July 8, 2013
Violence in Chicago may down by 27% compared to 2012, but what does that mean when the city marked it's 200th death from gun violence this year over Independence Day
12 lives were ended over the weekend with dozens more wounded in street crime. This includes a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old shot in separate incidents. The grizzly weekend was yet another reminded of the work that the government needs to do to curb gun violence, which the NRA believes can be done by discriminating against those with mental health problems.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said the ongoing violence underscored the need to pass legislation to reform gun laws.
What comes next? Quinn is working against the NRA's heavy influence in Illinois politics, and is ready for a "showdown" over the future of the state's gun laws.
So what separates Chicago from other cities? Its murder rate is traditionally higher than New York City, despite having a significantly lower population. Could it be a tradition of organized crime that dates back to the prohibition era?
Or could it be that it's just easier to get guns? The neighboring state of Indiana is very lax about gun laws, and New York City's criminal justice system was designed to get criminals off the streets during the crack epidemic. Cities like NYC and LA have the advantages of being removed from states that have easy-access to guns. Chicago doesn't have that privilege.
Chicago's system is starting to work though, picking up a racketeering law aimed at gangs that New York City's had for decades, but for a city that is only a fraction the size of New York City it has a long, long way to go.
Chicago's laws just aren't designed to handle violent gun crime.
July 5, 2013
The DOMA and Prop 8 ruling by the Supreme Court this year was a diamond in the ruff for progressives.
The courts gutted the voting rights act, and continued its crusade to give corporations everything they've ever asked for.
The issue of marriage equality is still an ongoing one in and of itself, with renewed energy taking it to states where people are not free to love one another. According to PolicyMic, there are the 12 states that are most likely to have signed marriage equality laws by 2014:
You'll notice 5 of these states have civil unions, 4 have domestic partnership laws, 2 have legislative bans, and 5 have constitutional bans dating back to 2002.
New Mexico is the only real misfit, with no state law and a population that doesn't have an outright majority of support.
While the next few years will bring a raft of legal battles, legislative showdowns, and court challenges on the issue, the Supreme Court victory has given members of the LGBT community and its allies a reason to keep fighting, and a reason for people who aren't allies to get on the right side of history.
July 2, 2013
From Senator Elizabeth Warren:
A month ago, we launched a national movement together to cut student loan interest rates. More than one million people signed on to give students the same good deal we give the big Wall Street banks.
So far, we can't get a cut. But it's worse than that.
Today, interest rates on new student loans will double to 6.8%, yet Republicans continue to block a vote to keep rates at the current 3.4% for another year. Instead, at a time when the government is scheduled to make obscene profits on federal student loans -- $51 billion this year -- Republicans have proposed their own plan to increase government profits even more.
We will not play chicken with our students' future. That's why my colleagues and I, led by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Kay Hagan (D-NC), have introduced the Keep Student Loans Affordable Act, to lock in the current 3.4% interest rate for one more year as we continue to push for real, long-term reform. On July 10, the Senate will vote on this proposal.
If you support stopping student loan rates from doubling, I need you to call on Congress to pass the Keep Student Loans Affordable Act by adding your name today.
There's a fundamental question here: Should we be investing in our students who want to build a better future for themselves and their families, or should the government be profiting at their expense?
One year is just a short-term patch. But we need the time to fight the bigger fight.
In the long-term, we need to address the $1.1 trillion dollars in existing debt, to bring exploding college costs under control, and to stop treating our students as a profit center for our government.
DFA members have done amazing work. You've called Senators, written letters, and brought new leading educators on board. We are on the right side on this issue, and I know that if we push harder, in time we will win the day.
But with the deadline now passed, our students shouldn't pay for Congress's failure to act. Allowing rates to double this summer, or passing the costly Republican plan, would add billions to the already enormous debt burden our students suffer.
Holding interest rates at 3.4% now gives us the time to craft a real solution, one that offers real relief and real reform.
Join me and demand Congress lock in low interest rates low today.
Thank you for being a part of this,
Senator Elizabeth Warren
June 28, 2013
The Supreme Court will hear a case this October on climate issues. Specifically, the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. This rule is designed to force "upwind" states to take responsibility for the pollution they emit that lands in other states. It makes sense, right?
U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled 2-1 in favor of dismantling the rule in favor of dirty power plant operators. I mean, I'm sure they aren't personally dirty but they do represent the interests of fossil fuel advocates who don't want to be held liable for pollution.
The promise of action of climate change has been up in the air for a while, and Obama has finally taken a firm stand (even if it was just as firmly ignored by most TV networks). But almost immediately following his speech the Supreme Court announced that it would take up the climate rule that was struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that forces "upwind" states to enact tougher regulations on polluters whose emissions drag down air quality in "downwind" states. Seems reasonable, right? Grist reports that the Court of Appeals took the side of high-pollution power plant owners whose general argument was, "Not my problem."
It's called the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, and losing it would cost the nation dearly in 2014.
- 13,000 - 34,000 pollution related deaths
- 1.8 million sick days
- 400,000 asthma attacks
- $280 billion lost in benefits
Choppy waters ahead
The Supreme Court, and many other higher courts have been so pro-business in recent years that its actions have come under the scrutiny of Elizabeth Warren. To boot, since Justice Roberts' appointment to Chief Justice, the Supreme Court has become less and less open to environmental action. Just look at the blows environmentalists took in 2009!
Threatening to put the lives of thousands of people at greater risk in the name of a few less climate regulations is irresponsible. We haven't been shy about calling out big business on their efforts to overwhelm the American people. Check out our other posts on big business and climate change!
June 27, 2013
Yesterday's historic Supreme Court decision was a blessing for thousands of gay men and women in the country -- but for folks in Virginia, Ohio, and 35 other states, real change could be a long ways off.
Equal marriage is now back in the hands of the states. And too many of those states are controlled by right-wing nut jobs like Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who argued that gay marriage inevitably leads to polygamy.
Extremists like Cuccinelli are holding our whole country back. That's why DFA launched our Purple to Blue project -- to start moving us forward again, one state at a time.
Organizers are already in Virginia, winning primaries with strong, progressive candidates. They need your support of $4 or more today to carry the fight into November.
It's not just about LGBT rights. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court gutted the heart of the Voting Rights Act, giving Republican governors the freedom to suppress voters and gerrymander districts with abandon. Later that same day, the country was captivated by Texas as one courageous female state senator almost singlehandedly turned back the biggest attack on women's rights yet.
These battles are being fought in all fifty states, and the attacks won't stop until we retake control of state capitols across the country. That's why DFA's commitment to a fifty-state strategy is so important -- and why your support is so critical.
We've already won our first wave of primaries in Virginia -- your donation of $4 or more right now will fuel our campaign as as we head toward November.
Thank you for all you do,
Gov. Howard Dean, M.D.
Founder, Democracy for America
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