Chin up, heart open, ready to go— here’s some good stuff that happened last week (Edition #2)

I realize the magnitude of the issues we fight for may seem daunting. But we must not retreat to the convenience of being overwhelmed. — Ruth Messinger
  • Steve Bannon was removed from the National Security Council!
  • Devin Nunes stepped aside from the House investigation on Russia after coming under investigation by the House ethics committee
  • Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) held the Senate floor for 15 hours, discussing why Gorsuch wasn’t a good SCOTUS nominee.
  • Yes, Gorsuch was ultimately confirmed, but we had enough Democrats to defeat a cloture vote on the filibuster. This is a success because, as Rebecca Solnit explains, we need to recognize success in small victories and delays: “Most victories will be temporary, or incomplete, or compromised in some way…When activists mistake heaven for some goal at which they must arrive, rather than an idea to navigate Earth by, they burn themselves out…don’t believe the moon is useless unless we land on it.”
  • The Northern Access Pipeline has been stopped after New York state denied a permit to National Fuel Gas due to concerns about the impact on wetlands, streams, fish and wildlife habitat along the route!
  • New York became first state to offer free tuition at public four-year colleges!
  • A federal court in Chicago ruled that LGBT employees are protected from workplace discrimination and bias under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
  • New York passed the Raise the Age bill which will raise the age of adult criminal responsibility! Before this landmark change, New York was one of only two states in the nation that prosecuted all 16 and 17 year-old offenders in adult criminal court.
  • Senate voted to pass a Sanctuary State bill that will barr state and local law enforcement from using their resources — including money, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel — to help with immigration enforcement.
  • A pilot program in seven New York counties will now allow victims of domestic violence and people seeking protective orders against abusive partners to skip a courthouse trip by filing electronically and communicating with a judge via Skype.
  • A federal judge blocked an Indiana mandate forcing women to undergo an ultrasound at least 18 hours before having an abortion, ruling that the requirement is likely unconstitutional and creates undue burdens on women, particularly low-income women.
  • Maryland’s governor signed a fracking ban into law and it is now the second state in the country to ban fracking (New York established a similar ban in 2015).
  • Maryland became the first state in the nation to agree to reimburse Planned Parenthood clinics for their services if Congress defunds the organization, after Republican Gov. Larry Hogan allowed the bill to become law Thursday without his signature.
  • Cambridge, MA became the first city on the east coast to call for the impeachment of Donald Trump by passing a proposal that asks the House to approve an investigation into whether sufficient grounds exist to impeach President Trump.
  • Cambridge, MA voted to increase the amount of affordable housing units developers are required to provide from 15% to 20% of the total number of units in a project.
  • Over 60 companies have stopped advertising on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News show following revelations that he and the network paid out $13 million to settle lawsuits by 5 women who accuse O’Reilly of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual behavior.
  • Twitter stood up to Donald Trump this week after the Department of Homeland Security demanded that they reveal the user of an account that has been critical of the Trump administration’s immigration policies. Twitter sued and DHS withdrew the summons.
  • About 1,500 immigrants, children of immigrants and their allies came together at the Massachusetts State House for Immigrants’ Day, hosted by Massachusetts Immigration and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA).
  • Men all over the world — including high level government officials and politicians — are standing up to homophobia by holding hands after reports of a gang attack on a gay couple in the Netherlands.
  • A federal judge approved a decree on Friday that will overhaul the Baltimore Police Department and introduce a wide range of police reforms, including training, new technology and community oversight, aimed at reducing systemic racial bias in the department. Jeff Sessions was trying to prevent this overhaul but lost big time.
  • A small victory in Mass: the Safe Communities Act, which seeks to make the state of Mass a sanctuary state, is listed on the Mass legislature site as the most popular bill!
  • A federal judge rejected President Donald Trump’s free speech defense against a lawsuit accusing him of inciting violence against protesters at a campaign rally. The lawsuit against Trump will proceed!
  • There is a budding bi-partisan effort to preserve the National Endowment for the Arts and 11 Republicans signed a letter this week to seek a slight increase in federal funds to the endowment.
  • The philanthropy established by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar announced that it will contribute $100 million to support investigative journalism, fight misinformation and counteract hate speech around the world.
  • Chris Wallace, Fox News host, grilled EPA director Scott Pruitt about his denial of climate change — it’s a victory to have climate change support coming from this right-wing network.
  • The White House wouldn’t publish Trump staffers’ financial disclosures, so ProPublica, AP, and the New York Times joined forces to post them instead.
  • A federal judge rejected a plan to redraw districts in North Carolina because it sought to establish one racially gerrymandered district and unjustly pack too many Democratic-leaning voters into several districts, weakening their overall voting power.
  • New York state became the first state in the country to provide lawyers for all immigrants detained and facing deportation. Go NY!
  • The Nebraska Supreme Court upheld a ruling that deems the notorious Memo 1–95, which prohibited same-sex couples from fostering children, is unconstitutional.
  • The Texas House voted to oppose taxpayer dollars going to private and religious schools, expressly forbidding state funding for vouchers.
  • California’s drought was declared officially over with a snowpack at 164% above normal.

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