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SPEAK OUT AGAINST CONFISCATION OF SMALL BUSINESS AID BY LARGE COMPANIES: Large public companies, some with market values of over $100 million took millions of dollars in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, causing the program to run out of money and leaving many small businesses with nothing. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/21/large-public-companies-are-taking-small-businesses-payroll-loans.html?. While it looks as if more money will be allocated in the latest coronavirus relief package, this is not where we should be spending our tax dollars. Part of the problem is that banks, who made $10 billion in loan processing fees, prioritized the bigger companies since bigger loans brought in more fees. https://www.npr.org/2020/04/22/840678984/small-business-rescue-earned-banks-10-billion-in-fees. Let’s ask our MoCs what safeguards they will put in the new relief package to make sure this does not happen again, and let’s demand that these public companies give back the loans to companies that really need them. We can find a list of these companies here.
DEMAND A RELIEF PACKAGE THAT PROTECTS WORKERS, SAVES THE USPS, AND GUARANTEES ELECTION SECURITY: According to Indivisible, the current coronavirus relief package contains no money for the unemployed, no requirements for large companies to maintain payroll, no health care for the uninsured, and no hazard pay for essential workers. https://peopleoverprofits.indivisible.org/. It also has provisions to secure our elections before November, no aid for the postal service, and no state aid. Trump has taken positions against these items to make it harder to guarantee voting by mail as an option for November’s 2020 election https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-rejects-bailout-that-included-aid-to-usps-report-says-2020-4 and to pressure states to open up earlier. https://twitter.com/JoshDorner/status/1252015131439116289/photo/1. In fact, Attorney General Bill Barr recently said the Department of Justice would consider suing states who decide not to re-open. https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/21/840262570/barr-open-to-legal-action-if-governors-restrictions-go-too-far. Let’s tell our MoCs that we want to see much better legislation in the next package and let’s tell our governors that we want them to make decisions based on the advice of health experts, not economics.
SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE AGREES: “The Intelligence Community was correct in its assessment of Russian meddling in the lead-up to the 2016 elections, a bipartisan report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday concluded.” https://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/493889-bipartisan-senate-report-reaffirms-intelligence-community-findings-that This was well-known before. Hopefully, this bipartisan report will help more people to accept it. The bigger question is what is being done by our members of Congress to make sure it does not happen again this year. Let’s all contact our senators and representatives, state and federal, to ask what they are doing to assure safe, secure elections.
BANKS PROFIT WHILE SMALL BUSINESSES FAIL: Depending on the loan amount, banks took in 1% to 5% in fees from the amount set aside for small business loans in the CARES Act—for a total of $10 billion of taxpayer dollars; this despite the fact that these banks took no risks and the loans had fewer requirements than is usual: https://www.npr.org/2020/04/22/840678984/small-business-rescue-earned-banks-10-billion-in-fees Not surprisingly, some are suing, claiming that banks processed clients with larger loans first because they stood to generate more money in fees, and by the time they went to process loans from smaller clients, the program had run out of money. Now that a new relief act has passed Congress, we must insist that there be adequate oversight to prevent this criminal skimming by the banks; let’s alert our MoCs and the Small Business Administration at 1-(800) 827-5722.
TOP SCIENTIST REMOVED: Dr. Richard Bright, director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and a deputy assistant secretary with the Department of Health and Human Services, was “removed from his post because of his “insistence” that the government spend funds on “safe and scientifically vetted solutions” to address the coronavirus crisis, and not on “drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit.”” https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/22/842013672/federal-doctor-says-he-was-removed-for-resisting-unproven-coronavirus-treatments We know the Trump administration’s disdain for science, however this country needs these qualified medical and scientific experts to help us through this pandemic. Let’s join Dr. Bright in his request for an investigation by the HHS Inspector General. Let’s also join in with Dr. Bright’s attorneys who have asked the Office of Special Counsel that there be a stay of his termination and that he be allowed to stay in his position pending the investigations: (202) 804-7000/(800) 872-9855 or 1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 218, Washington, D.C., 20036-4505
PRESSURE ICE TO FOLLOW JUDGE’S ORDER TO EVALUATE AND RELEASE ALL DETAINEES AT HIGH RISK FOR COVID COMPLICATIONS: A federal judge has ordered ICE to “identify and track” detainees and release those who are most likely to suffer severe illness or death-threatening complications from COVID. https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/21/839470122/federal-judge-orders-ice-to-consider-releasing-detainees-at-high-risk-for-covid. While ICE has admitted to releasing some detainees, we know from experience that they often ignore what the courts tell them to do. Let’s make sure that our MoCs are aware and ask them what we can do to make sure that ICE complies fully with this order.
