Biden Pushes for Voting Protections, But Not for Ending the Filibuster That Blocks Them

As Texas Democrats flee to DC to lobby for voting bills, advocates wish the president would take a stronger stand.

President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, July 12, 2021, in Washington. Evan Vucci/AP

Texas House Democrats fled the state on Monday to block Republicans from passing a sweeping voter suppression bill and traveled to Washington, DC, to lobby their congressional counterparts to pass federal legislation protecting voting rights. “We are living on borrowed time in Texas,” Texas Democratic leaders said in a statement. “We need Congress to act now…to protect Texans—and all Americans—from the Trump Republicans’ nationwide war on democracy.”

Now they want the White House to act with the same urgency. 

In a speech on Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris called voting rights “the fight of our lifetime.” President Biden plans to deliver a major speech in Philadelphia on Tuesday denouncing GOP efforts to make it harder to vote, which White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday called “the worst challenge to our democracy since the Civil War.”

Yet voting rights advocates say the White House’s rhetoric about the existential threat to democracy has not been matched by action to solve the problem. Biden, they complain, has been much more engaged in trying to pass an infrastructure plan than in trying to persuade Senate Democrats to pass the For the People Act, the sweeping voting rights measure that was blocked by a GOP filibuster last month.

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Cut US Military Aid to Israel

main-qimg-a5fa5d5973f763b816c3b7e6f472cd38 (429×433) (quoracdn.net)

May 27, 2021 

Since the Israeli/Palestinian ceasefire began this week, the Biden administration’s refrain has been that Israelis and Palestinians should have “equal measures of security, peace, and dignity,” but not a word about equal rights.

The administration’s silence on Palestinian rights is an affirmation of the Israel’s apartheid policies, which deny Palestinians equal citizenship, restrict their movement, and dispossess them of their homes and land.

We demand that the U.S. cease all military aid to Israel until it respects the human rights of Palestinians. The cutoff of US military aid to Israel is the leading demand on the U.S. of the Palestinian National BDS Committee, which has broad support in Palestinian civil society.

Biden’s Unconditional Support for Israel

The cease fire came despite the Biden administration, not because of it. Biden’s UN Ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, gave Israel the greenlight to continue bombing Gaza three times by repeatedly blocking UN Security Council resolutions calling for a ceasefire. 

Biden’s unconditional support for Israel’s expansionist colonial policies was underscored in the first weeks of his administration by his decision to affirm Trump’s move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the Israeli-occupied territory of Jerusalem prior to a negotiated solution to the Arab/Israeli conflict. 

Biden’s unconditional support for Israeli policies was reaffirmed when he approved the sale of $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel in the middle of the recent Israeli/Gaza war.

Israeli Repression Continues Despite Ceasefire

The ceasefire came as we approached the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the police, an event that sparked the global Black Lives Matter uprising against police brutality. Now the world is outraged by Israel’s militarized policing of Palestinians.

Even as the ceasefire between Israel and Gaza was beginning, militarized Israeli police continued to wage a campaign of fear and intimidation against Palestinians inside Israel’s own borders. 

Israeli authorities continue the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, one of the precipitating causes of the Israel/Gaza war. At Friday prayers last week, Israeli security forces again used stun grenades and rubber bullets against Palestinian worshippers outside the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem where earlier attacks on worshippers helped provoke the war.

Israeli security is now making mass arrests of Palestinians in Israel who took part in protests and defended their neighbourhoods from assaults by right-wing Israelis. Israeli Arabs face new police checkpoints and spying by plain clothes cops, while police stand by and allow racist anti-Arab gangs of Israelis to assault Palestinians. Israeli police have used violence and nighttime raids against Palestinians in mixed cities like Haifa, Jaffa, and Lod, where there has been unprecedented inter-ethnic violence between Israeli Jews and Arabs in recent weeks.

Solidarity

What is striking about Palestinian resistance in this recent conflict is the degree of solidarity among Palestinians across Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank. In protest against the Israeli campaign in Gaza, Palestinians staged a broadly-supported general strike on May 18 across Israel and the occupied territories. The Israel Builders Association said that only 150 of the 65,000 Palestinian construction workers showed up for work. 

In the United States we must demonstrate our solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for human rights by demanding an end to U.S. taxpayer-funded aid to the Israeli military. Since World War Two, Israel has been the largest overall recipient of US foreign aid. In 2016 President Obama signed a $38 billion 10-year military aid package. U.S. tax dollars are helping Israel to develop one of the most advanced militaries in the world and to purchase sophisticated military equipment from the United States.

We urge participation in the National March for Palestine in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, May 29, from 3:00 to 8:00 pm. The march is called by a broad coalition of pro-Palestinian organizations who are have initiated a new campagin to #SanctionIsrael.

[Source]

Will Biden’s Central American Plan Slow Migration (or Speed It Up)? (+1 more)

By Aviva Chomsky

Joe Biden speaking with supporters at a town hall hosted by the Iowa Asian and Latino Coalition at Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 33 in Des Moines, Iowa, August 2019.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

This piece appeared originally in TomDispatch.

Joe Biden entered the White House with some inspiring yet contradictory positions on immigration and Central America. He promised to reverse Donald Trump’s draconian anti-immigrant policies while, through his “Plan to Build Security and Prosperity in Partnership with the People of Central America,” restoring “US leadership in the region” that he claimed Trump had abandoned. For Central Americans, though, such “leadership” has an ominous ring.

Although the second half of his plan’s name does, in fact, echo that of left-wing, grassroots organizations like the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), its content highlights a version of security and prosperity in that region that’s more Cold War-like than CISPES-like. Instead of solidarity (or even partnership) with Central America, Biden’s plan actually promotes an old economic development model that has long benefited U.S. corporations. It also aims to impose a distinctly militarized version of “security” on the people of that region. In addition, it focuses on enlisting Central American governments and, in particular, their militaries to contain migration through the use of repression.

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Gratitude, Simplicity, and Service—3 Community-Centered Values for Addressing Climate Change

By Andreas Karelas

Image credit: Gerd Altmann

Considering how the pandemic has called attention to the harms we’ve caused our planet, it’s fitting that this year’s theme for Earth Day is Restore Our Earth. The theme reminds us to value the home we share with so many other species as well as the opportunities we have to do better by our planet. Andreas Karelas, founder and executive director of RE-volv, is all about the opportunities to act on climate change solutions. One of the ways we can restore our Earth is to take a page or two from this passage of his book, Climate Courage, and adopt the three community-centered values he suggests. Our psychology and mindset toward climate change is just as important to be aware of.

***

Based on the latest findings of positive psychology research, I suggest that, in order to address climate change, we need to cultivate different values—values that place a greater emphasis on community and less on consumption—and that living according to these values will have the benefits of reducing our impact on the planet and increasing our personal well-being. To do this I’ll describe what I believe to be an effective three-step approach: (1) cultivate gratitude, (2) choose simplicity, and (3) focus on serving others. If we can learn to be more grateful for what we have, simplify our lives, and put more effort into serving others, I think we’ll be well on our way to a happier, more sustainable world.

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Lauren Boebert’s Stunt At Biden’s Congressional Address Hilariously Backfires (+2 more)

Travis Gettys

Lauren Boebert’s stunt at Biden’s congressional address hilariously backfires

(Screenshot via YouTube.com)

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) unfurled a thermal blanket during President Joe Biden’s congressional address to draw attention to the surge of migrants at the southern border, but her stunt backfired.

The silver blanket was similar to those distributed to migrants held in detention facilities, and Boebert tweeted about the border situation during Biden’s address to Congress — but her demonstration mystified and irritated many observers.

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Trump is ‘Fixated’ on Arizona Audit — and Republicans Fear It is Going to Backfire on the GOP

Bob Brigham

Trump is ‘fixated’ on Arizona audit — and Republicans fear it is going to backfire on the GOP: report

Gage Skidmore.

The controversial audit of Maricopa County votes in Arizona has been widely panned for lacking legitimacy, but former President Donald Trump is reportedly fixated on the political theater — even though it may backfire on Republicans.

“More than five months after the 2020 presidential election, and after numerous failed attempts to overturn the results, former president Donald Trump has seized on a new avenue to try to call the outcome into question: a hand recount of 2.1 million ballots cast in Arizona’s largest county. Several advisers said the former president has become fixated on the unorthodox process underway in Phoenix, where the GOP-led state Senate took ballots and voting equipment from Maricopa County and turned them over to Cyber Ninjas, a private contractor whose chief executive has echoed claims that the election was fraudulent but has now promised a fair review of the November results,” The Washington Post reported Thursday.

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Trump Boat Parade Organizer Caught on Video Yelling ‘White Power!’

