This Week in Sanity-saving Good News – “The Kids are Alright” Edition…

Lego welcomes the women of NASA.

The kids are alright.

First, let’s talk about this 11 year-old girl who’s been worried about the Flint water situation since she’s been 9. Along with playing piano, swimming, fencing and taking dance lessons, she has invented the cheapest, most effective test for lead in water and won “America’s Top Young Scientist”. God, what was I doing when I was 11?

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Then there’s Ames Mayfield, who in 14 years or so, will be running for office. Put in on your calendars now.

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The kids in his Colorado Cub Scout den were assigned the project of preparing questions for a meeting with their Senator, Vicki Marble. Ames wrote a multi-page typed list of tough questions, including ones on gun control specifically for this legislator who’s sponsored a bill to allow domestic violence offenders keep their guns. The den leader later met with his mother and kicked him out of the troop. Much backtracking is in-process. However, Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who was shot in the head by an assailant in 2011, tweeted him “This is exactly the kind of courage we need in Congress. Ames, call me in 14 years. I’ll campaign for you.” Ames “has taken great interest in politics,” his mother said. The fifth grader was so troubled by recent events that he ran for student council and executive council treasurer at his school. He won both elections, voted in by his peers. He is also top seller of his pack’s popcorn fundraiser, taking in $2,750 in just two weeks to pay for his dues and all of his activities for the rest of his time in Cub Scouts and now other packs are inviting him to join. State Sen. Marble will be term-limited out in 2020.

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A group of high school students has changed sexual education in Virginia. “Now, beginning next school year, students will have more opportunities to learn and discuss the ideas of permission and consent as they relate to all kinds of relationships. High school curriculum will also teach the legal definition of consent, and that in Virginia you can’t give consent for a sexual relationship until you’re over eighteen.” Sounds like a program that should go nation-wide!

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Good news for Kids and Education!

Bill Gates is investing $1.7 billion in US schools, 60 percent going to traditional public schools15 percent of the money going to charter schools to better support the needs of students with disabilities and the remainder “will be focused on big bets,” Gates said — research and development in education.

An elementary school with a 96% black student population in Mississippi is changing out its name from Davis IB Elementary School , honoring the president of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis, to Barack Obama Magnet IB Elementary School. PTA president Janelle Jefferson, told the board during the public comment portion of their meeting, “Jefferson Davis, although infamous in his own right, would probably not be too happy about a diverse school promoting the education of the very individuals he fought to keep enslaved being named after him.” Logical enough, Ms. Jefferson.

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The Minnesota Police Department is partnering with their  Little Free Library in an effort to prime kids for the city’s bustling literary scene. “Community policing officers will carry books while they are making their rounds on the city’s North and South sides. They’ll still respond to certain emergencies, but won’t be dispatched to calls for help, freeing them up to visit neighborhoods without libraries and give away books to anyone who wants them.” Cops with books will have decals placed on their squad cars that read, “WE SHARE BOOKS! The cops will also be adding more little free libraries – small, mailbox-like fixtures in which books can be exchanged or taken for free—around the city.

The “Philando Feeds the Children” fund, honoring Philando Castile’s work as a cafeteria supervisor, raised more than $85,000—enough money to erase every St. Paul student’s school lunch debt for at least a year. And you can still donate!

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New York City libraries are declaring an amnesty for children’s fines! Libraries are one of the great civic institutions—places that are free and open to everybody and also full of books. But kids, especially from poorer backgrounds, can quickly find their cards locked due to late feeds. And so New York City libraries are declaring amnesty.

#Be Strong launched a “Nominate your student” campaign in November 2016 that was designed to elevate the voices of inspiring students across the country who were working to create an inclusive tomorrow. In 2017, Be Strong will be co-laboring with each representative in four key areas: resilience training, random acts of kindness, awareness & advocacy. They have a number of resources for young people to use to help each other.

Good news for Impeachment fans!