COVID-19 RELIEF/VOTE BY MAIL: While the Senate has approved the third coronavirus relief package, it still does not include sufficient funding to ensure that all Americans can safely vote by mail in the November election (https://bit.ly/3cFE9Yw). The Brennan Center for Justice has published a breakdown of how much they estimate safe, secure elections will cost during the pandemic, totaling approximately $4 billion (updated from their previously estimated $2 billion). Let’s read through the report, then contact our MoC and tell them that we only want them to vote for the fourth relief package if it includes funding for both nationwide vote-by-mail and funding for the USPS. We can find details about legislation as well as a call script at 5calls: https://5calls.org/issue/usps-postal-service-covid-funding
DEPT. OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES MESS: Alex Azar, the Secretary of DHHS, is a former drug industry executive. His credentials for his current position were sketchy at best https://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/365342-the-nomination-of-alex-azar-says-a-lot-about-our-broken-health-care-systemAzar’s mis-handling of the COVID-10 situation along with the dubious person he recently named to lead the pandemic task force, once again has us questioning him. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-hhschief-speci/special-report-hhs-chief-azar-had-aide-former-dog-breeder-steer-pandemic-task-force-idUSKCN2243CE With this pandemic, we need top-notch experts in the field taking charge, not a former dog breeder. Let’s tell Azar that it is time to up his game and give us the expert leadership that is so needed at this time: https://www.hhs.gov/about/leadership/secretary/alex-m-azar/index.html
DO NOT CUT PAY FOR FARM WORKERS: It is bad enough that farm workers were not included in any COVID-related bill (https://fortune.com/2020/04/03/farmworkers-coronavirus-essential-workers-covid-19-agriculture/), but it is even worse in that the White House is trying to “reduce wage rates for foreign guest workers on American farms, in order to help U.S. farmers struggling during the coronavirus, according to U.S. officials and sources familiar with the plans.” https://www.npr.org/2020/04/10/832076074/white-house-seeks-to-lower-farmworker-pay-to-help-agriculture-industryUFW, MoveOnKamala Harris and tens of thousands of others are telling Trump’s Department of Labor not to cut farm worker wages during #COVID19. Let’s take action here: https://sign.moveon.org/petitions/tell-the-department-of-labor-not-to-cut-farm-worker-wages-during-covid-19
E-RATE AND COVID-19: More and more schools are closing their buildings for the year, committing to months of distance learning. This is a big problem for the more than nine million students across the country who don’t have reliable access to the Internet at home – who are disproportionately students of color. https://www.usnews.com/news/education-news/articles/2020-04-01/schools-rush-to-get-students-internet-access-during-coronavirus-pandemicAdvocates are trying to fix this problem by getting the FCC to remove restrictions on their E-Rate program, which helps schools and libraries connect to the Internet, and using it to help provide students with hotspots and devices, with the assistance of Congress adding funding. Let’s contact the FCC and our members of Congress in support of this effort.
PEOPLE DONATING STIMULUS CHECKS: “Brooke Young has a mortgage, car payments, and credit-card bills, but she’s also lucky enough to have a job at a time when record numbers of Americans are out of work. So, when the $1,200 stimulus check hit her bank account, she donated some of the money. Toi Cudworth, a credit union employee in Texas, decided to give away most of her stimulus payment after she saw local news reports about an estimated 10,000 people lined up in cars outside a San Antonio food bank giveaway.” https://www.marketwatch.com/story/meet-the-people-who-are-giving-away-their-1200-stimulus-checks-its-not-really-my-money-its-our-money-2020-04-17 If we don’t need our stimulus check, we can donate at least part of it to food banks, food for seniors and more. Don’t forget our housekeeper, gardener, dog groomer or hair stylist. These people take care of us, so we need to take care of them.
