These images are among our favorites. A group of Mainers spent hours on Jan. 29, 2017 digging 25-foot-high “RESIST” into Sand Beach in Acadia (left), a birthday gift for MDI resident Gary Allen. A year later, Gary and his friends returned to tell the world that they are “STILL RESISTING” (right). So are we, Gary. So are we.

We work hard and we have MUCH to celebrate. So every month or so, we add to this ever-growing list of victories. Take a scroll down the page and see what you and your fellow citizen activists have done. Take a bow. And then get back to work so we have more good news to add to this list.

Jan. 1 – Feb. 17, 2018

Lots of good news to report from 2018 so far! We begin our list with items that Suit Up Maine has featured in its calls to action. 

  • Millions took to the streets on Jan. 20th for Women’s March 2.0, showing that the resistance is thriving. In Maine, we gathered in Augusta, Bangor, Gouldsboro, Bar Harbor, Lubec, Kingfield, Eastport, and Brunswick. A different event was held in Portland on Jan. 21. Power to the polls! Run for office. Register. Canvass. Vote. Bring others. Never sit an election out. Ever.
  • Maine is in the process of doubling its workforce of public health nurses, hiring more than 50 new nurses, as a result of a new law passed over the summer to address the critical shortage, especially in rural areas. Lobbying for the passage of this law, which occurred over the governor’s veto, was one of our calls to action last summer.
  • Federal judges in San Francisco and New York have issued injunctions barring DJT from ending DACA on March 5 as he had announced, pending consideration of these two cases on the merits. The government must continue processing and renewing DACA applications under the same terms that existed before DJT declared the program ended. Through the office of Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, Maine signed on to one of these cases and filed an amicus brief in the other. Though good news, this is not a long-term solution, so keep calling your congressional representatives! See our C2A.
  • At the request of a number of Democrats in Congress, FCC chairman Ajit Pai is being investigated by the FCC’s inspector general for some rule and policy changes he made that benefited the pro-DJT Sinclair media company in its efforts to acquire a large number of local media stations. Sinclair requires its stations to run pro-DJT propaganda, and this merger has been decried by many concerned with media consolidation and its harm on democracies. See our C2A.
  • A second appellate court ruled against Muslim ban 3.0 – this one declaring it to be unconstitutional. See our C2A.
  • DJT dissolved his bogus “voter fraud” commission, complaining that states weren’t cooperating. Push-back works!
  • Ecowatch noted five ways that DJT’s efforts to harm the environment failed in 2017.
  • In New York City, 120K teamsters are preparing to be a “sanctuary union” to protect their fellow workers from ICE.
  • A federal judge ordered Governor LePage to release $3 million in job training funds that were supposed to go to Coastal Counties, one of the state’s regional workforce development boards. This is a temporary injunction and might be appealed, but for now it is a good sign. It will help many people find jobs.
  • Another federal judge ruled that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development could not “delay” implementation of an Obama-era policy that would allow low-income people greater access to affluent neighborhoods. Hundreds of thousands of people will be able to move to better areas.
  • A new law went into effect in Iceland requiring companies and government agencies employing more than 25 people to prove that they are not paying men more than women.
  • New Jersey’s governor created an Office for Immigrant Protection.
  • At least 260 people with science backgrounds are running for federal, state, and local office in 2018, a record number in modern U.S. history.
  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission denied a request by Constitution Pipeline to overturn a ruling by New York State denying the company a permit to build a 124-mile natural gas pipeline because it had not done an adequate study to meet the Clean Air Act provisions. Thank you, Earthjustice, for your legal advocacy on this case.
  • Democrats flipped a seat in the Missouri state house in a deep red district that DJT won handily.
  • The Climate Advisory Panel that DJT disbanded has been revived with support from the state of New York, Columbia University’s Earth Institute, and others.
  • Over the past decade, Chicago-based nonprofit Elevate Energy has helped make 20K apartments more energy efficient to help low-income tenants save money and use less energy.
  • In Elkhart County, Indiana, which is 90% white and voted 2-1 for DJT, pro-immigrant groups allied with RV company executives and others to block construction of a proposed private prison run by ICE.
  • Washington is changing its drivers licenses to eliminate the driver’s place of birth, in order to complicate ICE’s efforts to round up immigrants.
  • The Natural Resources Defense Council and a coalition of states led by New York and California won a lawsuit forcing the Department of Energy to begin using national energy efficiency standards that it was refusing to implement. The standards apply to portable window air conditioners and some other items.
  • The DJT administration decided not to fight the Jan. 1 deadline for accepting trans people into the military, and the military is now accepting trans recruits.
  • Rape survivors in Maryland can now ask a court to terminate the rapist’s parental rights, and the bar of proof for proving rape for this purpose is lower than that for a criminal prosecution.
  • A three-judge panel has ruled that North Carolina’s gerrymandered voting districts violate the Constitution. This will likely go to the Supreme Court, but is a win for voting rights at this stage.
  • Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled that the state’s congressional map is gerrymandered to the extent that it violates the state constitution and ordered new maps to be drawn up in time for the 2018 midterms. The GOP appealed this to the Supreme Court, which rejected the request to overturn it.
  • Efforts by Rick Perry’s Department of Energy to establish policies that would favor coal production and hurt green energy were shut down by a federal commission – one with most members appointed by DJT, no less.
  • Maine’s Supreme Court ruled that the state can’t deny food benefits to legal asylum seekers who have been approved to work here but have not yet found work. The decision will affect about 150 asylum seekers.
  • The Attorney General of Washington is suing Motel 6 for violating state law by providing personal information on guests to ICE.
  • Maine’s own Attorney General, Janet Mills, has joined a 21-state lawsuit to fight the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality.
  • In a class action suit, a federal court ruled that the Los Angeles county sheriff violated people’s civil rights (regarding arbitrary arrest) by detaining them after they were eligible for release in order to comply with an immigration detainer from ICE. The county ended the practice in 2014, but those detained between 2010 and 2014 can now sue, and the ruling should impact other places where law enforcement still works with ICE around these detainers.
  • Democrat Patty Schachtner won a seat in Wisconsin’s Senate in a special election in a rural district that had voted for DJT by 17 points, even though the GOP dramatically outspent her in an effort to keep the seat.
  • Democrat Margaret Good flipped a state legislative seat outside Tampa, Florida. Democratic women as well as Republicans and independents showed up to support her against a well-known opponent.
  • In California, Oakland’s city council voted 8-0 that the city would end all cooperation with ICE except in the case of public emergencies. The councilwoman who introduced the measure noted that ICE was targeting people based on their national origin, harassing people, and undermining justice.
  • Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell are trouncing Fox and Hannity in viewership as increasing numbers of Americans demonstrate that they prefer more in-depth and less state-run news. We salute our free press and good journalists everywhere!
  • Energy experts expect an “energy storage revolution” in 2018. Advances in batteries for storing wind and solar energy could be a death knell for the fossil fuel industry, as greener becomes cheaper.
  • Robert Mueller’s investigation produced 13 indictments of Russian individuals and organizations, making it hard for any sane person to discount the validity of this investigation and more awkward for DJ to take action to stop the investigation, laying the groundwork for future charges, and turning up the heat on DJ over why he is doing nothing to answer this attack on our nation.