Tom Steyer, the liberal billionaire activist considering a run for U.S. Senate in California, is spending at least $10 million on national TV ads demanding that Congress take a stand on impeaching President Donald Trump. Steyer, one of the nation’s most prolific Democratic donors, directs viewers of the television and digital ads to a website where they can sign on to the initiative.

Politics makes strange bedfellows… Pornography publisher Larry Flynt is offering $10 million in cash for any information leading to the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Good news for Women

ACTIVITY! Are you a young woman of color interested in advocating for reproductive health rights & justice? Aren’t, but know someone who is? The Young Women of Color for Reproductive Justice Collective empowers women ages 14-24 as advocates. They are taking applications here.

A national event known as 50 Handmaids in 50 States, took place concurrently in every state across the nation at 1 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, Oct. 14. It was organized by the Handmaid Coalition, a movement that uses the vivid imagery of silent handmaids to spark conversation about women’s rights. Saturday’s protest was in response to Trump’s executive orders, which will impact health care subsidies, abortion rights, access to birth control, the right for transgender individuals to serve in the military and more. Click here for three actions.

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(from What went right)
Lindsay Mintenko
was named the first woman to lead the U.S. National Swim Team.
Iron Mountain, Michigan hired its first female police officer.
Kara Lawson was hired as the Washington Wizards’ primary television game analyst, the first woman in franchise history to fill the role.
Dr. Yolanda Pierce was selected as the dean of Howard University’s School of Divinity, the first woman to hold the position.
The American Legion Post in Madison, CT appointed its first female commander.
Justice Mary Moreau was appointed the first woman Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, Canada.
Ine Eriksen Soereide was named Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, making her the first woman in the country to hold the post.
The first all-female crew, including pilots, of a new Boeing 737 Max 8 took to the air on a Southwest flight.
Zahira Torres was named the first Latina Editor/News Director of the 136 year old El Paso Times.

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Good news for Justice, Civil Rights and the Fight Against Corruption!

A federal judge has refused to erase Joe Arpaio’s conviction despite Trump pardon.

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The LAPD is asking for women who feel they were victims of a crime at the hands of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein should report what happened to authorities. “We absolutely encourage anyone who may be a victim of sexual assault to come forward and report the crime,” Josh Rubenstein, the LAPD director of communications, said Monday.

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Prince George’s County, Maryland did the right thing and charged a white man with a hate crime for allegedly stabbing a black college student to death “because of his race.”

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A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that a 40-foot, cross-shaped war memorial that has stood on public land in Maryland for nearly a century is unconstitutional because it “excessively entangles” the government with religion. Maybe they can sell the land under it to a private group and get the government out of the 40-foot-cross-maintenance business.

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A 60 Minutes report let in so much daylight, Rep. Tom Marino’s candidacy for drug czar shriveled up and died.

Over 42,000 people have already signed the UltraViolet petition to bring back ESPN anchor Jemele Hill after Trump and his racist followers got her suspended…for supporting anti-racist protests. Let’s join in here.

Colin Kaepernick has a good case for a civil suit against the NFL. And the NFL isn’t going to make their players stand up.

With input from Black Lives Matter and Racial Justice Coalition organizers, the Vera Institute helped the Asheville, NC police department develop a new use-of-force policypromoting de-escalation and accountability.

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Peaceful protests, with overwhelming forces, are the way to go. Thousands of protestors showed up in Florida to drown out Richard Spencer.

This should also have a spot in “Good News in the Environment”! TransCanada (who owns the proposed Keystone XL pipeline) canceled plans for a pipeline that would have crossed 50 First Nations territories because of regulatory hurdles and the low price of gas. Thanks, regulatory hurdles! We like to refer to them as “protections”.

Twitter suspended Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s Senate campaign announcement video for  “inflammatory or provocative content which is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction.”

Good News for Workers!

