Our Earth, Democracy, and Future Are Equally Worth Fighting For

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PEG 12th Congressional District Newsletter 261

April 22, 2022

Friday is Earth Day

Fifty-two long years ago was the first Earth Day. “Millions of people took to the streets of US cities and towns on 22 April 1970 in mass protests over the damage being done to the planet and its resources.  Amid the demonstrations, protesters brought New York City’s usually bustling Fifth Avenue to a halt, while students in Boston held a “die-in” at Logan airport.”“The environmental impact of the post-war consumer boom was beginning to be felt at that time. Oil spills, factory pollution, toxic spills and other ecological threats were on the rise, with little if any legislation in place to prevent them.” Read more

Biden Announces Regulations on Ghost Guns

by Sonya Lewis


As Americans recoil from unrelenting spasms of gun violence across the country, President Biden recently announced that his administration is seeking to regulate the proliferation of “ghost guns.” 
Ghost guns are fully functioning firearms that are sold “unfinished” such that they require additional assembly after the point of purchase. Specifically, the “frames” and “receivers,” which are the key parts of a functioning firearm are sold in an unfinished form, and it is up to the purchaser to complete the process of assembling the final product. 
Many ghost guns are sold as kits in which the incomplete component parts of the gun are included along with necessary materials and instructions. Other ghost guns are created using 3D printers. They can be assembled quickly and easily, and the owner need not possess any specific expertise. 
Despite the fact that the finished products are generally indistinguishable from prefabricated firearms, ghost guns have been able to escape regulation as the kits, despite their intended purpose, have not been treated as actual firearms. Unlike traditional pre-assembled guns, the component parts of ghost guns do not have serial numbers, therefore they cannot be traced. Furthermore, ghost gun sellers are not required to conduct any type of background check. Otherwise prohibited firearms purchasers such as minors, certain domestic abusers or convicted violent felons can acquire them without any barriers whatsoever. 
According to the White House, in 2021, 20,000 ghost guns were reported to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) as having been recovered in active criminal investigations. This represents a ten fold increase as compared to 2016. 
Ultimately, failure to regulate ghost guns results in the undermining of all laws and regulations intended to keep individuals and communities safe from gun violence. 
Last week, the Biden administration announced that federally licensed firearm dealers must now conduct background checks prior to the transfer of ghost guns. Furthermore, the frame or receiver of the ghost gun must include a serial number. At a White House event in which President Biden announced his nomination of Steve Dettelbach to lead the ATF, he warned that those who are caught using ghost guns to commit crimes can expect to face significant consequences. “These guns are weapons of choice for many criminals,” Biden said. “We’re going to do everything we can to deprive them of that choice and when we find them, put them in jail for a long, long time … If you commit a crime with a ghost gun, expect federal prosecution.”
While strengthening the regulation of ghost guns will help in tracing the origins of guns used in crimes, there are still many important legislative actions that must also be implemented concurrently to meaningfully address the escalating incidents of gun violence we have witnessed in the United States. Measures such as universal background checks, safe storage laws, Extreme Risk Protection Orders, and banning assault style semi-automatic weapons are desperately needed in order to reduce daily gun deaths and injuries in America.


PETITIONS

Both tracker at Bridge MI and previous PEG Newsletters provide information on what the petitions cover and the money behind the petitions. Remember to check periodically to follow the updates. 

OK TO SIGN

FOR MI KIDS FOR OUR SCHOOLS

PROMOTE THE VOTE 2022

REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM FOR ALL

LET MI KIDS LEARN

SECURE MI VOTE

UNLOCK MICHIGAN II

AUDIT MI


Events

Visit the PEG website for the full list of Upcoming Events

April 21. Voter protection volunteer recruiting   
Save these dates to help balance the Michigan House, protecting Michigan Voting Rights. Calling all phone bankers to GOTV for the May 3 special election to fill four vacant seats in Michigan House Districts. District 15District 36District 43, and District 74Register and get more information. 6–8 pm

April 24. Ballot cure training

Call voters who need help ensuring that their absentee ballots are counted. This is a critical service to voters in Michigan whose special election ballots are in danger of not being counted. You will learn about what errors require curing, how to guide a voter through the process of submitting the necessary information to their clerk, and how to record that information. Sign up Here. 11 am–noon

April 24. The terrifying possibility that abortion will become legal in Michigan

Join Chuck Newman on Conversations this Sunday at 7pm ET to discuss why, the likelihood that it will happen and what we can do about it. Shanay Watson-Whittaker of Reproductive Freedom for All and Renee Chelian of the Northland Family Planning Centers will discuss their experiences and that of other women. Click here to register for this important event. 7 pm

Saturdays and Sundays EXTENDED THROUGH JULY. Sankofa: The Art and Legacy of Jon Onye Lockard  

This exhibit is a collaboration between the African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County (AACHM) and the Jon Onye Lockard Foundation, where PEG Contributor, Leslie Kamil (Lockard’s widow) leads a devoted group of family, mentees, and friends of the artist. He quietly challenged world views and societal conscious through art and education. A recording of the opening ceremony can be viewed here. The exhibit will be up through Sunday, July 23. Noon–4 pm

Visit the PEG website to view the comprehensive listing of Upcoming Events!


Things to do

The Fair Housing Center is looking for “testers!”

What is the Fair Housing Center of Southeast & Mid Michigan (FHC)?

The FHC is a nonprofit which investigates complaints of illegal housing discrimination based on federal, state, and local fair housing laws, and works to resolve reasonable accommodation and modification requests for people with disabilities. They provide free investigative services, testing, advice, advocacy, conciliation, attorney referral, and community education in Clinton, Eaton, Hillsdale, Ingham, Jackson, Lenawee, Livingston, Monroe, Shiawassee, and Washtenaw

What are “testers?”

FHC is recruiting testers to help investigate Civil Rights violations/housing discrimination in these counties. “Testers” pose as home seekers in a variety of housing rental and sales situations. Testers are either volunteers or part-time as-needed employees ($24 an hour plus mileage reimbursement). Hours vary and are flexible. Attention to details is a must. Access to personal transportation is helpful, but not required. The FHC currently needs people of all races and ethnicities, age 18 and over.

Testers play the role of a home seeker. Testers must be “objective, careful observers, accurate reporters, and truthful witnesses.” They may serve as witnesses in court cases. They are an essential part of FHC’s efforts to end discrimination in housing.The testing process has been consistently supported by federal courts. For more information about becoming a tester, go to the website by clicking here.

To report an incident of housing discrimination, email complaints@fhcmichigan.org, or call 877-979-FAIR (3247).


Things to read, watch, and listen to

GOOD NEWS!

On March 29, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed her 800th bipartisan bill since the start of her term! (Michigan.gov)

Verdict in Whitmer kidnapping case, some see freedom and others danger
Plot and arrests

In October 2020, six people were arrested for a plan to kidnap Governor Whitmer because they were angry over the pandemic restrictions she imposed and saw her as a tyrant” who needed to be removed. Four men — Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Brandon Caserta and Daniel Harris — went to trial and two men pleaded guilty to the plot. Ty Garbin, one of the men who pleaded guilty and is serving a six-year prison sentence, said the plan was to get Whitmer and cause enough chaos to trigger a civil war before the election, keeping Joe Biden from winning the presidency

Arguments

Defense attorneys argued that the men were entrapped by the FBI — pulled into an alleged plot they would never have participated in if not for the government and its informants luring them. Prosecutors presented evidence from undercover agents, an FBI informant and the two men who pleaded guilty to the plot. The two men who pleaded guilty backed many of the points presented by the prosecution. Authorities said the men were armed extremists who, after weeks of training, were trying to come up with $4,000 for an explosive. They practiced that summer by dashing in and out of crude structures built to resemble a house or office. The defense argued that the men were weekend warriors prone to big, wild talk and often stoned on marijuana. They said agents and informants tricked and cajoled the men into targeting the governor.

Verdict:

The government failed to convince a jury that the four men were domestic terrorists determined to harm the governor because of her COVID-19 restrictions.

Croft, Adam Fox, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were charged with a kidnapping conspiracy. Fox, Croft and Harris also face additional charges related to explosives. Harris, 24, and Caserta, 33, were found not guilty of conspiracy. Harris also was acquitted of charges related to explosives and a gun. The jury could not reach verdicts for Fox, 38, and Croft, 46, which means the government can put them on trial again. U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge said after the verdicts that “We have two defendants that are awaiting trial and we’ll get back to work on that.” However, to date no formal notice has been filed.

Aftermath: Freedom or Danger?

Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said the “outcome is disappointing.” Whitmer’s office released a statement from her chief of staff, who said Americans are “living through the normalization of political violence.”

“The plot to kidnap and kill a governor may seem like an anomaly. But we must be honest about what it really is: The result of violent, divisive rhetoric that is all too common across our country,” JoAnne Huls said. “There must be accountability and consequences for those who commit heinous crimes. Without accountability, extremists will be emboldened.”


Benefits By Biden                                                                                                               

After Joe Biden was elected president, he was not given information or assistance from the previous administration to start his government. As a result, he was already a few months behind once inaugurated. Despite that, and facing a world pandemic, Biden has had huge successes during the last year and a half. He often moves in what appears to be 20 different directions, knowing every detail. Let’s look at some from the first year.                                     

  • Jobs
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Unemployment Claims
  • Economic Legislation Passed
  • Child Poverty.
  • Expanded Access to Health Care
  • Reduced Hunger
  • Judges Confirmed
  • Judges That Reflect Our Nation
  • Cabinet Diversity
  • Climate Investments
  • Clean Water
  • Cleaner Cars
  • Wind Energy
  • Personnel Diversity
  • And he got us vaccinated! To name a few.  Read details.

Stay in touch with your Michigan Representatives: 

Find your County Commissioner here:

State Senator Jeff Irwin has a regular Virtual Coffee Hour — To receive the Zoom access code and the next date, please fill out this form:

State Rep. Yousef Rabhi, 53rd House district: yousefrabhi@house.mi.gov, Phone: (517) 373-2577. https://housedems.com/yousef-rabhi/. Currently virtual coffee hours with Yousef are at 10 am on the 4th Saturday of the month.

State Rep. Ronnie Peterson, 54th House district: ronniepeterson@house.mi.gov Phone: (517) 373-1771 (855) 347-8054, https://housedems.com/ronnie-peterson/ 

State Rep. Donna Lasinski, 52nd House district: donnalasinski@house.mi.gov, Phone: (517) 373-0828 | (855) 627-5052, https://housedems.com/donna-lasinski/ (sign up for emails here). 

State Rep. Felicia Brabec, 55th House district: FeliciaBrabec@house.mi.gov, Phone: (517) 373-1792, https://housedems.com/felicia-brabec/.

Write us at equalityingovinfo@gmail.com if you would like help create our weekly newsletter OR if you would like to be a guest contributor! It’s fun and no ongoing commitment is required.

Visit EqualityInGov.org

A special thanks to our newsletter contributors: Ellen Halter, Leslie McGraw, Leslie Kamil, Lisa Kamil, Richard Gaeth, Susie Ayer, Bette Cotzin, Bernie Banet, Into Action Lab, and Chuck Newman for their contributions and help preparing our newsletters. PEG is a (somewhat) non-partisan volunteer organization whose mission is to assure that our government will treat all Americans with equality and acceptance. PEG’s work is primarily done by recruiting, educating and nurturing supporters for worthy organizations, actions and events that reflect our beliefs.  

To subscribe to this free weekly newsletter, go to our sign up form by clicking here.


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