Our hearty thanks to all these persisters for doing their part to protect the vulnerable, our rights, our planet, and our democracy. You may have noticed how many of these good news items have related to court victories. So far, the courts are doing their job as a check and balance, but some of DJ’s nominees to lifetime judgeships could jeopardize that. Follow our tracking of these nominations and contact your senators! Let’s protect the courts so we can keep adding victories to this list.

 

2017: The Year in Pictures
Nov. 4-Dec. 31, 2017

Our wins at the polls in November (and a big one in December) deserve special attention, so they have their page. Read on for other good news!

  • Despite DJT-GOP efforts to sabotage health care enrollments, almost 9 million Americans signed up during the shortened enrollment period, defying all expectations. Good job getting the word out, everyone! See our call to action (C2A) here.
  • The November-December elections answered with a BOOM(!) all that 2017 hand-wringing about disarray among Democrats, Bannon’s mythical powers to choose leaders, and whether the Women’s March would create lasting momentum. Winners included 33 out of 55 EMILY’s List candidates, 13 out of 14 Sister District candidates , and 152 Emerge graduates (9 in Maine). Across the country, the newly elected include not just strong progressives and so many women, but a heart-warming number of immigrants, people of color, and LBGTQ people. See our “Nation on Notice” special elections edition of the Victories and Good News list.
  • Maine made national headlines as the first state to expand Medicaid by referendum, a rebuke to Governor LePage, who had vetoed similar legislation five times. LePage is doing everything he can to put up obstacles to the implementation of the voters’ will, but he lacks the authority to override a referendum, so the voters will prevail. See our C2A on this.
  • Eleven cities and counties will be offering free legal counsel to those facing deportation, as part of the Safety and Fairness for Everyone (SAFE) Cities Network, a program in conjunction with the Vera Institute of Justice.
  • The Sierra Club lists 50 ways in which clean energy gained momentum in 2017. Yes, 50!
  • Gavin Clarkson, a DJT appointee to a position overseeing loan administration in the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs that did not require Senate confirmation, has resigned following coverage by ProPublica of a loan he previously obtained under a program he now administers. Even internal government reports had flagged the loan as not issued properly, and the borrowers later defaulted.
  • A DC jury rejected the attempt by Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department to criminalize dissent by returning “not guilty” verdicts on all counts for the first 6 defendants charged with destruction and violence done by other protesters at the Inauguration Day protests last year.
  • Yet another federal judge barred the Department of Justice from withholding funding to a city due to its sanctuary status, this time in Philadelphia.
  • … And then a judge in San Francisco permanently blocked DJT from denying funding to these cities, saying that the administration could not put additional restrictions on money Congress allocated.
  • The head of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships for the Department of Homeland Security resigned within hours of a CNN report on hostile comments he had made about the black and Muslim communities. Once again, go free press!
  • Maine Attorney General Janet Mills joined a lawsuit against the federal government over its failure to meet deadlines established in the Clean Air Act and and joined a coalition urging Congress to reject cuts in EPA funding.
  • Arizona Republicans who passed a law banning Mexican-American studies in Tucson’s majority-Latino schools lost a 7-year legal battle when a federal judge ruled that the law served no pedagogical purpose and was unconstitutional.
  • Eighteen states are increasing their minimum wage on January 1.
  • Due to the efforts of Maine’s Secretary of State, Matt Dunlap, a federal judge issued an injunction directing DJT’s bogus “voter fraud” commission to hand over documents and correspondence that had been kept hidden from Dunlap and other Democratic commission members. Dunlap also has a lawsuit underway related to the commission’s activities.
  • Senators, mostly Democrats, have blocked dozens of unqualified DJT nominations from proceeding.
  • As part of a case argued by the ACLU on behalf of two protesters who had been pepper-sprayed, a U.S. district judge strongly rebuked the St. Louis Police Department for the tactics it used against protesters following the Sept. 15th acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley. She said the police are not allowed to declare an “unlawful assembly” if there is no threat of imminent violence, and they may not punish people for exercising their constitutional rights of assembly and free speech.
  • The Federal Election Commission announced that it is writing new rules to require disclosure of who is paying for the political ads that appear on social media.
  • In Virginia, a state panel approved a pipeline through pristine lands, but unexpectedly delayed its operation pending the results of some environmental studies. Surprised opponents of the pipeline are considering this a partial victory.
  • Anti-feminist Penny Young Nance withdrew from consideration for nomination to be Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues after press coverage on her views and the ensuing public pressure.
  • In the absence of US leadership at the national level, foreign leaders are reaching out to our states and major cities to collaborate on issues such as environment, trade, and human rights, and are finding eager partners. States and cities are expanding their staffs to include people dedicated to international efforts, and those staffs include former foreign service professionals.
  • A district judge in Winona County, Minnesota ruled that the county was operating within its authority when county leaders banned frac sand mining last year, dismissing the claims of the mining company that challenged the ban.
  • Southern Poverty Law Center secured an agreement from the state of Mississippi to reinstate licenses of over 100,000 drivers whose licenses were suspended when they could not pay a traffic ticket, and to stop suspending licenses for failure to pay fines. Low-income people will no longer face a choice between paying a fine and paying for food, and they can get to work without risking further fines.
  • The Navajo Nation Council voted down proposed legislation to create an aerial tram and hotel inside the Grand Canyon – even though the Nation would have gained 8% of any money tourists would have spent there and badly needs both the money and the jobs it would have created.
  • President Emmanuel Macron announced that France will award about $70 million to 50 U.S. scientists to conduct their climate-related research in France for the duration of DJT’s presidency. Through a program called “Make the Planet Great Again,” the grant will cover costs of relocation to France as well as their work-related expenses. At least their work will continue.
  • Greenpeace and Thai Union, the parent company of Chicken of the Sea tuna and the world’s largest tuna company, reached an agreement in which Thai Union committed to more sustainable fishing practices and the protection of workers’ rights.
  • A second federal judge ruled against DJT’s ban on trans people serving in the military, and went farther than the first judge did by also ruling that the administration can’t deny coverage for sex change surgeries for trans service members.
  • The Supreme Court declined to hear two cases related to gun regulation, thereby letting stand the Maryland court rulings allowing bans on a range of semiautomatic weapons and large-capacity magazines, including those used in the recent mass shootings in Las Vegas and the Texas church.