Enough of this “starving grad student” stuff. University of Chicago grad students overwhelmingly voted to unionize. Hopefully, this will be the beginning-of-the-end of universities taking advantage of those who do the hard work of teaching.

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Northeastern University dining hall workers won an amazing contract which includes wage increases bringing full-time workers’ salaries to $35,000, an increase in the full-time schedules available, a $5.65 an hour increase, a health insurance plan with 97% paid for by the employer, enhanced protections for immigrant workers, additional sick days, and ability to join the union pension plan.

Good news in Criminal Reform!

New York City announced a 90% drop in the number of criminal summons issued (more than 50,000 fewer) for the three and a half months since the implementation of the Criminal Justice Reform Act, which diverts quality of life crimes away from criminal court to civil court, without any increase in crime.

Dallas, Texas agreed to a cite-and-release program, instead of arrest, for possession of small amounts of marijuana, with opportunities for defendants to have cases dismissed.

Good news for Immigrants and why judges are so important!

Trump’s latest travel ban is kaput for now, thanks to a lawsuit brought by International Refugee Assistance Project and others. Send them a note of thanks for their hard work. They’ve been at this nonstop since January, and will be into the foreseeable future.
Write a postcard here: International Refugee Assistance Project, Urban Justice Center, 40 Rector Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10006.
This is also why we need to support great judges and be wary of the nominees that Trump is supporting.

 

After living for almost a year inside a church, an undocumented immigrant leaves his sanctuary.

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National Immigrant Justice Center announced that with help from the City of Chicago Fund, and others, more than 20,000 people were provided with free representation in immigrant proceedings, legal screenings, and legal information through “Know Your Rights” events so far this year. This is awesome!

Two dozen rabbis, some of them immigrants themselves or children of immigrants,  protested immigration policies by erecting a sukkah outside Trump Tower and calling on Trump to offer “shelter” and “refuge” to immigrants.

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Good news in our LGBTQ citizens!

(Postcards for America) 114 Members of Congress have written a letter to Secretary of Defense Mattis asking for some sort of proof that 45 consulted with the military (as he claimed he did) prior to the announcement of the #transmilitaryban. Check to see your representative signed here. Carbajal and Brownley are in! Not sure who yours is? Click here.

Hell has officially frozen over. North Carolina’s Governor signed an executive order prohibiting discrimination by government agencies and government contractors on the grounds of race, color, ethnicity, sex, National Guard or veteran status, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression in employment to counteract the state “bathroom bill.”

As ordered by the US Supreme Court, the  Arkansas Supreme Court ordered that same-sex couples must be treated the same as opposite-sex couples in the issuance of birth certificates.

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The ACLU has been busy! They’ve sued to stop Montana’s ballot initiative which would prevent transgender and gender-nonconforming people from using public facilities that correspond with their gender identity and they’re challenging the legality of the provision in South Dakota’s state health plan that bars medical services for gender transformations.

An education panel in Maryland has voted to rescind taxpayer-funded “BOOST” (Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today), vouchers from Trinity Lutheran Christian School. To take students with BOOST money, private schools must sign an agreement pledging that they will not discriminate against children on the basis of race, color, national origin or sexual orientation and  Trinity signed that pledge last year and again this year. However, its student handbook reserves the right to deny admission to any student “who is living in, condoning or practicing homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity; promoting such practices or otherwise having the inability to support the moral principals of the school.” The school also reserves the right “to refuse admission of an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a student of a same sex marriage or relationship.” Maybe their students don’t learn to read?

Great news from California!

CA passed a third gender bill last week, but the news is really getting out now. Hopefully, this will spur other states to do the right thing. Transgender Californians will be able to identify their gender as “nonbinary” on official state documents after the governor signed SB 179 by Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). California will become the first state in the nation to allow a third gender marker on birth certificates — and the second, following Oregon, to allow it on driver’s licenses. The governor also approved another Atkins bill, SB 310, that will allow transgender inmates in state prisons and county jails to petition courts for name changes.