Sky Palma

Trump boat parade organizer caught on video yelling 'white power!'

https://www.rawstory.com/trump-supporter-white-power

Trump fans Dion Cini and Cliff Gephart held their pro-Trump boat parade earlier this month in Tampa, Florida, and they plan to take their parades nationwide, with more events planned for San Diego, Cleveland, and Las Vegas, according to the “Trumparilla” Facebook page.

This Wednesday, Mother Jones shared a video showing Cini at a Trumparilla event yelling “white power!”

According to Mother Jones’ Ali Breland, Cini yelled the phrase as he was being recognized from the stage by Gephart for his efforts to organize the event.

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At Earth Day Climate Summit, Biden Promises 50% Reduction in US Greenhouse Emissions

Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden pledged to cut U.S. greenhouse gas pollution in half by 2030 at a virtual climate summit Thursday, outlining an aggressive target that would require sweeping changes to America’s energy and transportation sectors. 

“These steps will set America on a path of a net-zero emissions economy by no later than 2050,” Biden said as the White House opened the two-day summit, attended by 40 leaders from around the world. 

“Scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade, this is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of a climate crisis,” Biden said. 

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The US Has Pledged to Halve Its Carbon Emissions By 2030

by Charlotte Jeearchive, MIT

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden speaks in the Oval Office of the White House earlier this weekAP

The pledge makes a big statement about the US’s intentions on climate ahead of a meeting of global leaders today

The news: The US will pledge at a summit of 40 global leaders today to halve its carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. This far exceeds an Obama-era pledge in 2014 to get emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. The hope is that the commitment will help encourage India, China, and other major emitters to sign up to similar targets before the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, set to be held in Glasgow, UK,  in November. “The United States is not waiting, the costs of delay are too great, and our nation is resolved to act now,” the White House said in a statement

The big picture: The world has already warmed up by 1.2 °C since preindustrial times, and it’s getting ever closer to the 1.5 °C threshold that the 2016 Paris agreement aimed to avoid. Climate scientists have been warning for years now that a significant amount of climate damage is already baked in thanks to previous emissions, but there is still a short window to avoid catastrophic global warming. 

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Climate Change in Graphics: The Charts That Show We Must Act Now

Global warming is already happening as carbon emissions keep on rising, with effects from sea level rise to more and more extreme weather events worldwide

By New Scientist

New Scientist Default Image
Buildings and farmlands are seen partially submerged in floodwaters following heavy rainfall in Poyang county of JiangxiREUTERS/China Daily CDIC

Earth is warming. Globally, 2020 was the second-warmest year on record, with a mean temperature 1.2°C above the pre-industrial average. By that measure, this means we are already four-fifths of the way to the 1.5°C “safe” level to which the world committed to try to limit global warming.

The culprits are carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels and land use changes that reduce Earth’s ability to draw down greenhouse gases. The results are already being felt, not just through rising temperatures, but also through loss of ice cover, rising sea levels and more extreme droughts, floods and storms across the globe.

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Capitol Police IG Says There’s No Oversight Over the Force’s Board (+2 more)

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 13: Fencing topped with barbed wire surrounds the Capitol Building (Photo by Jonathan Newton /The Washington Post via Getty Images)

By Kate Riga

While disparate congressional committees have chipped away at what exactly allowed a pro-Trump mob to muscle into the Capitol building on January 6, one thing has become clear: the opacity cloaking the inner workings of the Capitol police.

Much of that scrutiny has become focused on the Capitol Police Board, the overseeing body of the force comprised of the architect of the Capitol, House and Senate sergeants at arms and the chief of police in a non-voting role.

The board has authority over almost all of the security decisions made at the Capitol, but received little attention until the January 6 disaster. Calls for its reform have become a bipartisan unifier as lawmakers look to improve Capitol security. 

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Many GOPers Plan To Skip Biden’s First Speech To Congress If Invited

WILMINGTON, DE - JULY 28:  Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden delivers a speech at the William “Hicks” Anderson Community Center, on July 28, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Biden addressed the fourth component of his “Build Back Better” economic recovery plan for working families, how his plan will address systemic racism and advance racial economic equity in the United States.  (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden delivers a speech at the William Hicks Anderson Community Center on July 28, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

By Cristina Cabrera

A lot of Republicans reportedly won’t attend President Joe Biden’s first address to Congress next week if invited.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office has not yet decided how many tickets for the event will be allotted to Democratic and GOP lawmakers in both chambers, but Republican leaders told Punchbowl that there’s little desire among rank-and-file members of their caucuses to go regardless.

