, to be used simply as brood mares? The women on the protest corner give a resounding "No!" to that nightmare scenario. They are strong. They will fight back.
This recent spate of abortion ban laws just reinforces the fact that outlawing abortion isn't a "moral issue" (or  a "Save the babies!" issue) but a "control issue" to keep women, minorities, and the poor in general in their place. The elites can't have women determining their own destinies, especially their economic destinies. If they have the freedom to decide when or if they are going to have children, women could choose to focus on their education and/or careers and eventually learn to out-think their bosses. Smart women could challenge the system and demand change to make a better world for their children and future children... Anti-abortion legislation is just another way the 1% on top in positions of power use punitive measures to control the 99%  "beneath" them--with an added side of self-righteousness to boot.
Intelligent, capable women (and their allies) aren't having it. They're not taking this latest attack against Roe V. Wade lying down, with their hands held down by their rapists. They are taking the conversation to the streets and demanding to be heard. Their cry is "Never again." We aren't going back to the dark ages. We aren't going to allow women to die in back alleys. We will keep the clinics open and accessible to all who need their services. The Handmaid's Tale will remain fiction. And this time, there will be a happy ending for all who live in the freedom to choose their own path.

Related articles:

Abortion limits carry economic costs for women

Abortion bans have some women preparing for the worst

Power to the Peaceful (No War in Iran)
Northwest Ohio Peace Coalition Demonstration 
photos and words by C. A. Matthews

A few days later, on the same street corner, another demonstration materialized. Although at first glance these two protests seem to have little in common, the more I ponder their messages, the more I see them as two aspects of the same fight. Standing up for a woman's right to choose and for the right of all human beings to live in peace are both struggles against a corrupt system that seeks to control our lives.

These peace activists protesting against another US intervention in Iran display the response we should all take when faced with injustice--one of strength and grace. They're not afraid to stand up to the military industrial complex and its paid-off politicians. They're not afraid to love their neighbors as themselves--even if their neighbors live halfway across the globe and don't share the same language, culture or skin tone with them.

True power is found in true love of self and neighbor. By respecting and cherishing our neighbors through providing health care for all (including women's reproductive health care) and ensuring a safe and peaceful planet, we are bringing about a just and healthy society. We are creating the beautiful world we all envision.

It can happen today. We can have it all--peace, love, justice, mercy and compassion--but first we have to  have the courage to take it to the streets.


From Credo:

An a historic act of resistance to Trump's homophobic and hateful agenda, the House of Representatives recently passed the Equality Act to extend civil rights protections to the LGBTQ community and ban discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.1
But the fight to win full, equal rights under the law for everyone is far from over. 

The Trump administration can wage war against the LGBTQ community because there are no explicit legal guarantees of their civil rights. Now, it's on the Senate to take a stance against bigotry and ensure protection from discrimination for the LGBTQ community. Can you add your voice in support of the Equality Act?

Tell the Senate: It’s long past time for LGBTQ people to have full civil rights. Pass the Equality Act now. Click here to sign the petition.

From inciting and enabling anti-LGBTQ violence to stripping away hard-fought LGBTQ rights under the guise of "religious liberty," Trump is trying to invisibilize and marginalize the LGBTQ community. By making incendiary, bigoted policy proposals to ban transgender people from military service, allow health care workers to use their religious beliefs to discriminate against LGBTQ patients and roll back an Obama-era redefinition of "discrimination based on sex" to include gender identity, Trump is refusing to create a climate of safety and inclusion, and proactively attempting to dismantle LGBTQ people's rights.2–4

The Equality Act would affirm that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to LGBTQ people, banning discrimination in education, employment, housing, credit and federal jury service.5 The majority of Americans in every state support equal protection under the law for LGBTQ people, but with Republicans controlling the Senate, passing the Equality Act will be an uphill battle.6

Now more than ever, we need to send a strong message to every senator that the vast majority of Americans support equal protection under the law for LGBTQ people and we expect our elected officials to stand with us. Can you help demand that the Senate use its power to stand up for LGBTQ people now?
Tell the Senate: Pass the Equality Act and extend civil rights protections to all Americans. Click the link below to sign the petition:

Thanks for fighting back,
ThaĆ­s Marques, Campaign Manager CREDO Action from Working Assets

Add your name:

Sign the petition ►

  1. German Lopez, "The House just passed a sweeping LGBTQ rights bill," Vox, May 17, 2019.
  2. Erica L. Green, Abby Goodnough and Margot Sanger-Katz,"Trump Administration Proposes Rollback of Transgender Protections," The New York Times, May 24, 2019.
  3. Ann Marimow, "Restriction on transgender troops serving in military can stand for now, D.C. federal appeals court rules," The Washington Post, Jan. 4, 2018.
  4. Bil Browning, "Trump admin issues rule that gives healthcare workers right to discriminate against LGBTQ people," LGBTQ Nation, May 2, 2019.
  5. National Center for Transgender Equality, "The Equality Act Introduced to Congress with Over 230 Co-Sponsors," March 13, 2019.
  6. Brian McBride, "Major National Survey Finds Majority of Americans in Every State Oppose LGBTQ Discrimination," Human Rights Campaign, May 2, 2018.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

On The Line/Sugar and Cyanide

photo by Crystal Jankowski

On The Line
picket photos by  A.J. Matthews 

This week two separate actions across the Glass City brought attention to the power of the people fighting against the corrupt system. First up, Toledoans for Safe Water and Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie (ACLE) made some noise outside the federal building in Toledo, letting Judge Zouhary know that the people have a right to be in on the secret discussions concerning the Lake Erie Bill of Rights citizens' initiative. Second, UAW union nurses and support staff at St. Vincent's/Mercy Health Medical Center are on strike after talks fell through concerning hiring more staff to prevent overwork and abate unsafe working conditions.

Now our guest blogger, Coast Watcher, takes a closer look at how our system of governance has been turned against us--and why we must be ever vigilant.

photos by Crystal Jankowski
Sugar and Cyanide
 by Coast Watcher

One tactic used by bought-and-paid-for politicians is to hide a "rider," an additional clause or clauses containing legislation harmful to ordinary voters inside bills on unrelated—and usually beneficial—topics. What I term a Sugar and Cyanide Bill. A favorite target for those who frame such riders are appropriation bills. The failure to pass appropriation bills can lead to delays in funding for vital government programs.

In House Bill 166 Ohio lawmakers added an across-the-board state income-tax cut, new health-care consumer protections—and language that effectively nullifies Toledo’s hard-won Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR) citizens' initiative. HB166 was voted into law on Thursday, June 9.

Of course at first glance this bill would look popular. Who doesn’t like a cut in income tax or good health care? The problem is that like a Trojan Horse, or a Trojan virus designed to kill computers, the bill contains an element of pure evil. If the bill goes unchallenged it will effectively prevent citizens from trying to protect their water supply through legal action.

The executive branch of government actively seeks to destroy the environment for the greater profit of Big Business. The legislative is totally in the pockets of Big Business when it comes to framing law. That leaves the judiciary as the sole course of action for the citizen. Now, thanks to those same bought-and-paid-for politicians, in Ohio at least even that avenue is closed, allowing those who pollute the water supply for over 12 million people to do exactly as they please.

Parts of HB166 could face scrutiny in the Ohio Senate. Those parts will not include the clause negating the Lake Erie Bill of Rights. Instead, in a clear example of complete disregard for citizens of Ohio, the senate is more likely to argue over the scrapping of Ohio’s $40 million motion-picture tax credit.

In common with other states, Ohio’s State Constitution forbids riders on unrelated topics to be inserted into bills. This prohibition was blatantly disregarded by those who framed HB166, and the Ohio House went along with it. It opens the bill up for legal challenge, but it also means that the whole legal process will take time to settle. This means the polluters get  more years—even decades—in which they can continue to dump whatever toxic materials they like into Lake Erie and the watercourses that flow into it.

Just as damaging to the lives and rights of ordinary people are bills containing hidden clauses that discriminate. Often tucked away inside legislation are clauses aimed at harming LGBTQ+ citizens. North Carolina has a woeful record for this. In 2016 House Bill 2 contained language that stripped North Carolina workers of their right to sue under a state anti-discrimination law, a right that has been upheld in court since 1985. Described as "a Trojan Horse of hate," the manifestly discriminatory bill was aimed at firing up the anti-LGBTQ+ prejudice felt by bigots in the NC house to the point they would pass the legislation in a landslide, thus enabling those who inserted the clause—Big Business sponsored politicians—to serve their corporate paymasters.