  • German pilots grounded over 200 flights in 2017, refusing to participate in the deportation of asylum seekers back to countries where they would be in danger.
  • Even though DJT decided not to send a delegation to this year’s UN climate summit, leaders from US state and local governments, the private sector, and academia traveled to Bonn, Germany to represent the United States. The coalition We Are Still In set up a pavilion larger than any previously sponsored by the US government and actively participated in the summit on our behalf.
  • Concerned citizens and environmental groups stopped a plan to transport crude oil by rail through California’s San Joaquin Valley.
  • Three dangerous and unqualified DJT nominations to lifetime appointments on the federal bench collapsed under increasing scrutiny from senators and growing concern from the public. And groups such as Alliance for Justice are working to build pressure and awareness about judicial nominees. Watch our weekly Calls to Action in the new year!
Aug. 12-Nov. 4
  • A federal judge blocked DJT’s ban on transgender service members. Our C2A wasn’t directed at judges, but we are pleased.
  • TrumpCare 6.0 was defeated. (Stay vigilant, though, because the GOP tax scam includes provisions that would gut health care.)
  • People joined together to rally against the white supremacists (and have far outnumbered them) and for racial justice at the White House and in Boston (attended by many Suit Up Maine members) and Portland (ME) and Waterville,  as well as Dallas, San Diego, Fresno, Berkeley, Knoxville, Philadelphia, Ohio, Harrisburg, Chicago, and Tucson – for starters. See our C2A.
  • Congress is putting Sinclair on the hot seat about its proposed merger with Tribune and its “must-run” propaganda segments in local media markets. After a hearing on Hill, Sinclair has until Nov. 10 to respond to a series of questions. Want more info? See here.
  • Oct. 30, 2017 (henceforth to be called Mueller Monday?), special prosecutor Robert Mueller issued a powerful opening salvo in the Russia investigation by charging Paul Manafort, Richard Gates, and George Papadopolous (whose charges are reduced due to a plea deal). See our C2A about Mueller.
  • Susan Collins has expressed reservations about certain tax cuts to the wealthy. Since the tax scam definitely includes them, let’s be sure to remind her that she said that. Here is our C2A.
  • Maine’s Attorney General Janet Mills has joined a lawsuit to block the termination of DACA. Do your part to help the Dreamers by taking the actions in our C2A.
  • Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria of the Air Force Academy reminded us all what real leaders sound like after racist messages were found in the Air Force prep school. Watch his inspiring speech (here) if you haven’t yet.
  • In 2016, the third full year of most expansions under the Affordable Care Act, the percentage of Americans without health insurance fell to a historic low.
  • The city of Las Vegas is now powered completely by renewables, especially solar.
  • A federal judge dismissed a case by Josh Doggrell, an Alabama police officer who had been exposed as a member of a white supremacist group in an investigation by Southern Poverty Law Center. Doggrell alleged that he was fired in violation of his first amendment rights and his religious freedom, but the judge stated that he had been fired because he violated police department policy.
  • A new law in Germany allowing same-sex marriage took effect.
  • September advertising revenue at Fox dropped a whopping 17% compared to last year, led by losses sustained by Hannity.
  • Scientists are rejoicing at the news that Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) will be retiring next year. As chair of the House’s Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Smith has been staunchly anti-science and has fought against many proposals to address climate change.
  • TransCanada cancelled its plans for the Energy East tar sands pipeline, which would have been the largest tar sands pipeline project in the world.
  • Under fire and being sued, DJT’s “voter fraud” commission seems to have stopped work, and it is being investigated by the Government Accountability Office.
  • With funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, New York University School of Law is starting a new center to help attorneys general fight environmental protections rollbacks.
  • The ACLU secured a settlement for torture survivors Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, and the estate of the late Gul Rahman (who died), who suffered at the hands of CIA-hired psychologists. This is a tremendous victory because it ends a streak of impunity for torture. Courts have been reluctant even to permit such cases to go forward due to “national security concerns.”
  • Saudi Arabia overturned its ban on women driving.
  • After a public backlash, Georgia is ending its practice of mailing registered voters who moved within a county a notice that they must reconfirm their registration in 30 days or be kicked off the voter rolls.
  • DJT recently lamented that he can’t sic the Department of Justice on people he doesn’t like. This means that, at least so far, the men and women working in federal law enforcement are not bowing to his authoritarian impulses and he is being constrained. Keep it up, federal workers!
  • Since Charlottesville, major philanthropic organizations have been cancelling their plans for events at Mar-a-Lago.
  • In the 2017 legislative year, more than a dozen states strengthened their revenue streams by rejecting tax cuts or increasing taxes somewhere, thereby protecting their ability to fund education, environmental initiatives, and important social services.
  • Forty Catholic institutions on five continents marked the Oct. 4 Feast of St. Francis of Assisi by divesting of fossil fuels.
  • The judge denied the request of Greg Gianforte, the Montana congressman who assaulted a reporter covering a campaign event, to avoid being formally booked. So he was photographed and fingerprinted like any other person charged with assault.
  • Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Camping World, a major sponsor of NASCAR, said that people who support what happened at Charlottesville should stop shopping at his company.
  • Following press coverage by ProPublica, the New York Times, and the Baltimore Sun, Maryland’s Attorney General is investigating the management practices at a number of rental housing complexes owned by Jared Kushner. Way to go, free press!
  • Coal executives are chafing at unmet promises from DJT to issue an emergency order relieving them from environmental regulations. The Energy Department argued that it was unnecessary, and DJT actually agreed.
  • Democratic women are running for office in record numbers.
  • A new tidal power station between mainland Scotland and the Orkney Islands broke world records for electricity generation. Engineers anticipate that the tidal power could provide about half of Scotland’s electricity.
  • After Charlottesville, at least four presidential advisory councils ended either because members resigned in protest or because DJT disbanded them before they did.
  • New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman won a major victory when the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation denied a needed water quality certificate to a pipeline project that would have run through upstate New York.
  • West Virginia withdrew approval for the 195-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline.
  • The House voted to prohibit civil asset forfeiture, the practice (ended by Obama but enthusiastically restored by Jeff Sessions) by which law enforcement can seize money or property from people accused but not convicted of a crime. The bill was sent to the Senate in September.
  • Yet another federal judge blocked a move by Jeff Sessions to punish sanctuary cities.