“I don’t think I’ll probably attend,” Senate Republican Conference Vice Chair Joni Earnst (R-IA) said, according to Punchbowl.

It’s unclear why so many GOP lawmakers wouldn’t show up if they get invited, though some of them cited logistics as a reason for their absence.

However, a handful of Republicans said they do want to attend Biden’s speech, including Trump loyalists like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).

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Watchdog Finds Trump Admin Created Obstacles That Delayed Relief Aid To Puerto Rico

President Donald Trump tosses paper towels into a crowd as he hands out supplies at Calvary Chapel, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump tosses paper towels into a crowd as he hands out supplies at Calvary Chapel, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. Trump is in Puerto Rico to survey hurricane damage. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

By Zoë Richards

The Trump administration lined up unprecedented bureaucratic obstacles that delayed approximately $20 billion in hurricane relief for Puerto Rico, according to an inspector general report that could be released publicly as soon as Thursday.

In a 46-page document first reported by the Washington Post early Thursday, the inspector general said it found procedural hurdles created by the White House budget office that stalled recovery aid even as watchdogs were met with efforts by Trump administration officials to obstruct their investigation into the delay by the request of Congress in 2019.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria had left Puerto Rico residents without power and clean water for months after ravaging the U.S. territory in 2017.

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So Far Biden Is Taking Right-Wing Extremism Seriously. But Actually Fixing the Problem Will Be a Lot Harder.

Experts say he’s taken the right initial steps to begin identifying the problems.

Pro-Trump protesters inside the US Capitol on January 6 Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/Zuma

Since before he was even sworn into office, Joe Biden has made it clear that fighting the spate of right-wing extremism would be a top priority for his administration. The day after the Capitol insurrection, in announcing his Justice Department nominees, Biden said he wanted to take the department back to its original roots “to stand up to the Klan, to stand up to racism, to take on domestic terrorism,” he vowed. “This original spirit must again guide and animate its work.”

Though the Biden presidency is still nascent, the fight against domestic terrorism and extremism has been at the center of the administration’s work so far. Immediately after he was sworn in, Biden ordered his just-appointed director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, to work with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to put together a top-to-bottom assessment of the threat from violent extremists. That report, which came out last month, found that “newer sociopolitical developments,” like the pandemic and the rise of right-wing conspiracy theories, “will almost certainly spur some [domestic violent extremists] to try to engage in violence this year.” Meanwhile, the Justice Department has arrested at least 360 people in connection with the insurrection. And the Defense Department is engaged in its own efforts to address extremism in the military; in early February, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin signed a memo directing commanding officers to conduct a one-day “stand down” to discuss extremism in the ranks with personnel.

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The U.S. Can’t Control the World

By Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report.

Slow-Witted Joe Biden Appears To Think That We’re Still In The Age Of The Sole Superpower, When In Fact That Era Has Come And Gone.

“China’s Belt and Road Initiative involves countries on every continent and provides opportunity where the western nations offer only debt and subjugation.”

As this columnist has pointed out, Joe Biden’s foreign policy differs little from that of his predecessor Donald Trump. The imperatives of the United States hegemon require treating the rest of the world as either willing vassals or as sworn enemies. Any nation that threatens economic supremacy or the ability to thwart foreign policy directives is labeled an adversary and faces an onslaught of governmental and corporate media attacks. This dynamic remains unchanged and the Biden administration has only worsened an already bad situation.

The troubles start at the top with the president himself. When asked by George Stephanopoulos in an ABC news interview if Vladimir Putin is “a killer” Biden answered in the affirmative. The president was never known for his intellect and thought that repeating Russiagate tropes would play well. It didn’t play well with the Russians who immediately recalled their U.S. ambassador back home to Moscow.

While Biden was dealing with foot in mouth disease regarding Russia, his Secretary of State Antony Blinken was making a mess of relations with China. He invited his Chinese counterparts to a meeting in Anchorage, Alaska and proceeded to offend them by scolding them in front of the press and repeating unfounded charges about human rights abuses against the Uyghurs.

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How Corporations Crush the Working Class

TRANSCRIPT:

The most dramatic change in the system over the last half-century has been the emergence of corporate giants like Amazon and the shrinkage of labor unions.