Occasionally attempts to place riders in unrelated bills fail. In 2005, a West Virginian bill aimed at limiting the number of members cities can appoint to boards of parks and recreation included a rider making English the official language of West Virginia. Most of the senators and congress people of the state were unaware of the rider until after they’d passed the bill. Thankfully it was vetoed by the then governor on the ground that it violated the state proviso that bills must only be related to one topic.

That’s not to say such attempts have ceased or will cease in spite of such restrictions. Ohio’s passing of HB166 is a clear example. Instead of calling the cops on the persons responsible for this flagrant violation of the law, the matter is passed to the courts where it will be tied up in legal limbo for decades. In the meantime, CAFOs and similar polluting agencies will continue to daily pour several hundred thousand tons of effluent into Lake Erie.

There’s no known cure for this tactic. Those politicians right of center will continue to use the method to pass legislation aimed at benefiting Big Business, or anti-women, or anti-LGBTQ+ prejudice at the expense of ordinary citizens for as long as they are bribed to do so or see an advantage in their favorability ratings.

BIO: Coast Watcher won't be fooled again. Neither should you. He advises that you keep an eye peeled for the next Sugar and Cyanide Bill the corrupt duopolists attempt to pass through your statehouse. Don't let them do it!

From Take It Back.org:
Breaking: Alabama goes off the deep end and bans all abortions including for victims of rape and incest– sparing only the life of the mother exception. Missouri follows suit.

Thank you for your help and support.



P.S. We will also send you Governor Ivey's Montgomery office number so you can contact her via telephone as well.

We welcome the opportunity for 21st Century infrastructure package. Our country desperately needs a real public infrastructure plan that focuses on long ignored and abandoned communities of color and low-income communities that fixes crumbling roads, bridges, ports, water, and sewer pipes, while investing in clean energy technology and green jobs to fight global climate change and increase resiliency and ensure our communities thrive.

The good news is that we already have a framework for exactly that plan, with growing support in the House of Representatives. Recently, more than ninety Members of Congress signed on as original sponsors of a new resolution, HCR 36. This resolution outlines 10 principles for any spending on infrastructure. These Principles are supported by a broad and diverse coalition of labor, community, and environmental organizations representing millions of Americans.


A sound infrastructure plan would create millions of good jobs while revitalizing America’s crumbling infrastructure. It would accelerate our response to the climate crisis.  It would be paid for by making Wall Street, giant corporations, and the rich pay their fair share. By contrast, a bad plan will drag down the economy by incurring all of the costs without the benefits, while missing an opportunity to protect our planet and further burden struggling families and communities of color.

President Trump says he will respond with an infrastructure proposal in three weeks. We’ll judge any plan by whether it meets the standards enumerated in the Lieu-Krishnamoorthi-Crist Congressional resolution.

In solidarity,
Ana Maria Archila
Co-Executive Director, CPD/A

From Roots Action:
To: U.S. Congress and state legislatures
From: You

6.1 million Americans nationwide are denied their right to vote due to felony disenfranchisement. Join us in demanding that EVERY American citizen of age -- including those who are incarcerated -- can cast a ballot and be heard in our democracy.

Click here to sign this petition.

A true democracy that is of, by, and for the people must extend the right to vote to all its citizens.

But right now, most states deny that right to millions of incarcerated Americans -- creating a class of people who are subject to the laws of this country but have no say in how they're governed. (Only Maine and Vermont allow incarcerated people to vote.)

On top of that, most states count incarcerated people as residents of their prisons when drawing electoral maps, not of their home communities -- even though people in prison are unable to vote in the prison’s district. The result? A form of gerrymandering that unfairly skews political representation towards the rural, whiter communities where prisons are often built.

Our mass incarceration system is silencing the voices and communities most impacted by it. And that’s by design -- dating back to the Jim Crow era, felony disenfranchisement laws are one of many tactics used to attack black people’s political power.