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https://www.redbubble.com/people/boxsmash/works/26933701-whatever-just-wash-your-hands-white-version

In a huge win for local governments and a setback to wireless companies, Brown vetoed SB 649 by Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), which would have eased approval of new 5G antennas by restricting the fees and permitting requirements that cities and counties could place on them, calling in his veto message for a “more balanced solution.”

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Brown also signed AB 567 by Asm. Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) to allow the new process of “liquid cremation” to dispose of bodies. WTH?! No, really. Dissolving people is a cleaner and more sensitive alternative to regular cremation. Who knew?

Brown rejected a bill banning employers from taking adverse action against workers — or their dependents — for their reproductive health decisions. In his veto message of AB 569, he wrote that existing state law has long banned such action, except for religious institutions, and that those claims should remain within the jurisdiction of the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing. And he rejected AB 568, which would have required school districts to provide at least six weeks of paid maternity leave

We talked about CA banning the sales of dogs, cats and rabbits from “puppy mills” a week ago. However, we’re gratuitously repeating it so we can include this…

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Brown approved a first-in-the-nation bill, SB 258 by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), requiring companies that make cleaning products to list hazardous ingredients on labels.

Governor Brown signed SB31, which bars state or local governments from creating, or assisting in the creation of, databases based on religion or national origin. So no muslim registries are in our future. Thank, Governor Brown.

Great news in Elections!

Our own Congresswoman Julia Brownley has written a great editorial on gerrymandering in the VC Star called “A way to end the gridlock in Washington.” Nice.

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A Morning Consult poll released last week found Trump losing support in states he easily carried last year. He is down 23 points in Tennessee since his inauguration in January, down 21 points in Mississippi, down 20 in Kentucky, down 19 in Kansas and down 17 in Indiana.

ACTIVITY! (5calls): Calling your National-level representatives is important for national-level policy change. But local policies are just as important. We can beat back gerrymandering and voter ID laws by taking back our local governments. That’s why we’re proud to start hosting remote Voter-to-Voter calling for progressive candidates like Danica Roem, a candidate for VA House Delegate in District 13. If you’re ready to upgrade your calls to the next level, give voter-to-voter calls a try.

The Kingston, NY Republican Committee cut ties with a local candidate who made racist comments, thanks to public outcry condemning her remarks.

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ACTIVITY! Facebook enabled Russian interference in the United States election in 2016, but refuses to provide a full account to the public and has recently removed data that allowed independent researchers to understand the nature and scale of the problem. American citizens deserve to know how they were exposed to Russian disinformation and propaganda. Facebook should provide this data to users in an application that makes it easy to understand. Sign the petition here.

The NAACP settled a lawsuit against Georgia under which the State agreed to no longer cut off voter registration beyond 30 days of any federal elections, including runoff elections and the State will use a shorter registration deadline if one is provided under state law.

Our Revolution candidate Paul Feeney won a Massachusetts state Senate race, with a “positive message” campaign including Medicare for All, equal pay for women, and debt-free education.

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The St. Petersburg, FL city council voted to outlaw super PACs, setting the stage for a potential ripple effect across the country.

In 2016, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe restored the voting rights of over 200,000 citizens through a courageous executive order. Over the past month, it’s been the mission of votingispower.org to make sure as many of those individuals registered to vote in the November 7th election as possible – and now we’re working to make sure they turn out to vote on Election Day. These are just a few of their faces and stories. (go to the site and see the whole set!) Help us reach as many Virginians as possible by sharing this campaign with your friends or contributing what you can.

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Gun News – Good and Sad mixed together.

Zappos, the online shoe store based on Las Vegas, is paying for the funerals for all of the Las Vegas Massacre victims as well as travel costs for their families. They have also set up a fund and will match donations up to one million dollars. You can contribute here and thank Zappos:  400 Stewart Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89101,  and then join Everytown for Gun Safety here:  https://everytown.org/  The time to stop Gun Violence is now.