The resulting power imbalance has spawned near-record inequalities of income and wealth, corruption of democracy by big money, and the abandonment of the working class.

Fifty years ago, General Motors was the largest employer in America. The typical GM worker earned $35 an hour in today’s dollars and had a major say over working conditions.

Today’s largest employers are Amazon and Walmart, each paying far less per hour and routinely exploiting their workers, who have little recourse.

The typical GM worker wasn’t “worth” so much more than today’s Amazon or Walmart worker and didn’t have more valuable insights about working conditions.

The difference is those GM workers had a strong union. They were backed by the collective bargaining power of more than a third of the entire American workforce. 

Today, most workers are on their own. Only 6.4% of America’s private-sector workers are unionized, providing little collective pressure on Amazon, Walmart, or other major employers to treat their workers any better.

Fifty years ago, the labor movement had enough political clout to ensure labor laws were enforced and that the government pushed giant firms like GM to sustain the middle class.

Today, organized labor’s political clout is minuscule by comparison. 

The biggest political players are giant corporations like Amazon. They’ve used that political muscle to back “right-to-work” laws, whittle down federal labor protections, and keep the National Labor Relations Board understaffed and overburdened, allowing them to get away with egregious union-busting tactics.

They’ve also impelled government to lower their taxesextorted states to provide them tax breaks as a condition for locating facilities there; bullied cities where they’re headquartered; and wangled trade treaties allowing them to outsource so many jobs that blue-collar workers in America have little choice but to take low-paying, high-stress warehouse and delivery gigs. 

Oh, and they’ve neutered antitrust laws, which in an earlier era would have had companies like Amazon in their crosshairs.

This decades-long power shift – the ascent of corporate leviathans and the demise of labor unions – has resulted in a massive upward redistribution of income and wealth. The richest 0.1% of Americans now have almost as much wealth as the bottom 90% put together.

The power shift can be reversed – but only with stronger labor laws resulting in more unions, tougher trade deals, and a renewed commitment to antitrust.

The Biden administration and congressional Democrats appear willing. The House has just passed the toughest labor reforms in more than a generation. Biden’s new trade representative, promises trade deals will protect American workers rather than exporters. And Biden is putting trustbusters in critical positions at the Federal Trade Commission and in the White House.

And across the country, labor activism has surged – from the Amazon union effort, to frontline workers walking out and striking to demand better pay, benefits, and safety protections.

I’d like to think America is at a tipping point similar to where it was some 120 years ago, when the ravages and excesses of the Gilded Age precipitated what became known as the Progressive Era. Then, reformers reined in the unfettered greed and inequalities of the day and made the system work for the many rather than the few.

It’s no exaggeration to say that we’re now living in a Second Gilded Age. And today’s progressive activists may be on the verge of ushering us into a Second Progressive Era. They need all the support we can give them.

Omar Slams Biden Admin for Continuing ‘the Construction of Trump’s Xenophobic and Racist Wall’

Jordan Williams 

a group of people wearing costumes: Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)© Greg Nash Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) criticized the Biden administration for the continued construction of the former administration’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which she called “xenophobic and racist.”

The criticism comes after The Washington Times reported that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees that the administration was considering finishing certain “gaps” in construction.

The outlet reported that Customs and Border Protection has submitted plans for further construction.

“It’s shameful and unacceptable for @POTUS to continue the construction of Trump’s xenophobic and racist wall,” Omar said on Twitter.

President Biden issued an executive order on his first day in office pausing some funds related to constructing the wall, and later rescinded the emergency order that former President Trump used to justify constructing the wall.

According to The Times, Mayorkas told ICE employees that the cancellation of funds “leaves room to make decision” on finishing “some gaps in the wall.”

“The president has communicated quite clearly his decision that the emergency that triggered the devotion of [Department of Defense] funds to the construction of the border wall is ended,” Mayorkas was reported in the Times as saying. “But that leaves room to make decisions as the administration, as part of the administration, in particular areas of the wall that need renovation, particular projects that need to be finished.”

When asked about plans to fill in “gaps” where construction was halted, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that the administration was reviewing funds that were allocated for the wall. However, she made clear that the administration planned on investing in “smart security” at the border, rather than finishing the wall.

“We have never believed the wall as an answer to addressing the challenges — immigration challenges at the border. That’s why we’re proposing an investment in smart –investments in smart security at the border,” she said. “What we see as 21st century solutions for border management, and why we believe we should build a functioning immigration system.”

[Source]