We believe that ALL American citizens have the right to vote. Join us in calling on federal and state officials to end felony disenfranchisement once and for all -- and allow incarcerated citizens to vote.

Sign here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

What Will It Take?

What will it take to start a revolution in this country?

That's a question our guest commentator asks.  This past week, the Lake Erie Bill of Rights suffered yet another set-back courtesy of the establishment. (You can read the press release below.) Also, Republicans in the state of Ohio in a last minute "tax cut" piece of legislation (HB 166) slipped in an extra paragraph outlawing all Rights of Nature laws--effectively negating the LEBOR citizens' initiative. All this is happening during a very rainy spring, predicted to lead to a moderate to severe blue-green algal bloom this summer on Lake Erie.

Poisoned drinking water? No guaranteed health care? Low wages? What will it take?

Judge Denies Toledoans and Lake Erie 
Access to Court
Denies People their Right to Defend Local Law Recognizing Rights of Lake Erie

May 8, 2019

Toledo, OH: On Tuesday, May 7th, Toledoans for Safe Water (TSW) and the Lake Erie Ecosystem were denied their motion to intervene in the lawsuit brought by Drewes Farm Partnership of Wood County against the City of Toledo. The corporate-driven lawsuit seeks to overturn the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR).

The people of Toledo voted on February 26th to adopt a charter amendment recognizing legal rights for Lake Erie. However, in his decision, Judge Zouhary not only refuses to acknowledge Rights of Nature as a legal concept – he even refuses to hear arguments made in its favor.

The court allowed the State of Ohio to intervene on May 1st as a plaintiff on the side of Drewes Farms. Judge Zouhary held in his ruling that the City will amply represent the people and Lake Erie. But neither the City law department nor its outside counsel have any experience advancing or defending Rights of Nature laws.

“We gained international recognition for advancing this groundbreaking law, but our own government refuses to recognize our rights. Our own government refuses to recognize the environmental crises faced by Lake Erie and the 11 million human lives she sustains,” stated Crystal Jankowski, organizer with TSW. “The courts do not have the authority to allow the continued poisoning of Great Lake Erie, or to take away our right to protect our community.”

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) has provided legal support to the community group, assisting in drafting the LEBOR, defending Toledoans’ right to vote on the initiative, and today defending the newly adopted charter amendment. The group filed a stay today and plans to appeal this unjust decision.

TSW’s Markie Miller stated, “The state is once again attempting to silence the people of Toledo. First, it was the state administrative branch of government attempting to keep us off the ballot. Now it is the judicial branch keeping us out of the courtroom. But the people of Toledo won’t be going away anytime soon. Lake Erie needs our protection.”


What Will It Take?
by Sean Nestor

People my age are struggling with depression, heroin addiction, and suicide in record numbers.

Schools and churches are regularly shot up by far right extremists.

The government fights on every level to keep your water polluted.

People die daily because they can't afford health care.

We're still in the longest war in our nation's history, and even though its bankrupted us, we're still looking to start more.

Immigrants are being tortured and dying in concentration camps.

Black people are executed in the streets by trigger-happy law enforcement who are largely immune from accountability.

We jail more people than any other country on the planet.

The president openly defies the law and threatens anyone who tries to hold him accountable.

Laws are made almost exclusively for the benefit of wealthy corporations and not for citizens.

Gerrymandering insulates your state and federal lawmakers from political challengers who aren't also incredibly rich.

Journalism is dying and being replaced with partisan propaganda networks.

Federal intelligence agencies routinely spy on our digital communications without warrants.

Student debt is destroying higher education while public schools get gutted to fund charters.

Climate change is causing more floods and hurricanes than we can respond to, and we have no real plan to address it.

We're ending the existence of countless species who have been here for millennia.

What's your breaking point? Where's the line for you that says we simply can't persist with this system of government anymore?

If it's not these things -- then what is it? What will it take?

BIO: Sean Nestor is an activist who worked on the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, among other citizens' initiatives.


From Friends of the Earth:
Yesterday, the UN released a report saying the world faces ecological collapse unless we take urgent action to change our social and economic systems to protect the environment.

