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 lift your spirits.
Friday, April 20, saw massive demonstrations all around the nation from students demanding substantive action from elected officials on the epidemic of gun violence.
The walk-outs came just over two months after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It was also the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting.
Teenagers today have grown up in a world where these frightening episodes are the norm, and they are fed up with the inaction from Republicans in state and federal government.
“We are the school shooting generation,” Gracie Shirley, a 17-year-old from Utah told The New York Times. And as for having to live in fear of another one, “We’re over it.”
And as 14-year-old Maryland student Marusya Airumian said, when she’s in school, “I’m not learning my subjects — I’m learning how to literally survive.”
But these young folks are making their voices heard — and many of them will do so at the ballot box in November.
Muslim Americans are ready to deliver some “sweet justice” to Trump with an unprecedented foray into the political sphere.
“More than 90 American Muslims, nearly all of them Democrats, are running for public office across the country this year,” the Washington Post reports.
Currently, there are only two Muslim Americans serving in Congress. Michigan state legislator Abdullah Hammoud sees that as likely to change.
Trump’s election and presidency “lit a fire under” young Muslims. “They see their rights being stripped away, day in and day out,” he added. And as more Muslim candidates run for office and put themselves out there in front of the nation, more of them will feel comfortable joining their ranks.
“When you put someone in a corner and they’re in survival mode, they have a tendency to come out and speak more prominently about their beliefs,” said Fayaz Nawabi, running for San Diego City Council.
New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed a crucial voting rights bill into law, implementing automatic registration upon application for a driver’s license or state ID card.
The law could add about 600,000 residents to the voter rolls, and will likely help boost participation ahead of the November midterms.
Amol Sinha, executive director of the ACLU of New Jersey, called it “a genuine expansion of our democracy.”
And as Murphy himself noted at the signing, his state now “[stands] in stark contract to President Trump and others whose only interest lays in restricting voting rights and suppressing voters’ voices.”
New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo also made an important move for democracy by signing an executive order granting all parolees in the state the right to vote.
“It is unconscionable to deny voting rights to New Yorkers who have paid their debt and have re-entered society,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This reform will reduce disenfranchisement and will help restore justice and fairness to our democratic process.”
It’s also an important step toward racial justice, as black and Hispanic New Yorkers make up about 71 percent of the 35,000 parolees in the state.
Cuomo took the action after the Republican-led Senate rejected a similar proposal.
November will be here before you know it — make sure you’re registered to vote so you can make your voice heard. It’s especially important to update your registration if you’ve moved recently.
Indivisible has an easy walk-through of the process of registering or applying for an absentee ballot.
Cecile Richards may be stepping down soon as president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. But that doesn’t mean she’s stepping away from activism.
And she wants you on the front lines with her.
Speaking to Politics and Prose about her new book, Make Trouble, Richards encouraged young activists to do just that, even in the face of steep odds and painful losses.
“If you’re really fighting for something important, you’re always going to lose more than you’re going to win,” she noted. But she added that the staff and volunteers at Planned Parenthood clinics, who were right back at work the day after the election, can provide a role model to follow.
“That, to me, shows the kind of resilience we have to show going forward. You just have to keep on going.”
She recalled the lessons her mother, former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, gave her about “taking chance and taking risks” in this life.
“This is the only life you get, so no do-overs, no regrets.”
Watch the interview below:
The next generation of American voters — and possibly politicians — shows strong support for both abortion rights and gun safety efforts.
A new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute found that a majority of young adults believe health insurance plans should cover abortion services. That’s in line with previous polling data from other firms that have found strong backing for reproductive rights among people in their late teens and 20s.
That same 18-29 age bracket also shows growing support for stricter gun control measures. 64 percent of respondents in that age group told Harvard University’s Institute of Politics that they favor such efforts. Support for an assault weapons ban also increased sharply among voters under 30.
United We Dream has launched a DACA Renewal Fund, where you can donate to help cover the renewal fees for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals participants.
Many of these young folks are students or low-wage workers, and the $495 renewal fees can be insurmountable on their limited budgets. If you’re able to kick in to help these Americans remain in the only country they know as home, you can do so here.
The American Federation of Teachers, a union representing 1.7 million members, has cut ties with Wells Fargo over the bank’s connections to the NRA.
The AFT had recommended Wells Fargo as a mortgage lender to more than 20,000 members. But after the bank refused the union’s request that it stop lending to firearms companies, the union made the decision to drop the bank as a recommended lender.
“If Wells Fargo won’t value children and teachers above guns, we won’t do business with Wells Fargo,” AFT president Randi Weingarten said in a statement.
19th century surgeon J. Marion Sims was known as the “father of gynecology.” But that included performing painful experiments on enslaved black women as part of his research. Someone like that hardly deserves to be honored with a statue in a prominent public park.
Activists tied the push to remove Confederate monuments to white supremacy to the need to take down Sims’ statue from Central Park.
New York City finally came around and agreed. The statue was removed from the park, and will be placed in the cemetery where Sims is buried, with a plaque explaining the real truth of his disturbing history.
New York City has removed a statue of J. Marion Sims, a 19th-century surgeon who was once considered a pioneer in gynecology until it was revealed that he performed experiments on female slaves, from Central Park. pic.twitter.com/BIUCiCRCUs
— NBC News (@NBCNews) April 17, 2018
Gina Haspel’s role in the CIA’s torture programs was even bigger than it first seemed. And Trump actually wants to put her in charge of the agency.
Contact your senators and demand that they #BlockHaspel from a promotion she so clearly does not deserve.
The NRA sent California Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu a “candidate questionnaire.”
He had some answers for them:
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) April 17, 2018
“Please give me an ‘F’ rating.” We couldn’t have said it any better, Rep. Lieu!
If Mike Pompeo is confirmed as secretary of state, he would help spread Trumpism all over the world. And that’s dangerous for every single person on the planet.
Indivisible has everything you need to know about Pompeo’s history and how to demand that your senators vote to #StopPomeo.
Colorado state lawmakers passed a resolution out of committee to rename a portion of a highway after President Barack Obama.
It’s not just any highway, either — it’s “where he accepted the Democratic nomination” for president, noted Democratic state Rep. Dan Pabon, who introduced the resolution.
The measure now moves to the Democratic-held state House, and then to the Republican-controlled state Senate.
California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris stopped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, to talk about everything from babies on the Senate floor to nervous Jeff Sessions.
But she also made it quite clear just how crucial it is that both special counsel Robert Mueller and our future elections are protected from attacks, domestic and foreign.
“It is a fact: Russia interfered in the election of the president of the United States. That’s not a debatable fact,” she stated. “And having done it, we have no reason to think they wont do it again. So 2018 is going to be something we have to be very vigilant about protecting and securing that election process.”
Watch the whole interview here: