News you actually want to know, and what you can do to make a difference.

Welcome to your weekly roundup of good news about good people, how you can help make a difference — and a picture of President Obama to remind you of what true leadership looks like.

Planned Parenthood launches massive campaign to expand reproductive rights state by state

Planned Parenthood is “going on the offense” in 2018, and it’s ready to make some serious waves all across the country with its plans to expand reproductive freedom.

The push began this week with efforts in a dozen states to promote protections for birth control coverage by insurance carriers and expand access to abortion services. By the end of the year, the organization plans to actively beat back anti-choice policies in all 50 states.

Reproductive rights are in serious danger from both the Trump and GOP-led federal government as well as conservative state governments. So the campaign that Planned Parenthood is leading — alongside pro-choice state lawmakers, as well as other reproductive rights groups, such as the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice and Tennessee’s Latino Memphis — is absolutely crucial.

“Today, we’re going on the offense. We’ve been marching, mobilizing, and organizing — and now we’re channeling that into real policy change,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

“We’ve already seen the power of the historic grassroots movement that’s growing nationwide. It defeated bad health care repeal bills three times in Congress, and helped to keep Planned Parenthood’s doors open. Now, together with our partners, we are moving forward to fight for people’s health and rights, state by state, bill by bill.”

The organization is already busy up in Maine, where activists collected petition signatures to expand Medicaid coverage and are working to expand access to medication abortion services for rural Mainers.

As Laguens said, “No matter what Trump and Pence say, your body is your own. If it is not, you cannot be truly free or equal.”

ACTION ALERT: Throw them out!

After yet another devastating and deadly school shooting this week, Everytown for Gun Safety is launching a new plan to hold cowardly politicians who refuse to take action accountable.

“Thoughts and prayers are not enough to honor the victims of gun violence,” the group says. It’s the same message we’ve been hearing from the students and teachers who survived the shooting in Florida. You can help be a part of the solution by taking the pledge to be a gun safety voter, registering everyone you know to vote, getting candidates on the record about their position on gun safety, and running for office yourself.

Obama-backed group led by former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder to invest millions in elections in 11 states this year

The 2018 midterm elections are rapidly approaching, and there’s a lot of work to be done to get good governance back in the driver’s seat across the country.

To that end, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee — backed by President Obama and led by his former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder — is set to invest millions of dollars in state-level elections in 11 states over the coming months.

Holder noted the importance of this year’s election cycle to the congressional redistricting process.

“In 2011, Republicans created gerrymandered districts that locked themselves into power and shut out voters from the electoral process,” Holder said. “By focusing on these state and local races, we can ensure Democrats who will fight for fairness have a seat at the table when new maps are drawn in 2021.”

The GOP’s gerrymandering efforts have already taken a hit this year, but the party is unlikely to learn any lessons from that. So the NDRC’s efforts are crucial toward thwarting what the House Republican campaign chief admitted is keeping conservative lawmakers in their seats.

Hillary Clinton has her own 2018 electoral strategy

No, Hillary Clinton isn’t running for office herself. But according to reports she plans to use her knowledge, experience, and influence to help others in their races.

The Washington Post writes that Clinton’s “emerging 2018 strategy, according to more than a dozen friends and advisers familiar with her plans, is to leverage the star power she retains in some Democratic circles on behalf of select candidates while remaining sufficiently below the radar to avoid becoming a useful target for Republicans seeking to rile up their base.”

Jaime Harrison, associate chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said Clinton told him she was committed to supporting key progressive voting blocs, like black and Latino voters, alongside the work her nonprofit organization Onward Together has been doing since last year to boost Democratic candidates and turn out the vote.

Clinton’s tireless advocacy and dedication to defeating the dangerous agenda of Trump and the GOP are driving her desire to be of help wherever she can in the coming election cycle.

And looking further ahead, some in her inner circle note that in 2020 her support for a candidate could very well act as a kingmaker.

Or a queenmaker.

ACTION ALERT: Expose Trump’s cover-up caucus!

Trump’s damaging agenda and potential obstruction of justice have been helped along by his enablers in the GOP — or as MoveOn calls them, the “cover-up caucus.”

On President’s Day and beyond, join with others to raise your voice and call out the cover-up caucus by asking them: Do you protect the Constitution, or do you protect Trump?

Connecticut governor signs executive order to study vote by mail options

As part of the Democratic efforts to expand voting rights and access, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed an executive order directing the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) in his state to study the possibility of implementing “vote by mail” processes.