  • The chocolate company Mars has pledged to spend $1 billion in the next few years to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and support sustainable farming.
  • A federal judge in San Antonio blocked Texas from enforcing its S.B. 4 law and questioned its constitutionality. This is one of the toughest anti-immigration laws in the country. The ban is temporary while the case proceeds, but is considered a major blow. Big thanks to ACLU and other human rights groups for their work!
  • With the help of an investment from the Dutch company Maas Capital, over the next five years the U.K. will install solar panels on 800,000 low-income homes for free.
  • By overwhelming margins, Congress passed a law in August imposing new sanctions against Russia, directed at its energy and defense sectors, and limiting DJT’s ability to ease them without congressional approval. DJT was basically forced to sign the law, but then tried to not enforce it, but Congress pushed back and made him follow this law. They will be implemented in January.
  • DJT’s approval ratings have dropped notably in 10 recent polls. He is losing support even in rural areas and rust-belt states.
  • A federal appeals court ruled that the Federal Environmental Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) failed to conduct an adequate study of greenhouse gas emissions from the Sabal Trail Pipeline, which runs through Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, and directed the commission to do a new review.
  • Minnesota’s Commerce Department dealt a setback to the construction of an oil pipeline through northern Minnesota, saying it was not needed. Final decision by the state’s Public Utilities Commission due in the spring.
  • Prominent Republican Senators Bob Corker (and see here, too), Jeff Flake, and John McCain as well as former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush have recently sharply criticized DJT. Every time a Republican steps up, it makes it easier for others to follow, right? Baby steps.
  • About nine months after the historic Women’s March, organizers brought some 4000 people together in Chicago to continue the momentum and plot next moves.
JULY 23-Aug. 12
  • In November, people were predicting that the Affordable Care Act would be gone by the end of January. But many Mainers who called, rallied, visited offices, and staged die-ins watched C-SPAN on the edge of their seats as Trumpcare 4.0 (or was it 5.0?) was defeated in a dramatic midnight vote in the Senate. Angus King and Susan Collins both helped to defeat it. Keep persisting, everyone! It works!
  • Undaunted by intimidation and attempts to undermine it, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is proceeding. Recent developments known to the public concern the investigation into former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
  • Fifty-six retired generals and admirals issued a statement condemning the occupant of the White House’s ban on transgender service members.
  • Eight senators are requesting an investigation by the deputy inspector general of the Department of the Interior into the possible reassignment of around 50 scientists to non-science work after Mainer and whistle blower Joel Clements raised concern about his reassignment.
  • Scotland’s Environmental Protection Agency and the conservation organization Scottish Natural Heritage will be objecting to the expansion of Trump’s golf course in Aberdeen. The courses are among his most prized properties, and if successful, this effort would deal a serious blow to Trump and his expansion plans.
  • A judge in Massachusetts ruled that a law requiring voter registration 20 days in advance of an election is unconstitutional.
  • Simone Askew has been named First Captain of the cadets at West Point, the highest honor and leadership position at the institution. She will be the first black woman to hold it.
  • The Supreme Court in Massachusetts ruled that court deputies are legally prohibited from complying with detainer orders from ICE. Detainers are requests from ICE that a state or local agency hold someone who is in their custody an additional two days to allow for their transport to a deportation center or the initiation of deportation proceedings.
  • As part of its plan to eliminate tailpipe emissions by 2030, Los Angeles announced the purchase of 95 electric buses for its transportation system.
  • The Minnesota Department of Education approved the dissemination of a transgender toolkit for use in schools to reduce bullying and help create a supportive environment for all students.
  • In response to public comments, New Mexico’s campaign finance regulators are instituting rules requiring more detailed financial disclosures from nonprofits seeking to influence elections.
  • Former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt of court for defying a court order to stop rounding up immigrants and could face jail time. Arpaio, who had been a galvanizing force behind racist policies for years, was finally brought down by community organizers who persisted.
  • Over a dozen scientists have announced that they will be running for Congress. So far.
  • After North Carolina’s General Assembly tried to delay the deadline for submitting new voting districts that did not use racial gerrymandering, an unimpressed three-judge panel ordered them to produce the new districts by September 1.
  • South Miami will soon require all new residential buildings to have solar panels.
  • For the fourteenth time since November, a Democratic candidate won a special election, this time in rural Iowa in a district that went heavily for Trump. And in two races in Missouri, Democrats closed the gap by outperforming Clinton’s numbers 17% and 19%, even though they didn’t win. But gains like that, if they continue, would flip many districts in the country.
  • The federal appellate court in D.C. ordered the EPA to enforce a rule aimed at lowering methane released from the production of oil and gas. Methane is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, and this rule was one of Obama’s most important environmental achievements. Pruitt had announced a “delay” in enforcement.
  • Environmental activists have started a global initiative to plant a forest to offset the harm of the White House occupant’s climate policy. The forest is not in a single location; people plant trees wherever they are and send in a record of it. So far, 75,000 trees have been pledged.
  • Fifteen attorneys general, including Maine’s Janet Mills, announced that they would be suing the EPA over Scott Pruitt’s decision to “delay” the implementation of regulations to limit ozone-depleting chemicals in the air. One day after this announcement, Pruitt announced that he would end the delay.
  • PayPal and other funding platforms have angered hate groups in this country and abroad because they have been closing the accounts of individuals and groups that promote hate.
  • Several power companies recently announced a collaborative plan to build the largest wind farm in the United States. With 800 turbines, it will be operational in 2020 and will provide power in Oklahoma and parts of Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana.
  • California’s Labor Commissioner has directed state workers to bar ICE agents from entering any state labor offices (where people go to make complaints about abuses by employers, for example).
  • Emily’s List is expanding its facilities and staff due to the 16,000 women who’ve inquired about running for office in the past few months. In the previous two year period, the group had 920 inquiries.
  • Grey wolves in the western Great Lakes area will retain federal endangered species protection, after a court ruled that they had been inappropriately dropped from that list.
  • New York City will start offering free legal assistance to low-income renters facing eviction.
  • As of August 13, Election Day 2017 is 86 days away.
JULY 7-22, 2017

In Maine

  • Thanks to all who have rallied, called, written letters to the editor, and visited offices, Trumpcare is on life support — although it is not dead yet. Angus King has been an early, consistent, and vocal advocate for keeping and strengthening health insurance availability. Susan Collins was one of the Republican senators who announced that she would vote No on the motion to proceed. She has also stated that she has been “besieged” by pleas from Mainers to protect their coverage, and that she wants to work with Democratic colleagues to improve the current system. Thank you to both senators. Senator Collins, stay firm!
  • Constituents’ phone calls, testimony, and messages left for Maine legislators helped to prevent proposed cuts in many programs (such as food assistance, Head Start, and programs to help immigrants and asylum seekers) and even strengthen some important anti-poverty programs. You can read about them here.
  • LD 327, which would have granted a fetus the right to heirs and an estate and the right to sue, failed in the legislature.

Across the country and the world

  • Brown University alums Yeshimabeit Milner and Lucas Mason-Brown have created Data for Black Lives (D4BL), an organization that “brings together activists, organizers, and mathematicians committed to the mission of using data science to create concrete and measurable change in the lives of black people.” Their first conference will take place at MIT in October.
  • In March, for the first time ever, wind and solar provided 10% of the energy consumed in the United States. Worldwide, over half of new power sources are renewable ones. See our call to action on options for switching to renewables, including options for renters and apartment-dwellers, here.
  • The Third Circuit Court of Appeals (Philadelphia) ruled that people have a right to videotape on-duty police officers in public, joining several other appellate courts that have made similar rulings across the country.
  • Democrats gained two seats in the Oklahoma legislature in special elections in usually solidly Republican districts in a deep red state.
  • On behalf of two Democratic donors and one DNC staff member, United to Protect Democracy has filed suit in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia against the Trump campaign and Roger Stone for violation of the privacy laws when they conspired to release the plaintiffs’ personal information that had been hacked during the campaign. You can read the court document here. If the case moves forward, it will establish another fact-finding authority (this court) around the Trump-Russia entanglements.
  • The Houston Police Department announced that it will stop using a $2 chemical field test of dubious accuracy that has produced hundreds of wrongful convictions. After the New York Times and ProPublica did a story on this last July, the district attorney required that any positive field test be confirmed in a lab. Way to go, free press!
  • Despite the administration’s best efforts to convince the public otherwise, more Americans than ever believe that climate change is real and serious, and the numbers are trending up.
  • The House inserted an amendment into the 2018 defense spending bill saying that climate change is a direct threat to national security and directing officials to identify facilities that will be most affected. This was partly due to the efforts of a new, bipartisan (24 from each party) Climate Solutions Caucus, which hopes to provide a counter to the conservative anti-climate change votes.
  • Rhode Island passed a law that certain forms of academic work are not subject to public information requests. These include preliminary drafts, working papers, and notes. The law is to help protect researchers from intimidation by special interest groups and is expected to be especially valuable for scientists working on climate change.
  • A judge has ordered Trump to release the names of all visitors to Mar-a-Lago through March 8. This order came after the Secret Service failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request and, it was the result of a lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibiity and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the National Security Archive, and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. We salute all these “helpers.”
  • Public schools in Saudi Arabia will offer physical education classes for girls for the first time.
  • Joel Clement, a scientist raised in Falmouth, has filed a whistle blower complaint with the Office of Special Counsel after he was reassigned from his job a Director of a Department of the Interior office after he spoke out about the effects of climate change in Alaska. He is hoping that his example will inspire others in similar situations.
  • Technological improvements and cost decreases in batteries for household power storage have been so rapid that experts predict that between 2020 and 2030, it will become financially feasible for large segments of the American public to move entirely off the grid and into renewables.
  • In Virginia, over a thousand protesters showed up to protest a gathering of about 30 KKK members who objected to the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.
  • Washington became the fifth state to pass a law guaranteeing paid family leave. It can be used for a new child, a severely ill family member, or personal illness.
  • A federal judge in Utah ruled against that state’s “ag-gag” rule, making it possible for people to film at slaughterhouses and animal-raising facilities without fear of prosecution.
  • Hawaii became the first state to offer financial assistance to caregivers who are also working outside the home, to help them keep their jobs. This is being watched closely by people in other states.
  • France plans to ban the sale of gas and diesel vehicles by 2040.
  • The United States Conference of Mayors has stepped up to fight climate change, joining several states and multiple businesses and universities, in the current absence of official national leadership.
  • Thanks to the efforts of the Black Student Task Force at the University of Oregon, a campus residence hall formerly named for a KKK leader will be renamed to honor the first black graduate of the school’s architecture program, now an elderly resident of Portland.
  • The Seattle Storm, a women’s basketball team, became the first pro sports team to support Planned Parenthood, raising $42,000 from ticket sales at a recent event.
  • Rhode Island became the tenth state, along with the District of Columbia, to ban gay “conversion therapy” for minors.
  • The administration’s bogus voter fraud commission has been hit with seven lawsuits, not including separate challenges in several states.
  • Hundreds turned out in scorching heat to protest the NRA’s refusal to defend black gun owners by marching eighteen miles from the NRA headquarters in Virginia to the Department of Justice in D.C.
  • The Supreme Court backed a lower court ruling expanding the list of relatives that count as “close relatives” for the purposes of receiving visas to visit family in this country. Welcome back, grandparents!
  • Bay Resistance members showed up at the home of a CEO who had expressed interest in bidding for a contract on the border wall and convinced her to sign a pledge not to participate in building the wall.
  • Australian researchers found that adding a sprinkle of seaweed to cows’ diets reduced their methane production by 99%. Livestock animals produce about 14.5% of the climate-change-inducing methane gas, more than all car and plane traffic in the world. Cows produce about 65% of the methane generated by livestock.
  • Ksenija Pavlovic, a former political science teaching fellow at Yale and founder of news site Pavlovic Today, became the first reporter to defy White House restrictions by live-streaming the audio from a press briefing.
  • A judge ordered the state of Kentucky to pay $224,000 in legal fees to two gay couples who sued for a marriage license after county clerk Kim Davis refused to issue them one in 2015.
JUNE 23-JULY 6, 2017
  • Members of Suit Up Indivisible Action Network, several local Indivisible groups, Mainers for Accountable Leadership, health care associations, hospitals, and others have made it their summer project to help Susan Collins see the need for opposing the Senate health care repeal bill. And she has and has so far remained firm in her opposition to it. Kudos to all. Stay firm, Senator Collins!
  • The status of the ranked choice voting approved by voters in November is a bit complicated. A bill (LD 1624) to amend the law to remove the potential problems with the state Constitution indicated by the advisory opinion from the state Supreme Court failed, but so did a rival bill to repeal the law completely (LD 1425). So the entire law will now go into effect, with its potential pitfalls. In general, we think this is a win for the voters, since it will at least move ranked choice voting forward. Also, there is no constitutional barrier at all to some elections covered in the law.
  • A law proposed by Governor Paul LePage to require photo ID for voting was “indefinitely postponed” by the legislature.
  • Southern Poverty Law Center has launched a major initiative to train and coordinate lawyers in the Southeast to do pro-bono work representing immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants often can not afford an attorney, but they are ten times more like to win their appeals with legal representation than without it.
  • Baton Rouge mayor Sharon Weston Broome, the first African American woman to hold that office, is instituting implicit bias training for the police department.
  • The administration’s proposal to cut the State Department budget is meeting fierce bipartisan opposition in Congress.
  • The Supreme Court declined to review a case in which the circuit court had ruled that California’s law allowing local sheriffs to restrict concealed-weapons permits to those could demonstrate a clear need self defense outside the home does not violate the second amendment. So these restrictions on concealed-weapons permits will remain in place.
  • House Democrats are creating a task force to study election security and especially how to lock Russia out of interfering in our elections in 2018. They plan to turn the study results into legislation.
  • The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled that the EPA acted improperly by delaying implementation of a regulation to limit methane gas release from oil and natural gas drilling, so the rule takes effect immediately and the EPA must enforce it. This is the court that normally hears challenges to an administration’s implementation decisions. The present administration has tried to use this tactic of delaying a rule for other issues, too, many of them environmental. So this decision may suggest future victorious challenges to such attempts.
  • In Ohio, Governor John Kasich vetoed a budget measure that would have frozen Medicaid expansion in the state, and the legislature failed to garner enough votes for an override. Indivisible groups and others had pressured the legislature to drive down support for this measure. Good job, Ohio Indivisiblers!
  • The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that undocumented immigrant children detained by federal authorities are entitled to a hearing to determine whether they should remain in detention, in accord with a 1997 settlement that the Justice Department (unsuccessfully) argued had since been abrogated.
  • At least 44 states, including many deep red ones, have refused to hand over to the voter fraud commission either all voter data or data that is not publicly available.
  • Five states and the District of Columbia have joined a lawsuit filed by several groups suing the EPA for revoking the ban on the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which is a hazard to human health.
  • Eighteen attorneys general are suing Betsy DeVos for delaying the implementing of protections for students against the abuses by for-profit colleges.
  • The award-winning nonprofit magazine Mother Jones announced the expansion of its newsroom staff by seven. ProPublica, another award-winning investigative journalism organization, has also been rapidly hiring.
  • In Texas, Republican House Speaker Joe Strauss refused to put a bathroom bill supported by the Senate and the governor before the House, expressing frustration that the Republican Party has become increasingly influenced by Christian ideologues and saying that he did not want the suicide of even one Texan on his hands.
  • In Florida, where unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman in 2012, a judge declared an NRA-backed revision of the 2005 “stand your ground” law unconstitutional. The revision, signed into law in June, would have required prosecutors to show “clear and convincing evidence” that a shooter was not acting in self-defense.
  • There are four lawsuits underway that could force the White House occupant to release his taxes.
JUNE 12-23, 2017

First the good news related to our C2A (call to action) items and Maine efforts. Our C2A list is produced weekly, usually on Mondays. View it here.