STANDING TOGETHER APART: Despite the recent anti-quarantine protests, the majority of Americans support the stay-at-home policies. https://www.politifact.com/article/2020/apr/22/large-majorities-americans-support-keeping-stay-ho/The dangers of opening too soon are grave, indeed. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/04/21/839456638/what-happens-if-u-s-reopens-too-fast-federal-documents-show-coronavirus-projecti There is a new Facebook group called Standing Together Apart designed to show solidarity and support for our frontline workers. The first post in the group reads: “Many of us are inspired by the hospital workers who stood defiantly before protestors and across the country, arms folded, mask in place, standing strong. This is the stance of a counter protestor! We are much too wise to gather in large groups, although we would love to. Imagine a place where there were thousands of photographs of people in solidarity, arms folded, and masks in place just like the brave nurses staring down evil. It would be a way to show resolve whenever and wherever these photos can be displayed. (Jim MacKenzie) Let’s join the group and add a picture of us standing in solidarity for them! Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1491403604366906/
HOW TO VOTE BY MAIL IN EVERY SINGLE STATE: Voting by mail is becoming more of a necessity. Let’s check our own states and see what we have to do: https://politicalcharge.org/2020/04/10/how-to-vote-by-mail-in-every-single-state/
REQUEST ABSENTEE BALLOTS: From one of our own: If you support an all mail-in November election, better to apply now for an absentee ballot in your home state than to wait for the Federal government to help you. 2/3 of the states in the US do not require voters to give a reason for wanting a mail-in ballot. To find out what your state requires, just type the name of your state and the words “absentee ballot” into your favorite browser, and you’ll be directed to a number of sites that will help you apply for an absentee ballot. You can also find out what you need to do in your state by going to vote.org. Please note that your friends and neighbors may not have easy access to a computer or printer, so if you do, please help where you can! Remember Wisconsin! Let’s not allow those who are willing to make us expose ourselves and those we love to a deadly virus to prevail. Mail that vote in! Let’s check here: https://www.vote.org/
TEXTBANK FOR CHRISTY SMITH: Christy Smith’s CA-25 House Special Election campaign is in danger, recently downgraded from “Lean Dem” to “Tossup”. With so much else going on, her Special Election on May 12 is slipping through the cracks and her campaign is running low on volunteers and money. Fortunately, we can help turn it all around from home by Text Banking with the Grassroots Democrats. We can click here to text bank for Christy Smith. We can get training if we need it, or, if we have texted for Christy before, we can get started right away: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdS7879ESQIaX2Py7g_8GdDYn9zqRuBlYUzpcyDTRUJfldsAw/viewform
PHONEBANKING FOR CHRISTY SMITH: Trump has thrown his full weight behind Mike Garcia in the special election for the California 25th House Seat, endorsing him by Tweet (https://www.dailynews.com/2020/04/21/trump-tweets-endorsement-of-gop-candidate-for-santa-clarita-congressional-seat/). This makes it more challenging for Democratic candidate Christy Smith – but it also gives us an opportunity to show Trump exactly how much his tweets are worth. Let’s help Christy win – we can sign up to make calls for her from home here.
TEXT OUT THE VOTE: Because of the pandemic, we’re not going to be knocking on doors to get out the vote for Democrats this year. This means that efforts like Text Out The Vote (TOTV) are more important than ever. TOTV provides training and technical support. We text through an app, so no one can see our phone numbers. Let’s sign up hereand start engaging voters through texting in this critical election year.
ENCOURAGE FLORIDA TO VOTE BY MAIL:Postcards to Voters has launched their next Florida vote by mail campaign. This time we will be reaching voters in Gadsden County (Tallahassee area). Let’s request 5 addresses today to contribute to this effort.
AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, PA, SC, TN – COVID-19 RESOURCES: Black Voters Matter has assembled pandemic resource lists for their partner states. Let’s spread the word: https://www.blackvotersmatterfund.org/covid-19-resources
CA: MAKE A SHORT VIDEO TO HELP ADEQUATELY FUND OUR SCHOOLS: The Schools and Communities First (SCF) ballot measure would raise billions for CA schools by reforming Prop 13 so that large corporations pay their fair share of property taxes. Evolve CA, https://www.evolve-ca.org/ , dedicated to passing the SCF, is looking for short (30 sec) videos from parents just saying why we support Schools and Communities First, and what more school money would mean for our families. These are super simple and easy to do with our cell phone cameras. The goal is to make the campaign more real for people who would benefit from the money that SCF will generate. These 30 seconds long videos will have three main points: our name/where we’re from, how many kids we have, and say specifically why we support SCF. We can film ourselves (with or without our kids) and email the videos to Ben at firstname.lastname@example.org (or if we can’t email the file contact him and he’ll have us upload it). For more info about Schools and Communities First, we can also check out the link below. https://www.evolve-ca.org/ballot-measure](https://www.evolve-ca.org/ballot-measure
MA: 2020 Census Virtual Phonebank: The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition is seeking volunteers to call members of vulnerable and underrepresented communities in MA and urge them to complete the Census. Let’s sign up to help: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2020-census-ma-virtual-phonebank-tickets-101132116884
MI: RELEASE ICE DETAINEES: The Interfaith Council for Peace & Justice (ICPJ) has created an action item, amplifying the voices of immigration advocates and medical professionals in asking for the release of immigrant detainees from jails and detention centers. We can find a sample letter, along with contact information for Congressional and State representatives, as well as the governor and county commissioners. Let’s check it out and get to work to keep our immigrant community safe during this pandemic.
GLAAD LIVESTREAM: “Today, GLAAD announced that it will host “Together in Pride: You are Not Alone,” a livestream event on Sunday, April 26 at 8pm ET/5pm PT on GLAAD’s YouTube channel and Facebook Live. The event will highlight the LGBTQ response to COVID-19 and amplify messages of acceptance and affirmation to the LGBTQ community and people living with HIV during this unprecedented time. The livestream will raise funds for LGBTQ community centers that are members of CenterLink.” Let’s sign up to attend the livestream, and help support LGBTQ community centers across the U.S.
ACLU SMART JUSTICE CAMPAIGN WEBINAR: The ACLU Smart Justice campaign has decided to host a digital day of action titled “Uniting for Pretrial Reform” in May. It will be online, and it will be throughout the day on May 27th. Some of the sessions include a Q&A with ACLU staff, a tele-townhall with multiple legislators (on the topic of pretrial reform), a storytelling panel in the afternoon, and throughout the day there will be multiples ways to engage our elected officials. Here’s a registration link to sign up! https://zoom.us/webinar/register/1415859446055/WN_Wb92iZkTRGmkTJlHepNcIg We want to make sure that people feel their voices can be heard even during this new normal phase we currently we find ourselves in and that we advocate for the most vulnerable of us.
We Are Living in a Failed State – https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/06/underlying-conditions/610261
My Coronavirus – https://thetraumagal.com/2020/04/17/my-coronavirus/
Conservative activist family behind ‘grassroots’ anti-quarantine Facebook events – https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/social-media/conservative-activist-family-behind-grassroots-anti-quarantine-facebook-events-n1188021
Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience – https://ethics.harvard.edu/Covid-Roadmap
WATCH: this emotive Irish video shows how important it is to #stayhome – https://www.image.ie/life/watch-this-emotive-irish-video-shows-how-important-it-is-to-stayhome-190143
We can stay up to date on Congress by checking out their schedules. a) The House publishes a weekly schedule at The Weekly Leader (published and dated Friday) as well as daily schedules at The Daily Leader. b) The Senate updates their schedule daily at the Senate Floor Schedule
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