“Let us not waste a moment in our effort to make voting easier and more accessible,” Malloy said Wednesday during his speech to the General Assembly. “Let’s plan ahead. Let’s look at best practices around the nation for increasing voter participation.”

And he rightly pointed out that “our modern lives and busy schedules don’t always align with a 14-hour block of time for voting.”

“People who work hard and follow the rules should be able to express their most fundamental democratic right,” Malloy declared.

New York attorney general leading coalition to oppose addition of bigoted “citizenship” question to 2020 census

New York Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is leading a coalition of 19 other state attorneys general in opposing the addition of a “citizenship” question to the 2020 decennial census.

Such a question “would directly threaten states’ fair representation in Congress and the Electoral College, as well as billions of dollars in critical federal funds for programs like Medicaid,” Schneiderman notes.

That’s because the inclusion of citizenship verification would assuredly depress participation in the census among immigrant communities, and lead to a population undercount that would harm those states and cities with greater numbers of immigrant citizens.

California Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra, one of Schneiderman’s co-leaders, called out the Trump administration’s attempts to “bully and discourage our immigrant communities from participating in the 2020 Census count.”

And the states taking part in this coalition will not be dissuaded from their commitment to “embrace and celebrate our diversity.”

ACTION ALERT: Your toolkit for being an immigrant ally!

Immigrant communities in this country need all the support and protection they can get from coast to coast.

Indivisible has the toolkit you need to be a strong ally for immigrants, against the bigoted onslaught of the Trump administration. Learn how to join the fight at the local level, at the heart of pro-immigrant activism.

New York Teamsters form “sanctuary union” in defiance of ICE agents

In addition to attorneys general and activists, a major New York labor organization is joining the fight to protect immigrants in the Trump era.

Around 120,000 Teamsters across the Empire State are prepping to become a “sanctuary union” — modeled on sanctuary cities and schools where undocumented immigrants are protected from the draconian tactics of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

And the Teamsters’ decision is a personal one.

“On Aug. 24, Teamster Eber Garcia Vasquez, 54, a married father of three U.S.-born children, was detained by immigration agents when he showed up for a routine annual appointment,” the New York Daily News noted.

“Shipped first to a Bergen County jail in New Jersey, then to Louisiana, Garcia was whisked back to his home country of Guatemala roughly 10 days later — despite a clean criminal record and two pending green card applications for him, one from his U.S. citizen wife and another from his son.”

After what happened to Vasquez, many Teamster shops knew they had to take serious action.

“We saw and felt that concern, and we are responding to it,” said Teamsters Joint Council 16 President George Miranda. “And that includes all our members, from all backgrounds. When we’re out on strike, we’re all the same on the picket line — what matters is that you’re a Teamster, and fighting with us.”

Indivisible threw a little pre-emptive retirement party for Wisconsin GOP Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner

Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner isn’t currently planning to retire. But that didn’t stop Indivisible Tosa from throwing a little party to say farewell to him ahead of the November midterm election in his district.

And just in case he missed the subtext, they brought along a certain giant inflatable chicken friend:

ACTION ALERT: Repeal the Trump tax scam!

The tax scam forced onto the American people by Trump and the GOP is, in a word, garbage.

But there’s another word to remember: Repeal!

Not One Penny has your guide to events around the country to get involved and raise your voice to repeal the tax scam now.

Illinois’ second-largest city approves first ever LGBTQ pride parade

In nature, an aurora is a stunning showcase of vivid and beautiful colors in the night sky.

So it seems pretty fitting that Aurora, Illinois, have its very own pride parade!

The second-largest city in the sixth-largest state will see its very first LGBTQ pride parade this June, thanks to the tireless efforts of groups like Indivisible Aurora.

As the group’s executive director Chuck Adams said, the parade is more than just floats and fun.

“It’s about ensuring that every member of the LGBTQ community knows they are an important member of this community.”

After the Aurora City Council Government Operations committee approved the parade, Mayor Richard Irvin applauded the decision.

“I commend the committee for doing the right thing,” he declared.

Let your rainbow flags fly, Aurora!

President and first lady Obama honored with stunning portraits in the Smithsonian

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are powerful and hopeful reminders of the better angels of our country’s nature.

And their newly unveiled official portraits at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery are beautiful reminders of how both of them will continue to inspire millions around the nation, and the world.