  • LD 1237, to require insurance companies in Maine to cover up to 12 months of birth control at once, became law without the governor’s signature. See our C2A here.
  • LD 366, which would have made law enforcement personnel responsible for enforcing Immigration Control and Enforcement policies, failed in both houses. See our C2A here.
  • On Wednesday, June 21, Indivisible MDI, Indivisible Peninsula, Indivisible Waldo, Indivisible Central Maine, Suit Up Maine – An Indivisible Action Network, and other resistance groups and leaders coordinated visits and rallies at all five of Susan Collins’s offices in Maine, earning a shout-out from the national Indivisible team and even coverage on the Rachel Maddow show.

AND AROUND THE COUNTRY AND THE WORLD:

  • A bipartisan group of over 75 (and growing) former employees of the Environmental Protection Agency has formed the Environmental Protection Network to help fight against the proposed cuts to the EPA. The scientists, lawyers, economists, and engineers held a press conference to announce their intent to serve as a resource to activists and journalists about how the cuts will impact the EPA’s projects. They will help them to craft effective Freedom of Information Act requests and generally guide others to through the administrative workings of the EPA to bring to light what is happening there.
  • A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Muslim Ban 2.0. The court based its decision on a different argument than the Richmond court’s decision, arguing that the president had exceeded the authority granted to him by Congress to make immigration policy because presidents still face statutory and constitutional boundaries in any immigration policies, and he had shown no national security threat would be addressed by this ban and no evidence that present vetting is inadequate.
  • Automatic voter registration laws are gaining ground around the country, with eight states and the District of Columbia now having passed them.
  • Five officials in Michigan will face involuntary manslaughter charges related to the Flint water crisis.
  • A federal judge ruled that permits issued in the first days of the new administration, allowing the Dakota Access pipeline to cross the Missouri River just upstream from Standing Rock Reservation, violated the law by not adequately considering the environmental and community impact of the pipeline. The court is seeking additional information to determine whether the pipeline should be shut off.
  • A former Tennessee Valley Authority engineer and congressional candidate who was soliciting people to attack a Muslim community was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
  • Angela Merkel is rising in German polls on a pro-Europe and global engagement platform.
  • New York’s city council passed two bills to address environmental justice.
  • The AARP has launched a 7-figure ad buy in the home states of 6 Republican senators to press them on the health care repeal.
  • The EPA’s proposed budget cuts are facing significant bipartisan opposition in Congress.
  • In France, Marine LePen’s extreme right National Front party is losing support, both in turnout at events and in recent elections for the legislature, where the party lost ground. This may signal a decline in the populist appeal in France and beyond.
  • Vermont is creating a “racial justice oversight board” to find and implement ways to reduce racial bias in policing and the justice system.
  • Federal Election Commission data shows that 525 new Democrats have filed to run for elections in the 2018 midterms, up 73% from this point in the last midterm election cycle.
  • Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York granted a pardon to Carlos Cardona for a 1990 nonviolent drug conviction, his only legal trouble, that the federal government is using as its reason to deport him. Cardona worked for four months at Ground Zero and has suffered health problems from that. He is married to an American citizen and has a 19-year-old daughter. Since there is now no conviction on his record, Cuomo hopes this pardon helps Cardona’s legal case for staying.
  • A judge in Detroit blocked the immediate deportation of more than 100 Iraqi nationals, many of whom have been in the country for decades, who were arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement earlier this month. The judge agreed with the ACLU’s argument that they must have the chance to argue their case that returning to Iraq would endanger their lives.
  • The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the federal government can not strip citizenship from naturalized Americans due to minor omissions and false statements on their citizenship applications.
  • Citing alarm over administration plans to cut civil rights offices and activities across several federal agencies, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights announced that it will be conducting a 2-year investigation into civil rights enforcement under Trump.
  • The Environmental Voter Project, a nonpartisan nonprofit that identifies environmentalists who do not vote in order to urge them to the polls, tracked a 12.1% higher turnout rate among voters they had targeted, compared to a control group, after just one year.
  • In all four of the recent special congressional elections, Democrats significantly outperformed their historic rates in these deep red districts, a trend that will flip many districts around the country if it continues. Races that would never have been competitive in the past now are.
LATE MAY THROUGH JUNE 11, 2017

First, the good news on results related to our C2A (call to action) items:

  • Maine will not be joining the ALEC-sponsored move for a constitutional convention. The Maine House voted 86-56 not to join the call for one (HP 987). See our C2A here.
  • The legislature overrode a LePage veto to support the highly popular bill (LD 56) that would extend the state’s successful bottle deposit program to single-serving liquor bottles called nips, a major cause of litter in Maine. See our C2A here.
  • LD 1370, which would have allowed loaded, concealed weapons on Maine’s public university campuses, failed. Read our C2A on this here.
  • LD 1262, which would have stymied wind power development on Monhegan Island, has been defeated. See our C2A here.
  • LD 1108, to restore public nursing staffing, passed both houses of the legislature. See our C2A here.