The Brady Campaign is suing the ATF. One suit is for missing the deadline for a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents relating to a leaked ATF memo about reducing regulations on the gun industry. Another suit is for a similar missed deadline in a request for records from their inspections that shows which dealers are repeatedly violating the law and in what ways. They’ve also filed a suit on behalf of concert-goers in Las Vegas who were terrorized by a gunman with guns and bump stock devices.

Good news for Puerto Rico!

Maxine Waters wrangles a statement from dozing HUD director Ben Carson that’s 180 degrees from Trump’s tweets, which is good news for the people of  Puerto Rico.

The Weather Channel is still covering the Puerto Rico crisis.

Tulane University is stepping up to help Puerto Rican students continue their studies.

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Good news for the Environment!

Some local good news! The developer of a proposed natural gas power plant in Ventura County asked state regulators to suspend review of the plans, effectively ending the project.

A really horrific EPA nominee has been “delayed”. Check out the bottom part of our last action for biographies on the people Trump&Co. want to put in charge of your air, land and water. Truly suitable for the Halloween season.

Representative Salud Carbajal and Senator Kamala Harris introduced bicameral legislation to protect CA’s public lands. The “Central Coast Heritage Protection Act” will designate thousands of acres as wilderness.

A bit of good news from Barbuda: rare birds survived the hurricane.

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California busts the myth that strict environmental regulation

Divers rescue 4 car-sized whale sharks from a huge net.

In a continuing effort to mess with the minds of those who believe the earth is only 6000 years old, a labor crew in Thornton, CO dug up a 66 million year old triceratops skeleton.

ACTIVITY! Help save the approximate 1 billion birds killed annually in window/building collisions. Click here for some great suggestion to help birds pass by us safely.

The 10 weirdest animal laws in the US – from our friends at the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

It has finally been discovered why the mating of a male 186 year old tortoise for the past 26 years has been unsuccessful. His mate is actually male too. Time for same-sex turtle-marriage on the  island of St. Helena.

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Good News for Healthcare!

Columnist Michael Hiltzik says that Trump’s attempt to blow up Obamacare could help California and other states, even if the president himself doesn’t know it yet.

Check out this great toolkit for signing up people from OFA!

Get America Covered – Open Enrollment Toolkit. They have downloadable graphics for flyers, posters, fact sheets, andbrochures in English and Spanish, suggested wording for messaging, links for contacts and great suggestions on how to broadcast information to the community. Many people are eligible for help and don’t know it.

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Here are additional great sites for signing up and organizing.

HealthCare.gov
https://navigatorguide.georgetown.edu
http://www.healthreformbeyondthebasics.org 
https://tinyurl.com/help-get-people-insured
https://www.acasignupproject.com/

Contact information may be different for states that have their own marketplace links (included in the toolkit) – CA, CO, CT, DC, ID, MD, MA, MN, NY, RI, VM, WA.
For California, see below.

Help people sign up for California health care insurance!
California has a longer period to sign up for insurance than many other states, Jan. 31st versus Dec. 15th. This is who is in charge of CA  – Covered California.

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Here are some quick links…
Click here for Enrollment instruction page
Click here to find your local enrollment centers.
Click here to find enrollment events near you.
Click here to find Certified Enrollment Agents
Click here for videos to help you enroll.
Click here for information and application to Medi-Cal.
Phone for help: 1-800-300-1506.
There are live-chat and “Help on Demand” options.

If you’re on Twitter, make sure you’re signed up for this.

https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/

If you haven’t watched this movie yet on why our health care system needs fixing, pour yourself another cup of coffee… Send the link to your resistant family members.

https://fixithealthcare.com/watch-the-movie/

(Thanks this week to Alison & Stephanie, Calvin’s List, Rogan’s List, Marla’s List, 5Calls, What Went Right, Loyal Opposition, our team members and  Facebook correspondents with the best stuff, and the great wide internet )

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