Chin up, heart open — here’s some good stuff that happened last week.

  • Ai Weiwei, the provocative Chinese artist, announced that he will build more than 100 fences and installations around New York City as a large-scale public art project designed to compel viewers to question the rhetoric and policies that seek to divide us.
  • Democrats successfully delayed an initial committee vote on Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, for one week. Every delay is a victory!
  • A federal judge in Hawaii turned the temporary injunction against Trump’s Muslim ban into a preliminary injunction that extends the injunction against enforcement while the case moves forward.
  • The Government Accountability Office has agreed to examine costs and security issues surrounding President Trump’s frequent visits to Mar-a-Lago.
  • The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) announced that it is suing Trump over his Muslim ban.
  • The SPLC is urging lawmakers to reform Alabama’s civil asset forfeiture laws that allow police to seize — and keep — cash and other property from potential suspects, even when they’re never convicted or even charged with a crime.
  • Ted Cruz will have a challenger! Rising Dem star Congressman Beto O’Rourke officially announced this week that he will challenge Cruz for his Senate seat in 2018.
  • City leaders across the country are defying threats from the White House to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities, communities refusing to cooperate with efforts to find and deport immigrants in the country illegally. San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Boston, Somerville, and Philadelphia leaders issued strong statements condemning Trump and Seattle’s mayor announced a lawsuit over the executive order and will sue Trump and his administration.
  • The Supreme Court ruled that Texas can no longer use outdated and unscientific methods to evaluate a death row inmate’s claim of intellectual disability. Texas courts had previously barred lower courts from using more recent science. This has now been ruled unconstitutional because it violates the 8th amendment’s ban on “cruel and unusual punishments.”
  • New York Mayor Bill De Blasio and other city officials are backing a plan to CLOSE RICKER’S ISLAND!!!
  • Support for a single payer ‘Medicare for All’ healthcare system took a significant step forward this week in New York when Sen. Jeffrey Klein announced he will co-sponsor the measure and bring along the remaining holdouts.
  • H.J.Res 43 was passed today (boo) after a tie-breaking vote from Mike Pence, making it easier for Republicans to defund groups like Planned Parenthood. It’s a difficult loss but this close of a vote means we’re making a dent — there were even two Republican defectors.
  • The most conservative member of the Massachusetts Democratic delegation, Stephen Lynch, has made a very public nod to his blue base (that showed up en masse at his town hall!) by declining an invitation to the White House from the Trump administration that is seeking to cultivate moderate Democrats.
  • Enrique Balcazar and Zully Palacios, Vermont Latinx farmworker organizers detained by ICE two weeks ago, were released on a bond. A third organizer, Alex Carillo, is still detained.
  • Famed linguist and cognitive scientist George Lakoff who is an expert in message crafting and communication officially joined the national Indivisible team to help it frame the messages activists are using to pressure their members of Congress.
  • Republicans & Democrats in North Carolina have announced that they have brokered a bi-partisan deal to repeal the ugly HB2 bill that discriminated against the LGBTQ community in bathrooms and elsewhere throughout the state.
  • The governors of California and New York said Tuesday that they will push ahead with their aggressive climate change policies despite President Donald Trump’s executive order that seeks to boost the coal industry.
  • After Trumpcare failed, Kansas and North Carolina began working to expand Medicaid and Georgia, Idaho, Nebraska, Maine, and South Dakota will probably also seek to expand their programs.
  • The Associated Press changed their guidelines to allow the use of the singular “they” as a gender neutral pronoun.
  • Big companies defy Trump on climate change and say they’ll keep fighting climate change, whether or not the government sets carbon pollution standards. Companies include Nestle, General Mills, Staples, Gap, Levi Strauss & Co., Ben & Jerry’s, and General Electric.
  • Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan signed comprehensive civil rights legislation into law that protects against discrimination based on factors ranging from age, race and religion to marital status, gender identity and military status in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations.
  • The US Women’s Hockey team fought sexism and won big this week. They threatened to boycott the world championships and received an exponential increase in compensation from $6,000 per player annually to $70,000. USA Hockey also vowed to spend more on girls’ development programs, making the boycott a huge success for female players at all levels and age groups.
  • Teenagers at a Florida high school protested their high school’s sexist prom dress code and won!
  • DACA recipient Daniel Ramirez was released from a detention center in WA state!
  • Iceland became the first country to introduce legislation that will require employers to prove they are paying men and women equally.
  • Anti-corruption protests swept Russia and Yemenis held enormous anti-war rallies
  • The judicial branch is on fire this week:
    - The people who produced fraudulent Planned Parenthood videos were charged with 15 felonies.
    - NJ governor Chris Christie’s former aides were sentenced to jail (18 months for one; 2 years for the other) for abuse of power in the Bridgegate scandal.
    - A federal judge ruled that Aetna deceived the public on the reason it left Obamacare.
    - Exxon was dealt a major blow by a Texas court in its attempt to derail a multistate fraud probe into whether the company fully disclosed to investors the financial risks of climate change
    - A Louisiana judge blocked a law that kept a refugee from marrying.

Note: I learned about some of these events from a weekly newsletter called “Small Victories”. You can sign up here.

Hospital chaplain, community organizer, writer. Shamelessly laughs at the same jokes over and over and believes there are gateways to holiness everywhere.