The devastating report shows how the massive global decline of bees and other insects, along with other critical species, is setting us on a path to catastrophe. And this decline is largely thanks to industrial agriculture and the use of toxic pesticides.

But instead of shifting our economy and environmental policy to address this looming crisis, Donald Trump is continuing to hand over our planet to Big Ag. Right now his EPA is considering greenlighting the continued use of glyphosate -- a.k.a. Monsanto’s Roundup®. We need your help to stop it!

Roundup® is linked to the decline of the iconic monarch butterfly. The pesticide wipes out milkweed, the only food young monarchs eat. It’s a simple formula, more Roundup® = less milkweed = fewer monarchs.

The numbers are staggering. Monarch populations have declined nearly 70 percent in the past two decades. This corresponds with the massive increase in the use of Roundup®.

Monarchs and other pollinators are the canaries in the corn fields. Entire ecosystems rely on insects. If pesticides wipe out those insects, the impacts could be devastating – for butterflies, but also for our food system and communities who depend on healthy ecosystems around the world.

The only way to stop this catastrophic collapse is to get pesticides like Roundup® out of our food system and shift to organic, regenerative farming. The Trump administration is threatening to move us in the opposite direction. We need your help to stop it.

The UN report calls for urgent regulatory change and makes a compelling case for “transformational change.” That means we need to address our global economic, financial and social systems. We can no longer afford to tackle the crises of climate, biodiversity and economic inequality separately – we must address them together.

Getting Roundup® out of our food system is one important step toward doing that. The pesticide makes millions in profits for Monsanto -- which it can pour back into our political system to avoid further regulation. Additionally, the impacts of our industrial agriculture system are greatest on rural communities and farmworkers who are highly exposed to Roundup and other toxic pesticides.

In other words, one simple action -- banning Roundup® -- could have a huge impact on communities around the country. At the same time, it would stem the decline of monarch butterflies and other essential pollinators. And it would put power back in the hands of people like you and me, not Big Ag companies like Monsanto.

The EPA is required to consider the opinion of people like you as it weighs whether to restrict Roundup®. So we need you to speak up now.

Standing with you,
Tiffany Finck-Haynes,
Pesticides and pollinators program manager,
Friends of the Earth

From Food & Water Watch:

We are facing a global climate crisis, but instead of focusing on moving toward clean, renewable energy, the Senate is considering a bill that would invest tens of millions of dollars in dirty and dangerous fracking. Let your Senators know we don't need more fracking!

This bill is camouflaged as a measure to position the U.S. as the top energy provider in Europe, and, if passed, it would lock in our dependence on fossil fuels for decades to come.1

That means even more dangerous pipelines, more pollution, more contaminated water and more devastated communities!

This bill passed almost unanimously in the House — and quickly! — so we need to act fast to stop it in the Senate. Contact your Senators today and tell them to vote NO!
We don't need more fracking. Tell you Senators to vote no on S704.
Because of the current administration’s blatant efforts to make it easier for the fossil fuel industry to pollute our air and water, it is more essential than ever that Congress resist all efforts that would increase fossil fuel production.2,3,4
Fracking pollutes our air and drinking water and worsens climate change. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and to reject all new fossil fuel infrastructure. It is unacceptable that the oil and gas industry profits off fracking at our expense.5
No more fracking
We must align our policy with the reality of the climate crisis we face. We need to move forward with real climate solutions, and instead support a REAL Green New Deal that would ban fracking, keep fossil fuels in the ground and make a just transition to 100% clean, renewable energy! Tell your Senators to oppose this and any legislation that fails to move toward a clean energy future.
Onward together,

Wenonah Hauter
Executive Director
Food & Water Watch

1. House Democrats Voted for a Natural Gas Future, and Nobody Noticed, Walker Bragman, Paste Magazine, April 4, 2019.
2. Trump Takes Advantage of Europe's Fossil Fuel Dependence, Food & Water Watch, July 5, 2017.
3. Trump Signs Orders to Speed Up Oil and Gas Pipeline Construction, Clifford Krauss, New York Times, April 10, 2019.
4. Trump Unveils Plan to Open Nearly All of U.S. Offshore Waters to Drilling, Food & Water Watch, January 4, 2018.
5. Fracking, Food & Water Watch.