Victories and good news from around the country and the world

  • Illinois became the latest state to pass a bill that will automatically register eligible voters when they visit a number of state offices, such as when they obtain a driver’s license. The governor vetoed this the last time the legislature attempted it, but this time the bill has overwhelming bipartisan support in the legislature, strong enough to override a veto.
  • Due to language that Congress included in the omnibus spending bill in late April, the president is now constrained from exercising sweeping executive powers in several important ways.
  • Maryland became the first state to enact a law to protect consumers from price hikes and price fixing by pharmaceutical companies.
  • Sixty-two percent of Exxon shareholders voted against management to require Exxon to more clearly report how climate change impacts its business. The move was led by funds held by the Church of England, New York, California, BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street.
  • Indivisible leader Lauren Whitehead won a seat on the city council in Solon, Iowa — a small, rural town that went for the Republican presidential candidate in 2016.
  • Jerry Garcia’s famous Wolf guitar was auctioned off by the Brooklyn Bowl in New York City, with the proceeds of $3.2 million going to support the Southern Poverty Law Center.
  • A federal judge in Montana overturned approvals that federal agencies had granted for a massive industrial mining operation adjacent to Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, which contains some of the purest water in the United States, as well as the delicate habitat of bull trout and grizzly bears.
  • In California’s Oakland Unified School District, a group of parents organized several years ago to get more locally grown produce into the school cafeterias. A recent study found that in a two-year period, the district reduced its carbon footprint by 14%, its water use by 6%, and its food budget by 1%, in addition to serving healthier meals to about 48,000 kids in over 100 schools. And the kids like the food.
  • United to Protect Democracy has filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. to force the National Security Agency to release the contemporaneous memo that, according to the Washington Post, was written by Admiral Michael Rogers, Director of the NSA, to document the conversation in which Trump asked him to publicly deny that evidence of collusion with Russia exists. The group, which had already filed a Freedom of Information Act request in April for any National Security Agency documents related to efforts by Trump to interfere with the investigation, is also suing for the release of any other relevant documents and has submitted a Freedom of Information Act to the National Intelligence Agency for similar documents.
  • On the 6th day of Ramadan, about 100 Muslim activists gathered outside Trump Tower in New York to pray before breaking their fast as a way of protesting the real estate developer’s anti-Muslim speech and policies. Jewish supporters formed a protective barrier around them as they prayed.
  • The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling from last August that 28 state legislative districts in North Carolina were racially gerrymandered and will need to be redrawn, although it struck down the lower court’s order for special elections. (Yes, this is another ruling related to voting rights in North Carolina, not a duplicate from items on the last Victories and Good News list.)
  • India, the world’s second most populous country, has cancelled plans to build giant coal plants and will be investing in solar instead. Because the cost of solar energy is now lower than that of coal.
  • Between March and May, Breitbart experienced a 90% drop in advertising due to the persistence of Sleeping Giants resisters.
  • In Fairfield, Connecticut, Democrat Kevin Kiley won a special election for a selectboard seat, flipping the selectboard. Local elections matter.
  • The Republican-held legislature delivered Kansas governor Sam Brownback a major defeat by overriding his veto on their legislation to end some of his tax cuts, which have been disastrous for the state. For years, Republicans nationwide have been pointing to Kansas as an exemplary state for its tax cuts, so this development is being hailed as a blow to the tax cut mentality.
  • Some of the states with the fastest growth in renewable energy production are red states.
  • Faced with a lawsuit from the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Protection Agency reinstated a regulation protecting the public from mercury discarded by dental offices. The rule had been withdrawn on Jan. 20, 2017, as one of the first regulations targeted under the new administration, about a month after it was originally issued.
  • Under the leadership of Michael Bloomberg, a growing group of cities, states, universities, and businesses have pledged to honor the Paris Climate Accord and are seeking official signatory status with the United Nations. Michael Bloomberg has also pledged $15 million to help replace the lost contribution to these efforts that the United States was to make.
  • In about two dozen cities, protesters at anti-Muslim rallies called by ACT for America, which Southern Poverty Law Center considers a hate group, were vastly outnumbered by those who turned out to oppose them.
LATE APRIL THROUGH MAY 26, 2017

Note: Suit Up Maine is going to make this a regularly produced feature, and future “issues” will include hyperlinks to all the sources. This list was well under way before the admin team realized that would be a good idea (oops), so we offer this one, for now, without the sourcing. But Google is your friend (provided we retain net neutrality — see our C2A on that) if you would like any additional info about these. With apologies for any persisters or successes inadvertently omitted, we hope this round-up cheers and fortifies you. First the victories on items that were on Suit Up Maine’s weekly C2A lists. (We expect this list to grow as Maine’s legislature takes more votes in the coming weeks.)

  • Both houses of the Maine legislature passed, by numbers the Natural Resources Council of Maine called “overwhelming,” LD 820, which mandates some important environmental protections against the destruction caused by mining in the state. Although it does not go as far as many would like, it does have the advantage of being more likely to overcome a veto by the governor than stronger proposals would have been.
  • The committee voted 12-0 “ought not to pass” on LD 1505 (Read our C2A). This was a proposal by LePage to undermine the authority of cities to regulate the use of pesticides. Typically, such a vote is a death knell for a bill.
  • Both houses of the Maine legislature passed LD 1237 (Read our C2A), requiring insurance providers to cover up to 12 months of birth control at a time. It passed with a margin that should make it veto-proof.
  • Due to a united front from Congressional Democrats, who were joined by some concerned Republicans, and a whole lot of pressure from constituents (i.e. US), the stop-gap budget to keep the government running through September included not one of Trump’s major priorities. The wall did not get any funding, and Congress preserved funds for scientific research, the EPA, some social services, and the arts and humanities that Trump had wanted to cut.
  • Suit Up members also joined in the national pressure to appoint a special counsel (Read our C2A), and Maine Attorney General Janet Mills was one of 20+ state AGs who signed a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein requesting this, too. Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller, a well respected former FBI Director, as a special counsel to investigate potential connections between the Trump team and Russia. He has a broad mandate to pursue any possible criminal issues that may emerge in that investigation.

On other matters across the country and the world:

  • Exxon Mobile lost an appeal to keep records held by auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers out of the hands of investigators working under New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Exxon is headquartered in Texas, which protects auditor-client communications in a way similar to attorney-client privilege. But the appeals court ruled that New York’s law applies. The investigation by Schneiderman’s office concerns potential financial fraud – whether Exxon deceived shareholders and the public about climate change risks.
  • The Fourth Circuit Court upheld the lower court’s block on Trump’s second Muslim travel ban. This is significant not only because the Fourth Circuit is one of the more conservative appeals courts, but because of the strong language in the court decision.
  • Fox News broadcaster Sean Hannity is losing advertisers after pushing a shameless conspiracy theory about the killing of a former Democratic National Committee staffer.
  • Denver passed a surprisingly simple law that will help protect legal, documented immigrants from deportation. The federal policy holds that any non-citizen (including green card holders and people here on student or work visas) is subject to deportation if they are found guilty of a crime that carries a maximum sentence of 365 days or more, whether or not they actually get that sentence. Denver changed its maximum sentence for petty offenses (trespassing, etc.) to less than 365 days, so these people will now be off the federal government’s radar screen.
  • The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a Fourth Circuit Court’s ruling against some of the nation’s most horrific voter obstruction efforts. Republican legislators in North Carolina were seeking to reinstate voting laws that the appeals court had condemned as targeting black voters “with almost surgical precision.”
  • In a separate case, the Supreme Court not only struck down as unconstitutional the districting lines in two of that state’s districts, but even included in the decision language that calls into question the standard Republican argument in these cases. Republicans argue that the motivation for the districting is partisan (to ensure more Republican seats), not to diminish the vote of black voters. The decision, written by Justice Kagan, says that when the two results are so linked together, the argument based on partisan goals is questionable. Legal experts are saying this opens the way for more successful challenges to these voter obstruction tactics in other districts, especially in the South.
  • French voters rejected the far-right Marine LePen as prime minister, making this the third European country to say no to right-wing, anti-immigrant, fascist-leaning candidates in recent elections (joining Austria and the Netherlands).
  • Iranian voters, with very high turnout, not only soundly defeated a religious hard-liner, electing the more moderate President Hassan Rouhani, but also put the entire 21-member city council of Tehran in the hands of moderate reformers. And moderates and independents now oversee 18 of the country’s 20 largest cities, which will diminish the influence of the hard-liners. Iranians also elected 415 women to city and village councils.
  • Within 24 hours after the House passed its health care repeal bill, ActBlue, Swing Left, Daily Kos, and Crooked Media raised an astonishing $1,650,000 to support the elections of Democratic challengers in vulnerable Republican House districts. The money will be held in escrow until there is a nominee. (The money continued to come in after that initial 24 hours, but I can’t find more recent totals than that.)
  • Surprising many observers, the Senate voted to leave intact an Obama-era regulation of the release of methane gas from oil and gas wells on public land. Susan Collins was one of three Republicans who crossed party lines defeat efforts to gut this rule. (Angus King also voted against it.)
  • Sally Yates testified about the Flynn Affair before Congress and skillfully smacked down Ted Cruz by citing the law, becoming a twitter sensation.
  • As part of a National Black Mamas Bail Out Day, Color of Change, Black Lives Matter, and other groups raised over a half million dollars to provide bail so that women in prison awaiting trial could be home for Mother’s Day. They raised enough to provide bail for at least 50 women in 18 cities. These are women who would have awaited trial at home if they had had more money.
  • A federal judge ruled that Houston’s cash bail system is against the Constitution because it disadvantages the poor.
  • Connecticut became the 8th state to ban conversion therapy.
  • Indivisible folks in Lincoln, Nebraska decided to target the city council as their local action focus, and they flipped the council in a sweep for the Democrats.
  • There have been grand juries and subpoenas issued in the probe of the Trump team’s election activities. So far the ones we know about relate to Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn. In Flynn’s case, when he took the 5th and refused to produce documents subpoenaed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, the committee issued a subpoena to his company instead. Companies can’t take the 5th. Jared Kushner is now a focus of the investigation, as well.
  • One of four companies contracted (following a court order) to replace more than 18,000 corroded lead pipes in Flint, Michigan is WT Stevens Construction, which is owned by black women.
  • TWO state house positions have flipped. In a special election held after a Republican representative took another position, Christine Pellegrino, an elementary school reading teacher and Bernie delegate to the Democratic convention last year, defeated a Republican rival in New York’s District 9 for a seat in the New York Assembly. This deep red district went to Trump in 2016 (60-37). In New Hampshire, Democrat Edie DesMarais took a Republican seat in the State House, representing the 6th District. Trump won 51-44 last fall in that district. No Democrat has ever held this seat before.
  • In the struggling steel town of Monessen, Pennsylvania, the Democratic mayor who became a news sensation by backing Trump during the campaign lost to Democratic challenger Matt Shorraw, a 26-year old high school band director. The local Democrats took the unusual step of supporting Shorraw’s candidacy during the primary.
  • In Jackson, Mississippi, Chokwe Antar Lumumba defeated the incumbent mayor on a platform that emphasized investment in education and crime reduction through community engagement.
  • Even in the discouraging Montana special election, Rob Quist came within 6 points of winning in a district that Trump won by 20 points in November. In a large majority of special elections around the country since then, even where Democrats have not won, the margins have moved dramatically. This bodes well for future elections, since many districts were much closer than a 20-point spread and could flip easily with the gains in Democratic margins that have been happening.
  • For the first time in 17 years, Fox News lagged in the ratings for one week, behind both MSNBC and CNN, in the 25-54 demographic.
  • According to polling from 538, the number of Americans who “strongly approve” of Trump has fallen by almost a third from February, to 21% or 22%, and voters who “strongly disapprove” now outnumber them by about 2 to 1.
  • On May 13, California set a new record, producing 67% of the state’s power that day from renewables.
  • State and local prosecutors are pushing back against Sessions’s call for mandatory minimum sentences. Even though they are not bound by these sentencing guidelines because they are not federal prosecutors, they are signing statements against the advisability of such policies and raising public awareness about their likely impact. Among the signers are the Manhattan district attorney and the Los Angeles city attorney.
  • In Chicago, thousands of protesters showed up in support of fair wages and union rights during the annual shareholder meeting of McDonald’s.
  • Taiwan became the first Asian country to recognize same-sex marriage.
  • At the University of Notre Dame, which has a tradition of having the president as the commencment speaker the first year of a president’s service, backlash from faculty and students caused them to break with this tradition and invite Mike Pence instead. Then students arranged for 500 rainbow flags to be flying from all over campus that weekend and staged a well-publicized, peaceful walk-out when Pence took the podium, stating that his views and actions were opposed to Catholic social teaching calling Christians to be on the side of the marginalized. In addition, the valedictorian’s speech praised a woman’s right to choose, decried the building of a border wall, and called for this generation to stand up to the scapegoating of Muslims.
  • Grove City College, a small, conservative Christian school in western Pennsylvania, saw unprecedented backlash from students and faculty to Pence as a commencement speaker. Students said that as Christians, they could not support someone who sows such hatred, violence, and divisiveness.
  • Nevada became the 19th state to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. We now have half the states needed to ratify an amendment, although Congress would also have to vote to do that. This is a long-haul process, but it is moving forward.
April 15-21, 2017
  • Bill O’Reilly lost his job. SUM partnered with Sleeping Giants on a C2A for a Twitter campaign targeting the news show’s advertisers to protest his long history of sexual harassment. Efforts like these were credited with the network’s decision to fire the host of the most popular news program on cable. h/t to everyone who participated, and to Karin Leuthy for her work on the C2A.
  • Birth control bill receives a “ought to pass” vote. SUM joined Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund on a C2A to promote awareness of this bill and urge people to attend the public hearing held Wednesday. Thursday afternoon, the HHS committee voted 9-4 to send the bill to the House and Senate for a vote. h/t to everyone who attended the hearing and wrote or called committee members, and to Sarah Davenport for her work on the C2A.
  • Standing-room only crowd shows support for undocumented immigrants. SUM joined efforts by Maine Equal Justice Partners, Maine People’s Alliance, and many other organizations to speak out against LD 366, a bill that would punish sanctuary cities and towns in Maine. The result: Standing-room only in the hearing and overflow rooms at the State House. h/t to all of you who attended the hearing and to Karin Leuthy for all her work on the C2A.
  • Successful Tax Day Marches. Thousands of people across the state took part in tax day rallies last weekend to push for the release of Trump’s tax returns. Bath, Bangor, Thomaston and Portland were among hundreds of cities and towns around the country that hosted a march. h/t to March Forth, Midcoast Maine Indivisible, Indivisible Sagadahoc and all the other groups across the state that organized marches.
  • Recess Town Halls. Mainers held town halls across the state during the Congressional recess. Sadly, Bruce Poliquin and Susan Collins chose not to attend. That didn’t stop hundreds of residents in Farmington, Thomaston and Mt. Vernon from gathering to share their concerns. h/t to Midcoast Maine Indivisible, Indivisible Northwest Kennebec, and UMF Sustainable Campus Coalition.
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